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Unconditional Love

ULOne common example of the Stupid Shit Cheaters Say is cheaters’ disappointment that they were not loved “unconditionally.”

Apparently, they are capable of “unconditional love” and we, being irrationally angry, small-minded meanies, are not.

Unconditional love, from what I can tell, seems to be this perpetual state of Grace, where no matter what cheaters do, no matter how deliberate, or idiotic, or devastating, they shall not be held accountable. The cheater cannot be left. The cheater must not suffer consequences (because this pains them too!); and they get as many chances as they deem necessary to straighten up and fly right.

They might never straighten up and fly right, and that’s okay, because you have a love that is bigger than you both, which is God-like, and omnipresent! Your unconditional love will shine through as a beacon in the foggy darkness! Yes it’s Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer! Would you be so cruel as to stop Santa from delivering his presents? Would you put an end to Christmas?

And chumps if they fall for it, are left feeling more inadequate than ever. Wow, my love just isn’t that powerful to get over this. Why can’t I love unconditionally?

Unicorns, of the smug reconciling sort, may tsk-tsk their divorcing brethren. “Well, I guess they do not know what it means to Love Unconditionally.”

Look chumps, before you try to Rise Above and love the broken sad sausage in your life, let’s examine this catch phrase “unconditional love.”

Often it’s discussed in the context of child-rearing. Bobby is very upset because his mother only smiles at him when he gets As on his report card. Otherwise she is indifferent. She does not love Bobby unconditionally. Her love is on the condition of his good grades.

Okay, that’s wrong. You should love your child regardless of his or her GPA.

Now, what if Bobby is sick in the head? He is prone to rages and attacks his mother Martha with carving knives. He hurls abuse at her, and steals money from her wallet. Bobby has put a hit out on his mother to collect his inheritance.

It’s a little harder to love your child unconditionally then. You feel sorry for Bobby’s mother Martha, because she probably still does love her child, but love is beside the point. She needs to GET THE HELL AWAY FROM BOBBY.

A couple points: a) Bobby is Martha’s child. b) If the relationship is toxic, Martha’s love for Bobby is not relevant to her personal safety.

Now, apply this logic to infidelity.

Grown up love comes with conditions. Cheaters are not our children. (Although they may act like it.) Our spouses are not entitled to unconditional love. Adult love comes with conditions (also known as boundaries), conditions like “you may not abuse me,” or “you may not steal from me.” We don’t have to accept any sort of behavior because we love someone.

If someone cheats on you, and repeatedly puts you in harms way, you’ve got a toxic situation. You very well may still love this person, but your love is beside the point. You need to GET THE HELL AWAY and save yourself.

Now then to the superior cheaters who demand unconditional love:

Really? Did YOU love unconditionally? Apparently there are a shitload of conditions to win your love, beginning with performing the Pick Me Dance. Chumps hear these conditions all the time — you grew old, you got fat, you spend too much time with the children, you make stewed tomatoes wrong, your socks aren’t in the hamper, the curtains were too long, you don’t play board games. (All of these can be found on Stupid Shit Cheaters Say.)

Failure to abide by cheater conditions ensures you will be cheated on. (And the conditions always change, so you can pretty much guarantee you are not abiding by them.)

How’s that for fair?

When cheaters want “unconditional love” what they are really saying is that they’d like a lopsided, unreciprocated situation. You invest kibbles in me, (don’t stop!) and I shall do whatever I please. Because you love me. And if you stop giving me kibbles, I’ll make the problem you. You don’t love me enough.

Unconditional love —  blameshifting by another name.

This column ran previously.

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Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • The love I had for the ex was conditional – he said he would love me, only me, and stay with me for all our days while working towards the future and forsaking all others. He said this in front of God, family, and friends and no doubt never meant any of it. I’m embarrassed to say that in hindsight there were so many red flags in his actions that should have made me realize this before 3 decades had passed but better late than never I guess! I remember a conversation we had in late 2014 during which he told me “like it or not, we’re in love”. That really meant “like it or not bitch I will do as I please and there isn’t a thing you can do about it”. He thought I had unconditional love for him (chump) but turns out it was totally conditional (champ) and now I rock and he sucks!!!!! LOL

    • Yeah…..the vows.
      Those are a joke for the disordered. I wish somebody had told me.

      • In all honesty I can’t remember my vows word for word, but I know they basically meant ‘I won’t be a twat to my wife’. Sure I may have farted and wee’d on the toilet seat occasionally, but I just knew that lying and cheating wasn’t something you do when you are married.

        • After D-day #2 I found Chump Lady and her advice of securing agreements, and a post-nup to see just how serious the cheaters are about their remorse (Unicorn or Genuine Naugahyde?).

          I wrote out 10-pages of “Terms & Conditions” my cheater-wife must to adhere to in order to stay married to me. Seriously. But it starts with, “I can’t believe I actually have to write this shit down. I assumed we were working within the same set of values.

          Normal people in healthy marriages don’t have to do this shit.

          • Well said BNM.

            I have discovered that if you have to explain decent human behaviour to people, you are completely wasting your time.

            You should have to explain decent human behaviour.

              • We got you 🙂

                This is right. When I had to explain to my stbx why it was gross that he was with my best “friend”/Maid of honor who I called my sister, after I told him it was gross he said, and I quote, “why?” — I realized we weren’t even on the same planet.

      • I wish someone had told me that too. In the inmediate aftermath of DDay I said something like “it’s literally in the vows to remain faithful!” His response? “Anyone can say vows.” Wtf

        • My cheating soon to be ex wife replied to the following question “What about the vows you made to me?” with “I made those vows when I was 20!” Like marriage vows have an expiration date and it was OK to do what she did. That’s how delusional and narcissistic this pile of waste is!!!

          • Mine said to me what about in goodness & bad. Isnt this a bad time? And arent I not honoring my marriage vows either.!!

            Hw also said he felt I love him uncoditionally and felt I would be able to get thur his cheating on me… Wow then the guilt he laid on me… How I just didnt understand what he was going thur and he never stopped loving me, that i could ask the ow, she was jealous of what we had. OMG !!!

      • Exactly. Until they mean nothing, as in after 25 years, “let’s renegotiate our marriage vows” and learning that he was talking about “monogamish” and polyamory BS. Because I wouldn’t go along with this CRAP, I was told I didn’t love him enough-unconditionally. I was TOO rigid, standing on my moral high ground. Blameshifting on an epic scale.

    • To me, our vows were a covenant. To him, they were something to work around.

      • I said my vows to God, and they were a covenant. When I brought that out to my ex-hole, “But we said our vows!”, his response, “That was at a different time.” So like many others, the vows only meant something to me and to him they lasted for as long as he felt like it.

        • How many of us said ‘but we said our vows!’ only to get a resentful blank stare back.

          It was one of the things that hurt me greviously was that we said sacred promises before God. I thought it was set in stone, until I found it wasn’t.

          I asked him, ‘would you betray your country?’ Would you betray your company? Why betray me and the children? [Resentful blank stare back].

          Once you are discarded, you might as well talk to a stump. Save your breath and file.

          • My cheating EX Wife claims she only cheated on me. Not our 3 kids. Cheaters are so shallow minded.

        • A few days after dday, I remembering telling cheater-ex that by his cheating on our vows he was also slapping the faces of all our wedding guests. Those guests believed in our vows because they chose to be in attendance. Blank sare.

    • Yes those vows. He took them 30 years before dday( the first one, that I knew of anyway). Followed by wreckonciliation for 4 yearsand pick me dancing and a vomit-inducing re-wedding in Central Park. Followed by dday #2(that I knew of) What a sick joke!!!

      • I am sorry, Newlady. I have never been able to understand why the cheater would go through with vow renewal ceremonies – the betrayed, yeah, I get that, it is hopium driving that – and desperation. Not for me, I wasn’t gonna have someone who couldn’t get it right the first time. I think of the darling trusting chumps who believe it was an aberration. And give their cheaters the benefit of the doubt, and renew those vows. In front of their nearest and dearest.

        I have a friend who divorced her serial cheating judge wasband after four kids and more than 30 years married. Then remarried him a few years later in a lovely ceremony – because he promised he’d changed. I never got that. And sadly, they were divorced again within two years, due to his continued cheating. She is remarried again, to someone else, thankfully, and appears to be contented and at peace at last. It’s not so much once a cheater always a cheater, more that once trust is shattered, it is bloody hard to reinstate any. But the first statement seems to ring true more times than it doesn’t – right?

  • Exactly.

    Love does not prescribe a certain set of actions. Even unconditional love does not prescribe a certain set of actions, as CL demonstrates.

    Leaving a cheater is not equivalent to withdrawing love, and characterizing it as such is drawing a false equivalency.

    Leaving a cheater IS equivalent to withdrawing focus. The cheater withdrew his/her end of the agreement. Now you are withdrawing your end because the agreement is broken. That’s not a lack of love, it’s just an acknowledgement of what has already occurred. Broken agreement, change of focus, away from a broken relationship and toward whatever is coming next.

    Sometimes I express my unconditional love for another person by practicing good anger management (you know, not punching the person, etc.) as part of the change of focus. 🙂

    • This is a good point. Although eventually when his behavior did not change, I did not, could not, love him anymore. So my love was definitely withdrawn.

      Also, love might not prescribe a certain set of actions, but marriage does. I expected his love for me to include lifelong fidelity. I guess he expected my love for him to include unlimited second chances for said fidelity. No.

      • I remember when I was finally done. He was gone for four days with a friend on a train ride to DC and back. I was decluttering , relaxing and having a peaceful time. He arrived home and I couldn’t welcome him. I broke down and just cried. His friend knew that I was over him. He figured it out later. I just remember thinking his has not been gone long enough.

      • My love for the ex has faded, too. I didn’t divorce him because I didn’t love him. I divorced home because it was unreasonable to be married to him. But, now, I feel like that was a past life, one that I never want to join again.

  • Adult love always comes with conditions. Those are the ‘deal breakers’, boundaries or vows adults make to each other-either in private together or in front of an audience. Dishonest people like to know how far they can push the envelope in bending or eliminating these barriers in pursuit of their magical ‘needs!!!’ and entitlements. It’s often hard when you are in the moment to notice the erosion of these conditions due to the cheater’s toolbox of deceptive practices, so don’t be hard on yourself.

    If at ANY time your SO declares that you, chump, must provide them with UNconditional Love, seriously question the history of your relationship. No emotionally mature adult would place their partner in a Parent role to be the MotherTeresa of forgiveness for heinous acts the cheater does against the relationship, family or partner. Just NOPE out of the mess. These people never change.

    • We discussed deal breakers during premarital counseling. With STBX’s minister father. (Very. Awkward.)
      My deal breakers were – drumroll please – infidelity and failure to get help for physical/psychological problems. STBX’s were – none! No deal breakers! He loved me unconditionally and always would! There was nothing I could do that would change that!
      Jesus, I was clueless.
      In the end, I was (finally) true to myself. And, STBX is still telling people that he loves me (but we grew apart/ he isn’t in love with me/ life got in the way of our marriage).
      The mind fuckery is strong and long with this one. So glad I have gotten to the point where it can’t be unseen or glossed over.

      • Yeah…..The Premarital Counseling…Which we had AFTER we were married. And during which no real issues were discussed (by him, anyway) as he sat there and BS’d the counselor the whole time. The screaming red flags!!! What a chump I was!!! Sooooo glad to be out of that situation.

    • I put up with endless shit from mine year in year out, drinking problems, spending problems, prescription drug problems, should have left him 7 years ago when I seriously considered it and my best friend said ‘what the fuck are you doing staying with him’
      Here I am totally fucked over.
      I remember vividly a few months ago when I was trying to tell him the obvious that family is everything, he said in rage ‘the concept of the family is dead’ holy fuck in hindsight yes it is to you because you are destroying it!
      4 days NC depressed sad angry, feeling strong. I see now he if Fucked !
      determined to forge on and build an independent wealthy life from this dickhead who has been an albatross around my neck.

      • You can do it … each and every day will slowly, slowly get better. Your future is going to be amazing without him dragging you down. Go you!!!

    • Spot on ANC!

      I had been very explicit about my deal breakers before getting married, fraud, infidelity, lies.

      When I found out about his affair, I asked him what my deal breakers were before we got married.

      He fumbled through each of them, was ashamed but showed no remorse at all for the devastation he was seeing in me. When I told him that I did not feel any remorse from him, he played poor sausage and said he was sorry he could not express his emotions more, it was just too traumatic a time for him… I was the one who found out that he had been having an affair for over a year, but he is the one too traumatized to talk?

      I am so glad that I had been explicit about my deal breakers and that I mustered enough self-respect to move out and initiate our divorce within a month of finding out about his affair. He’s been playing the three channels of mindfuckery ever since, but I am as NC as shared custody allows!

  • Holy shit. This article is spot on. My ex claimed he cheated on me cuz I didn’t show him enough love and affection. Though he treated me like shit and was out dating other women and going to strip clubs and massage parlors til 3am. Then sleeping in the car cuz he was passed out. Had no idea this was a standard thing narcs say. Thanks chump lady. If I had known I wouldn’t have spent years thinking maybe I did something wrong

    • Snap baby, mine said I didn’t give him enough attention and I was unevolved and couldn’t communicate, I guess he could communicate with hoe bag on Skype!
      On Saturday when I had the big reveal of the truth ie hundreds of photos of him and slag he had the audacity to say ‘you need to look at yourself and understand your part in this’ while pointing his finger and raging at me, my friends who attended for the unceremonious eviction were gob smacked!
      No point trying to understand, he is wired differently and everything is my fault.
      He had it all and blew it, ungrateful shit.

      • But remember, he does not believe he *had it all.* You have to frame this differently in order for you to stay NC. He is not going to come back and weep that he understands what he lost. Ungrateful? You could have given him a kidney and he would have still cheated on you.

        He might shark back over- when he needs something, or is working an angle. He never valued what you had. He did not care. That is why he was Skyping with a Hoe Bag.

        I am not being cruel. The opposite. You are four days into this. I wish I had fully understood in the beginning that my XH did not give a shit. I was weeping alone. The song, Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina? Don’t cry for him. Don’t attribute any human emotions to him. This will be your trip up. Think of him as an alien, who only exists to hurt you and who laughed at you. Who mocked you. Who valued you less than a whore. It hurts, but it will keep you from going back for another round of pain. Get focused on getting a lawyer. If no money is left, get focused on making him as small in your life as you can.

        • This is my second round of pain, totally get what you are saying and know he doesn’t value it.
          I cried a river 8 weeks ago, now I see what an empty shell he is, blood sucking freak, yes he will be back eventually as he is always using people for whatever he can gain, hopefully by then I will have a big strapping man to tell him to beat it or laugh in his face. I know I am and will be better off without him he was a third needy demanding whining child.
          Yes I need to start focusing my energies on me and my boys so he can fade away into the background and to be quite honest he wasn’t the most involved father and they are more bonded to me. I don’t want them around him more than they need to be, him manipulating them with his side of the story or introducing them to his future whores and dodgy friends.
          2 days a fortnight tops and strict arrangements as I know he will try and hurt me through them, he is disordered.

          • It would be great if you could move. I remember you said you had a house by the beach, perhaps you could rent it out for a good sum, paying both your house note and have enough to rent another cottage that he would not know the location.

            If he could not access you. It takes his power away.
            Yes, put nothing past them. Once they realize you mean business, they get downright scary. I hope your does not, but mine did.

            • I worked very hard to get this house and will stay. I want him to see the kids but will be watching and setting guidelines, what he likes to call ‘ me micro managing’.
              I think he nick named me that to his circle of cronies.
              If he can’t play by my rules on custody then court it is but it won’t come to that.
              2 days a fortnight is plenty, he’s not that capable of more it’s to much like parenting or work.
              That’s my next challenge.
              Anyways 5 days NC apart from photo of stuff texted to him today, the last of his belongings, ‘to be collected by 2.30 or it goes to charity shop’
              Got to enforce with these people. Then block number again done.
              Came home and stuff is gone yah, peaceful night with my boys doing naff all.

          • You don’t need a big strapping man. You are mighty. Run him off your ownself.

      • and then they act like they are the winner, they are better and happy now because they got away from you.
        Blows my damn mind.

        • Paintwidow.
          It blew your mind because you have one.
          They just have toddler impulses lashed together ‘I want this, I want that, I won’t do this, I won’t do that’ alongside shrunken or absent wiring for empathy, responsibility or delayed gratification. Unfortunately what they do seem to have in spades is shrewd cunning and a thorough grounding in manipulation.
          That’s why we struggle with this. How can they be sooo charming or soooo nice while not having any higher functions like empathy or morality.
          How can a toddler brain be so able (to sniff out vulnerability and need and genuine kindness). I guess that these are habits and behaviours honed since early childhood that have worked for them before, red flag anyone? That’s why they have a limited repertoire of responses. Once they don’t work they have to move on. There is no capacity in the system to see flaws let alone do anything about them.
          I know CL says they can see but don’t care. I’m not sure they can see in any meaningful way. Doesn’t matter either way to us. Still have to run like our hair is on fire (and to those who might say ‘sure cap, you are running so fast you let him back in to the house for a time – ill say yes but I am running fast metaphorically…..). ?

          • Capricorn you are a legend as they say in Australia, Freud of Chump Lady thank you.

            • That is a sweet compliment to the poster, and she has lots of general psychological insights because I believe she is a therapist and she posts a lot. But, she is living with a cheater and often minimizes his pathological behaviors.

              This truth is quite simple. Leave a cheater and gain a life. Gazing into their navel (the cheater’s) is as non productive as dipping out the ocean with a teaspoon.

              Stick to reading the CL’s posts and old hands at this for guidance right now. You are 4 day into NC. You are not thinking clearly. Neither is Capricorn, even if it seems she is. She is doing mental gymnastics to justify staying in house with a cheater. Yes, yes, yes lots of reasons. Lots of children and money issues. But the song remains the same.

              These people have the ability to ruin your life. Analyzing is addictive, but at some point action will be required to save you and your children’s figurative or literal lives.

              • Tone is lost in an email. No one should take this as me scolding. But, when you are living with a cheater, or that close from their horror show, you are probably close to real madness. You can’t help it.

                If I had the money, I would swoop in and rent you and her a mansion in Malibu so you could get away from these soul suckers.

                Tempest wrote this morning…Fuck ’em. It’s that brutal and simple.

                You have to post, I get it or we might read about you on Snapped but don’t overthink this.


              • Clara, a lot of Chumps stay for a while, when they already know they will be divorcing. Sometimes it’s because they need time to line up their ducks, sometimes because they feel there is a better time to separate, sometimes because they think it’s advantageous in some other way, sometimes because they can’t get the cheater out, legally, yet.

                Each Chump has their own path, and we try to encourage, not criticize. And we do apply loving 2 8 4s when we feel it’s necessary. Many of us don’t see clearly early on, but things become more clear w/time and NC.

                Cap though having Cheater in the house for a short time was best for her family, and underestimated how pathological it would be,abd hard it would be on her. But I think her eyes are open, and she’s on the path that will lead to freedom!

              • Yep. I got all that. The plan, the path, the intentions. Of course she meant well. That is clear. A good soul.
                She has all my empathy, sympathy, hope and good faith.
                These people have enough problems without quibbling with me. No harm intended. I want her to escape and have a life that will be unsurpassed.

                But, I trust CL’s insights into cheating 100%. I don’t believe someone living with a cheater actively is in the position to solidly instruct someone 4 days out, on a second DDay. Which for some reason, are worse.

                Just trying to instruct someone drowning to CL’s posts that are a life raft in a rolling sea of shit that is a cheater’s mind fuck.

              • You might not intend to sound judgmental, but you do.
                Capricorn has accomplished more in 4 months than I have in almost 4 years. She is incredibly strong and supportive of other chumps while she is still deep within the devastation her stbx caused. I am in awe of her. I also feel for her having to cohabitate with her STBX. I did it for 9 months and it was awful. I cheer for her everyday and worry when I don’t see her here.
                She deserves credit. Not criticism.

              • I hear you Clara and understand what you were saying- whether some people thought it was too harsh or not. I have been an avid reader on this site since 2012. I know I personally could never offer any newbie advice other than ‘breathe’ and in my early years I would have been guilty of jumping in and offering bits of random offerings whilst still processing my own journey which has had many highs and lows in terms of untangling the skein of fuckedupness.

                I mainly come here for the snark and after nearly 5 years since DDay I know it took me quite a few years to actually process what had and was happening. I have only come across a few that got their shit together straight off and I really admire them. For me, it took a lot lot longer to genuinely get it but I am nearly at Meh- not quite, but definitely a lot more wiser. I read up on so many articles and spouted lots of wise snarky shit but I actually never ‘got it’ until the last 18 mths.

                As a newbie I still lived in hope that despite my actions and rantings and thinking that he would come back eventually …. or at least be the good guy in the divorce. I mean he couldn’t have been that bad could he? I suppose what I am saying is that despite all the wonderful advice here by people who get or got it in the early days I acted like I understood the horror but I never totally ‘got it’ until much much later.

            • Thanks Lady B!
              Excuse me while I lie down, stroke my beard and light a cigar…
              ? ?

              • Clara
                Ouch!! Haha. First thought WTF. But then ………

                First I wasn’t posting to Lady Batshit, I was just commenting to PaintWidow.
                My cheater is in the house yes. Was it the best idea no, but am I fine yes. And more importantly things have calmed down for my boys. He will leave in two weeks, divorce will be final in six weeks or less.
                I am leaving a cheater and I am gaining a life. I do untangle the skein here because it’s a good place to share and I am a therapist so it’s my way of thinking too but I don’t do it any other time. I am too busy gaining a life. I am making my choices in my own best interests. You may think I am fucked up and close to madness but I assure you I have never seen things so clearly. I might not like my choices but I am moving fast. I am close to out. I will be divorced six moths after dday 1 and there were three more after that. My STBX is the father of my kids like it or not and this period has been painful for me but has allowed them to work through a great many feelings. They still love their dad even though they hate what he has done. When he leaves in two weeks that’s it. He goes back abroad and then contact is minimal and about the boys. Software has been purchased and is ready. The boys know how things stand and how odd this is and how uncomfortable but they also know we can be civil. That’s just who I am too Clara. I am kind, I am measured, I do take a long view, I am generous. Even to him still. It’s not about him, that’s who I am and I’m damned if he’s going to make me someone I’m not.
                And I’ll bet you a dime to a dollar I come out of this with some awesome insight and learning and a huge amount of personal growth.
                I am not superhuman and I know that this is a process. I will go through more shit first when he leaves for good and then when the divorce is final.
                But I have to tell you I can cope. I have coped before with dysfunctional parents and an abusive boyfriend and now this. But I’m strong what can I say? I’m looking forward to doing things my way. Bought new furniture today to collect in 2 weeks. Have locksmith ready for symbolic lock changing (a friend and I are going to cut a ribbon). Thanks to all here I’m mostly good.

                I don’t want to get into anything here. I debated whether to answer at all but thought you might be working off half baked assumptions so I have.

              • Capricorn,
                All the compliments you are getting are spot on.
                It’s like you thread all my thoughts together and post them for me.
                I enjoy reading every word.

              • Capricorn — I understand you have children, and you have a plan, and you have to work on your own timetable. I needed time to get my ducks in a row, too. That was the most miserable time of my life, and I am surprised I didn’t get a permanent case of lockjaw, my teeth were gritted so tightly!

                What I have more of a problem with is when a considerable amount of time has passed, and there was huge damage done at the last D-day ( and several previous D-days) and YET, the chump starts seeing him again. I don’t know how you ever get over the harm done — to the point of believing it won’t happen again? For one thing, I guess this is what can happen if you don’t maintain strict NC? But I am watching it now — a woman I work with has gone “on vacation” with her ex. He is a total Narc, and he was horrible to her. She was no angel herself, and did many crazy things, and she seems incapable of learning her very painful lessons. They have been divorced for several years, and live several states apart. She has gained quite a bit of weight and hasn’t found anyone serious to date. I understand she is unhappy with herself, and her self esteem is low. However, she doesn’t seem to understand she has to change what she does, if what she does doesn’t work. She claims she is just going to get a “free” vacation — but I think she will pay dearly for it.
                It is none of my business, but knowing about it triggers something in me — a type of anger, I guess. I just hate to see someone get away with criminal (it is a crime against humanity to me) behavior, and then be given another chance to do it again. This woman lost her credit, almost lost her house, lost a good relationship with her children, and had serious health issues caused by the stress of this relationship. I’ve heard it all — and I’ve tried to be supportive, and encouraging to her. It is going to be difficult on me to see her at work, and I really don’t want to hear anything about what I know will happen. To me she is just like the woman who found a snake and nursed it back to life, and then was so surprised when it bit her. She cannot claim she didn’t know he was a snake. Why pick him up again???

                I suppose this is my problem — really — I hate it, but I know deep down it is true. I cannot fix anyone else, I am lucky if I figure out how to fix myself. I have to go back to work on fixing MY tendency to try to “fix” others! Maybe this is my PTSD, and I just heard something that reminds me of incoming???

              • And just to be clear. Dday 10 July 10th 2016. Three more in next two weeks. Filed for divorce in September 2016. Divorce will be final March 2017. 21 years married, three boys. No unicorns ever.

                I am leaving the cheater and gaining the life. I am a poster child for it. 8 months is not too shabby from dday to divorce so that is my example to newbies. Try to run faster than I have!

              • Clara.
                Anything thing that has helped me and might help you is to know that for the last 7 years my STBX has worked abroad. He was not often at home. Four to eight weeks max per year. So I was a de facto single parent. So this time I said he could stay was not me ‘letting him back’ as he was rarely here.
                That’s also why I have been able to move quickly. I am much more used to him being away than being here. We all are.

                Sorry this hasn’t helped you with your gripe that I post a lot ! I do.

              • Okay, I’ve just got to say here as a Newbie – D-Day 20th May 2016 and found my mighty chump nation 2 weeks ago – got to say that i pull hope, inspiration, comfort and knowledge from MOST posts here. I don’t limit myself to “Old hands” or just “CL” if it is relevant to me it’s bloody well relevant to me. Geez everyone has something to offer and to be quite frank i’m a bit pissed at the suggestion to “leave it to the old hands & CL”
                I’ve gained so much from Caps posts over the last few weeks, she has made me think, laugh, cry and go Ahaa and i’m glad she’s at the moment in a posting frenzy because it’s helping her and it’s helping me along with so many others on here are helping me and i hope that my responses have perhaps helped 1 or 2 chumps.
                My point is –
                Take your help from where you can get it. If it applies great, if it doesn’t well it doesn’t get retained in the brain.

              • Cap, I find your comments lucid, human and … evolved. Keep doing what you’re doing – it’s working xxx. This is a long game, even when you get your ducks lined up and divorce underway. Takes years to process and (Ima gonna say a word I kinda loathe about this shit) heal. ‘Healing’ is a lifelong process, not a once-off scarring that fades away completely. You are doing great!

          • Because we can’t confuse charm with character.

            They can absolutely see what they are doing, with clarity and cunning. They can play the long game, they can sniff out vulnerable people like the pigs in Italy sniff out truffles.

            It is not a toddler brain. It is a calculating brain, that has no moral stop signs and only cares about immediate self gratification. The people bleeding on the side of the road as a result of their hell bent for leather selfishness do not cause them emotional pain.

            • Clara

              Cheating, lying, and leading a double life required one deliberste choice after another. Infidelity requires planning and agency.

              It requires a lack of respect. If anyone told me he never loved me i could have built a case to prove he did. The gaslighting and actions I ATTENDED to felt real.

              Cognitive disonance is powerful as is hopium.

              With all my heart I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. All our voices and experiences collectively speak to change the narrative around infidelity and tollersting abuse.

              I would have laughed at the thought The Limited was toxic. It wasn’t until I saw his mask drop to finally SEE the monster. And just shy of three years to detach fully and get to a good place in my life.

              • That said, I for one know all too well how much I beat myself up for participating, for forgiving, for humiliating myself, and for reconciling.

                Even when I got IT, I needed time to live it. It’s a very long process filled with not only grieving, but healing, loving ourselves, and taking care of our needs.

                What I love the most is how we get what it feels like at 4 days, four months, a year and beyond. We are never alone and have others to encourage, support, and get us through the shit fuck days when we need a kind word when we are weak.

          • So true Capricorn, it’s not intelligence except in the predatory sense, shrewd cunning, I also call it low cunning. They’ve got plenty of that but not intelligence, which is why so many of them are failures in other aspects of their lives too. There a surprising number of these people around, all the affair enablers and apologists also fit in that category I think.

            • Capricorn,
              Post away. Sometimes it is easier to see things from outside the situation & we are able to give very sound advice. I look at friends I have advised to set firm boundaries, but abuse is insidious & I let those slip for myself. When looking at our own lives, it doesn’t seem so clear all the time. Clarity seems to come from time away from the cheaters’ mind games & having a safe place to process our feelings to get us ahead faster. You are understanding, something we all need. I’ve never found your comments to be off base or not in line with all that is supported here. I don’t know why Clara jumped on you, but probably she has issues of her own, as we’ve learned through dealing with people who try to control us through their words & actions. Her opinion is as valid as the next persons, if it is said in love. Don’t allow someone to discount you when you are clearly an insightful & valued contributor here.

            • I’m betting the family,married work colleague female of course, he always plays sad sack with them to gain kibbles don’t kmow why he’s there and why I threw him out a second time within the space of three weeks, his version will be ‘ I love her but we just can’t live together, she is a micro manager bla bla
              Whateva, got keys back, neighbours know he’s not to come here and he knows, hopefully he has the good sense not to or the police will be called.
              No $ or assets to divi up. I made sure years ago that I didn’t do joint finances with him as he pissed money against the wall. He is now substantially in debt on c card, not my prob, did try an angel to get a loan and put it in the mortgage or some nonsense, he has the financial knowledge of a high schooler,
              6 days out and feeling better, still raw but can clearly see how appallingly me and my boys have been treated and this is him, I’ve put down pipe.

          • Oh my gosh, and mine is soooooo stupid. I ask myself these questions too. And how is he capable of some of these manipulative things when he is such a complete moron? I have noticed, however, that if he doesn’t have an immediate opening with a person he gets flustered and quits right away. He clings onto people who are easily manipulated, and he totally got me at the naive age of 19.

        • PaintWindow

          “and then they act like they are the winner, they are better and happy now because they got away from you.
          Blows my damn mind.”

          They are such good actors. The foundation is based on lies. After the infatuation stage wears off and they suffer the consequences of their actions they tantrum for a while. They attempt to pull us in to trigger our anger and say, “See what I had to put up with.”

          No contact lends no support to the narrative and that bliss? Boom! They have to live with what ever the pulled from the dumpster.

          I loved un

          • Unconditionally. Acting only goes so far. The whore can’t contain her borderline attachment issues and he cannot fake loving her suffocating clinginess as a narc who can’t attach. Add to that the financial dependency she has on him and the devaluation has begun.

            Point being they took that shit with them.

      • Lady Batshit–Blameshifting is the #1 predictor of a cheater. Number one. They want to live life without consequences, including any hit to their impression management. The easiest way to do this, and the only one which MIGHT resonate with other members of society is the “there were marital problems, and I made an eensy, weensy mistake by having an affair.” (also cue sad hanging of head)

        Minimizing is the other common technique–what I did wasn’t really so bad (strategies here include, “almost everyone does it,” “it didn’t hurt you that much” variations).

        They all do it. Two days after D-day, my X told me I should be less “obsessed” about his affair from 8 years prior and more “obsessed” about why he was so unhappy with me at the time. When my DD13 went NC with him, he tried numerous rationalizations for his affair, including the “marital problems,” and “I thought your mother didn’t love me.” When even a 13 year old won’t buy your bullshit, you know your reasoning sucks.

        • I thought you didn’t love me is so much BULLSHIT! If they don’t feel loved they can leave. If you don’t love them then you would leave. If they can’t believe “I love you” spoken to them it’s because they are dirty fucking liars and think words can’t be believed because they know they are not truthful. I had a very rough patch during the earlier part of our marriage where I felt that STBX didn’t care about what I wanted. I wasn’t sure I was still IN LOVE with him even though I knew I loved him. I thought about whether this was the right things for me and considered what a divorce would be like and I found the idea so painful I decided to stick around and see if it would get better and it did. Because my struggle was me. I was unhappy and blaming him. I figured my shit out on my own and got through it. THAT is what you do when you feel the relationship is not in a good place. You don’t boo hoo hoo for yourself and then go fuck some whores to punish the other person. You either fix it or leave! What a dick! Just like all the others.

          • Disordered people can’t love, so when they accuse you of not making them feel loved, that is partially true, but a total mindfuck as well. NO ONE CAN MAKE A NARC FEEL LOVED! They can’t feel shit that isn’t about what they want next.

        • When I naively thought it was an EA as he said and because she lived OS I got the ‘loads of people go through worse ie physically affairs and it makes their relationship stronger’
          As they say in Aus ‘yeah but nah!’

      • Omg, lady batshit, that may be word for word what mine said too! I just..whaa?…huh? Though it hurt like hell, really coming to terms with the fact that I obviously never mattered all that much to him really set my heart on a straight path (head was already there, yelling for heart to catch up).

    • Tired Chump, this is the thing that STBX could not get through his damn head. Blows my mind that he had this expectation. Craziness. New Supply will be dealing with this soon enough. So grateful to be on the road to freedom.

  • “Unconditional love” is a common theme within the Christian church. It’s used to describe the kind of love that GOD has for PEOPLE. Even the church understands there are conditions for marriage (fidelity and safety).

    Ironically, even though God loves us unconditionally, He won’t be in a relationship with us unconditionally. A relationship with God can only be obtained through repentance. (Please forgive me; I want to serve you with my life going forward.)

    As CL has described so perfectly, true repentance looks a lot different than the genuine imitation Naugahyde remorse our Cheaters proudly display.

    God isn’t a Chump, and neither am I. (Any more!)

    • Playing off MGM, I have to say that cheaters are not the only people who demand Unconditional Love. I had this crap peddled at me by ignorant and so called, “Christian” counselors who don’t scripture from church pop culture, which is more like a social club with it’s own do’s and don’ts. They talk about forgiveness but never talk about repentance being a mandatory component in that process. They are more concerned with keeping things cool instead of getting down to the real reasons infidelity happens: Entitlement and Apathy.

      After D-day, my ex-wife and I was encouraged to take a 2-week hiatus. This after she admitted to having cheated and was clear about her intentions of doing it again. It was to be a cooling off period after which we could come back together and discuss things without being emotional. Pure absurdity. What did they think she was going to do during those weeks? I’m sure you all can guess.

      I know some of you are Christians and church going people who have experienced something similar and struggling with the cognitive dissonance your church may be adding to your grief. I can tell you that I’ve found more relief on my own, on CL and Divorce Minister than from any organization.

      • You’re absolutely right, Michael. I would say that most Christian churches are still trying to catch up to the truth of narcissism.

        IT’S ALL ABOUT REPENTANCE. Which Ns do not have.

        That’s why one of my favorite scriptures when explaining why my love isn’t “unconditional” is from 2 Timothy 3:

        But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH SUCH PEOPLE. (emphasis mine)

      • Tried a divorce support group at the local mega-church. Horrifying. The message seemed basically to be that it was not godly of me to be hurt, or mad, or scared, or human at all in any respect. I should just be compassionate and forgiving. Oh, boy. Way to be supportive and realistic, mega-church. The one good things I can say are that the church ladies made and served great dinners before each session, and that my fellow travelers were great and supportive. They should have just let us talk, form friendships, and generally guide and support each other.

          • Yes, my mega-church did about the same thing. I was told I had to be forgiving, independent of what my cheater was doing, which is how God forgives me, which is totally false. I knew this made no sense on all levels (intellectually and spiritually) but I didn’t how to respond at the time. On top of my anguish and grief, they added this false responsibility to my experience. The overwhelming feeling I got was that they were more concerned about appearances than substance. Specifically how a church member appears to the world. I also felt like marriage was an idol for these people and that divorce must be avoided at all costs. Not what the Bible says.

              • Lol! Right? Church Lady taco dinners are a balm to the soul, to say nothing of the desserts. Mega-churches should focus more on that food ministry. Comfort food served with love changes lives.

            • So- YOUR love for a cheating husband is supposed to be unconditional but GOD’S love for you isn’t? ::rolling with laughter::

      • I spoke to my minister and she was very validating.. pointing out that the bible says we must leave those who cheat. My Stephen minister was a godsend and is now a friend after listening to me every week for over a year. My prayer is that all who seek this kind of ministry find good ones.

      • I considered going to one of those divorce groups at the mega-church. I couldn’t bring myself to do it, though, because the churches now seem to be – like you said – all about being hip and cool and forgiving with no repentance. I stopped going to church a couple years ago because of their wanting to be like and look like the world to win the world. I thought, how can the divorce group be much different? Thanks for the info. I’m glad I didn’t go. I probably wouldn’t ended up frustrated and disgusted – kind of like I left with the couple secular counselors I’ve seen that were a waste of time. I probably should have asked if they’ve been through a divorce with sociopathic cheater because they just don’t get it. And, as I’ve read on here before, you can’t explain it to them.

  • They don’t even know what regular love is… and that’s *without* complicating it with selfish demands like making it unconditional.

    • So much this. They have no idea. One of my proudest moments in the divorce craziness was two weeks after DDay when my ex was telling me how in love with the OW he was and I asked him if he really thought you could be in love with someone who two weeks ago didn’t even know who you were? (He was using a fake name and she didn’t know he was married) He looked at me and just said yes. And I told him he didn’t know what real love was. He didn’t like that haha.

      • I have written on my Survival poster board what Loved a Jackass wrote a few weeks ago:

        People are interchangeable to them.

        That is your amulet. People are just kibble dispensers. Like those aquarium accessories that dispense fish flakes when you have to leave town. That is their “love.”

        • That analogy made me laugh and I so needed it.
          Confession I outed cheater to his family sent them all an email telling them the truth, he had of cause told them it was ‘friendship’,, live in the light and love I say.
          Also told sluts husband who seems ok with it,, mm yah good marriage and messaged whore herself, so sort of broke NC but necessary I believe to stir up a few hornets,,
          They both thought I would sit in the corner like a good little mommy, nah sorry fighting is in my blood, anyways back to grey rock and getting on with life.

          • Good for you, Lady B! I always like to create more opportunities for the universe to provide consequences to the disordered.

            • Haha i was apparently totally out of line telling her husband and was causing drama, yeah really that’s the point a hole, feel the pain. gave me the kind of perverse thrill I think they get sneaking the fuck around.

        • LOL – Aquarium fish flake dispensers. That is too funny – because it’s true!

      • I said the same exact thing to my STBX ! Word for word. I asked him if he really thought that 25 years of shared experiences and commitment and laughing and love could ever equal this person he had known for 2 weeks, and he said, YES, she is my SOULMATE, and I needed to love him enough to let him pursue the relationship. That our soul contract was over and I should be able to accept that. Can you imagine??? I was insane at the time (still am) but when he wanted to have BOTH OF US, educated me on “polyamory” and “monogamish” lifestyles…well, that’s where my unconditional love STOPPED. At the age of 62, I had to get tested for STDs, how disgusting. In all of this, he destroyed our family and will never know the joys of our first grandchild cos my son will have nothing to do with him. I hope he’s happy, not sure if he’s even with that sociopath who only wanted his money (truth) but there’s not much out there for a broken 55 year old midlife man with ED.

        • It may have been only weeks. Or it could have been more. What I know is they detach long before the discard. The disordered who can coldly walk away after weeks has more than likely cheated throughout their marriage.

          Love we understand. It’s the disordered we have to learn about. Seeing them is what sets us free. We tend to give these fucker much more credit than they deserve.

        • Omfg, the soulmate line…
          It devastated me when I heard it on DDay. Now it just makes me roll my eyes.

        • BeowulfSabrina, my Ex was “in love” with his MOW after only spending three days in a hotel room with her! That has to be some sort of record for “twu wuv!” But it trumped our nearly 39 years of marriage, go figure. I also had to be tested for STD’s because I’m certain his Schmoopie had been around the block several times prior to poaching my husband. But the laughable thing is when you divorce them, take all the assets and let them have thier beloved Schmoopie it then seems that Schmoopie loses interest! At least that’s what happened in my Ex’s love affair. Add in being broke, unemployed and deadly sick AND unable to fulfill your “romantic lover duties” then Mr. Sparkles found himself curbside in record time also!

    • That seems to have happened to my STBX too. He was “in love” with the whoremat but NOT IN LOVE with his wife. He and I are “just friends” now. The kind of friends that say I love you and are married and have sex. (Not anymore but before d-day) During one of our epic fights right after d-day when I was still trying to get to the bottom of WTF was actually going on (I was seriously in shock), I asked him “do you love her?” And he said “I have strong feelings for her.” And I said “DO. YOU. LOVE. HER?” And he said ” I have feelings” I ended up screaming “DO YOU SAY ‘I love you’ TO HER?!” And of course he looks all sad and says “yes…”

      Then a few weeks later he moved into the whoremat’s bug filled shit hole and he tells me he HASN’T moved on like he thought he had. And maybe he DOESN’T actually LOVE her. And he doesn’t know what love is. Well you stupid fuck head I can tell you 100% that LOVE has NOTHING to do with breaking up your “friend’s” marriage while you try to “help” him with his marriage problems (especially when your romantic track record includes a rapist, and two men that stole all your money and bankrupted you, and an anusive alcoholic cheater). And that LOVE is not “Go work on your marriage! But wait! (DRAMATIC PAUSE!!!!!!!!!!) I LOVE YOU TOO MUCH!” (Legs open slowly and dramatically) Love changes over time and no I wasn’t wildly, passionately, full of butterflies and “the spark” IN LOVE ❤️ with my husband anymore. I was in love with him and loved him the way of a decade long marriage. My best friend I loved and had sex with. The life partner I chose. The one person that got me. That I had fun with. That I could be myself with and have the most intimate in depth relationship with of all people. Or so I thought. What an IDIOT! And I can guarantee he is NOT in love with her. He might not be “in love” with me either, but I can guarantee that fucking whore isn’t the next great love of his life. It’s SO PATHETIC the way they attach sex to love in this situation. It HAS to be love otherwise what kind of a fucking IDIOT RUINS their own and others’ lives for a cheap, DISGUSTING fuck with a pile of HUMAN GARBAGE?

      • Love what I’m reading tonight, should be asleep but learning so much. Shag bags!
        The intelligence of chump writings blows my mind, the insight is amazing .
        Pathetic is what comes to my mind and the vision of my boys turning twenty one and this being part of their story that Dads a coward who betrayed their mother over and over.

      • What is this “want to be friends” SHIT??? I get that too. I was the “best wife, best friend, best companion” in the world, and now he wants to be friends???? Doesn’t he understand that he is describing MATURE love, which is the opposite of what he discovered with that moneygrubbing slunt. No, asshole, I can’t be FRIENDS with you, cos friends don’t treat other friends like garbage to be discarded when something shinier comes along. He disgusts me.

        • My STBXMIL sent me an email saying I needed to be sure this was right before throwing the marriage away and that we both “deserve to be happy” and she wanted us to be friends after all we meant to each other over ten years. I had to tell her I WAS HAPPY! I STILL LOVED HIM and that HE threw the marriage away. And that FRIENDS don’t destroy other friends’ lives. That if it was a normal divorce situation and we had grown apart or fallen out of love then yeah, maybe friends would be possible. But he CHEATED and he wants to be with a fucking WHORE. The one he CHEATED on me with! There is no FRIENDS. We are NOT FRIENDS!

          • Yes Shelby! After all, I’ve decided that I prefer friends that don’t make me cry myself to sleep every night for six months.

            • Yeah I got this after d day 1. My reply: I’m not friends with people who fuck me over’ crickets.
              I would have become his side bitch while he told me he was single and working on him self.

  • Let’s see I continued to love and support my cheater thru porn addiction, emotional affairs, alcoholism, drug abuse, emotional abuse towards me, unemployment because turd had no desire to keep a job, financial excesses – thru it all I trudged on honoring my vows. The physical affair was a bridge too far and then I got the “I can’t believe you’re going to abandon me” from him. What??? I later learned from the OW that he weaved quite a story about how unloving, unsupportive, cold and controlling I was which is why he was going to leave me (he wasn’t going to leave, he was going to eat cake forever) but when I found out about OW I forced him out. Boy was he pissed.

    Funny thing with cheaters is that this “unconditional” love is a one way street. I promise you if I even did one of the things off his menu of evil deeds he would have flipped out. Because we’re expected to trudge on loving them when they do everything but love us. Strange because I remember us both taking the same vows? I guess for him the vows were more “suggestions” than actual rules but he expected me to open a vein and bleed for him if necessary. They all suck really don’t they.

  • Tracy. CL. You ok? There’s been a discussion almost daily the last couple of weeks. Or is it us who have you doing this? 🙂

    • I’m fine. Just busy. Forgive the reposts but I have a full-time job now and am trying to complete a proposal for my next book. I’ve got thousands of columns and many new chumps, so if it’s a re-read, skip it, or help out the newbies. Thanks. 🙂

      • The reposts help us just as much as new material. The concepts are so important, re-reading them is almost a necessity.

      • We’re just grateful for the existence of this blog, CL, and there is so much wisdom in the archives, it’s nice to have it surface in new posts for the newbies, and as reminders for the rest of us! Thank you for continuing this blog for all of us in spite of your overloaded plate!

        • Oh I didn’t even know these were reposts. And glad all is well. Thanks for all that you do.

          • Nor did I! And I’ve been here a while. Didn’t realize CL had been so prolific. Every story is new for me and always timely.

      • I like the re-posts. For me it is beneficial. There are 18 chapters in your book. Each one a main issue for chumps. All posts will fit into these main issues but just come at it in a slightly different way. This is important. As I go through the process of recovery I need to be ‘told’ repeatedly the same message before I get it. As I get further out from DDay I realise I have shifted along a bit and re reading a post shows me how my understanding has changed. It’s a really useful point to judge my recovery.
        At first I was obsessive about the archives, now I tend to use them for specific reminders. I always check in daily to just reassure myself I’m not alone or crazy. I use the forum more and sometimes feel I can start to help others even though I’m fairly new.
        And we are all so happy you started this thing but we would hate to think it causes you stress. Can we help do anything? I don’t know but if CL needs a week or two I’m sure we could amuse ourselves. But not too long as I still can’t UBT to save my life. ❤

        • You’re right Cap – these are new to me, so I’m glad they got posted. Its a long journey so this forum really helps

  • I think people confuse unconditional love with unconditional acceptance. When I finally got my head on straight about my cheating husband, I realized that while I still felt unconditional love for him, I couldn’t unconditionally accept his cruel, selfish behavior. Making that distinction really helped me to move forward and end the marriage. I can still care about him but I reject what he is doing. I don’t accept his actions, and his consequence is that I’m no longer in his life.

    I go back to something my mom told me when I was growing up. She said that if she knew I committed a crime that she wouldn’t lie for me or hide me from the police. She said she would still love me and visit me in jail, but her love would not mean protection from the consequences of my own actions. It helped me to be more responsible for myself.

    • Exactly. Simply because I love my family, it does not mean I will ignore or condone bad behavior. As much as I love them, it is my responsibility as a member of the human race to hold them accountable for their actions. This concept is lost on cheaters. To them, unconditional love means letting them do whatever in the hell they want. Ugh, no I will not discard my values for someone who has no respect for them in the first place!

      • Yes this violet. My cheater actually said “BUT I’m Lusty McSparkles and I can do what I want”

        And I replied “Of course you can – but I will not be here when you get home.” Nor will I pay the mortgage, provide a car, do your admin, sleep with you, wash, cook, clean….

        The poor sausage just didn’t understand that actions have consequences.

        • ‘Nor will I pay the mortgage, provide a car, do your admin, sleep with you, wash, cook, clean….’
          Boy ain’t that the truth! At the end, he was running all over town with his AP, and I was doing everything to keep our household intact. Of course, he was too delicate to have a job….The only good that came from this, was that my sons all said – It’s OK Mom, leave, we understand!

  • Oh, the ol’ double standard–Cheaters want “unconditional love,” but where was our unconditional love when they were boinking strange because of our ‘deficiencies.’ Fuck ’em.

    • Yes all day to this one! “Unconditional Love” seems to always work in only one direction – how convenient!

    • Yep. Where was unconditional love when I had episodes of depression? It was fucking someone else.

      • Yup. My X said he cheated because “he was unhappy with me” and I “wasn’t doing what he had asked,” then later castigated me for divorcing him because HE would have forgiven ME under the same circumstances, given his “unconditional love.” Hmmm…detect the logical inconsistency here? And the fucker teaches formal logic at the university level….smh.

        • Not that it’s right or helps in anyway but makes you want to say “Just kidding! I had some on the side too that you didn’t know about. How do you feel about me now? Where’s my forgiveness?” IDIOTS! They know what they do is wrong they just don’t care! And you KNOW if he thought you were doing the same thing the shit would hit the fan and he’d go crazy! HOW DARE you do something like that TO HIM?!

        • My STBX said he cheated and left us because “he was unhappy with me.” He said he was going to file for divorce if I didn’t! So I filed. Months later now he accuses me of divorcing him ‘when things got tough.’

          Oh brother.

        • Hmmm, mine says he is pretty sure he would have been able to forgive me, that he knows it was UNforgiveable, and is so very sorry and can’t stand the pain he has caused me (but of course, that just makes me feel ‘less’ than him, he’s so forgiving, and I am missing that chip – so is a superb tool isn’t it – guilt the betrayed some more, go on…) The stupid thing is, he did ‘forgive’ a former cheating GF. For a while (about six months? They lived in separate cities, so everything was stretched out on a temporal torture rack, they only saw each other Disney Dad times – every second weekend.) Then he dumped her. Guess why? Because he couldn’t even trust her and it ate at him. When I first met him, I thought this showed he ‘got it’ – that cheating is a misery you would never inflict on your worst enemy. But guess who he cheated WITH 30 years later??? Yup. You’re a genius, reader! Original as fuck.

  • OMG yes. Took me a very long time to figure out that when cheater boy says that I hurt him terribly, what he insanely but apparently seriously means is that I was hurt by and resented his extramarital activities. Unconditional love should, in cheater boy world, have entailed some combo of being perfectly unaware of and impervious to his doings, looking fabulous and spinning out pleasantly meaningless small talk at social functions, and being vapidly charming at every moment. Kind of the super model with a lobotomy routine. No can do, and thank goodness for that.

  • There comes a point in relationships with the disordered where we cannot stay with them and still love ourselves. We have to detach, for survival, emotionally and physically.

    • So maybe we should love ourselves unconditionally first. On really shitty days it helps me to imagine that I am the best friend or parent to my inner chump. I close my eyes and picture myself comforting her fears, validating her suspicions, whispering “you’ve got this!” and just hugging the bejeezus out of her. It helped me get through mediation, Christmas, and my kids’ birthdays with Dr. Skankenstein, and many other dark nights of the soul. Plus, it reminds me that I know how to love well, and that my chumpy capacity for patience and understanding is a beautiful thing when it’s directed at someone who deserves it instead of a human horcrux who left pieces of his soul scattered around online hook-up sites.

      • I imagine when I am in bed that I am in a small cave curled up in the foetal position looking at a small warm fire with a fur over me to keep me warm, beyond the fire are the stars and the night forest, helps me calm the pain of abandonment I think.

    • My emotional, physical and spiritual health was in crisis. Until I knew the full extent every night I had dreams about confusion and not knowing. I slept with him and next to him these dreams every night, not anymore, and that sinking feeling and raising panic has gone.

      • Yes. I experienced that for about 15-16 months. I am finally pass the nightmares and dreams that he is beside me. I know I will wake up to my dogs and a new day. I am slowly figuring out that it might really be on its last leg and he has worn out his welcome with so many people. I hear that he is drunk all the time. The once respected surgeon is now being called a coward. Yesterday I ran into one of his colleagues and I ate lunch with the gentleman. He told me that everyone knew I was not to blame. He said that if I move away, which is my plan, when I came back his wife and he would always have room for me. It made me feel good that his own peers knew it was him and not me.

  • Each time my ex got caught being a complete shit (again), he would trot out that he was “a flawed person.” Inference being that all humans are flawed and it would be very judgmental and mean of me to expect perfection. I do love how they can twist things around to their benefit. My ex is such a moron in most ways yet masterful at manipulation. I guess it takes all the firing neurons in his brain to achieve the desired blameshift nirvana leaving none left for simple math, knowing not to use a hammer on a screw (seriously!), and other more common life skills. I’m guessing he provides his roach roommates endless entertainment daily with his haplessness.

    • Mine was the same metro sexual, couldn’t read a tape measure. I kid you not at 43. I’m the Tom boy with the tools he had lots of clothes.
      He’s not that bright but cunning as a shit house rat!

      • I swear that they really all do read from the same script. Mine also does the “I’m a flawed guy” routine. Vomit. Other recurring themes:

        –he “made a mistake.”
        –he made “poor decisions”
        –these were caused by yours truly, but of course
        –either the marriage had long been over or he somehow got mysteriously trapped even though he always meant to be with me
        –he tried not to hurt us, but “managed it poorly”
        –he “can’t believe” he made the “mistake” of buying a house for her and moving in together–I mean, oopsie
        –he is “confused”
        –he is “working on himself” and “making progress” toward, apparently, more of the same with even shinier justifications
        –for awhile there, he insisted we could “have a great relationship” (ummmmm, no)
        –he “never enjoyed” any of it, but was in fact constantly tortured–just, you know, not enough to stop
        –and so forth

        What. A. Way. To. Live. Yikes. It’s the greatest gift ever to delete that poison from our lives. Shudder.

          • Thanks, you too! And you reminded me of another one.

            –he says calling years of infidelity a “mistake” is “not meant to minimize.” Snort. Right.

            Oh, and

            –he says I need to examine my “role” in the “failure of our marriage.”

            Only time the plural pronouns are ever thrown down is in the attempt to blame shift. “We” failed “our” marriage.

            Nopety nope to the nah.


        • LOL … great list!! Add he’s “soul searching” to that list. As if he had a soul … ha ha.

          • Yup, “soul searching” is definitely a big one. Good luck with that, huh? Flashlight, metal detector, radar, team of bloodhounds–nothing is really going to help with finding a nonexistent thing.

            Meanwhile, I thought of more insane sayings from his script:

            –“In many respects, she’s a victim, too.” Oh so many versions of that one. But, let’s have a look see, shall we? She knew he was married. He wore the wedding ring every time he screwed her. She knew both kids. She participated quite willingly in detailed and long-term lies. Not seeing her as a victim.

            –But, of course, “you are not a victim” and “I am not a terrible guy.” Wrong both times, buddy.

            –Also, “you never really loved me.” Tears, stress, ridiculous loss of weight. Yup, guess it didn’t mean a thing to me.

            –In the waning months, this was a big one: “Divorce is no big deal as long as everyone is civil and responsible.” Only found out a good deal later that he had been promising to divorce me and marry her for a very long time. Nobody, apparently, thought to let me in on these delightful plans, even though they were “no big deal.” Sigh.

            –And, since I stepped away from my career to be a SAHM–by mutual agreement and with much discussion of the trust involved–started getting a whole lot of “you should be grateful that I practically kill myself to support you.” Oh, cheater boy, absolutely not. While I functioned as a single mom, while I tended to every single issue and crisis, you were at bars and strip clubs and with prostitutes and screwing who knows how many colleagues. Everything was built on my back. Everything. But now I am standing up, and will decline to thank you for abusing my good heart.

            –In the few months post D-Day, also heard him say this one a lot: “I just know I am not going to live much longer.” Transparent bid for sympathy much? Sheesh. Go ahead and perish and save us all the heartache if that’s what you need to do. I mean, by all means carry on with that plan at your earliest opportunity. I’m busy the day of the funeral.

            • In response to that last one. “I just know I’m not going to live much longer.” She looks up and suddenly a glimmer of hope and a soft smile alights … “Really?! Promise?!”

              • Haha! Truth. But, geez. It’s still really hard. I mean, yikes. Will be over 29 years of marriage when all is said and done. D-day was the day after our 28th wedding anniversary. (I’ll tell that crushing story, some time). Now, I’m 54. Last kiddo will graduate HS next year. The blank slate of life that faces me can feel pretty darned intimidating, especially in the wee hours. I have known since day one that I would never want or be willing to move backward, and that’s a saving grace, but I have a ways to go, still. Currently working on trying hard to just let go of knowing he is out there making me the evil character in his life story. I mean, I know it does not matter in the least. Care nothing at all about the folks who will buy that spin, but the injustice of it still does rankle, now and then. Achieving nirvan-meh is not instant.

            • The last 2, I have gotten too! The last message I received from him informed me that he had taken out a substantial life ins policy for the kids & I. Stress was going to get the best of him. ? I blew it off. No paperwork equals no policy. I should have said, nope: only the good die young, but I just didn’t respond at all. I’m soooo over him. Divorce is progressing.

            • At least my cheater doesn’t try to pretend he’s a good guy he says he’s a POS and see you next Tuesday. So he got that part right. And maybe the OW is a victim. Victim of her own choices to be a despicable piece of human garbage and cheat with your awful husband. ? The one I do get is that STBX could die. I still love him (detaching from someone you’ve loved almost half your life is HARD!) but damn it would be SO MUCH BETTER if he’d just kick the bucket! I’d get all the savings AND the 401Ks AND a very small life insurance policy that would keep me in the house for a little while at least.

            • I know this is old (I work my way through the archives on the weekends) but wanted to thank you for this list. I’m still struggling with whether I was truly chumped. There was a long distance phone hookup that he broke off 7 years ago, and he contacted her 3 days after I said “I can’t do this anymore.” I let him ask for the divorce because he has control issues!

              Everything in your post lines up with my experiences though. Everything. Except I have no proof of cheating other than a diagnosis of a disease *95%* of the time communicated sexually. So when I see your words written here, almost verbatim of my experience, it is helpful and validating. I’ve finally decided that even if there were no other women (or men?) he was narcissistic and cheating with himself. Huge porn/masturbation habit for sure. Mostly put his needs first. He said everything on your list. So glad it’s over!!!

    • I do love how they can twist things around to their benefit. My ex is such a moron in most ways yet masterful at manipulation.

      Fear, obligation, and guilt = FOG

      They are masters of pushing our chump buttons. The narcs apply just the slightest hint of FOG and we instantly feel bad and anxious about what we’ve done. Chumps are groomed to stuff our own feelings to keep everything smooth. So we cave to the narcs obscene demands and gosh darnit! they’ll see we’re sorry and reciprocate… This time!

      No? Okay… Maybe next time.

        • I walked that walk…Must.Work. Harder…..almost 20 months out and I’m still exhausted. Right now, I have no desire, nadda, nothing, forgetaboutit, to be in a romantic relationship. That may change down the road, but for now I will enjoy my peace.

    • Amazing how so much mental energy goes to the blameshift! My ex-MIL contributed to this too. When I told her it was ridiculous that he was blaming me for what he did she went “well that’s human right? And maybe if you’re both blaming each other it wasn’t that great of a relationship anyway.” No it clearly was not that great I was just completely unaware of its suckage…but according to her that too was my fault since in her marriage if her husband isn’t hearing her it’s on her to find a way to make him hear it. Crazy making!

      • Smack him with a hammer … works every damn time. Suddenly opinions are heard loud and clear. Along with a little ring of dancing stars like in the comics.

    • I had a conversation with my ExH that went something like this: Basically – I had to consider him perfect, because if I had any criticism of him or expressed that he did something I didn’t like, and I shared that with him… that meant that I must hate him. I remember saying something along the lines that I am never allowed to dislike something you do or say, and share it with you, because to your mind – that is the same thing as me telling you I hate you and I want you to die in fire. He said yes. Then I said – so no matter what you do or how you treat me, I have to consider you perfect and your behavior is always above reproach. Mine was sane enough that he had the sense to not say yes, but his body language and behavior said “yes… you need to consider me perfect.”

      It blew my mind after the fact. Like what 40-something year old adult thinks that he is perfect and expects that no one will ever find fault with him. Of course his whore thinks he’s perfect and “believes” in him (in other words they are both idiots who don’t see how fucking crazy he is). this is totally the basis of a healthy relationship.

  • My liar, cheater, faker, blamer had the audacity to say to me that I didn’t really love him if I couldn’t get past his addiction to porn, prostitutes, lying, cheating, blaming, alcohol…ugh…the list goes on.

    Mother fucker, gaslighting, asshole.

    I told him, “IF you really loved me I could fuck all your friends and you would bring me coffee in the morning!”


    • Truth! You, CJ, clearly view love as a commitment, not a get out of jail free pass like all our cheaters.

    • YUP NewHere – Just said those exact words as the removal truck pulled up the drive….
      Enjoy Motherfucker!

    • have to add, though, “and don’t come back.” (in case the cheater has heard the original adage)

      • Ha ha ha haha. HAWWWWW…if you love someone, set them free….ha ha hahhhWWWWW …I love it….you are FREE mother fucker….hAWWW ha ha ha hah

        And don’t come back…..haw HAW HA W. AHW

        Haw haw haw. I am rollin’ folks….on the ground…..last thing these assholes expect to hear out of our mouths…..haw haw haw oh the look on their face….HA AHAHHAAAWWWW

  • The disordered don’t – I mean REALLY DON’T – know what love is. They can’t. They don’t feel love. So they call wanting something “love.” This is believable if you are the current object of their wants. But it is not love. Then when their attention wanders elsewhere, THAT is “love.” It’s hard for us chumps to wrap our heads around because we actually feel actual love. And when the cheater demands “unconditional love,” what they mean is that they should have whatever they want at all times, which pretty much eliminates any possibility of reciprocity on their part. It’s a cultural language barrier that can’t be overcome regardless of how much love a chump has in his or her heart.

    • Yes. “Fulfill my every need at every moment and know that my needs will be super secret and constantly shifting” is an impossible demand, and has zilch to do with love.

      • Of course it’s an impossible demand. The idea is to keep the chump off kilter trying to figure out what the current unexpressed wants are. If they don’t, they aren’t perceptive enough and don’t care enough. If they do, it’s time to move the goalposts and let them try again. If they are busy, they won’t notice what the cheater is doing behind the curtain.

        • Well put.
          Sometimes I think their only goal in a relationship is to get away with something! Psyche! I win!

    • “they call wanting something “love.” This is believable if you are the current object of their wants.” That’s such a good point survivor!

  • The sad thing is as a chump, I’m not affectionate and do hold back. But how else are you suppose to react when your H has cheated on you and told someone else he loves them. H holds his affection back and stays at a distance. I believe H is passive aggressive and will never be happy because he isn’t willing to admit wrong or be totally committed. I’ve always felt that H has been searching for another woman that he thought would be the perfect mate for him, but always failed to find one. Not sure if he cheated with them or not. But I’m pretty sure he has with this last one (Sweetie) even though he denies cheating. All he did was talk to Sweetie. I’ve seen text where he said “I love you Sweetie” and this isn’t suppose to bother me and means absolutely nothing when he said it (just words). I have the same type of marriage as my parents did.

    • Yeah, of course you protect yourself. That’s natural. I feel for you, and hope you manage to get out of that soon. It is killing you. 🙁

  • Arseface once told me he tells my successors (AP and her replacement) that I taught him about love.That must be why he lied,cheated,blameshifted and ruthlessly discarded me,because he knew so much about love.
    At the time,I was incandescent with rage.Then I came to accept that the disordered know nothing of love and are incapable of real love.Their cup is full during the idealisation phase but eventually,sooner or later,it needs refilling.He has now discarded exit AP and is on to the next victim,no doubt telling her his nice little tale of how he learned about love.
    There is nothing soft or noble at the core of these people but sadly there is always someone who buys the bullshit,as I did once.

    • deedee,

      Arseface wants your successors to Pick Me Dance with your memory (idealized and perhaps embellished by him for that purpose). Or he wants you to jump back into the Pick Me Dance yourself. Stay clear of that shit and take care of yourself. You are Mighty!

      • Thanks Survivor.He hoovered for years as all true narcissists do.I have shut that down completely but your insight is spot on and I never actually copped that before.Of course you’re absolutely right.

        • Stay strong. Just put a CLOSED sign on that kibble store. Disordered freaks only want their chumps back because they believe they are entitled to reclaim their property at a discount. Meaning that if you agree to have anything to do with them, it will be on their terms alone. Forget that notion of an even playing field. By engaging with them, you have agreed to their Terms of Service (subject to change without notice).

  • I love this column now as much as when I saw it the first time. Boy did I need it when I finally found it, because I was getting beaten down over my lack of unconditional love for my serial cheater (who brought at least one of her lovers to our home, and on another occasion arranged for my two small children to be taken to a place to meet and visit alone with her AP).

    After D-day, when my life had exploded, two people closest to me kept telling me that if I loved my wife unconditionally and really cared about her happiness I would not be angry, but instead happy for her that she found men during our marriage that she actually ejoyed having sex with, and just forgive her and continue in the marriage. The problem, they said, was my failure to love her unconditionally, and my offended ego. They also said I was demonstrating that I was not a Christian by failing to love unconditionally and forgive instantly, so I was really a fraud myself and did not hold the views of my claimed religion. The problem was ME, not her.

    I was such a mess at that time that I entertained that shit for a while. I regained my senses eventually. Adult love is conditional, and cheating, and the abuse it unquestionably is, violates my conditions – and it violates them unconditionally. Again, I love this column, and the lifesaver it was for me. Thanks CL.

    • JK…dont you just hate hypocrites? Its easy to accuse someone of being unforgiving, unloving or whatever when you are not the one being betrayed. Telling you that you should be HAPPY for her, as if she had found a new hobby (whoring around) thst brings her joy? I doubt these hypocrites would be so forgiving if they were in your place. You need support not blame. Please dump these “friends”(not).

    • Ugh, JK, they were cheaters themselves, no other explanation necessary. Taking your kids to see the AP??!!!?? Even more disrespect to add to the cheating. Absolute betrayal. Glad you didn’t fall for that one.

      • Hi J K – I had a friend who said this crap to me too, fortunately I had had myself an education. You see, not only had the Fucktard never been faithful, he also worked in Asia and frequented the brothels (the average a god of THOSE girls is 14, so is he a paedophile?). So my good friend took it upon herself, very patronisingly, to tell me I wasn’t perfect either, then proceeded to give me the same ‘advice’ you received. We had an argument, and I got into my car and went home.

        Fast forward a few hours later, I’d gotten over myself – she is a dear friend, and truly has never experienced anything like this – I rang her to clear it up. She started up again, so I simply said to her….’Tell me, if your husband came to you, and told you he was a paedophile, how would you react? Please, tell me how a normal person reacts in that circumstance, because I’ve never experienced this before, and I don’t know what the standard reaction should be.’ She was stunned into silence, as she’d never considered that angle.

        Sometimes you’ve just got to be blunt with people, let them know how you see it, and give them the horror of the unimaginable pain you’re carrying. She and I are still good friends, and she still comes out with silly platitudes from time to time, but she knows enough now to listen to my perspective and actually hears the message. Anyway, I’m four years out, on very limited grey rock contact with the Fucktard because of our kids, and life is good. Very close to meh!

    • JK my jaw actually dropped reading your post. Those two people who told you that stuff? Seriously fucked up.

  • I struggled with this because that’s how I grew up, but I finally got my head on straight and realized that unconditional love is one thing, but it’s not supposed to be lopsided, or tied to double standards with assholes who mistreat us, consistently. These are really good messages that remind me to stay on track, and as always a great topic! Hugs…RO

  • I love this column, CL!! This concept was enlightening for me. I was throwing myself on the fire to make my serial cheater ‘happy’ enough, and to save our relationship all by myself. I loved him! And it was unconditional! Isn’t that a supreme type of love? That’s the way I really thought for decades, no wonder my marriage was going more south every year. He used that as a way to go further and further down into his sexual sewer, into what he called the ‘other side of life’. I just kept loving him, Blech! Obviously, that didn’t work.
    Once I learned this concept of conditional love, from mighty CN, it all fell into place, and really helped build up my self esteem, too. I do not have to eat the shit sandwich for love! I deserve good treatment, and the same rules for both of us.
    I have talked about this concept at work, where there are a bunch of young women all around me. You should see them sit up and take notice! One woman, who just had a tough breakup with her BF, asked me a lot of questions, and her eyes were just staring at me, she was so hungry for this information, that she could have conditions on her love and devotion, and that is the right way to go. I want to help spread the word, because the Users are taking advantage of everyone! Someone has to stop them.

  • CL hit that one on its shiny red nose!
    wah, wah, I can’t be myself, wah, I can’t have my menage a trois, and watch porn while you run around looking after my children and son I had with the whore, wah, wah. You’re not a team player, I don’t feel accepted, I feel emasculated, you’re trying to harm me, wah, wah! And the MC lapped it up. Pfft!

    • Sure you CAN be yourself! You CAN fuck as many whores as you want! You CAN have ALL the threeway sex you can get. But none of that shit will be with ME! Go for it! Knock yourself out! Stick that dick into ANYTHING you can get your hands on. But leave me the HELL OUT OF IT! I had to tell my STBX a similar version of that same statement. They are so PATHETIC! ???

      • Yes, exactly. Please do disappear, cheater boys and girls. I think the day upon which I can finally say I have not one clue where the STBX is or what he’s up to will be a great day, indeed. For now, keeping it to formalities concerning kids and divorce is the best I can do. Have not even laid eyes on him in some months, and that is glorious. The greater the distance, the steadier the sanity. Still rough moments. Upon awakening. Late at night. Unexpected times when the whole unbelievable deal crashes down on me anew. But better, inch by painstaking inch.

        • I wake early to my heart racing and that feeling of rushing like a panic attack. I tell myself it will pass and it does. In my mums words ‘ you will never be rid of him’, next hurdle is having to arrange when he sees kids, but not important atm as he has no place to live and is crashing with friends. Dealing with one thing at a time and having no expectations of him is good, he could see the boys now but I’m not going to suggest it, NC until necessary then grey rock via txt, then block, no voice no face to face, will trigger me and make me want to simulataneously puke and want to scream like a banshee. Have had great success in deleted the many emails a v mails to my land line before hearing or reading them, I know it’s all mindfuckery.

      • Same here… “Go. Be free. Fly your BDSM sub flag. Have as much sex with as many people as you want. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Just know that I’m not supporting it. I’m not lying about it. And I’m sure as hell not paying for it. You’re on your own.

        I’m such an unreasonable asshole.

      • They knew they could have gotten out of the relationship and fucked all these people, instead of cheating and deceiving you. It’s just that they value you more as an appliance than as a human being.

        In one of our discussions after D-day, I told her she could have divorced me and slept with all the different men she wanted, without dragging me and the kids down with her.

        Me: “If you were so unhappy that you were sleeping with other men for almost our entire marriage, why didn’t you just divorce me instead of stealing the prime years of my life?”

        Her: “I was inept as a parent. I couldn’t handle the kids or the house like you. You were the glue that held everything together.”

        It was no strain of her conscience to deceive me to keep me as a house manager and income source. She didn’t see me as a living, feeling, human being with needs, hopes, dreams, and children and parents who loved him. I was simply an “it.”

        • Mine said he felt threatened because I was strong and capable, umm you should want that in your life as you are not those things.I was the mover and shaker he was along for the ride which he constantly sabotaged and eventually derailed the roller coaster, hope you fall flat on your face when reality bits you on the ass loser.

        • JK, That is horrid. I am sorry. Now get pissed off and make yourself a better life! Now.

  • The issue of ‘conditions’ hit a nerve as my abusive, adulterous STBX who left 2.5 years ago, constantly complains about me placing conditions on his time with our kids. I guess that he doesn’t feel alive if he doesn’t daily harass me.

    Chump: I am willing to give up a day of what the Court said was my custodial time next weekend as you don’t get to see them often and I think that you and the kids would like to spend time with each other. (I’m still a chump!) As Jenny (who has special needs and is failing courses) needs help catching up on an assignment, would you please spend some time (half an hour?) helping Jenny?
    STBX: How dare you place conditions on my time with the kids! You just don’t love/respect/appreciate our kids.
    (STBX puts outrageous conditions on me in no-win situations in which it would be impossible to appease the demanding party.)

    Multiply this interaction by a large number EVERY day. Exhausting. All I want is to live a peaceful life. I do not seek revenge on my abuser–just want him to stop harassing me (taking me to court every week for something I did not do and verbally abusing me) and refrain from financially demolishing the kids and me. Oh wait, he already financially annihilated us.

    • RSW, Then no extras go to the Asshole. He gets his court determined hours and no more. Bummer. Comply and say goodbye. No appeasing. He picks up and delivers on time or you haul his ass into court. Or make him believe you will. You don’t answer to Assholes anymore. Good luck, my friend. You Can Do This!

  • I think my STBX’s problem is that he doesn’t believe in unconditional love. He is also a perfectionist who can’t keep up with his own standards. Therefore, since he has imperfections he assumed that I could not possibly really love him. Once he decided I did not love him he started resenting me for not loving him. I obviously did not appreciate all the things he was doing for the family (and he did do a lot). Then his resentment lead to his devaluing of me and finding constant fault in me (which is not hard for a perfectionist to do) which led me to do the pick me dance long before he ever started cheating. Between trying to be perfect, looking after the kids and keeping up with my job, I guess I did not give him enough of my attention. By this time (21 years into our marriage) he had decided that I was the cause of all of his unhappiness in life so he went off and had two affairs. I was totally clueless about affair number one, D-Day was finding out about affair number two when he was at the height of the hormone induced attraction and in no mood to reconcile despite the efforts of chumpy me who did want to reconcile. When I asked him much later why he had the affairs, his response was that he felt lonely, unloved and unappreciated. That left me wondering what the heck I had done to make him feel that way when I did love him and I did appreciate him and I thought I had been showing it. He admitted in the end that I hadn’t really done anything wrong and that he was the problem. It seems to me that he thought I did not love him because he didn’t love himself.

  • My husband of 18 years ( together 25yrs) decided that 3 years ago he needed “space” and wanted ” to have a trial separation…..Unbeknown to me at the time he was having an EA / sexual (? ) with a 26yr old co-worker ! Although he had been horrible to me for months and disengaged from the family – 2 daughters 7 & 10 yrs at the time… Anyway I told him if he wanted to go – go. He denied there was anyone else – just that we hadn’t been getting on for years!!! News to me…. He’d never told me we had massive issues! Anyway 1 year later I find proof of the non-existing AP. He had spent the year working with & texting & spending evenings in the pub( working late!) …. & Making her a personalised dog tag gold necklace in our garage one Xmas….All the while I had been going to therapy to work on myself with his ” support”( from dysfunctional family – domestic abusive father V mother ) . Found proof screamed you lied you lied you lied . …Threw all my jewellry & wedding rings at him etc etc. ….
    He then did all the bkameshifting etc etc gaslighting – wouldn’t give me full details….Stormed off if I wanted to talk – silent treatment etc…. Then 6 mths into reconcilation I asked him about co-op worker from 16 yr s ago I always had suspicions about & yes he admitted he had spent a year just kissing (!) Her when they went out after work because she was ” fun” ..But finished with her when she bought him a jumper – he decided she was getting too serious… Also admitted on same night …. Slept with another co-worker worker – one night stand when drunk…About 2 years into our marriage when trying for pregnancies…..And then when I was pregnant with no2 – was on sex websites looking for no- strings attached sex….He said he met someone at a pub just once. ( Previously said never , then twice , then just once – the truth of all of this lies somewhere between the moon & back….I had ALWAYS felt in our marriage that I was not ” enough” and to finally know my gut instinct & feelings of not ever being truly loved from the heart , quite liberating in one way.. I was not imagining any of it… We have been through hell and back in our marriage – two pregnancies by assisted conception …. Daughter no. 1 illness resulting in two have 2 major operations and extended family fallouts his side and him getting made redundant twice ( not his fault!) . Also I was a career & didn’t have kids until late thirties & worked my ass off until then for “us”…. Plus supported him through his 5 years of retraining careers….. Emotionally & financially…. And all through all of this I never felt real ” support” or ” love” and only until I look back do I realise the one-time sided nature of it all…..I married a self indulgent selfish immature man who took took took & couldn’t be bothered to give in return…… Too much effort…. And yet today nearly 3 years from trial separation request we are still together…Mainly because I have spent over 2.5 years reading all the wrong books about – how to improve you marriage / his needs her needs etc because as a good Catholic girl this is the right thing to do – save the relationship…. Until that is 3 months ago I read Tracy’s book & “boom” OMG – have I become the woman who should not have been crossed….I have got my dignity back. I have had all those conversations and said to his face – you were a shit – you lied you cheated….And I am back to the me of old ( years ago) … The strong career woman who doesn’t take any crap. It has made me realise for the first time.e how my kindness & loving nature has been used & manipulated for someone elses benefit. I was their ” comfort blanket” …. Nothing else …And now only time will tell where we /I go now. If it hadn’t been for Tracey’s book I would be still fighting for my marriage… Now I am sitting back and for the first time I years asking myself whether it is me who wants space ( permanently) from my husband – who I have to be honest is trying really hard for it to work…..And has been for the last 2 years… But now I am empowered… First time in years…And I am no longer mentally & physically exhausted by the mindfuckery….I am at ” peace ” with the past , it’s done….Now thanks to the book & this forum I am back in control of MY life. THANKYOU CL and everyone. Wish I had found you years ago…. But I’ll take 3 months ago …. For my sanity is back and I can see clearly now.

    • Hugs to you BigTime. You are back in the Cat Bird Seat. Use that to decide your future and put yourself first this time. I think you’ve got the options in your head to self-discuss. You also have a large family here should you need us.

      • THANKYOU for your comments survivor. They mean a lot. I wish when I had grown up I had been made aware that this world is made up of dysfunctional takers & to be made aware of red flags in a relationship – from the onset! The warning signs were there but I was raised to see the good in everyone…..Something which I now have to gently make my two daughters aware is NOT a safe way to go through life…. It is my duty to guide them to be aware of narcissist s , takers , users and dysfunctional people….. And to set their boundaries HIGH and their respect & dignity for how they are treated by their partners as paramount. They can still be lovely & kind as they are now – but within reason. I wish I had a mother who has instilled in me those high expectations – unfortunately coming from a household where my father abused my mother – and still continues to do so despite them both in their 70’s….I was subconsciously raised with the low expectations & high tolerance ..With the immortal words from my mother – I know he does that but he has a heart of gold…..Only now do I see how it all went into the mix and got me into this mess! Thankfully thanks to this forum & reading books on narcissism & manipulation as a result do I see the whole picture. Rose tinted glasses off – am sad my “optimistic” view on life will never be the same even if I do leave my husband…He has killed a part of me that will never come back. That little light inside that I always had glowing just for him – despite everything. Gone – thankfully in one way but nevertheless it’s sad to think of the wasted years & tears given to someone who in truth I never knew……. Thanks for your support .x

  • This sounds like me all the friends crap and she helps me was bs, this overseas whore flew over here to screw him.
    Trust gone my dignity gone, if I stayed with him I couldn’t live with myself. He brought nothing of significance to the table, move towards mighty on your own before he has time to fuck you over again. Mine came back and pulled all the right moves to look like he really valued what he had with me and the kids, but was planning under my noise may I add, the next hook up, move on life’s too short. Don’t get to 50 something and wish you got out sooner.

  • Too funny, clingy sloth he was just wish he was that cute but usually looked like a pouting duck.

  • My ex apparently told the OM (when he was squirming about whether to stop cheating on his wife) that she was heartbroken that I “didn’t fight for her.”

    So, those six months where I vacillated between pick-me dancing and leaving didn’t count. In her mind, that was nothing. I should have loved her unconditionally and “fought” for her.

    I’m not quite sure what her definition of “fight” is, given all I did in those 6 months. I can only assume she defines “fight” as “know his place, sit down, shut up, and adore me while I ‘explore my butterfly side.'”


    • Yup. I think to them it means being unwilling to lose them, no matter the personal cost. But–surprise!–we are willing to lose them, because the cost is too high, and they surely are not worth it.

      I fought by staying. Now, I’m done.

    • Why would a sane person fight for something the other person has demonstrated they are unwilling to give? Why didn’t SHE fight? Oh right, she was busy fighting for my husband.

  • I personally feel that too many people and all sides of this issue are misconstruing the meaning and intent of “unconditional love.”

    First, when we do loving and kind things for others, we do them because we want to do them. Perhaps, we simply want to help, or bring a touch of joy, kindness, and/or laughter to someone’s day. Perhaps we just want to show someone we think lovingly about them in some way. We do not do these things with an expectation of anything in return.

    Second, we should expect that we treat each other ethically, respectfully, and with dignity and decency. We should also set boundaries for ourselves that do not allow others to treat us poorly.

    But, these are two SEPARATE things. One does not beget the other. I should do the first because I choose to do it out of love. All too often, we perform one expecting the other. Both are good, healthy and appropriate things, but expecting one to bring about the other is a fool’s errand.

    Prior to d-day, I thought if I did enough for my husband, a friend or a family member, I would earn their respect and love. This was fucked up thinking. Prior to d-day, my husband thought if I loved him, I would do x, y, and z. This was fucked up thinking. Now, when I choose to do loving acts for another it is simply because I want to do it, not because I am trying to win love, respect or approval. Admittedly, after d-day, my desire to do such things was very limited. And, I don’t want my husbanding doing loving acts because I expect him now to do them, they need to be because he wants to do them, otherwise they really are emotionally vacant acts. So, yes, love is about what we give (because we desire to give it), not what we take.

    However, respect, dignity, decency and ethics are essential components of our humanity. We have a right, irrespective of anything to do with love, to expect to be treated with such humanity, from all people, including ourselves and our partner. If someone does not treat us with such humanity, then they are not a safe person. Even if you love someone, if they are not safe then they should not be in your life.

  • Reading Tracy’s book, thank you. I would be lost in the wilderness without you all.
    Have a great and mighty day.

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