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Dear Chump Lady, We divorced… and now she wants to reconcile

Dear Chump Lady,

Prior to finding your site, and just after D-Day in 2012, I was an active member on another infidelity site. Fortunately many members were very helpful in making me “see the light” and urging me to divorce. The “reconciliation industrial complex (RIC)” members in my case were few. In any case, like so many others just after D-Day, I was in serious denial and was desperate to save my family at any cost, so I danced hard as my XW continued her affair in my face. I lasted for eight months before I finally filed. When I did (I think she was stunned and furious that I actually finally followed through with my threats) she promptly moved in with her affair partner, with our then 5 and 8 year old. All hell broke loose as they did not adjust well to a “new dad” thrust upon them. It didn’t matter to my XW. Her needs were paramount. It was heartbreaking.

Most of my story is “by the book”:

Once she was caught, she begged and pleaded not to divorce her, assuring me she would stop immediately, get therapy… I backed off, she moved out to “find herself,” and continued the affair. I slowly died inside as my life and family were abruptly torn apart.

Blameshifting, marital rewrite, vague allegations of abuse — of her and of our children.

Highly acrimonious divorce. I’ve essentially gone broke. But in the end, she paid spousal support and she pays child support. I’ve got a good job.

I’ll stop there with the background. Suffice to say, it was the single most horrific five years of my life–from D-day to separation to divorce to non-existent co-parenting, to battling the AP, who has been her Svengali and financer of her legal bills and writer of her nasty Emails.

But: Things eventually, rather surprisingly, simmered down. In the last year or so, we have gotten along. We can chat about the kids, the kids see that we get along, and they are finally okay as well — even though they have wanted nothing more than for their mother to leave the AP (a true scumbag, even if he weren’t a co-conspirator with my XW in the destruction of a family). So I’m finally pretty recuperated. My search for a new partner has been fruitless, but I’m finally okay with that too. I’ve let go of most of my anger — not to be confused with forgiveness — and I’ve got this single dad thing down. I’ve come out the other end.

Here is what has recently happened — and again, no shock. I always predicted this would happen, and of course this too is part of the Cheater’s Handbook. Unicorn Land has broken down — AP has turned out to be a flop — and she wants me back. Crying, apologies, on and on. I won’t go into all the details, because they do fall into the category of Cliche and the scenes that have transpired are lifted verbatim from the “Soulmate Shmoopie” videos.

Do I want her back? A “soft no.” I loved her. I miss the parts I fell in love with. I miss and have missed my family deeply. I know my children want nothing more than for us to be a family again. We had a good life. I miss it. I am human.

At this point you are probably gearing up to tell me what I already know: don’t do it. This is just her looking for a soft place to land since her “thing” has run its course with the AP. Kibbles and more kibbles. And you are right.

But here is where I will tell you why my “no” is only a “soft” no and why my story has a twist. It’s not an unheard of twist, and indeed you have addressed it here and there on your site.

Six years ago — around a year before D-Day — we started exploring polyamory. We agreed that she could fool around with another guy, and eventually we would have a threesome. To make a long story short, she promptly broke every rule, fell for this guy who became the AP, and thus commenced all the usual cliches: double life, funneling her paycheck into a secret bank account… Just total cake-eating.

Why did we embark on this? We really did have a good marriage. I’ve gone over it for years in therapy and on my own, and even though I can conduct all manner of psychoanlytical analyses of the “why’s,” it really comes down to: it turned us on. So we tried it.

So: there is the rub. I still blame myself 50% for going down that path. I feel terribly guilty for my part in encouraging her. We played with fire. I played with fire. It was vain, foolish. Even when I post to Chumplady, it was with no small amount of guilt, for I fear that if the other members knew my “twist,” I would be run out of town on a rail. This is what happened at the other site: most members ostracized me, essentially accusing me of helping bring about the affair. I don’t blame them, frankly.

To be clear: I am not totally conflicted. I know now that she has a horrific dark side. I have left out many of the terrible specifics of what she did, involving the utter emotional abuse of not only me but of our young children. YET and BUT: there is an ember of hope — hopium, I suppose — that we can begin a new life. And if it doesn’t work out, I know I will be okay.

BUT and YET: Even if she HAS changed, even if she DOES become the ideal partner — loving, assuring, selfless, remorseful in deed and word — I don’t think I could live with myself. The damage is so profound and deep.

When I was on the other infidelity site, another member wrote me a very kind private message. She told me that her ex-husband had finally come back and that she had taken him back. They had been back together for years. And indeed he had consistently shown himself to be a changed man–the ideal husband in every way. But, she said, it didn’t matter. SHE had changed. She no longer loved him. His betrayal, his emotional abuse from years before, had taken their toll, and she was deeply unhappy. She warned me that if someday in the future my XW did the same? Resist, and run the other way. Don’t be her. I’ve never forgotten that letter.

What do you think?


Dear David,

Let’s say I lost my arm in a combine harvester. Once fed through the thresher, there wasn’t much arm left. Just some ragged bone and sinew, and a loss of blood that nearly killed me. But hey, I survived. I miss my arm deeply. It was a good arm. I’m human.

Oh, I forgot to mention, it wasn’t a farming accident. Um, my ex shoved my arm through a combine harvester.

I think she’s changed — should I take her back?


You don’t have a relationship anymore. That arm is GONE. You’re having ghost limb pains. There is no loving wife. There is a bloody stump. You’re missing what doesn’t exist. You don’t get your whole arm back, sorry.

I know you want to wish and hope and believe otherwise. (Bargaining stage of grief, we’ve all been there.) But let’s attack that spackle and hopium, beginning with the Other Man. Dude, he’s not Svengali — he doesn’t have your ex-wife under a spell. He’s douchebag who fucks married women, got one 24/7, and bailed. Which makes him a dead average douchebag.

Your ex, on the other hand, is a selfish, vindictive, manipulative con. This has absolutely zero to do with polyamory (or the Affair Partner As Wiley Predator) and everything to do with her character.

Let’s review the whole Polyamorists Can’t Be Betrayed fallacy AGAIN. (Similar to the Monogamy Is The Real Problem That Makes People Cheat fallacy)…

You and your wife decided together to open up your marriage. Joint decision. Consensus. There were rules. Discussions. She broke those rules.

she promptly broke every rule, fell for this guy who became the AP, and thus commenced all the usual cliches: double life, funneling her paycheck into a secret bank account… Just total cake-eating.

Breaking agreed upon rules to benefit one’s self — whether it’s a monogamous set of rules or a polyamorist set of rules — is a CHARACTER problem. NOT a sex problem.

You thought she would honor her word and her commitment to you — she did not. That’s on HER. Not your decision to explore kink.

Unicorn Land has broken down — AP has turned out to be a flop — and she wants me back. Crying, apologies, on and on.

Don’t put your other arm in that combine harvester. Are you mad?

Quit being an idiot and stop talking with her. If you had boundaries, David, there would be NO crying, apologies, or “on and on” because you’d shut that shit down. I know it’s nice to be Right. Who doesn’t enjoy the validation that comes when the Schmoopies crash and burn? But if you truly trusted that she sucks, you wouldn’t care. You’d shrug. She sucks. She has crap life skills. Either she finds a new host and clings tightly, or her host escapes and she starts the chump search all over. It’s What She Does.

WAKE UP. She’s looking for a new sucker and has set her sights on you. Because she senses that you’re EASY and can be manipulated with intact family warm fuzzies. I promise you, you aren’t the only prospect on her roster. Refuse to be Fall Back Guy. Don’t model that shit to your children! And certainly don’t put them through another reconciliation and break up. Steady on, man.

You know taking her back ends badly. And I suspect dozens of chumps today will tell you they did exactly what you long to do — they took the cheater back. And how did that turn out, CN?

David — trust that she sucks. And for the love of God get some parenting software and quit talking to her. Walk away from the drama.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • I’d also add, there’s something delicious to the disordered about abusing someone so much, and they STILL take them back. Extra special kibbles!

    You rejected her, fought her in court, and now if you Take Her Back — imagine the validation and the kibble high she’ll get.

    And then she’ll be over it. On to the next sparkly thing.

    • I wish I would get the opportunity for my Ex to come begging for reconciliation, but I know he won’t. I know because I was his third wife, and his first two ex-wives were dead to him just like I am dead to him now. The one type of people that he manages to move on from and stay no contact with are his ex-wives! Ex girlfriends on the other hand, he was a master at keeping secretly in contact with, always keeping a line in the water.
      Please enjoy for me and the rest of us who won’t get a chance, the opportunity to tell a pitiful kibble searching Ex to Go F$ck Themselves! Then focus on you and your kids and lock that door behind you!

      • So glad to hear you say what I’m still thinking every so often. Yes, I know I don’t want Mr. Sparkle Duck back again but I would LOVE the opportunity to tell him exactly what he has done to me. As he moves thru relationship after relationship because he needs his narcissist isict ego fed, I still would love to have closure. He never gave me any opportunity to say anything as he kicked me to the curb. It’s really hard to start over after 30 plus years of marriage. I still am having very hard days even though it’s been 2 years since D day. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

        • 36 years for me.. I married right after I turned 20! He cheated all those years and just got better at it! It was not hard to be alone because living with him was worst than being alone! 5 years since the bomb was drooped and I filed! Going on 4 divorced …. only regret is not doing it sooner! You can’t go back to someone who isn’t capable of loving anyone!

      • MyIntuitionWasRight – I was no 4 and just like you, I am dead to him. Just like the other three before me. I’d love to be able to tell him GO F$CK yourself.

        • Telling him doesn’t ensure he’ll hear you. Or care. The best FU is living a happy life without them. Or in my case, in spite of them. I’d love to be “dead” to my ex and his crazy.

        • What is hard for me is that I am the fist wife so as of this moment I am the only woman he has ever dumped. He only had a few girlfriends before me and they all dumped him (and they hadn’t had sex). It makes me hurt to think that I may be the only woman who will ever be dumped, and in the worst way possible, by a man who projects the image of being a “nice guy”, except to me because I didn’t appreciate it and so didn’t deserve it.

          • Oh yeah, I guess there was Schmoopie 1.0, but technically she dumped him first before she changed her mind after he had already moved on to Schmoopie 2.0.

            • Chumpinrecovery, I wouldn’t worry about being the only dumped wife (so far). Many here including myself are in the same boat, and I accept I will never know what my ex really got up to but in retrospect I suspect there were multiple affairs before OW. We’ve been set free from marriage to a cheating turd, that’s all that counts.

          • This comment is a bit old but I wanted to reply and say that you don’t know the circumstances of the previous breakups.

            Tinman frequently will sabotage the relationship over and over until the woman in question breaks up with him. He is the one that wants out but he basically forces them to pull the trigger.

            The ONLY reason he didn’t follow the same pattern with me is because i was stubborn (out of desperation I was a SAHM) and flatly refused to play that game. So he left me, but the torture he inflicted trying to get me to leave him before that was intense. It included blatantly going out and having a one night stand, then bragging about it and virtually ensuring that his staff (he worked at the hotel he had the ONS in) would feel conflicted about telling me (the closest they came was the restaurant manager asking me if I was happy and if I was REALLY sure that I was happy) I see it now as a hint for me to ask her what she meant… I refused to take the hint. He then moved onto wanting to be poly and bragging openly about his new girlfriend in real time. Leaving me for days at a time to mess with her despite me asking him not to…. and I still hung on.

            Thing is his previous wife… he followed EXACTLY the same pattern! Right down to us both being caucasian and the girlfriend that he chose to push each of us over the edge being a petite SE Asian (normally who cares but the coincidence? I think the pattern was him wanting someone so completely different to US). He took them on identical dates that he then came home and regaled us with – romantic dinner, drinks, a walk by the water, kiss in the moonlight, seeing her to her car because he is a gentleman. At that point the Ex walked out. She was done, her marriage wasn’t worth that devaluation but I held on because I didn’t know what else to do.

            My point is you never really know the full circumstances of the previous girls dumping him…

        • David, MyIntuitionWasRight and Mila 🙂

          I met with satan during divorce at the request of my lawyer…to plead with him to let the divorce be over (gettin close to 3 years!) at a crowded restaurant… satan was the perfect gentleman (so strange after the cruel and brutal treatment he dealt me during the last 6 months we lived together). Long story short…he wanted to come home, love me forever he said, all he wanted to do! (he is apparently still telling others this even when he is sober or in his cups…ugh)…I listened to his impassioned plea and just sat quietly…he started crying and reached for me (bad move…major trigger…scared me almost out of my chair…ugh) I told him he should probably go live with kroger ho or susan as I was out and would never go back…bam! There he was! The RAGE! …huh…yep…they do not change David, they only get worse…

          MyIntuitionWasRight and Mila…it was not easy to sit there with satan…for me it was terrifying…I was scared all the way home and even once there with the door locked and Beau the Monster Biter at my side…I was so shook I couldn’t sleep for hours… Be very glad your monsters aren’t hoovering around looking to try to hook you back into bleeding your very life into them…we are free 🙂 Fly my ladies 🙂 Fly away and be free as the wind 🙂

          David, Sir, I hope you heed CL and CN and steer clear of your nasty x also. Do not model this bad relationship to your children…and do not allow her to waste anymore of your precious life 🙂

          • I worry this will be the exact senario with my ex husband once he sees me again and meets our now 2,5 yr old girl for the first time… tears tears poor sausage and then the same old rage all over except now it would actually scare me because he has been losing his mind for real due to afgair turning out shitty and drugs and drinks AND i feel vulnerable with a kiddo *shudder*

            think i will stay 9,000 km a way a little longer… yes would be happy if i would mean nothing to him but i am afraid that wont happen.

          • Jeeptess,
            Your reply resonates with me. It is amazing how the minute they don’t get their way, the shift again and the anger directed towards you.
            I will never-ever understand the cruelty me ex (MasterMindFuck) dealt to me. I cried so much, not only from the abuse, but because I couldn’t make sense of it.
            I have finally accepted the only thing I did, was said “I do” and I couldn’t make sense of the abuse, because abuse doesn’t make sense. When dealing with matter the crazy abuse and mindfuck games…it does feel like you are dealing with Satan. A duplicitous scary person that has no remorse regarding the cruelty they deal to someone they actually promised to love and cherish.
            David, I agree with CN and feel you should put the hopium pipe down. Look only at actions and don’t listen to pretty sparkly words. Narc’s don’t change…neither do sociopaths.

      • Wow…. this sounds so familiar. He will search down an ex girlfriend but doesn’t care what he’s done to me. Somehow, it was my fault that he was a narcissistic serial cheater. Yup… feeling your pain MyIntuitionWasRight

      • MIWR, I think it’s all about image management. Your x knew he’d blown his cover with you and the other ex-wives, so you’re not worth circling back to again. You know who he is, and he can’t tolerate that.

        The ex-girlfriends, on the other hand, must have split with him without ever figuring him out. Therefore, there are kibbles left to hoover.

        I know this because of the way my x changed as I found out more and more about his secret live. (Or lives, I should say. He had a child by one woman and was having an affair with another.) He was relatively kind to me before I found out—he still wanted to spend time with me (which I ate up, thinking we could reconcile), and he even talked about spending holidays together, taking future family vacations together. After I found the truth, I went NC. But that was easy, because I was dead to him, too.

        Those of us who know exactly who they are are anathema to them; with us there’s no image left to manage.

        • Maybe that’s it. They have to move on to someone they haven’t hurt yet because it is easier to make someone love you when you haven’t hurt them. It’s not just t that the new target is new and shiny, the cheater is new and shiny to the target too. Lots of opportunity for kibbles when you don’t have to make amends for past transgressions to get them.

          • Chumpinrecovery

            Amen to the idea they want a NEW Person so they can BE a new person to the target. Worse is with the kids b/c they also have memories of the cheater greedy jerk. They cannot applaud loudly for their dad again, and he NEEDS the applause a lot.

            So unfortunately it’s easier for him to start ALL FRESH and new! Like new sheets!

            Trouble is, if any of his good stuff is still in there somewhere, I have to believe he misses our kids Not just for narc reasons.

            And then I begin to contemplate how badly he must feel and then I SLAP MY FACE and remember that he truly sucks and to stop projecting my values and moral compass onto him.

            And it still fucking hurts. AND I’m still shocked. Damn it.

            • AND Making amends was never his strong suit, to say the least.

              Just as he was entitled to do whatever HE wanted, he also tends to expect forgiveness without asking for it and without believing it should take more than one dramatic gesture or apology. And the grand apology is something like he “Could have handled it better”

              NOT the one we want to hear — “OMG I crushed the people who loved me the most! And did it again and again because I was so dishonest and selfish and blind, and I Inflicted great pain on them, and they may never see me in the same light again. So I will spend the rest of my life trying to show them how valuable they are to me…”

              THIS ^^^ WILL NEVER BE SAID, EVER

              (but it sure feels good to imagine it now and then)

              • This is all so sad, the fact that he will never never know this is the saddest part of all.

                But, you and your children are mighty.
                Continue to gather strength from each other.
                Doctor’s 1st wife, I feel the strength in your posts.

                I worked for many years with Doctors. I was aware of a lot of games they played and how they tried to hide things from their wife. Sometimes their wife would call needing to talk with them, saying she they were there for a delivery and sure enough a baby was being delivered but not by that husband!
                Also, I never respected fellow nurses who flirted with Doctors, always thought it was cheap on both of them. Many of my friends felt this way also. Sometimes their behaviour was disgusting!

              • Dr’sfirstwife….I love reading your posts also. I am in the process of divorcing my doctor husband. He turned 46 and left me–on a Tuesday as fortune has it–for a 25 year old I call hooker nurse. She is now 26 and has a 9 year old. They recently had a child together. Mind you I had to file for divorce–he never did. We are still not divorced, but they are engaged (3ct ring), he bought her a car, and they live in a huge house. I was with him since his 3rd year of medical school. It is such a freaking cliche. The pig said I was out of his league when we married, but now, as I approach 50 (I am 2 years older than him) he looks at me and feels nothing. I still can’t figure any of it out, but I mostly I just want to be done. It is such a crazy and sad thing. I am mostly sad for my children, who he does love, but doesn’t understand or prioritize. It is a shame he doesn’t even realize what he lost for the chance to look cool in his own small mind. Now that I know he did this I am pretty sure it is not the first time, btw. Things I accepted stupid explanations for because I never suspected now stand out as signs of my stupidity. Never again.

            • Interesting. This is just what I needed to read.
              Ex cheated and then married her and now has a 2 month old baby. Schmoopie is 27 and immature and insecure. Been getting lots of texts from him over the past couple of months. “Just want to say hi” “Good Morning” ” I know you think I’m happy but…”
              “If you only knew”
              After all the vague texts and him asking me to meet with him after 6 months of no contact, I agreed. Mostly for selfish reasons. Everything I wanted to hear him admit.
              He’s not happy, regrets everything, misses my family, knows I gave him an amazing life, knows he shouldn’t have married her, isn’t happy, in fact he’s miserable, throws himself into my kids activities to get out of the house, says this won’t last, should’ve done things differently, lives with guilt and regret every day. Blah blah blah
              You get the picture.
              And just as Chump Lady says….hell yes! It’s validating and I find some satisfaction in hearing all of that.
              But 3 years after DDay… I’m no fool. He wants my attention and kibble and having gone no contact kills him. I don’t doubt that soon enough it’ll be someone else.
              This is a guy who was fired from 1 job for sexual harassment and written up at another ..both while we were married.
              I am sad that our family is broken and that I worked so hard to keep this marriage together.
              But what I do know is that I’m free. I have changed. I would never go back to that emotional abuse again. I have rebuilt my life. I believe in myself, trust myself and know my worth. He stole all that from me. So yes, The hurt is still there but it is softening. I’m so close to indifference I can taste it.
              He’s a liar, coward, and a cheater. He made his bed and now he can lie in it. 27 year old Schmoopie has no idea who he really is.
              And just in case she’s ever interested… I screen shot and save every text he sends me…

          • It’s also the laziness factor: why bother to put in some effort, when you can start anew and be whatever you want to be to the new target?

        • “Those of us who know exactly who they are are anathema to them; with us there’s no image left to manage.”
          That’s it in a nutshell, champchump.
          And they must discredit the chump (character assassination) so if we speak out, no one will believe us.

      • MyIntuitionWasRight and the rest: you are SO SO LUCKY and you don’t even know it!
        You are like sunshine to a vampire! Seriously. You are the truth and they cannot stand it!
        I would bask in that knowledge and I would not give a second thought to those … sub-human creatures.

      • I can fully understand the desire to say FU. I’ve been able to say that a few times to mine yet was still left seriously messed up full of grief, confusion, trauma and not to mention shock.

        Why shock? The writing was on the wall, he’d been a serial cheater his whole life but chump me thought he had matured and finally met the right one – good old me. His ex of 25 years told me later in his younger years he’d left their 3 young children in the car (one eventually crying with discomfort from a wet nappy) whilst he had sex with his latest OW.

        What I want to say to those who feel shortchanged by him/her not asking for another chance is bide your time, life is watching. In my case I feel karma has had last laugh on someone who’s cruelly abused everyone whose ever loved him. He lives alone in a neglected, grubby house now bankrupt. No doubt looking for a new chump best of all his “personal equipment” is….how shall we say? Not working. In the 5 years I had with him it had always been ahem….a flop…. but being careful not to bruise his ego I was always patient and loving and didn’t make a fuss. He was in complete denial and refused to accept it was a problem. Since D-day I’ve delighted in telling him the insults and jibes his string of casual OW had for him in that department. He knows the truth. So, now he has nothing. His children even refuse to speak to him. Of course sociopath that he is (he once took serious advantage of a man with learning difficulties who went on to commit suicide. Not an ounce of remorse shown) none of this is his fault and he takes zero responsibility.

        I feel that we all struggle because we’re looking for answers instead of just seeing these people are wired wrong. It takes a long time to realise that IS the answer. The only answer.

    • I’ve been in a poly relationship for 3 years. If my partner lied to me, abused me, violated my boundaries I’d be devastated. Whether you’re poly, open, or monogamous going forward you still need to find a trustworthy partner who treats you well. Polyamory wasn’t playing with fire, your ex was the fire and she burned you. Poly is the excuse she and you are using to trick yourself into thinking you had control over her abysmal behavior. She will be more than happy to let you accept that blame….which she can then use against you forever: “well if we had never opened that door, I would never have gotten used to sleeping with other people, hence you are partly responsible.” It’s bullshit, don’t accept it. She chose to lie and live a double all on her own and she doesn’t have the excuse of “oh monogamy is so unnatural.” She didn’t need to lie in order to sleep around, but she broke up her family anyway. She’s insanely selfish and abusive and you can’t afford to expose yourself (or your kids to it) anymore.

      • As a formerly poly person I want to chime in too on David’s situation…most poly people are really ethical. Cheating and lying are not okay just because you opened up your relationship. David, you aren’t being punished because you and your ex decided to do this. Rather, you’re being punished because you married a narcissist. Stop punishing yourself tho…it won’t get any better. Don’t go back!!

        • Thank you, K and Polytastic. Our decision was completely mutual and was to be a limited, likely one-time experience–a bit of a lark to spice things up. We actually didn’t have too much discussion of the trust issue–except, ironically, to laughingly acknowledge that it was not an issue since we utterly trusted each other. It likely sounds naive to many, but I truly did not think at the time that we were risking anything. I had not read up on the poly lifestyle; again, it was not a “lifestyle” we were entering, just a decision to make a fantasy a reality for a little bit. I was flabbergasted when it quickly fell apart. (I know many are reading this flabbergasted that I was flabbergasted.)

          • I think it’s worth raising the point again that cheating is never about sex and access to and/or abundance of sex. Cheating is fuelled by lies and deceit. It is THOSE that turn the cheater on. The power of being in control of something you know nothing about. That’s where the kibbles come in. The poly thing is a total red herring and point is decision to poly is in no way a direct correlation with cause of cheating.

            Try not to beat yourself up
            Around what people like us think of your relationship decisions (the poly stuff). It’s your story and journey and we can’t judge it and nor should we. God knows I did some dumb and occasionally outrageous things in mine that weren’t my finest moments. But do I think they were good enough reasons for him to cheat. No. They weren’t. But they are serving him well as part of his smear campaign.

            I don’t judge the poly thing and what it did or didn’t precipitate (though it seems it was a blessing in disguise – weeding out her true colours). I WILL however give you a verbal clip round the ear if you fuck up all your hard work and healing and bring her back in to your life. Don’t do it mate. You will RUE the day. Keep on your path and go Grey Rock. It’s your safest and healthiest option (and for your kids).

            • I luv it–a “clip round the ear”!!! So true! If more people got one of those for some of the stupidity they do, the world would be a better place!

            • Yes. Cheating is about power. About an uneven playing field. About knowing something their spouses or partners don’t know. About sneaking and deceiving. About the triangle that pits the spouse against the AP. Sex is just one kind of cake.

          • David, I will not comment on the poly thing as I don’t understand or can’t relate. What I can relate to is letting a cheater back. My ex had an affair of some sort (can’t prove it and he’ll deny it until his dying day, but ALL the signs were there) when I was pregnant with our second child. I was afraid and quite frankly in shock during that time, because our little happy family turned into he didn’t want us anymore and it pretty much happened over night. I should have kicked him out with how he was treating me when I was pregnant and also after I gave birth to our daughter. I should have ran as far away from him as I could! Running and going back my home state is what my intuition was telling me. I didn’t. And he I guess broke it off with the AP. That turned into 14 years of hearing him lie to me about stuff, women and him doing whatever the f he wanted to do behind my back. And then in the end he turned it all around on me and said he couldn’t be with someone with “trust issues”, this after I caught him out on a date with a newly divorced whore who is now his girlfriend! This isn’t an “open relationship” or poly problem. This is a character problem like Chump Lady said! I was an AWESOME wife. Not perfect, but awesome. I would marry me. 🙂 You will never be enough for someone like your ex-wife, because she’s a CHEATER and she SUCKS! Please don’t go back to her. She will do it again like my ex did it to me again and again with all of his “friends”.

          • Your injury isn’t illegitimate because you delved into a sexual fantasy. There’s nothing wrong or shameful about you and your ex enjoying sex outside the marriage. You had taboo sex so now the break up of your family is how you pay for it and you get to live in guilt forever? It doesn’t work that way. You don’t owe a karmic debt to the universe. You know who isn’t feeling guilty? Your ex. She’s feeling sorry for herself, big difference. You dnot need a giant rule book or a poly philosophy class to do poly or open relationships correctly. “Treat your partners well and don’t lie” will take you most of the way. Guess who failed at that? SHE DID. You owe her nothing, you owe the universe nothing. whatever you choose to do, understand that this woman has not and will never change.

          • Sex itself isn’t a dirty or shameful thing; people in all sorts of relationships expect their partners to keep their agreements. Having agreed-upon sex outside the marriage wasn’t an invitation to the rest David, so don’t let anyone mindfuck you about that. The issue here is that she abused your trust. If she’d been ethical, she would have been honest about her desires, and if you said no and she still needed it, honorably left with some integrity. She wanted the cake. Flee from all cake eaters!! I’m sorry for what you’re going through, but I agree with CL that it’s the bargaining stage of grief and it’s a motherfucker.

          • David

            I am fiercely monogamous in my relationships, always have been and always will be with never a desire for poly, open or anything else.


            Different strokes for different folks. I don’t judge and i don’t care as long as no one gets hurt (and she crushed your children & you) i am fine with peoples personal decisions regarding their sex life. Not my business and i don’t think it’s weird or kinky or immoral or sinful or whatever shit label self righteous people want to put on it.

            BUT (again 😉 ) marriage is ALL about trust and no matter your personal preferences within that marriage it is an UNWRITTEN & UNSPOKEN sacred pledge to never break that trust. You shouldn’t have to TELL the fucking Skank not to cheat, thats not what you both agreed to even if it wasn’t spoken out loud, it goes without saying, any decent person would think. You 2 made a decision together to engage in an activity with outside parties to spice things up. NOT to cheat and destroy your marriage, family and YOUR whole world. Did you sign up for that? Hell no.

            Not flabbergasted David, please don’t think that, just very, very sad for you and your children. You didn’t agree to this, you didn’t ask for this or expect this and you sure as fuck didn’t deserve this.

            Sayonara Whore and don’t put your children through the pain and heartbreak all over again, because it WILL happen again. And do you really want to lie there at night thinking ‘Where is she now’ ‘Wonder what’s on her phone’ ? It will never be better. You will ALWAYS be wondering. Thats not a life. There is no trust.


    • You are so right. I sometimes wonder what I’d say to him if he crawled back. I also love to lose myself in my thoughts as I run. The other day I was thinking that I would tell him “take one of your little blue pills and GO FUCK YOURSELF”, when I realized that I had said it out loud. The poor guy planting the tree behind the hedge is still wondering what he did and why the crazy runner yelled at him.
      Point is, it’s easy to know what to say but it takes strength to follow thru. You will have the respect of others and of yourself if you do.

  • David, you were set up. I was too, almost exactly in the manner you describe.

    Don’t beat yourself up over this. CL is correct, it’s her shitty character and complete disregard for anything the two of you agreed to that’s the problem. You trusted and got burned.

    KK told me just enough to make be believe she was holding to the rules, everything else went underground. She told one secret partner that I was beating her, and used a black eye she got from another partner as evidence. That’s only the worst of what I know about. You can be sure that you’ve been lied about in a similar manner (although I hope not as egregiously).

    • Agreed, UXWorld.

      My XW also wanted an open marriage…right around the time she started shacking up with her OM. She was looking for retroactive permission for her sins, and permission to continue as such into the future.

      Unlike David, I didn’t agree to it.

      He did, and then only a year later was DDay?!?! C’mon! It is very likely she was into this lifestyle because she was already involved with awesome OM.

      It’s been said here before, a million times, if your spouse suddenly wants (or is excited about) an open marriage, then chances are you already have one.

      • Ha yes. In my case STBX didn’t bring up the idea of “open marriage” until after DDay. I said no. He continued to see her and didn’t file for divorce. I finally had to initiate the divorce when I realized that if I didn’t I would end up in an open marriage by default.

        The whole getting permission to act like an asshole thing is exactly right. That must seem like such a reasonable solution to those who want cake.

        • Somehow I get the feeling that when cheaters bring up the subject of an “open marriage” with their faithful spouse, the faithful spouse is already in an open marriage without their knowledge. I mean maybe this is something that can be approached truthfully but it seems to me it’s something that is negotiated before the wedding, not after it.

          • @cheaterssuck — Remember the chump served a purpose for a while, i.e. befor and immediately after the wedding. You’re forgetting that the cheater will assert that (s)he (A) “has been SO unhappy for SO long”, (B) “had no idea what forever meant when we married”, “(C) “is still discovering (or rediscovering) the person I was always meant to be”, or (D) all of the above.

              • David, here is another Chump raising their hand on the whole “open marriage” crap. Except, it was only open on his side because I don’t like sex. Wish I had known that I didn’t, lol! It was also a deal breaker that if I didn’t agree- well he couldn’t deal with the marriage anymore.

                My desperation to save our family, to keep it intact, knew no boundaries and he played that. Trouble was, he’d been cheating the whole marriage and I didn’t know it. I was made to believe (gaslighting) that I was the WHOLE problem.

                Look, what I’m trying to say is this, you aren’t alone. We’ve all danced, bent, pretzalized to save something that wasn’t worth the effort. SHE ISNT WORTH YOUR EFFORT. Don’t let her back in your life, the life of your children, to screw toy all again.

                Find a good therapist. Go do things you enjoy and don’t worry so much about finding someone new. The more you fill your life, the less lonely you become. And the less likely you will be to romantize your prior marriage- cause, baby,I’m betting it wasn’t as good as you are remembering. Look at how she acted thru the divorce. You, yourself said it was acrimonious. Is that the behavior of someone that still cares about you on any level?

                ( hugs to you, my friend)

              • Special Snowflake, that’s exactly what the Traitor said to me!!!
                And he claimed I was asexual too!

        • Raising hand; mine brought up “having threesomes, foursomes, watching you have lesbian sex” after his affair with gradwhore. I’m sure the motivation was two-fold: if he could get me to have sex outside the marriage, he’s be absolved if I ever found out about gradwhore (I didn’t, and he wasn’t), and he needed the titillation of “new” constantly.

          • Ah yes, one more raising his hand. After dday1 it was brought up. It was presented in a manner that it’d be a dealbreaker if she couldn’t have this. That we’d divorce then and there. Chumpy me was still weak and reeling from the actual dday. She even told me several times: At least I had the balls to ask you for the open relationship, unlike others…

            Whatever… the … f… ever… God, still pisses me off. But yeah, I went along. She told me the same thing Tempest: “I crave/need something that you cannot give me: The thrill of conquering someone”. Of course, I couldn’t give her that, I was her caretaking chump already.

            Man I was naïve. No more.

            • OneDaySomeDay, I am sorry for your idiot weird wife. That feeling you get looking at a past chump moment can really eat at you.

              UGH! If I had a time machine and could only change words I used, boy would I have a speech.

              But it would be short and not so sweet.

              “Dear Greedy Liar, your selfishness has no bounds but the irony is that it is you who will not win. You will not have more love in your life later on, after shitting on your family.

              On the contrary, your constant grabbing for more has consumed so many resources and done so much damage that you will have LESS of the good stuff than you would have, had you not kept stealing and lying.

              As for toys and income that you seek, with schmoopie, guess what? I’m getting my own! And I’m sharing them with MY Kids b/c you have step kids you can pretend to enjoy now. Buh Bye!”

              • Haha, well said Doctors1stwife&kids!

                The thing I left out was that at the moment she shared this to me, I had a great retort that pulled the rug from under her statement.

                I said, okay, then why don’t you seduce someone and when they ask you to go somewhere quiet, or you ask them, and they say yes: Accept that they’ve conquered them?

                No no no, that’s not how this works. She had to get fucked to believe it was true of course. She had a vague reaction on that one. Something that didn’t validate any of what she said, but should’ve been my moment to throw in the towel and gtfo.

            • At least they offered you an open marriage.
              Mine just said he wanted to have 2 wives. No open marriage for me. I wasn’t even worth the pretense that I would also be entitled to play.
              I was offered the super deal of being the wife at home doing all the work while he also enjoyed his ex partner (and I was doing 25% of her child care since they had a kid and he had 50% custody).
              I was so stunned I didn’t even scratch his eyes out.

            • If an open relationship is being used as a stick to beat you into submission, RUN. People who don’t want open relationships should not have them, it’s only a misery and I’ve seen it happen.

          • Tempest: I could have written your exact words…exact. words. I am still in the early stages of knowing the whole truth about my dead husband’s secret life and making connections and reframing memories and information as things pop into my head.

            My husband one day out of the blue told me he didn’t mind if I had a fling, as long as I always came back to him at the end of the day. That never sat well with me…now of course I know he was having flings and had been for YEARS (as well as prostitutes and lasting mistresses). Run Dave RUN!!!

            It is truly remarkable how cheater behavior seems to have very little variation. How I wish I had had the opportunity tell him to get out of my life – but fate removed him before I knew.

          • Tempest, I agree with your thinking that your ex wanted you to validate his mistakes with this threesomes, foursomes thing.

            Just like the judge in my country who is causing an uproar because, with his peculiar “understanding of the law”, he has let off from jail a twice-in-the-last-month-ejaculator-on-women-travelling-on-public-transportation freak.
            I BET my life that this judge used to do the same thing on the bus, his judgement is self validating.

        • Cheater didn’t ask to open the relationship, he knew I valued my vows and my Christian faith too much. I believed he valued those things too, he was very good at acting as if he did anyway.

          He did ask my permission to go out with his “new friends” from work. I was in my 1st trimester and feeling really sick and tired and he was using that to be able to go out and cheat. It does feel like I somehow gave him permission to do it. He got great pleasure in telling me after D-day that whenever he said he was out with his mates he was with her. It was scary how he just turned on me and how he could be so cruel.

          • I too experienced the person I trusted most “turn” on me and it was really scary. I have had this continuous thought that he will eventually kill me. I will wake up with his hands around my throats and he will choke me to death. Sometimes, I wake and think he is in my room and I hear his voice. I wake parapyzed with terror. He’s eyes and his detachment were so chilling. It just sent a deep fear into my inner being that I have not been able to shake. How do you get rid of these fears? Are they crazy? I just don’t know. And, he is so mild mannered and calm…no one would ever understand my fear.

              • Pregnant Chump, Perfectlife, same story here. 5 years in, a pregnancy, and he turned on me like a hurricane wind. Perfectlife, I too thought for a long time he would kill me. Sometimes I still do. I left him and have a good thing going now. I think it’s just abuse and intimidation. I was in shock for years after the fact. Just could not believe it. 4 years later I am in control, I don’t worry about him killing me. I don’t think he has the balls to handle jail. Thank you both for validating these feelings for me. For years I thought it was to crazy and I was alone.

            • This is exactly my recurring thoughts. How can someone i trusted with my life turn on me in an instant and i have reason to believe he wanted me to kill myself. (Tie up loose ends) if someone has a suggestion of how to rid myself of these intolerable thoughts please say ! Its like my brain has lived through it but still cant make sense of it enough to stop plaguing me with these diabolical thoughts.

              • I am going to ask my counselor about doing some Trauma recover called EMDR (eye movement desensitized recovery) as a possible way to help with me. I am reading a book called Beytrayal Bonds which has been helpful to understanding the bonding that happens between victims(chumps) and abusers (cheaters, liars, manipulating cluster B). I am also considering some type of hypnosis to help me calm down and ggget my thinking back “online”. This continues negative thought patterns is destroying my mind and my internal self. I cannot control it. Has anyone tried these two methods?

            • All I can say is listen to your intuition!

              You are being warned by your subconscious.

              Please consider separating and getting away from him.

  • You are not at meh and never have been. Yes, you have created a new life for yourself BUT (and this is a biggie) you have never recovered from the trauma of your divorce. If you had, you would run screaming in the other direction from any suggestion of reunification. You would know that you are worth more than the crumbs she wants to give you. You would know that living alone is better than living with someone capable of such betrayal ( which from the sounds of it continues to this day).

    My X never married OW. In fact, he dumped her and did a hell of a lot more to attempt reconciliation than what you have described in your letter.. I didn’t and will not reconcile with him, not because of spite on my part, but because I remember what life with him was really like. He came first, always. I am alone, but that does not bother me, because I am living life on my terms, not his!

    Your X has not received a character transplant, She is who she has always been. Please do not allow your fantasy of what could be to interfere with the reality of what will be if you allow her to return. She wants you back because it will be easier for her, not because of any great devotion she feels for you. Harsh, but true.

    And what about your poor children? Haven’t they been through enough? By your own comments, they are finally doing okay. Is it fair to them to make them relive this trauma and perhaps endure more trauma when she changes her mind yet again. When the going gets tough, cheaters get the hell out of Dodge!

    Please, please seek counseling to determine why you think you and your kids don’t deserve more than what is being offered. Today, you are her savior. Tomorrow, you will be the schmuck she keeps around because you do as you are told. Your kids deserve so much more. So do you.

    • “You are not at meh and never have been. Yes, you have created a new life for yourself BUT (and this is a biggie) you have never recovered from the trauma of your divorce. If you had, you would run screaming in the other direction from any suggestion of reunification.”

      Exactly, Violet. I would rather put my arm in a combine thresher than have to live with my X again.

    • Spot on Violet!! I can’t imagine a single scenario where I would end up back with my ex because, as you stated, “I remember what life with him was really like.” I may be lonely now but lonely while single is MUCH easier to bear than lonely while married. And the control thing… never, never again will I let someone have that sort of control over my life.

      • +1 Beth

        Best to be single and lonely from time to time than coupled and feeling utterly alone and neglected

    • Exactly Violet! I too remember. D-day and divorce put high resolution, anti-spackle glasses on me. I had “requests” for reconciliation, but I knew they were for the wrong reasons. I shudder at the thought.

      Now, the only thing I have to get over is the why about putting up with all the shit I did.

    • Violet did a great job! David don’t worry about fully being at Meh yet….but keep working. I’m not at Meh yet. I’m 9 months out from DDay and have a 7 month old. (Do the math on that…he was a real POSH and narcissist.) I’m not fully at Meh yet because I greatly GREATLY miss my dreams for a family. I had only been married 3 years, just built a house, and was starting a family. I miss the man I THOUGHT I married. I’m on the path to Meh because I realized I spackled him so good I fooled I myself. He was a manipulator and verbal abuser. I’m raising my daughter alone (he sometimes comes to visit her if he has nothing better to do), I’m taking care of the house, I’m going to doctors appoints with her by myself, I drop her off at daycare AND pick her up. All of this I would have been doing if he were still at home. But I would have spackled it “well he is working so much, he can’t handle it, I would rather do it myself, and my favorite ITS NOT WORTH THE FIGHT”. Like you David, I blame myself. I knew he was like this (cheater no…I still believe this is the first affair) but I knew he wasn’t a family man. That he was selfish. Does that make me responsible? NO! He agreed to love me until death do us part, to never cheat on me, and he agreed to have a baby. He has a character flaw. I know he sucks. Trust she does. This is not your fault.

      I also know I’m not at Meh because I expect the day will come that he wants me back. Hell on my first Mother’s day 2 months after he filed for divorce he hid a card in the mailbox that said “i hope one day our paths may cross again and we will be better people who can make a relationship work”. Some days i wish he would come back to me. But then I remember just who he is. He is making my divorce a living hell. He threatens me. Talks down to me….still! I’m on the path to Meh because I wish he would leave me alone. I hate seeing his name pop up in my email.

      Please do not get back together with her. I think it makes the Cheater happier knowing that they can cheat and eventually come back (even if 20 years later) than it makes the Chump to think the Cheater really loves them.

      • IIWII,
        Your post name is intriguing!
        “‘a manipulator and a verbal abuser” is good reasons to keep being the strong, present, sane, loving parent.
        Your cheater does not, and has never, deserved you.
        Keep being the mighty person YOU are.

        (((((Hugs to you strong lady))))

        • “It is what it is” I was informed the name was already taken after i joined this blog. My grandfather’s favorite quote. He taught us It Is What It Is. Meaning You can’t change ANYTHING in this world: people – their character, their actions, the past, or the future. People are who they are. The past happened. And the future will be what it will be.

          Thank you for your encouragement!

      • IIWII my ex was the same. We both made our beautiful baby but I was effectively a lone parent through the rest of my relationship with him. I’m only a month out from dday and in daily life nothing much has changed since he left that day, I’m still lone parenting but boy am I happier! I hadn’t realised how much I did for him, spackled over his temper outbursts and shitty behaviour, and generally put up with being made to feel useless and ugly. I’m still in the angry stage but deep down I know that ultimately he did me a favour by getting sloppy and getting caught. I’m free of a millstone around my neck.

        • Dollygumdrop – you will get there. Now you have your freedom! And you didn’t have to ask for it. He gave it to you! I always say I thank POSH for two things 1) for my daughter 2) for leaving.

    • Thank you, Violet. You are right: I realize I am still quite traumatized and not over it, as even idle fantasizing about reconciliation is incredibly foolish. I am convinced my head will finally triumph over my irrational heart as it has before and this will indeed be a passing weakness borne from emotional weariness and plain human loneliness.

      • As Chumplady stated, “shut that shit down”

        She is not your friend. Keeping contact to a bare minimum is very important here. Make sure the kids needs are taken care of but don’t let those conversations go any further that the subject of kids. For me parallel parenting by email or text is the only way I can deal with my cheating ex-wife. I do not speak to her at all and haven’t for about a yr. However my kids are older and don’t require much for co-parenting.

      • It is so tough to be the sane parent, even more so as a single sane parent! Your X clearly showed that she did not deserve your love, your love is worth so much more than being given to a lying cheating X who disrespected you and hurt your kids in such a vile manner. Given her track record of manipulative blame shifting, I would highly recommend that you only communicate with her via text or a parenting software.

        I agree with CL and CN: It sounds like your feelings of loneliness make you more vulnerable to your X’s hoovering attempts. Is there anyway for you to build friendships or participate in social events when your kids are not with you to feel a sense of belonging? It does not need to be romantic, just a circle of people that we’ll make you feel like you are part of a community of like-minded people at first? The more you can socialize with people who make you feel like you belong, the less you will be tempted to take your X’s back?

        It is a long road to recovery, and I salute your courage in writing and seeking advice from CL/CN, it is a rough road filled with moments of doubt and, when sharing custody of kids, so many opportunities for dysfunctional cheaters to try and get their chump back… Please keep posting here and in the forum so we can help you move forward with your cheater-free life!!!

      • It’s hard to be alone. I get where you’re coming from, but you have to remember something – you were alone before she ever left. It’s one of the saddest realities that you will come to terms with someday. You were always alone. I can remember being married, desperately afraid of being alone forever, meanwhile, he was stuck in his phone. I wanted to talk, but he didn’t care. He didn’t listen, ever. I realized recently that I had been alone for a long time. What I thought was companionship wasn’t at all.

        If you look back, you’ll see it. It’s hard to accept, but it’s true.

  • David, take yourself out of the equation and just look at your children. She made those children live in this sadness/madness for five years. There is no way around it, that’s most of their childhood. Do you honestly think reconciling with her is going to give them back those lost years? It is a biological urge for a child to have a safe, stable family in which to grow up. If they live with you and you are stable you are doing what needs to be done. Reconciling with your wife after this long is nothing more than a pipe dream. A big fat pipe dream.

    • This is also what struck me. She hurt your KIDS!

      It’s also a biological urge to protect your CHILDREN from pain, unless you’re all sorts of disordered in the brain. And she is.

      She’s not sorry, she’s calculating. Or, she might be all emotional without any substance to back it up. This is not grown-up love. What happens when she gets all emotional about someone new, or the same piece of shit who’s on the outs (now)?

      Don’t fall back. She won’t be there to catch you.

  • David, I’d also re-read your letter and look at how often you state that the AP sucks vs that youe XW sucks. (Heck, you even blame him for her emails.)

    APs are awful people. I agree. But they are NOT the ones that cheated on us. Your wife is the person that welcomed the AP into your life and your family’s life.

    Re-read that letter and realize who the villain is. (Hint: in all of our stories, the spouse is the villain. The AP is just the lead henchman.). Then consider whether to take her back.

    • “Hint: in all of our stories, the spouse is the villain. The AP is just the lead henchman.”

      Yes, thank you. That is a great way to describe the AP. I have been struggling with that. STBX is the one who betrayed me and yet I also know that the AP is not a good person and it makes me so mad when STBX tries to portray her that way. STBX is the one who did me wrong and I need to remember that if he ever does hoover back (although unlikely in his case I think), but she encouraged it and a good person wouldn’t do that.

      At the time I felt like he was on the edge of a cliff and I said “I love you don’t jump” and she said “if you loved me you’d jump” and he jumped.

      Looking back I think it was more like she told him “push her off the cliff” and he did. How can I ever again trust a man who would push me off a cliff just because somebody else told him too.

      • Chumpinrecovery

        This is it exactly. I was told she (a woman he fucked a week earlier) wouldn’t like it if I talked to him. Forty one years and she decided? NO it was all on him.

        And at some point the thrill is gone. Why not circle back and fuck with the chumps head. It’s about supply David. A woman capable of love doesn’t abandon her family and hide money and expect forgiveness. A sociopath does.

        When the affair ended she had to live with the consequences, alimomey and child support. That’s it.

    • JC, I know this issue is up for debate, but I would respectfully disagree with your characterization of the AP. In my book my x’s AP DID cheat on me. She may not have known me personally, but she knew I existed when she willingly embarked on an affair with my then-husband.

      There are certain social mores that hold the fabric of society and civilization together. As many times as they may be broken, we all generally agree about some limits to behavior. We don’t go around killing each other indiscriminately, or even for the most part assaulting each other, robbing banks, and so on. Although there are plenty of people who do violate these mores, we all generally understand them.

      One important one for me (and I suspect for most of us here) is that we as a society value monogamy. We’ve institutionalized it. When one partner in a relationship violates the contract to remain monogamous, the affair partner (to me) is just as guilty as the getaway car driver is of the bank robbery, or the accomplice is in a conspiracy to commit murder. Both have committed reprehensible misdeeds, and the unwitting spouse is victim of both.

      • They are equally as guilty yes but sometimes they get painted as the bigger villain (Svengali???!!) because of their mystical powers of being able to “lure” the cheating spouse away and that is wrong (<—–insert sarcasm font there). They are not a bigger villain. If it wasn't that person it most assuredly would have been someone else because our ex's are entitled pod people with no character. You show them the next shiny thing and they are almost Barracuda-esque.

        APs are interlopers to be sure. They lack character and are equally guilty in blowing up an intact family but when we start giving them names like Svengali we are intimating that they have a more seedy role in this shitty story line. At the end of the day they throw shinier kibbles at characterless people. The. End. They aren't magical and they are no more evil than the assholes we were married to. Plus I think it's more than a little dangerous to people who are vulnerable to reconciling to take any of the focus off what the cheater did.

      • I think JC’s comment was more about David’s propensity to look for ways to lay the blame on the AP with the specific intent of opening up a loophole back into his marriage. AP’s are assholes who hold plenty of blame. The point here is that the AP is out of the picture, so his part in this is done. But David’s wife holds most of the blame in their marriage, and she would still be there in case of reconciliation. David, don’t forget that the person you’d be laying next to every night is the very same person who gutted you.

        And I agree wholeheartedly with UXworld and JC, who suggested that she may well have been involved in an affair the precipitated the open marriage. If the open marriage was your idea, you should stop beating yourself up about it. Cheating is predicated on deception, and she violated the trust and boundaries where you had drawn them together. Cheaters gonna cheat.

        Also, do not, under any circumstance, let that weasel of a woman squirm her way back into your life. It’s a no-win situation for you.

      • champchump – very well said.

        It sometimes really helps to look at this game of life on a macro scale, with the survival of society and the effects of the downside of adultery, helping to keep our morality above the water line. Seems like every generation since the beginning of time have had to deal with it. And, many cultures seem to still have consequences – be-head. (it’s tempting). Oh – and the affair partner? It will always be known as an affair partner. Nice legacy.

        • Oh – and the affair partner? It will always be known as an affair partner.

          I have mentioned this before in my post from the past. The word “Affair” is way to soft for me. I refer to my cheating ex-wife’s AP as her “Adultery Partner” Adultery is ugly and ugly words need to be used to describe it what it is.

      • yes, champ chump, we will respectfully disagree. i see your point, but i just can’t state that someone who never met me owes me the same love and respect as my wife. if i did, then i wouldn’t believe in marriage. this doesn’t excuse the rest of society from practicing common decency, and it doesn’t let APs off the hook. it just means that the betrayal of the ONE person who swore never to do so is much more cruel and villainous than betrayal from some random dickwad who never pretended to care about me (although in my case, he did pretend to care about his own wife).

        i do agree that society is full of losers (and i now know that my ex-wife is one of them). but i had thought i was in marriage, where we helped one another “play defense” against the losers.

        who is it that said that marriage is like a game where only you and your spouse know the rules? i love that quote.

      • I just love how the Chump is encouraged by many to “accept their responsibility” for their “role in the Cheater’s decision to cheat” while the same is not demanded of the AP. Nope. Many people advocating this idea do not ask the AP to “accept their responsibility” for their “role in the Cheater’s decision to Cheat.” The AP is, at worst, seen as “irrelevant”. Uh, no.

        If 100% of the blame is put on the Cheater, than fine. I can live with that. But this business of X% on the Cheater, Y% on the Chump, and 0% on the AP makes no sense to me. If anyone is getting 0%, it should be the Chump! That the AP could possibly emerge as more blameless than the Chump when folks are assigning blame ratios just boggles my mind.

        I’m in the more in the camp that the AP gets a chunk of the blame and the Chump gets 0%. I see no logical reason to hold a Chump in any way responsible for an affair that they oftentimes don’t even know is happening.

        People don’t get moral ‘free passes’ by society for contributing to the damage of people or property in many other circumstances. No AP gets a free pass from me.

        • BTW-my comment on Chump blame, Cheater blame, AP blame is not directed towards any other person’s comment in particular. It is a general comment on how much blame/responsibility the AP should have/how relevant they are to the destruction of the marriage. When I read this thread, the thought struck me that it’s common among many in the RIC to assign blame to Cheater and blame to Chump and to say that the AP is “irrelevant”. So, I developed that thought a bit more.

    • Thank you, JC. I am rereading my letter and everyone’s responses again and again. My head has been in my ass for awhile. I knew I’d receive wonderful head-bashing advice and insight here if my letter were posted. Head is being extricated.

    • Yes–every thing you attribute to the AP is actually the result of decisions made by your XW. She hits “send” when she emails. She took the money. She gave the lawyer instructions. And so on.

  • My first thought was articulated brilliantly by CL – that you are absolutely not in any way deserving of blame for her deceit and cruelty. No amount of willingness to explore polyamory changes that. I know it’s also tempting to blame the AP because cruelty seems to have come from him, but she is the one with whom you are co-parenting and she chose to go along with that behavior, so she gets the blame for that, too. The blame for everything shitty in your story lies with her.

    My second thought was this: imagine you try again with her and it doesn’t work out. Imagine what THAT would do to your children. It would destroy them. It would destroy what you have with them. It would destroy their ability to understand healthy relationships. It’s not worth the risk.

    The other denial piece here – and I don’t want to be hurtful, but it needs to be said – is that no matter how much you have learned and grown, if you go back into the same situation with the same person, the same cycles will return and you will be that same guy, but worse. You’ll see that’s a given if you talk to enough people who lived it. Your growth will only make you far less tolerant of the cycles, just like your friend from the other board described. The one thing that will not happen is everything coming up roses. That can’t happen, because the past doesn’t stop being true just because it happened in the past.

    I believe you are seeing a fantasy and that you would be best served by admitting that, grieving it (with help if it helps), and continuing forward into your new life and away from her. She’ll never be what you wish she would be, but YOU can be what YOU wish to be.

    Be a dad, says me. That’s the best place for your energy now.

    • One other thought – after all the water that has gone under this bridge, she should be far too embarrassed about her behavior thus far to have the nerve to ask you to reconcile. The very fact that she asked actually illustrates her bad character. Ok, off soapbox. 🙂

      • That last comment is actually a very bright insight right there! That there is proof she doesn’t even feel or think of what hurt she caused you. She doesn’t ‘see’ you.

        • Sorry but I can’t say I believe that if she were “really aware” or too embarrassed that she would not even try to reconcile.

          IF, for a moment, we believe she really gets it, then I think she owes it to him to at least make the effort to let him know that she “gets it” for real!

          Not saying she should expect another chance. I just I think actually telling him that she is very sorry, means something. Maybe not a lot but it is truly better than nothing. And it’s a little brave of her, imo.

          No, I do not support a reconciliation. I don’t think it’s me being punitive (but I cannot exclude the anger as a factor though, to be honest).

          I just think you’d be taking an awfully big chance on a losing bet. And if the kids are stable now in the new normal, don’t rock the boat. She’s a big rocker of boats.

      • That is absolutely right. If she really thinks she made a mistake she should be apologizing and sobbing and crying, but she shouldn’t be asking for you to take her back.

      • Good point Amiisfree; my X used to say “KathleenK if you had done this to me I would forgive just like that! (With a hard finger snap for emphasis). At that point he was trying to paint himself as a good forgiving person (unlike me – unforgiving and bitter). But I think it pointed to a greater truth; absolutely no connection with me whatsoever.

        • Yeah, and I suppose he’s a person we should all use for behavior modeling. 🙂 Far as I’m concerned, he was just making it crystal clear that forgiving him like that would be a big mistake. 🙂

      • Yes, that very move to “reconcile” after so much abuse reveals her as on the sociopathic end.

        David, I hope you do some reading about spousal abuse and how victims of this kind of trauma get trapped into years of being dominated by an abuser. The thought that you would take her back after 5 years of such abuse (plus whatever she got up to before that) should make you take a long look at your own patterns. And let me ask about your timeline:

        D-Day was in 2012. You were in a 5-year divorce so that process has just ended. First, regarding finding a new partner, until the divorce was done, you weren’t really available because you were dealing with child custody in a high-conflict divorce with a disordered person. So you may not even be ready for a new partner. Many healthy, attractive potential partners would wisely decide that a man in the middle of a messy divorce is not ready to date. Remember that other people are interested in long-term partners, so putting your XW into a “no contact” zone, other than emailing about kids, will enhance your chances of finding someone really wonderful. Nothing like a hoovering XW to discourse a new romance.

        Second, your XW is just now digesting the divorce, too, and her reaction is to a major loss of kibbles. So she hoovers back to make sure you are still on the line. You need “no contact” in the most serious way simply because you’ve had a massive demonstration of her intent to control you and to keep you on the hook after 5 years of abuse.

        So pay attention to the real timeline. D-Day. Five years of abuse and chaos. Divorce. Peace. Then she hoovers you back. No contact will protect you from this pattern.

        • Thank you, Loved.

          D-day was late 2012. Separation followed, for almost a year, and divorce took almost a year. I’ve been dating since divorce (early 2014). I had no business dating so soon after divorce and continued to grieve at least on an unconscious level until maybe a year ago. Only now do I feel ready to really give another relationship a proper try. Then again, the fact that I am even slightly considering reconciliation with my XW should be a red flag that I am still not ready.

          • Well, I wouldn’t date a man contemplating reconciliation and in regular contact with an abusive ex-spouse. That’s about being fair to the people you date, who might be looking for long-term partners and who don’t want to be dragged into a pick-me dance. There was a thread over on the forums by a poster dating a man who just couldn’t FILE. You, on the other hand, are contemplating jumping back in with XW.

            • Yep. Like attracts like. An emotional healthy and stable woman will not want to be part of this. Whereas hot messes love this sort of drama.

              BE the sort of person you want to attract first. Cut out dishonest and toxic people that hurt others. Exhibit strength of character through your lifestyle and who you choose to associate with and what you do with your time. Work on your career, your home, your kids and so even if you don’t land a partner…you still win.

  • Don’t do it David….step away from the broken glass. I think that once our new life “fills in” it becomes easy for us to forget the old one. But….my god remember the gut wrenching pain, the sick to your stomach feeling of being cheated on, of being lied to, of being treated like shit? Why put yourself through that again?? You’ve already done the incredibly difficult work of putting your life back together, don’t throw it all away for someone who will only disappoint you….because she will. You tried to forgive her. You tried your best to make your family whole again. She shit all over you and the kids. She’s not capable of changing. Don’t. Do. It. Best of luck to you.

  • And this, Chump Nation, is why No Contact is *so* important (or as much as one can get if parallel parenting). We were not immune to the mindfuck while married to these cretins, we cannot maintain full immunity from the mindfuck even after we divorce them. They are sicker than we are smart.

    Having children with a cheater is rough enough, and may require some contact through texts, Our Family Wizard, emails. Permitting actual interaction with them gives cheaters (a) the sense that you are willing to engage with them and feeds the story line that they are not bad people; (b) tricks you into thinking that they are semi-normal people with emotions and sane behavior. They are NOT. Sane, emotionally stable people do not engage in months-long, years-long deception of the person they pledged their life to. I would not taunt a cockroach in the way these cheaters taunted most of us.

    No Contact.

    • Tempest, you are so right, “no contact” is crucial. I received the last of my settlement last week. Had been communicating with cheater only through email regarding finances. Last email he sent re finalizing settlement money, he mentioned he had a tumor and was getting tests. I was conflicted about how to respond and took to CN for input. After a long think, I decided to reply with only financial data requested and didn’t comment on his health issue. He was trying to con me, once again, ‘who could be angry with a guy with a brain tumor, right? ‘ Well, I didn’t take the bait. He was just trying to grease the skids in case Schmoopie bails on him and he needs a nurse. This Chump is not coming to the rescue. I sent him an email confirming settlement arrived and added that now our financial matters were resolved, I wanted no further contact. If he wanted to proceed with divorce go through my lawyer. I don’t want to know if he’s really got a tumor or anything else about him, I’m done with him! When I feel the least bit sad about him I remember your quote ” continuing to care about someone who put a hatchet in your back, just keeps you roped into their drama” I’ll leave the drama to cheater and Schmoopie. Sometimes we just need to be honest and put things clearly in perspective! Thanks for your straight forward honesty!

        • Totes. He gave up his “claim” on your goodness when he gave you his badness. Now he can go take care of himself.

      • The truth of your words, Tempest, is visible in how fast this abusive (emotionally, financially and sexually) XW has David–after 5 years of a horrific divorce–thinking about reconciling. 5 years of torture v. a few nice words and “getting along” for a few months because KIBBLES.

      • Mine tried this health scare with his own kids. Apparently he confided in middle son he had been alerted to a “suspicious mole on his back ” …. no prizes for guessing who stumbled across a mole on his back… thereby putting son in a conflicted situation of whether to feel sorry for cheater and tell me so that i would have to summon up some concern. Turned out it was bullshit. Amater dramatics at its worst. You will always be cast as the villian. The drama triangle has never made more sense: victim: persecuter: rescuer. … take your pick if they are in one role you are playing opposite so just dont freaking play !!

    • David2016, I couldn’t agree more with what Tempest said… going No Contact as much as possible is key to your emotional/psychological recovery, and to bringing sanity back into your life.

      Although I thought it would be possible to maintain respectful communication with my XH of 40 years, the fantasy only lasted 15 months following D-Day (alas, I’d not yet found CL). We returned from our first son’s out of town wedding and I realized that staying in communication with him would eventually be my undoing. So, I immediately went dark… totally dark. And aside from seeing him for 20 anxious minutes in divorce court (ending our 3-year separation) and again at our second son’s wedding a year ago, I have remained resolute…. 100% zero contact is precisely how I’ve survived the awful mess left behind when XH left me for his married coworker (whom he is marrying in October), and I plan to continue until I take my last breath. There is absolutely no need for us to engage in any way, and I certainly have no interest in handing out kibbles.

      Granted, when you have young children, it’s harder to go No Contact, but from what I see here, members of CN are doing it, and doing it successfully. Others who must stay in touch use the gray rock method, becoming very proficient with 1-word replies like “Yes” and “No”. You can, too.

  • Don’t be absurd. He did not open anything. You are still fuming the hopium related belief that you have any control or influence over what the cheater does. Besides, a marriage is what US, the couple, decides to be. Not what YOU decide we should have.

    David, sometimes I’m afraid my cheater did it because I did not want to go open. But letters like yours show me that sex wasn’t really the problem, even if he is not in a relationship with his whore. I did everything I could to make him happy and he cheated. It wasn’t me.

  • Screw her.

    “She wants me back”. Like after what she did, she STILL expects to have a choice? I love it how they seek centrality even after the divorce, the AP dumps them. Classic.

    • Oh goodness, yes. My hoovering STBX has enlightened me that he would like to get back together, but that he would need to make sure that I wouldn’t be suspicious of him anymore. I know I’m in a much better place, because I didn’t even get mad. I laughed — a genuine, belly laugh.

      More than two decades of living a double life; absolutely stone-walled my attempts at getting the truth from him; and freaked out in an “oh shit, call the cops” kind of way at the end. Take that back? Chewing on shards of glass would be preferable.

    • Bouncing Back – I know!! The nerve these cheaters have to even think we’d take them back after they cheated on us. I mean, after all this time, they think we still actually want them???!! Go figure.

      • Thank you Kelia, you just clarified something for me! My ex is STILL super pissed that I wouldn’t take him back, and I couldn’t figure out why, after everything he’d done, and what a crap husband he always was. According to him, the reason we’re not still together is that I’m bitter and self-righteous. But at some level he knows that it’s because now I don’t actually want him, and he can’t STAND that!

        Once a narc, always a narc.

    • My own grown son told me unequivocally. …” after what he did to you mum you dont want him back “.. well said enough said . Really hit me between the eyes as i wallowed in the what ifs. I really needed to hear that especially from a first hand involved party.

  • So David, when you’re dating women, do you think to yourself, I hope I meet a woman who:

    – Fucked another man (men – let’s face it, she had more than one in her polyamory queue) while she was married…
    – Destroyed the childhood of two innocent kids in ways that can only be described as INHUMAN…
    – Financially and emotionally raped you – and let another man pay for it…
    – Made her husband PICK ME DANCE when she had vowed to love him and no other (and be honest and stuff like that)

    I mean… I could go on here for a long time, but you get the point. You may have loved who you thought she was… but I dare you to honestly say you love WHO SHE IS. Her actions have shown you.

    Keep working on you. Scheduling software and email to co-parent and go Gray Rock (I’m doing it every day). Your miles from Meh… but I can guarantee you, you won’t find it back in her speed bump vagina that men just happen to fall in to when you’re not looking.

    C’mon David… know your worth. Teach your kids boundaries and self-respect. You know they’re not getting it from your X or her next victim.

    • I nominate ICanSeeTheMehComing! as the lead rescuer for today’s CN crisis intervention team. We’re here to help you say all you need to say, which is, “No.”

    • “Speed bump vagina”. Hahahahaha

      David… I know you’re lonely. We’re on a lonely road and quite frankly the prospect of maybe never finding someone else terrifies me. I truly believe I’m meant for marriage. I’m a good wife… I love the idea of being someone’s wife… and actually having a husband who is really truly mine and will do whatever it takes to be mine.

      I resent being a single parent (again). It hurts so much to not have someone to help me lighten the load and who will just be around to squeeze me tight when shit gets real. In all honesty, I’ve never had that.

      But a I don’t want that bad enough to be someone’s plan B…. and if my ex were to come back to me… that’s all I would be to him…the fallback. I’m better than that… always have been. I deserve that, and if I can’t have it, then at least I don’t deserve shot sandwhiches every day for the rest of my life.

      Neither do you, regardless of whatever mistakes you made. Dude, your FIVE YEARS ahead….don’t trade that for plan B.

      • Sunflower 36,
        Good point, David is 5 years ahead, why fall back!

        Sunflower36, re read your post!
        You are stronger every day!

        I hope one day you meet a real man who sees your true worth!
        You certainly deserve this!

        • In glad to have found this place. It’s my eye in the storm, the place that keeps me centered and not feeling like I’m a crazy person. The only place where I have found validation and where all the things I just KNEW were screwy, but couldn’t quite articulate why, were made clearer.

          I honest to God believe if I had not found this, I’d eventually be showing up in front of a judge to answer for setting the bastards dumpster/ truck on fire or assaulting that bitch in a briefly satisfying hair pulling/ face grinding into the pavement event that I’d have to refuse to be sorry for, out of sheer principle.

          It’s given me a goal to work towards… and Meh may very well be a lifetime accomplishment…as good as a university degree and just as hard fought for.

          I’m glad the work is noticeable. Thanks for saying so…

    • No, ICanSee, I sure don’t look for those “qualities.” Thank you for putting it into that perspective. What the hell have I been thinking…

  • I will echo some of the others about your children. Above all else, kids need stability — constancy and and at least some certainty from the one sane parent (in Chumpland it’s usually one sane parent).

    The back-and-forth, uncertainty, and complete lack of stability is more traumatic for the kids than the divorce. I can tell you this from personal experience (as the child of multiple divorces … and my birth parents remarried each other at one point).

    But I’m also a Chump mom. I get it … bone-marrow deep. I would have cut off my own arm if it would have salvaged my kids a stable, intact family. But, the rub is that even cutting off my arm wouldn’t have given my STBX the requisite character needed to fix the astronomical damage he had done. More damage was inevitable. With these types, it always is.

    Getting out of the insanity, staying away from the abuse, regaining emotional and financial footing in life … these are the necessary actions that will give our kids the solid-stable-sane parent that they need more than anything.

  • David- you did not do anything wrong! Your X wife did horrible things to you and your children! Do not take her back! I took my STBX back for wreckonciliation and it lasted only 8 months before he went back to his AP. I didn’t even know about her (he moved out, came back after 8 weeks telling me I was his soul mate, he loved me, etc. and she called two weeks later outing their affair). At that point he seemed remorseful, we went to therapy, he went to his own therapist, said she meant nothing and that he was never happier in his life than with me at that point!

    His AP called me again 8 months later to say they were having an affair again! I threw him out and we are close to the end of the divorce process. These people are seriously disordered whether they are cluster b it just have really bad morals. I regret taking him back! I regret believing him and subjecting our son to being blindsided by him twice and leaving twice!

    Please, please move on with your life and don’t take her back! Get Our Family Wizard so you do not have to text, email or talk on the phone with her and can schedule communicate through this app! I have read hundreds of stories on here about fake reconciliation. It never ever works! And the few times it does the chump ends up being abused and has to swallow lots of shit sandwhiches!!!!!

    Stay strong and away!!!!!

  • My ex wife is on her third marriage and she still tries to get me back. It’s obvious that she comes sniffing around when her current relationship unicorn has a case of gas.

    The disordered are always looking for a replacement and ex’s are convenient low hanging fruit because cheaters are essentially lazy.

    Meh….is a great place away from crazy.

    If you’re thinking about taking your ex back, might me you’re so used to crazy you think it’s normal.

    • This is so true:
      “It’s obvious that she comes sniffing around when her current relationship unicorn has a case of gas.

      The disordered are always looking for a replacement and ex’s are convenient low hanging fruit because cheaters are essentially lazy.”

      Dude, I smoked the hopium big time with Passive Aggressive Whiny Manchild. Wreckonciliation 1 sent me into 7 months of pick me dancing, and some wildly energetic spackling as I tried to pretend the damage of the last few years could be repaired. DDay 2 was eerily, uncannily like DDay 1–nearly the same conversations, just much shorter “when the breakdown came at midnight there was nothing left to say”–Springsteen). Too long; didn’t read version: stay gone. Cheaters don’t change.

      I’m going into the 10 year mark of being free (maybe 6 since reaching Meh-land–it takes a while, newbies), but I still hear from him at random every six months or two years or so. I figure that’s when things have gone sour with Latest Schmoopie, and as PF says: they’re also lazy.

  • First thought: you’re lonely. You say you’re okay with the fact that your search for a new partner hasn’t worked out, but threat you are considering subjecting yourself and your kiddos to that disaster a second time says otherwise. I would recommend working w/ a therapist specifically on self-compassion – not focusing on XW or AP – and some kind of trauma resolution therapy like EMDR. Until you break the trauma bond masquerading as love and history, you and your children are at risk.

    • This is such good advice.

      “Until you break the trauma bond masquerading as love and history, you and your children are at risk.”

    • You’re exactly right, MsM. Her hoovering has come at a vulnerable time. It coincided with my despair over ever finding anyone again after three years of dating. I know, it’s silly to be thinking this and short-sighted, but there it is. The human need for companionship is powerful and often knows no wisdom.

      • “Until you break the trauma bond masquerading as love and history, you and your children are at risk.” And it will be tough to find a healthy new partner. Go no contact. Heal. Then date.

  • David, even if it would delight your kids to see their parents back together, think of the message that you would be sending them: Anybody to can do anything to you, break their promises, put you and the most important people you love through hell and it’s A-OK! Remember, she didn’t just abuse you… She abused your kids, too. You have to be the sane parent here.

    In fact, take a step back and imagine that it isn’t you considering this decision, but one of your kids with an abusive, cheating spouse. How would you advise them?

    Lastly, I think your difficulty in finding a new partner is clouding your judgement, and may partly be due to the fact that you’re not fully healed and you’re still emotionally engaged with your ex. Once you work through your pain and your own guilt, and once you cut back your communication with your ex to short, cordial correspondence regarding practical matters concerning the kids, there will be space and opportunities to find the right woman.

  • David, if anything I’d strongly consider the letter you received from the lady that took her husband back. Her experience is exactly what you would face. I have a friend that took his cheating wife back and he says it’s always in the back of his mind – every single day. And she cheated on him several years ago.

    We’d all love to have our families back in one unit, but think about how you’d feel every day being with somebody that went out of her way to deceive you and set you up. And made inferences that you were abusive. She had to actually think through this stuff and make a plan to take these actions. These weren’t mistakes, they were intentional acts.

    I think you already know that you’ll never be able to trust this woman ever again. So if you take her back, you’ll constantly be on the lookout for her to screw you over again. It will be the first thing you think of every morning. It will be the thing that you think of every time you look at her. Does that sound like something you want to deal with for the rest or your life? I think about what it would be like for me to be in a relationship with my ex-wife again and I get exhausted even thinking about it.

  • David,
    As Maya Angelou said. “When people show us who they are, believe them” I speak from experience, I took my cheater back 20 years ago only to find out 20 years later he never really stopped cheating. Tell her NO and go no contact or live a life of non-stop drama with a cheater. Be brave!

  • David, your ex wife wants to reconcile not because she loves you, not because she wants to be with you, it’s because as Chumplady said, she’s looking for a new sucker and you’re it. Her motive isn’t sincere, nor will it ever create a solid foundation. And it’s just a matter of time, before she dumps you yet again for someone else. It didn’t work out with the other guy and now needs a landing pad where she can rest until she finds herself again and sets her sights on someone else. If she cheated on you once, she will do it again. That you can be 100% sure of. These disordered people can never be alone and need to latch onto someone, anyone. She does not love you and never has, and never will.

  • David,
    My ex is doing the same thing right now. We have been divorced for a year and he wants to come home. Because he’s not happy with the affair partner. But I have been living by myself for three years learning how to take care of a ranch and work full-time.

    People don’t understand I had a good life too and I loved it however I did take him back after the first affair and then gen years later this happened again. So no I cannot take him back, he just doesn’t not know what it’s like to be alone I am the fallback girl. Not anymore.

    I liked with one writer said if she hadn’t broke up with the guy she wouldn’t be asking you back. That’s the same with me and misses his family who he deserted, kids, grandkids.

    Stay strong and model for your children. There’s nothing wrong with kink in consensual adults. But you had rules and she broke them just like an exclusive marriage has rules and they break them. it is a character flaw, they want their cake and kibbles. It’s just not the sex. It’s the lying and abuse of trust that gets me not to take him back.

    Out of 7 million people in the world there is another person for you and it’s not that one. I keep telling myself that, you should too.

    • Yes, it really is about the lying and abuse of trust. I could and have gotten over the sexual escapades, but not the lying and abuse of trust. I will never take her back.

    • You mean…you’re not flattered to be the fall-back? The Plan B? The booby prize?


      Fuck him. What a presumptuous, entitled, navel-gazing asshole. And no shame, I guess. Unbelievable.

  • No slapping here, David. But I will point out….she is running a long con. That’s what sociopaths do. We don’t register as people to them. People as in living, breathing, feeling, hurting beings whom they have devastated over and over. We are convenient appliances, kinda like the vacuum cleaner or the stove, but way more useful. We are a source of kibbles and useful. That’s it. Sorry to tell you this, but the only reason she is pitching her bullshit is that she thinks she can con you into being a little more useful for a while till something better comes along.

    She doesn’t love you, or the kids, she proved that by her actions. She just wants more kibbles. She is toxic waste, persuasive toxic waste, yes, but nevertheless, toxic waste.

    Another thing I don’t necessarily buy that it’s your fault regarding the polyamory debacle. Back to to persuasive toxic waste. They are con artists. They excell at the art of manipulating others to get what they want. Even better, when they can convince their chump it was really the chump’s idea, wish, etc all along. There is a line from an eighties movie where an abusive narc spouse is telling their buddies how to stay in control of their abused spouse…..”You just help them make YOUR decision.” Chilling, to say the least, but illustrates the manipulation clearly.

    And even if you did start that ball rolling, time to forgive yourself. Human beings make mistakes. They only remain mistakes if we don’t learn from them and decide to do better. When we do learn from our mistakes, they become valuable learning experiences. You learned polyamory is not for you. You have a conscience so you feel guilty. Time to let it go.

    Con artists look for a hook they can use to get into our heads and exploit us some more. Your hook is guilt, and she will gleefully use it and you to extract a little more value from you and your kids. See her for what she is, and don’t let her. You and your children have suffered enough. Be the strong, healthy gate keeper for them, Papa Bear!

    To quote May Angelou…”When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

    She has shown you, believe her!

    • “But I will point out….she is running a long con. That’s what sociopaths do. We don’t register as people to them. People as in living, breathing, feeling, hurting beings whom they have devastated over and over. We are convenient appliances, kinda like the vacuum cleaner or the stove, but way more useful. We are a source of kibbles and useful. That’s it.”

      Bravo, Tessie. It’s a long con.

  • As Alloutofkibble would say “No contact is the path to truth and light” and this is the number one example of why that is true. My grandmother used to tell me when I was little that “you should never burn any bridges unless you know how to walk on water.” Smart woman for someone who didn’t finish high school and in most cases that is true. In the case of the ex cheater in my life-I didn’t just burn that bridge, I nuked it so it the whole area would be contaminated and no one would be remotely tempted to rebuild it. I am an excellent swimmer so I wasn’t worried.

    No contact removes the cheater haze that surrounds the chump and that is when they can start to fully comprehend how disordered the cheater is. When the haze clears you no longer see the AP as the evil one that ruined your marriage. You understand full and well that it was your ex that ruined the marriage. There is nothing special about the AP, they are not Svengali, they were just convenient. If it wasn’t them, it would be someone else. That haze is never going to clear as long as you have contact with your ex. I know you can’t cut her off completely but this is one of the reasons scheduling software was invented.

    A few more things: You trying to take the blame for what happened is just your way of trying to control an uncontrollable situation. You can’t control what other people do; you can’t nice someone into being faithful.

    I did wreckconciliation for three years following my dday and that turned out to be three years of my life wasted. I am pretty sure I will go to my grave regretting that decision. Besides the fact that my ex didn’t nothing to make me feel safe in my decision, the trust was gone and it was never coming back. You’ve been on a RIC site so I’m sure you’ve heard all the stories about the trust bank and how it can be rebuilt again. They’ve also likely filled your head with “blind trust isn’t good anyway so it’s okay that you’ve lost it.”

    I never understood the blind trust argument. I trusted my ex until I started suspecting something was wrong. It wasn’t blind. It was built up over many years and the nanosecond I found out he cheated it was gone; obliterated like the bridge I spoke of earlier. That trust cannot be restored. Ever. At the end of the three years, I trusted him less than I did after I just found out. The same will be true if you take back your wife.

    Don’t do it David. Just don’t!

  • I think no matter how hard we try, we can never completely let go of that cherished idea “happy family.” The way most of us have built that dream in our minds is with an “in-tact family.” Are you in love with her after all she’s done, or are you in love with the idea being with her represents? I hear you talk about how happy your family being back together would make your children, but have you also thought about what message taking her back would send your children? That it’s okay for someone to treat you like crap, risk everything and they still get another chance? Is that what you want to watch your children go through as adults? The best thing you can do is model self-respect. They still get to love both of you apart from your being married, AND they get to see you model self-respect. Of course they would be happy if you got back together, but just like you, they’d be waiting for that other shoe to drop. Do you want them to live with that anxiety? Do you want to risk them having to go through this shit show all over again? Your ex calculated the risk of losing you and determined it was worth the risk; are you calculating that SHE IS WORTH THE RISK of going through all of this again? Society may throw generalized hyperbole at you “love concerns all” “there’s no chance without risk” blah, blah, blah, but they have not “walked a mile in your shoes” and generalized advise is not intended to apply to the specific context of every situation! If her smoopsie was still Prince Charming do you think she would be asking to come back? No, you are option B! Put down the hopium pipe and count your blessings that your children have adjusted, you’ve adjusted and that the path forward is no longer littered with lies, deceit and disrespect.

    • “Are you in love with her after all she’s done, or are you in love with the idea being with her represents? I hear you talk about how happy your family being back together would make your children, but have you also thought about what message taking her back would send your children?”

      Thank you for this… It’s not going to happen. I will get through this emotional bump.

  • Maya Angelou said this which is the best advice:
    “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

    She has shown you by her actions WHO she is. My Ex cheated on me and moved in with OM with my 3 kids right after D Day. I was devastated financially and emotionally by the divorce. I know it is tempting to want “your family back” but don’t you understand that it was all a lie ?? I’ll bet a dollar that that guy wasn’t the first that she cheated with. Don’t be a chump… read CL’s gray rock …that is what you need to be to her and move on with your life. YOU have nothing to feel guilty about and remember that a relationship and especially a marriage is based on trust and she has permanently destroyed yours with her, so move on and “gray rock”.

  • David, sending Jedi hugs your way.
    I know it is tough. Do not even consider going back, at the very least for the kids. It will be very tough to trust again, and that will bounce back on the kids– my former FIL cheated, and former MIL CANNOT let it go, 30 years later. In his case, I truly believe it was a one time thing, immediately regretted. In the case of his son, my ex, it was not.

    Know your worth. I agree with the assessment that you are probably lonely. I know I am sometimes. It’s been basically the same time for me: DDay in 2012, divorce final 2013. I have never made it past a fourth date with a guy,partially because the timing wasn’t right for one of us, or single parenting reared its head (ex moved away end of 2013, daughter was hospitalized for severe depression and suicidal ideation 2014 and 2015.

    You are not the same person anymore. Do not look back, as that relationship was a mirage.

    There are good women out there– I know sometimes it seems like they are impossible to find. I have friends who divorced after I did, who are all coupled up again. And I am still alone, working hard and doing everything I can for my kids. Most days I am ok with it. Last weekend I took my son to an outdoor concert. It was a lot of fun, but also a tad bittersweet as I looked at all the couples around us.

    Know your worth,and do not get back together “for the kids.” Don’t wring their hearts out again.

  • David. Your ‘temporary weakness’ is your soft, tender, loving heart, your devotion to your children, your loyalty to a once-joint dream. God, I wish my spouse was like you. Polyamory schmollyamory, your wife destroyed your sacred sexual covenant(s) with intent and immense effort, for a very long time. Sorry about your arm.

    You can’t prevent X from telling the kids it is dad that is blocking reconstitution of their old family. If she does? Proof positive forever that she has a cruel, manipulative heart that doesn’t mind using the trauma and loss of innocents to get her own way. Whatever soothing words you’ve used to explain the post-affair arrangements? Keep repeating those. You do you. You’re a better parent than you even know right now.

  • Ugh. I am going to try to be nice like Chump Lady too, and not be an annoying internet troll, but I can’t believe it has been FIVE YEARS and he is at this stage! I would suggest going over to Baggage Reclaim, and figuring your shit out. I love, love, love Chump Lady, for her wit, and direct angle of “Leave a cheater, gain a life.” and “Trust they suck”. I found Chump Lady 1.5 years after d-day, and 9 months after divorce, and her short sayings helped me tremendously, because I was making tons of mistakes. I learned no contact the hard way on my own after hitting a brick wall like a million times. But you are wallowing way too much in your story after five years. And the second half, “Gaining a life” happens through no contact, and figuring your shit out. Baggage Reclaim can help with the second part. Thank you Chump Lady for your wonderful blog, and thank you also for directing me to baggage reclaim to figure my stuff out! And another thing about , “The kids would like nothing more than for us to be a happy family again….” Again, if you can’t practice no contact for you, do it for your kids! You are not doing your kids ANY favors my giving them even a hint that you guys will get back together again. If you must be civil at Soccer games, then do it- but no, do not act in any way to give them hope that you will get back together.

  • The fact that you agreed on polyamory doesn’t mean it’s your fault she cheated. It’s not like being poly magically opened her eyes to the fact that other dick existed in the world and then compelled her to sample it all. She cheated because she wanted to, end of story. She then kept cheating because she didn’t love you enough or have the strength of character to honor her wedding vows.

    In fact, she has even less excuse because she actually had the opportunity to ETHICALLY have sex with other people – and she went and chose the unethical way. If cheating because of deep sexual dissatisfaction in marriage could be called stealing a loaf of bread when you’re hungry (and I don’t think it really is) what she did was the equivalent of walking past a tray of bread marked ‘free bread – help yourself’ to steal different bread.

    Also, don’t be too quick to accept your singledom just because you haven’t found someone else yet. You had very young kids – 5 and 8 – and were getting over a pretty tough divorce. The former is a pretty big issue for a relationship (a lot of pressure on a new partner and lots of time obligations on your part) and the latter is going to scare a lot of women off because they’ll feel you’re not emotionally ready for another person (and they might be right). At this point, you’re far enough out from your divorce that a new partner can reasonably expect you to be not dragging too much of that baggage into the new relationship, and your kids are getting old enough that a relationship with you doesn’t automatically demand a woman chose between ‘strictly casual’ and ‘mom to two young stepkids.’

  • David,

    Part of the problem here is what you’re going through after the divorce. (Not to minimize the pain you went through during the whole mess. I have no doubt that ‘the single most horrific five years of your life’ were flat out awful.)

    But since then, you’ve started (and done a fair amount of) the hard work to heal yourself, to separate from her, to learn how to be a single dad, to try and repair the damage she did. It’s grueling work, no question, going through all the old memories over and over, letting go of the anger (without forgetting what she did), and trying to move on.

    Then, after a year of getting along somewhat better, she wants you back. Part of you is saying, “Why am I doing all this hard work when I can just have her back and make it all go away.” And if she were actually different, that part of you would be right. But you know, deep down, that she’s not really different. She’s the same person, just doing the same thing she’s been doing, changing partners again to try and get someplace better (and cheaper, financially) for herself.

    All the hard work you’ve already done to recover would be lost, and you would never get back to where you were before the cheating; you’d be at some new place, never fully loving or trusting her, maintaining a facade for the kids, and going through the motions. Then, on some horrible day in the future, she’ll inform you that it’s obvious that you never fully loved her again, and she can’t deal with that, so she’s leaving to shack up with a new AP, and it’s all your fault for not loving her fully. Or something else awful and false like that.

    Don’t allow yourself to backslide. Thank whatever higher powers you believe in that you’re mostly disentangled from her, and stay on the road you’re on, however hard it is. The search for finding a new partner will come to fruition if you want it, keep at it, and acknowledge that you may need to be healed, whole and healthy before you can do a good job of that, or that the right person just hasn’t come along yet.

    And if you’re worried about your kids, the absolute best thing that you can do for them, over the long haul, is not to let your ex-wife walk all over you yet again, drawing you into making the effort to be a false family. The lessons they need to learn from you, the sane parent, are that cheating, lying and deception have consequences, that you can recover from the trauma of leaving someone and live a full, fulfilled life afterwards, and if you do have success in your search for a new partner, you can model a faithful, loving relationship for them. How would you want your children’s future selves to act if their ‘loving’ spouses did to them what their mother did to you? Model that behavior for them. Their desire to have their family intact again is kind of like their desire to have lots ice cream for dinner, it might taste good but would be bad for them in the end. Your job is to be the parent and help them make the right choices. Your brain knows the right choice here – listen to it.

    Finally, thank you for sharing your whole story here. I, as well as many others here, won’t criticize your decision to try polyamory. And you shouldn’t blame yourself for making that choice. One of two things happened there, either she wanted it and manipulated you into it, or you both wanted it. In either event, she wanted it, and then abused it completely, and that is not on you, it’s totally on her, period. You may have made some mistakes, but they all fall into the ‘choosing a bad spouse’ category, and you’ve now rectified that. Don’t choose a bad spouse again, especially one that you know for certain is bad.

    One other modest suggestion, that is mildly deceptive, but may be a necessary one. If she continues to pursue the reconciliation angle, you might consider fibbing to her and telling her that you’re in a relationship that’s going well, but you’re taking it very slowly, and being on the down low with it to not upset the kids. This may have the effect of having her back off the reconciliation requests, removing temptation for you, and putting her in a mode where she’s looking elsewhere for her next victim. Or, (insert evil chuckle here), she might try to find out who this nonexistent woman is, and end up tearing her hair out when she’s unable to find her. In any event, this fib might aid your healing and recovery, and that alone is worth it. Just be sure you don’t end up trying to fill your imaginary GF’s shoes with just anyone when push comes to shove.

    Hugs. Strength. Peace.

    • I like your modest suggestion. Will add this to my toolbox and use it when it’s absolutely necessary. Something tells me down the line, she will come back and will want to try again. Even if this doesn’t happen, it’s better to have something that could protect me and the kids.

  • I took my X back a gazillion times in the 3 years that lapsed between DDay and divorce. He would “change” for a hot minute and then be back to his usual tricks. As with others’ experience here, there was a ton of emotional and verbal abuse in addition to the cheating. Cheating is a lifestyle in my opinion. These people DO. NOT. CHANGE.

    Cheaters are really, really good at parroting what they see and hear. It’s how they manipulate. Taking a known cheater back is inviting dysfunction back into your life. Sure it looks sparkly and it looks like maybe you could work it out this time, but just because you would agree to an open marriage at the beginning of a new marriage with your X instead of opening it up in the middle of your relationship, don’t be fooled. I would say that you should separate those issues. One doesn’t necessarily cause the other. Stop beating yourself up over that. Stop engaging with her dysfunction. Like CL says, don’t talk or engage with them except on purely business items like picking up and dropping off kids. Maintain the distance. Skein untangling is for the birds.

  • I think Tempest is right: they are sicker than we are smart.

    I’m in my 60s and still living temporarily with my cheater for financial reasons. If I were rich or working full time, I’d never do this but as in your case, “things have simmered down” and we are “getting along.” There are risks with my choice, but my eyes are wide open now. We are close to retirement, at which time I will file for divorce and he says he’ll move down south, though I trust nothing that he says and anticipate he might try to negotiate with me to continue living here – my lawyer and I are ready for that.

    I have LOTS of ways of finding out what he’s up to, and while I’m not as smart as he is sick, I know an awful lot about him. And as “nice” as he acts when he’s with me, he’s still badmouthing me to his harem (at this point in time, none of them will date him – HA! – they keep him firmly in the friend zone, one even reminding him “I don’t think of you that way: you’re my father’s age”).

    If I didn’t have all the ongoing evidence that he continues to suck (and will forever more), I could see myself going back on Hopium. Not that I would stay married to him – I know better – but I might consider trying to be friends for old times sake. Not the same temptation you’re facing, but it’s the same idea: Hopium makes memories of the horrid behavior fade and sharpens the memories of what seemed “good.”

    But – and here’s the big BUT – THEY SUCK. As CL said, they are truly con artists. My con smiles and is polite to my face, but he’s still a world class, daily liar (I know that he lies to me AND to his harem). The crying you see and the apologies she’s giving you are FAKE. If you had the WHOLE picture (I don’t claim to have that, but I have a lot more intel on mine than I suspect you do on yours), you would see what I’m seeing. THE CON CONTINUES. IT NEVER STOPS. DON’T BUY INTO IT!!!

  • I went down that primrose path, thought we had all sorts of ground rules and openness and honesty in place. Thought we were sooooo sophisticated and smart. It blew up, no surprise. Two years our now, we coparent pretty well. I’m pretty ok, at least better than I was when the SHTF.
    But I am DIFFERENT now. I’m sure he is too, who knows, not my skein to untangle. The point is, you can never go back. Things will never go back to the way they were. That person you were then is gone now, and thank god, because look at the mess that you-then got this you-now into.
    I wouldn’t trust that-me-then with a grocery list, much less with anymore of the rest of my life. I had to kick my ass all over town to get even partially over that mess and I won’t let that-me screw myself over again. Hang tough. Stop focusing on her and old-you. Focus on now-you and your kids, hold the damn course, and stay strong.

  • David — you sound like a sane and reasonable man. You are just now normalizing. Just now in the space for a new relationship. Give yourself a break. There are wonderful women out there wanting a man of character. Women who will truly be there for you. We’re talking about the rest of your life. And your children. Breathe. Relax. And tell her to go take a hike.

  • David, I want to tell you a true story. A friend of mine’s husband cheated on her in the most egregious way and they divorced. She was very religious and felt he needed a second chance after he dropped the AP and came back to her. She still had feelings for him after so many years. She remarried him. She discovered she didn’t feel the same way about their marriage the second time. They divorced again. She remarried someone else and is now very happy.

    Once the trust is gone, it’s gone for good.

  • I have a similar open marriage story to yours and like others I found out later we’d already had an open marriage, that I didn’t know about, since before we were even married in fact. I was not to blame for trying to find a stable livable relationship with good communication. I wouldn’t do it again because my gut was right. But the intentions of listening to my spouse and making forthright agreements were on point.

    I want you to partner with a person who can be trusted, a person who knows what a precious gift a family is, a person who does not enjoy lying or unfair situations. Your ex isn’t that person. If you can walk away from the spectre of a future with her there is a real person out there to build a life with.

    You know what they say about getting back together with a former lover? Same shit, different decade.

    Go find that relationship with someone who loves like you do.

  • I totally understand where you are coming from. I spent thousands getting away from my Ex and his mentally abusive Schmoopie. Once the fantasy wore off guess who came back sick and broke? It felt good to know that I had been “right” about their affair and that I had “won”! But what did I win? Absolutely nothing! You will want unending answers to all your questions about the affair and this will go on and on causing turmoil in the household. You will never get truthful answers because your Ex will want to sweep it under the rug! You will NEVER trust her again the way you did before. You will be the marriage police again! You will be very guarded and will hesitate to share some things with her and you will find it hard to be yourself. Your life becomes a “stage” for an actor everyday. It’s HELL! And you have two innocent kids involved in this shit show! It will never be the easy going relationship you had prior to the infidelity. It will forever color your future and the choices you make. Just don’t do it!

  • Three things:

    1. Polyamory is not a free pass to do whatever you want. It needs to be a level playing field, and she violated those agreements the way she violated other agreements. This is not your fault.

    2. When XH broke up with me and then asked to come back, many years before Dday, before we were married, I thought he had just “come to his senses.” So when he left me again for Schmoopie, on Dday, and I asked him “Why, if you never loved me, did you ask to come back the first time, many years ago?” His reply: He didn’t like it that, at his new apartment, his dog had to be kept in a small yard while he was at work (unlike our huge yard at home). — I worry that your kids are her “dog,” and she doesn’t like their situation with AP, merely wants the comforts of “home.” So then, what’s going to happen when they are old enough to move out? She will follow.

    3. What do YOU want? No, no, not the woman you married and the relationship you thought you had. Now that you know the real truth, you can never unknow it. Is that good enough for you?

    • NWB–I used to think your X was merely a shallow, cowardly sort of cheater, with no real compass of his own (moral or otherwise). But small nuggets of information that you drop every now and again–like his telling you he came back to you so his dog could have a backyard–put him in the same “cruel” category as most other cheaters. What an asshole.

      • Yep. They just say whatever shit comes up at the time. Comments like these aren’t infused with meaning, and they are only meant to confuse people, belittle important things, and cause wounds.

        • It’s only screwed up because it’s true. I’m sure that’s why he DID come back. And it can’t really be my fault that that never occurred to me (instead of the idea that he wanted ME back, that is).

      • I think about him once in a while, now I know he’s remarried. I pity him, pity her, pity the kid(s) they will (Oopsie!) have together (more spontaneous schmoopie-isms). So uninvested in where their life is going, just drifting along as the wind blows….

  • I will write more later, but I just wanted to say to Traci and everyone: thank you, thank you, thank you. I am emotional reading the responses. So much insight, so much understanding. I am going through a temporary weakness; I will NOT go back.

    • Good on you David! You chose you right now! Be proud of yourself on this one. Future David, let’s say David2020 will look back on this and thank you on his knees. You can do this!

    • Well, thanks be to God. Prayers answered. Now get serious about no contact. You can be civil via email. Otherwise she will manipulate you day and night. Seriously–you must protect yourself.

      And the part of you that still loves her? Let her really experience the consequences of her action. Let her deal with the end of the AP relationship, if it is really ending. Let her deal with life on one income. Let her face the results of her choices. Trying to turn the clock back 5 years is just enabling her–and she will see you as weak and malleable.

    • Hey David —

      About the polyamory, I agree with your statement in your letter: polyamory is wrong, and you were wrong to agree to it.

  • HOLYCOW!!! For the love of GOD DO NOT TAKE HER BACK IN!

    For any other reason other than what she did to the kids. Taking them to their “New Dad” WTF…… After 5 years of hell you got the kids and custody. Your feelings, smoopy whatever…… get overruled by keeping your kids sanity in check and them moving forward with the foundation of their future lives.

    Are you really going to let 5 years of war for the benefit of your kids go to waste on the hope she sees the light?

    From my part HELLLLLLL NOOOO!!!!!

  • If she had actually changed, she would not put any guilt or pressure on you to reconcile. This is true in ANY relationship (marital, friendship, parent-child) where one party’s decisions have severely damaged the other. If she had changed, she would recognize that you owe her nothing and you are rightfully skeptical. She would show consistent support, honesty, love, compassion, etc. and would allow YOU to bring up reconciliation. She would accept it as her just deserts if you never did. The guilt and pressure equate to shelfishness, which is exactly the same person she was before.

  • I took him back once. Because i also thought his cheating was my fault. We had been separated for almost 2 years. Basically doing everything as a family but he would go home to his own place at night.. .. .. he was lonely, he was sad, he was whatever… .. he partied and drank and hooked up with one of the neighbors chicks that drinks too.. .. and i blamed myself because if i only let him come back home he wouldnt have found someone to sleep with. It was my fault for not asking him to come home.. .. never thinking once that he did not even TRY to come home. . I believe i somehow push him into her arms because we were separated for so long, i should have _______ (fill in the blank).. .. but it wasnt me. It wasnt my fault and there was a reason we were seoarated in the first place .. .. but all i could think was i was losing him and it was my own fault…. .. so i literally got on my knees and begged him to come back. .. . And he did. He came back with the condition that i do not throw his affair in his face.. .and of course being the giod wife I never did.. ..

    It last 3 whole years and then he left me for the neighborhood party girl meth head… .. in the worst possible way. He distroyed me by walking out again..

    So it doesnt work. Besides just because she finally realized that you were better then her AP after 5 years, doesnt mean she has changed. It doesn’t change the fact that she treated you like shit and put you (and your kids) thru hell for those 5 years before she figured it out. It doesn’t change the fact that she dragged you thru mud, blood and tears to get to this point. So what if she finally realized you are the better man and she wants her family back .. she shouldnt have let her family go in the first place.. what if she realizes you are a good thing, she did not think of that when she was breaking all the rules and betraying you. Who cates what she wants now, because it didnt matter to her 5 years ago.. ..

    Keep moving forward. Dont let her choices effect you anymore. It doesnt matter if she changes her mind ( in 3 years she will change it again anyways) and wants you back.. .. she didnt care enough about you to do the right thing in the first place.. .. dont forget that

    • Well said Mrs Vain.

      I think she only now came to realize the grass is greener again on David2016’s side of the fence, because he’s been working on his yard. Hers turned yellow and died. Why? She doesn’t water her grass and doesn’t get this. She’s no gardening type. She might never get this.

  • I rarely disagree with ChumpLady, but this time I do. Once you introduce a third party into your bedroom, all bets are off. Feelings and attractions can happen once you cross the line and violate monogamy – even if there were agreed-upon “rules”. It’s a dangerous game.

    That said, it doesn’t mean David should take her back. Sometimes the damage is too big to fix. To stay with the analogy – trying to recreate the relationship would be like a prosthetic arm. Functional, but not quite the same as the original.

    • I agree with your points about how opening the sexual relationship beyond monogamy invites risk. I read CL’s point as this: an open and transparent discussion about changing an agreement (regardless of one evaluates the wisdom of making the choice to change the agreement) is not equivalent to deliberately deceiving another person, and therefore having the open and transparent discussion doesn’t justify deliberately deceptive behavior on the other person’s part. You or I might not agree with polyamory, but another person’s interest in polyamory doesn’t equate to a free pass to abuse. It may be that you and CL disagree about some specifics regarding polyamory, but you probably agree about the moral bereftness and cruelty of deceiving a partner, especially sexually.

      • And I think neither “open and transparent discussion about changing an agreement” nor “deliberately deceiving [the] other person” is the same as AGREEING FROM THE FIRST DISCUSSION OF MARRIAGE to practice polyamory, etc. Once a person commits to marriage, it’s likely a con of some sort for one person to push to change the rules about fidelity. There may be some couple for whom that makes sense, but I’d bet the vast majority include one partner already cheating.

        • If my mate ever mentioned polymory, it would be a deal breaker. Why? Because it isn’t in my vocabulary. I would thank them for their honesty, feel sorrow and part ways.

          In my head, I would always wonder who my mate wanted to fuck other than me and that would take up way too much space in my head for more meaningful endeavors.

          My God is a jealous God and so I am.

          End of story.

  • For anyone thinking of taking a Cheater back after a horrific divorce, I’ll say two things:
    1). Kids are more fragile than you think. Just because they have the ability to bounce back doesn’t mean you should inflict more abuse on them. If your kids are currently in a good place, don’t tempt fate. Cancer survivors don’t pick up smoking after they’ve beaten cancer.
    2). The Disordered just need someone who will play the role of A Nurse and A Purse. I’m sorry. It’s not personal. Even if you’re the greatest person ever (and Chumps are pretty great), this is all you’ll ever be to them. Value yourself more. Don’t settle to be someone’s Nurse or Purse.

  • David,
    The fact that you opened the marriage to consensual sex with others AFTER you and your Ex were already married tells me that neither of you valued TRUE monogamy in the first place…so why should it surprise you that everything went haywire thereafter? Okay, she broke “the new rules” and got emotionally involved with her AP much deeper than she thought she would. And??? She was unable to compartmentalize casual sex from deep emotions unlike most men seeking out strange could…she attached herself to her AP and you became the enemy of her split apart conscience (assuming she ever had one). Where was YOURS?

    When morality is in a constant state of flux, what difference should any of the “rules” make? The two of you one minute take a Vow of faithfulness…then decide to morph that Vow to include kink with others. Way to go. The two of you actually deserve each other along with all the heartache that breaking sacred Vows heaps upon you…but did the kids deserve parents who’s values are dependent strictly on whether or not their parents can manage to have their cake with others and eat it too? All in the name of WHAT?! Fun???

    Even if you two HAD agreed to dabble into multiple sex partners from the get go…what made you think that this would ever be a good environment to raise children in? Children NEED stability…where is stability when both parents are willing to play Russian Roulette with the emotional, financial, and physical well being of the entire family unit?

    Your Ex was more brutal during the divorce than you were? Yep…why not be? This little experiment turned into WAR.

    Go ahead and take her back…see what new “rules” will emerge from that. The kids? Well, they will turn out just like the two of you thinking that Marriage Vows are “optional” depending on the emotional flux of any given moment. I think the two of you should be together…you both have the moral depth of a teaspoon anyway.

    But hey…don’t mind my comments. Why would you when neither of you didn’t mind taking Vows and then fucking with the very meaning of them after the fact?

    • I can honestly say that I have never seen an “Open” or “Poly” marriage work long term.
      Taking the moral and religious reasons against it out of it, unless you are very shallow and selfish, sex MEANS SOMETHING. It is the closest that two human beings can get and powerful hormones and emotions get involved which will lead to a disaster.
      Often a shallow Narc wants an open marriage because he can then have his cake and eat it to. However even that selfish, self absorbed narc often can’t handle their chump spouse getting some too.
      I won’t even go into how bad that situation is to raise children in. In my opinion, if you want the life of a swinger, get fixed so you don’t have kids and stay single !!

      • Gotta wonder why it is SOOO important to “take the moral and religious reasons out of it”? Like, does anyone really HAVE any anymore? What then do we base our “betrayal” on? Feelings? Economics? STD’s? Loneliness? Bruised Ego? There HAS to be a better more solid way to determine what is actually a wrong and a right. It CANNOT be determined merely by consequences paid…because we all know that Cheaters rarely pay any and Chumps do…for years, as do their children.

        It DOES come down to the moral question of Lying, Betrayal, Abandonment, and Destruction of the family. Otherwise, why be so enraged about any of it? Why hope for “Karma”? Why is it so hard to “forgive”?

        • Not everyone is religious, and there are other valid, rational reasons to not open a marriage to other sexual partners.

            • Yeah, well, water under the bridge. I think you were way, way too harsh. I don’t think he deserves to be cheated on, and I don’t think he NOR his children would be served by taking the ex back. Maybe focus on what he CAN do from here on, and how to proceed with least risk of harm. He does seem interested in taking good care of his kids. So give the guy a break.

              Something about casting the first stone?

  • Just another chimp who will add : I took mine back…. 8 more years if mind fuck , two more DUIs, 4 or 5 or 6 (not sure) more APs.

    And I had another kid with him…. who is now in therapy.

    Not worth it dude. You will just be back here in a few more years.

    Move on… find someone new to love. You can… i did.

    And the polyamory thing… not an issue. You did nothing wrong… she broke the rules. Put it out of your mind.

    • I agree with CKoL. All the polyamory thing does is tell you how she sees any agreement she makes. If there is a rule, she will break it. If there is an agreement, she will flout it. If there is trust, she will break it.

  • You say she abused you AND the kids: “She has a horrific dark side. I have left out many of the terrible specifics of what she did, involving the utter emotional abuse of not only me but of our young children.”

    “Most horrific 5 years of my life.” “Horrific dark side.” “Terrible specifics of what she did.” “Utter emotional abuse of not only me but OF OUR YOUNG CHILDREN.”

    She cheated, lied, diverted joint monies to her own use, engaged in a 5-year pitched battle of a divorce, and left you broke.

    1. Why are you in contact with her other than about business with the kids? You can “get along” by simply being professional and civil on your scheduling software site or via email.
    2. You are feeling yourself and your kids hopium. Of course the kids want you back together. Then they have 1 adequate parent 100% of the time and no AP to deal with. That doesn’t mean it’s in their best interest for you to get back into the spackling business and convince yourself that a malignant narcissist cheater at lose ends is remorseful or a good marital partner for you.

    She hasn’t changed. Her situation has changed.
    She’s not remorseful. She’s a parasite looking for a host.
    No contact would have protected you from the delusion you are having that she is remorseful. She can cry buckets of tears but that won’t change her capacity for “horrific abuse.” Read up on hoovering. That’s what up with you Cheater.

    • Number 1 and 2 were my first thoughts, too–while many children of divorced parents want them to get back together, when you remain in contact and friendly with your X, it gives your children concrete (and, in this case, ultimately false) evidence that their hope for reconciliation is possible.

      I speak from experience on this. My X pushed hard on the “let’s be friends” BS and tried to pressure me into having holiday dinners together “as a family.” When I said no, he recruited our (teen and adult) children to lay on the guilt and try to shame me into it–Dad wants to be friends, how hard can it be to have dinner together?

      I almost caved but then remembered CL’s caution about how remaining “friendly” with a cheating, abusive X–besides modeling unhealthy codependent behavior–gives children false hope of reconciliation (if you can get along during occasional conversations, why not every day?) and only prolongs their own ability to process and heal after a divorce. My parallel parenting relationship with my children became SO much stronger after I laid down that boundary with a firm no and they came to understand and accept the fact that it’s not possible for me to be friends with someone who hurt me so deeply.

      If you haven’t already, read about the three channels of mindfuckery–your X is stuck on the charm channel right now, but it won’t last. The fundamental problem is that she has a serious personality disorder and is not capable of change. As others who have tried to reconcile with a narcissist will tell you, you will get burned again. Unfortunately, I speak from experience on this, too.

      Thanks for checking in with us upthread and stay mighty!

  • At one point during my walk through hell (aka, that wonderful time between d-day and divorce) my now-ex convinced me to have dinner with her at a nice restaurant. I’ll spare you the details of the phony fawning-over I received.

    But I remained stone cold and unmoved. Things kind of went south after I told her she had more in common with a serial killer than not. Needless to say we didn’t stay for dessert.

    Yet undeterred, on the drive home she proposed the possibility of allowing me to have a girlfriend(s) on the side if we stay together. Of course it would be an understood that she would have her AP (whom she previously declared was “over”). I essentially responded, “By what standard would that even be a marriage?”, and that she was sick and how could she possibly imagine such a scenario.

    At every point during that slow walk through hell she provided all the textbook cliches – plenty of reasons to trust that she sucks.

    Thank goodness for CL & CN! I feel so clean and free to be rid of her! But I have every confidence that at some point she’ll start reaching out to me, begging for forgiveness and another chance.

    My fantasy, rehearsed line is something I read in a post here a while back: “I have two words for you, and the second word is “off!” (But I’m not really that cold, so I’ll probably just curtly say, “no thank you.”)

    For the rest of my life, This Is My Time! I have no room in my life for disordered narcs.

    • I love that you gave her that line “you have more in common with a serial killer than not”. LOL. I happen to believe this is actually true and psychologically sound. It’s a question of degree, not type. All sociopaths use and objectify others, some are simply rewarded by different forms of “power” over others.

  • Folks, please don’t get sidetracked on a discussion about polyamory. David’s dilemma isn’t a sex problem, as I wrote it’s a character problem with his wife, and you can read his exploration as immoral, or you can also see it as part of his pick me dance to keep his marriage. I don’t really care which it is, it’s a red herring.

    I’ve written elsewhere about polyamory, it’s not my kink. I don’t get it, I’m not wired that way, and frankly I don’t see where people find the time. And yes, I think there is a danger in directing your attentions to another person and being intimate, because of escapism. (i.e., I can do this boring Family Thing or Responsible Thing or I can check out and play with my Other partner…)

    My point is against deception and chumping people. And if you sign up for something and consent, you aren’t a chump. That’s true of reconciliation and it’s true of polyamory. You know the risks and you do it. When someone deceives you, and breaks the agreed upon rules, that’s on THEM. No one deserves abuse, no matter how much you may disapprove of their choices.

    • In full agreement, CL. And while I’m just not wired that way either, I don’t begrudge any couple pursuing their happiness together whether they want to lick frogs in their basement or choose to practice polyamory. As long as there’s full disclosure, both parties agree and there’s no lying or deception, let them have at it.

      But, if one party is the chump = does not compute.

  • Umm…and David,

    “Thou shall not commit Adultery”. Unless of course, the two of you decide that you want to include some strange to enhance the marriage union? Unless of course, the two of you decide that the emotions will never be a part of getting that strange? Unless of course, the two of you decide to make up your own rules and toss aside those of God’s (whether or not you believe in Him)?

    You two decided to toss aside what God Himself KNEW would destroy a marriage. There WILL be consequences and ugliness. It would have been better to have never made such fluid/fickle promises in the first place…that way, there would have been no violation of the trust that comes with making true Vows and the destruction of children’s lives.

    It never ceases to amaze me that our culture can now so easily twist the meaning of Adultery to include what a married couple decides upon. Even the Courts don’t care. As long as both “know” what is going on with their spouse, then suddenly the true meaning of Adultery changes? As long as one spouse does not become emotionally attached to their AP, then there is no “real” adultery? If that is the case, then most of us would not even BE at this site…because, most Sociopaths do NOT become attached to ANYONE…yet they took Vows and broke them. Oh well…no adultery going on if your spouse is a Sociopath and still comes home and pays the bills afterward and you “know” about it and look the other way?

    How about finding out the true meaning and intent of the word? I can tell you this, it does NOT mean “consensual” sex outside the marriage. It means sexually Faithful to ONE marital partner for LIFE…which is what this entire CN is built upon…unless that is changing too.

    Just because you BOTH decided to indulge yourselves in Adultery, does not mean that it was EVER okay to do (as you now know). You are not animals. You should have gotten a divorce once you realized that either of you wanted more than each other and that your Vows meant so little. And just because your Ex wife beat you to having a “partner” to indulge with and then OMG attached herself to him, it did not mean that you were any less an Adulterer given that you openly encouraged it and had planned to be a part of it. I wonder if you would be crying in your soup had you also found someone to boink after all?

    Nearly everyone here absolves you of your part just because your Ex “broke the rules” FIRST…and you are now suddenly a better person than her because she acted shittier while doing so. Yeah, she was slow to come to the guilt party because she had her focus and emotional attachment on AP whereas you had no one and had the time to give that whole scenario more thought.

    I don’t…because you were HALF of a couple who decided that committing Adultery was just fine in your marriage, and YOU did not set the moral template for the marriage that a Leader should have done.

    Yep, good old guilt…it is there for a reason. Own it together…then maybe the two of you can find something to redeem.

    Or not.

    • Funny, how you say that “God” says no more than two people in a marriage and defining adultery as “whatever the couples agree on” is a modern thing, but that same God approved of many people in polygamous marriages, including Abraham, Jacob, Moses, King David, and King Solomon and they all seemed to have their own definitions of what counted as adultery. So, um, maybe not the best argument there.

    • I pray, too. My plea is that I never have to share a cubicle with someone who besmirches the English language by capitalizing innocent nouns in attempt to shore up his moral superiority.

  • With all compassion to anyone who’s been the victim of a farming accident, “Let’s say I lost my arm in a combine harvester” just became my new favorite opening line to a Chump Lady post. *Damn.*

    I don’t have it in me to read all 137 responses to this post, but I feel confident I’m with the majority when I concur with Chump Lady and say, David, don’t do it! Enjoy the sideways vindication of your ex begging to take you back. We should all be so lucky. (There were a number of parallels between your story and mine.) But, man, don’t let the mirage of family happiness lure you back, powerful as it is. (Boy, can I relate.) That ship has sailed. You’ve worked hard to get past it; so have your kids, I imagine. Stay strong, move forward, and to hell with her. She squandered her chance at family happiness, royally.

    Also, count me as another who doesn’t think polyamory means you “deserved” to be cheated on. By definition, opening a marriage comes with huge risks, but what your wife did is not at all what you agreed to. And then she took it even further, into crazy-selfish-abusiveville. You didn’t sign on for that, or deserve it. Cut yourself some slack.

    Good luck.


    • So, so tiring to experience the wrath of chumps on this site who resort to the well-worn default position of calling a fellow chump ‘abusive’ when she posts a opinion that goes against the tide. I thought that readers here were more open minded – that a countering view point could be tolerated. Nope – apparently not. Calling Sweetz a ‘total, self-righteous bitch’ is nothing short of abusive, ahem. Kettle calling the pot black, I daresay. Tempest?

      • Stating one’s opinion is one thing. Stating it over and over and over and over and over while basically beating up someone to make the point is definitely abusive, particularly when a number of people have said much more kindly than I did, to dial it back. Thing is that I’m not as good natured as most everyone else is here, and I’m not keen to letting someone be continually belittled by a self-righteous Jesus thumper….call me crazy…whatevs…just quit beating the same fucking drum in long drawn out diatribes of condemnation. You’re sounding like an annoying gong.

        Exiting, stage left.

  • David’s GUILT is the real issue for him at this point…it is what is making him “soft” when reconsidering taking his wife back. He was an equal player in opening that door to the failure of his marriage because his Ex bonded to her AP unexpectedly, brutally turned against him, and now he is reevaluating taking her back based on his part of the guilt for doing so, as well as the character issues that were subsequently revealed in his Ex. The character issues would be of the MOST concern to me were I him…but then, HIS character is also a question in my mind too. The Polyamory…well, that is just the Trojan Horse which carried all the character demons. Polyamory naturally brings all the other undiscovered issues of hidden bad character to the surface. It makes the whole idea of “faithfulness” a joke and then slowly throws it right out the window.

    If he had remarried and then decided to do the Polyamory thing again, would he feel any better about his new wife’s character…let alone his own? Would he be able to trust her not to become emotionally bonded just because HE may have had the ability not to? Maybe that is why he is having second thoughts now…knowing full well that people are generally wired to BOND when sex is introduced…unless of course, they are not normal. Why was his marriage bond broken when sex with a third party was introduced? The abusive brutal deceptive discard when his Ex fell for someone else? Or was it just simply natural consequences for violating moral law? Does it matter now that he is considering taking her back…you bet it does.

    Yeah, I get it. Discussions about the downside of Polyamory must not be discussed here. Yet, THAT is what David is grappling with every bit as much as his Ex’s behavior after she had bonded with another.

    Ah, cake…sometimes we just can’t have it both ways. Shucks.

    • Sweetz–I completely agree with you that sex is a powerful bonding mechanism and polyamory puts a relationship at risk.

      The last time this conversation came up, I asked those defending polyamory incessantly to stop–they’d had their say, were simply repeating themselves, and in doing so, triggering chumps.

      Now I’m asking you to stop because YOU are triggering other chumps. People on this page have already admitted to agreeing, post-marriage vows, to an open marriage as a way to KEEP their marriage, often because young children were in the house and we’ve all been force fed the Children Need Two Parents and an Intact Home nonsense. I”d bet 95% of chumps who agreed to polyamory in principle did so via an implicit ultimatum from their already-cheating spouse; mine EXPLICITLY told me that unless I agreed to such an arrangement, he was leaving me with 2 small children and a very-depleted salary as I’d just given up a higher-paying position for his career. Now, I had no intention of actually carrying out what he’d asked; I figured he needed the fantasy and would snap out of it (and I never did cheat on him in any single way, before or after his ultimatum). As CL said, David and many other chumps have acquiesced to polyamory, in principle or in practice, as part of the pick-me dance. Chances are you did things during your pick-me dance than many of us would not have contemplated.

      I understand you have strong religious views. You’ve stated them multiple times here. Now please get off your pedestal because YOU, not the polyamorists, are being abusive here. And let’s get back to regularly scheduled programming to support people who have been emotionally abused.

  • Wow, just: wow.
    David, I almost wrote a similar letter to CL last night, after bending NC in half & letting fuckwit try to convince me of his remorse & sincerity. I read the Real Remorse? vs GINR last night and, to be truthful, STBX is actually simulating Real: he has his own therapist, goes to see him, orders & reads every and all books suggested, appears to be very remorseful and is attempting transparency & full disclosure and accepts my rage and anger and assessments, for the most part. He moved out when told. Is beginning to connect w both kids. Gives me space when I am better w my NC boundary (mostly).
    Stay tuned, David, we have things in common, brother.
    Full story is I’m 90 days post D-day #3. This came 26 years after Ddays 1 & 2, when we had only been married 2 years. Our wreckonciliation then rested on NEVER AGAIN. But 3 years ago a married woman 20 years younger than him began to work for him. She has no boundaries & others in her community called her out for cheating 2 yrs before my Dday. He bit hard…started dirty texting, buying her lingerie, perfume, birthday & Christmas presents (her OWN Jackrabbit! What a great bossman! He gave me one a few years ago, too. Overcompensating). She sent him a selfie of her butt. Put a pic of the 2 of them on his social media page w flowers all over them like 13 year old girls do. I found out 2 days after my birthday, 6 weeks after nursing him back to life from sepsis (she brought over soup! How sweet! He managed to get up from his deathbed long enough to make sure Schmoopie had her cheap perfume in time for her birthday ).
    When I read their lovey dovey texts I nearly puked. If I see one more heart-eyed emoji I’m afraid my inner Dexter will come out to play. I grieved like my youngest had been murdered. It’s our 30th year of marriage. Two awesome kids. I thought I’d never have to play marriage cop again. The pain was excruciating…it doesn’t subside easily. I did lose a child and this is tougher.
    He’s really LOOKING like RR, but I cannot trust him. I gave 32 years to a man I can’t trust. We seemed to be happy. Yes, there were problems, but we got through them before. Other couples looked up to us, they tell me now. His intervention finally finished me. I can’t get pics out of my head. I hate that he’s stolen the joy out of every memory of the past 3 years…and…longer? Before I told him I knew, I had lawyer, therapist & CPA appts. No pick-me dance. He’s dancing. But I know exactly what I’d be getting. A liar who doesn’t respect me. While considering reconciling, I asked a lot of questions. All his answers were about him. He did take a couple of swipes early on about “my part” until he knew I wasn’t playing along. I guessed at what he might be thinking about me that led him cheat again, but he said that wasn’t what he thought. I came to the realization that he really hadn’t given me much thought at all.
    He knew what he had to lose, but he chose…every day for at least 3 years…to play the odds and feed his voracious, insatiable ego. And has now lost it all. Skank went back to her hubby & denied she ever had feelings for him. Now he’s grieving and “working on himself.” I hope he can heal, but I believe the ONLY way I will is alone.
    Take back a cheater? Been there. Done that. I’ll take the kids, he can eat the shit sandwich of shame!
    Don’t go back, David. You’re free. Your kids are free! Mine are COUNTING ON ME to hold my values. So are yours. Please get some more help for yourself. She hasn’t changed. Trust that she sucks.

    • Wow so mighty! I’m twice chumped that I know of separated by many years. I nursed his sorry ass through cancer and listened to him thank everyone but me in his public speech about his journey. I really never knew I was the enemy. When I saw the same behaviors the second time and our iphone clouds were merged (constantly texting schmoopie and lying about it), I mightied up to. I really have no more love or respect for him. I can’t imagine ever reconciling with him. It still hurts like a MF’er. But I knew I was done too.

  • Thank you again, everyone.

    I’ve been on CL for almost five years and have read all of CL’s columns (and both her books), responses to other chumps’ letters, and hundreds–probably thousands–of CN’s responses. Yet I look at my own letter and your responses and there is a strange disconnect: I see the chump side of me objectively. I find myself shaking my head at this guy–me–and nodding in affirmation and agreement at your responses (even those less “sympathetic” to my saga). It makes me marvel that even now, with all my hard-earned wisdom, education, skepticism and logic, I still am dangerously susceptible to being chumped anew. It convinces me once again that it doesn’t matter how shrewd or street-smart or self-aware one fancies oneself, false hope and denial are extraordinary and seductive forces.

    Since D-day, I journalled. I filled five one-hundred-page notebooks with my narrative. It’s all there: the record of my journey through hell. I skim the pages in disbelief, appalled at myself yet at the same time with that odd objectivity gained by time and distance: there he is, clinging to hope in the face of utterly clear futility. There he is, convincing himself that the impossible is merely improbable and the improbable possible and the possible likely.

    But I also see myself gathering strength–if only through desperation to survive emotionally, and of course for my children, who suffered as they saw their strong father reduced to a shell–and finally walking away.

    My current dilemma is really not a dilemma at all. I know that I do not want her back–for so many reasons, some complex, but most quite simple: she hurt me, and had and has the capacity TO hurt me. She was and is that person. And I don’t want that person. She does not love me, to say the least.

    It is true, I am terribly lonely, and thus I am vulnerable. This is the perfect storm–her hoovering, vindication through their Unicornland falling apart, and my loneliness–but I am also aware of my strength. I see it in my written record and I see it in the empirical evidence of my life for the last five years.

    So yes, my “weakness,” while a liability, is also proof of my ability and desire to love. The last person I loved was my XW, and the illogical heart is reflexively responding to the proferred velvet-gloved hand of cruelty, promising sham love but also the certainty of pain.

    I will resist. I will not risk my children’s tears again.

    As for the polyamory element, I still struggle with my portion of culpability and will leave it at that. I appreciate everyone’s understanding with regard to this and understand those who castigate me. It is no more than I’ve castigated myself.

    Thank you so much.

    • Sadly, even with all of the wisdom and education gained from chumpdom, even all of the years of journal writings and heartbreak, it is so hard to grasp the fact that we are always vulnerable to a repeat offense. Some of us have been chumped by more than one partner.

      But with each new life experience we learn. And we grow from it. It becomes our story. I sure do hope you find your happiness. We all deserve that!

    • David, give yourself some time to heal. If I follow the timeline, you’ve really only had 1 year of peace/no chaos. (Is that correct?) This isn’t a lot of time. I suspect that you haven’t have much success dating, because you weren’t ready. (Now that I am single, I can see the signs.)

      The polyamory element is irrelevant. Cheaters cheat.

      • That is correct, yes–to both: around a year of peace and amicable coparenting and no luck on the dating front.

    • David,

      Reading your responses to all these posts makes one thing perfectly clear to me – you are struggling with all this primarily because you have a big heart, and want to love and be loved. The void of what you thought you had with your ex-wife is so big, so painful, that you are considering taking her back to fill part of that void, fully cognizant of who she is and how badly she can treat you.

      For many chumps, they never want to marry again, and in some cases are done with coupling altogether. That’s their path, and that’s fine. But I sense you’re not one of those. I’m another who is wired the same way I think you are, and I would speculate, without speaking for her, that ChumpyKindOfLove is too. Part of the injury we suffered in the breakup was the feeling that we, personally, are flawed enough to be unlovable. The idea that “I tried so hard to be lovable and it wasn’t enough,” makes us seem, to ourselves, undeserving of another’s love. And the only true balm we can find for that pain is to prove it wrong, to be loved again. (The fallacy is, of course, that it wasn’t us, it was them, but all we see when we look in the mirror is someone who is unlovable – the notion of ‘trust that they suck’ isn’t strong enough to heal this wound.)

      I signed up with an online dating service just hours after the legal divorce was final. (My ex-wife and I had several difficult years before we agreed to separate, and the divorce went fairly smoothly as these things go, so in some sense, I began the emotional separation process years before it was official.) Within two months, I contacted several women, including the one who would become my new wife (going on 5 years now married, over 10 of knowing each other). CKoL also moved on to a great relationship right after separating from one of the worst excuses for a human being I’ve ever heard about. Both of us needed this as part of our healing, and you may be in the same boat. In fact, I’d suggest that you’re so desperate to have someone to be in love with you that that need is overwhelming your common sense and making you consider re-partnering with a woman who has hurt you and your children so badly over such a long period of time.

      The danger in all that is that if one desperately needs to be loved to feel complete, then one will lower the bar for a partner too low. (How low does that bar have to be for you to consider your ex again?) My suggestion on this matter is to keep trying on the romantic front, but don’t pressure yourself. And consider a good therapist, if you can find a way to afford it or get it covered. This might be an issue that you can’t solve quickly, but you can manage quickly, and if things are together enough to let you go out and find a good partner, then it would be solved.

      The other thing I would suggest is that if you have not had any success finding someone – “My search for a new partner has been fruitless” – then you need to change they way you’re searching. Whatever you’re doing isn’t working, so do something different. Try something new, a hobby, an activity, whatever. See if there’s a book club in your area (if you like reading), and join it. Do volunteer work – that’s a great way to meet people, and very few narcissists will volunteer in a soup kitchen or shelter. Even if these activities don’t find you a new partner directly, you will make some friends (which is almost always good), and those friends might know a good partner for you. If you’re not signed up for an online dating service, then try one. If you’re religious, tap into that social network. If you haven’t already, ask people that you respect to think about someone they could set you up with. Open yourself up to every possibility and every avenue to meet someone (except your ex, of course).

      About the polyamory thing – let it go. You made a mistake. You also made a mistake in marrying your ex-wife. Forgive yourself those lapses, and resolve to do better going forward. None of us are perfect beings, we have all erred, and (especially when we’re conscientious, moral people) carrying the weight of those errors with us all of our days is too heavy a burden. Like with your ex, let go of the anger (or self-hate in this case), but do not forget the error.

      But above all else, remember this. You’re a good person, a giving person, you deserve better than what your ex-wife did to you, and you deserve to be with a better person than she is. You can find that person eventually. Maybe a divorced woman with a kid or two of her own – especially if she’s a chump, but don’t narrow your field any more than you have to. It does get better.

      Hugs. Strength. Peace.

      P.S. – If you haven’t already, read over UXworld’s posts about his now ex-wife KK. There are many eerie similarities between her and your ex-wife, and your situations, as UXworld mentioned above.

    • Try not to be too hard on yourself, David–so many of us here have had shaky moments in the face of hoovering and offers of wreckonciliation, even after we’ve become conscious, aware, and wary of the dysfunction that we’re dealing with.

      A dear friend of mine, one of the first people IRL to school me and support me in facing the fact that my X is an emotionally abusive narcissist, called me recently looking to be talked down from the ledge. Her X came back to her full of shiny promises after hearing through mutual friends that she was undergoing cancer treatment. She is one of the fiercest women I know, who left this man cold five years ago and rebuilt her life without looking back. That is, until she was going through a vulnerable time and her X saw his opportunity. She stayed mighty in the end, but she was tempted.

      I haven’t even been experiencing anything that would make me particularly vulnerable and I still had a moment a few weeks ago that threw me off kilter. All X did was send me a kind text, apropos of nothing. He never did any such thing when we were married and I’ve been maintaining strict NC and gray rock when we have to communicate about our children, so he never sends texts without cause and they are never, ever kind. Neutral or snide, but not kind.

      Just one small gesture like that, which I knew was ultimately self-serving and kibble-seeking, triggered fond memories of the days when I used to think he was a kind man, even though I now know he’s not. But those memories came back nonetheless and I had to actively run them through the reprogramming system in my brain and dredge up other memories of his abuse to counter them. In no way did it make me want to respond to his text or re-engage with him on any level. Still, though, it left me with moments of wistful sadness for the next couple of days, something I thought I was long past and never imagined could be triggered by a freaking little crumb of an uncharacteristically kind remark.

      Healing is a long and evolving process and there’s no one who knows better than our disordered Xs how to throw a monkey wrench into the works.

    • Not to mention that if you take her back she’s off the hook for the alimony and child support.

      Hang in there, guy.

    • I promise you: if you work on healing the trauma bond and really, finally letting your marriage go, there will be a partner for you out there. You have so much to offer. And you write so well, by the way.

  • David:
    I feel like you knew how CN would respond but you needed the 2 x 4 to the head as insurance!

    So, like others here have said, run like hell! Let your chump education serve you well here and please do not entertain the thought of trying to make your family a unit again. The only real certainty you have with that ideal is that you will absolutely open up yourself and your son to more heartache at the hand of your cheating ex-wife. You are NOT to blame here, regardless of the way this played out. The only thing worse than suffering the death of your marriage and family life is to suffer that death twice by your own doing!!!

    You will find happiness in your life again with a new partner. One who values you and your son.

    • “I feel like you knew how CN would respond but you needed the 2 x 4 to the head as insurance!”

      Absolutely, Kimmy. I did know. I’ve grown weary and leery of unburdening myself to others (including family and my therapist) and needed the 2x4s articulated by those who understand.

  • Okay Tempest…I had already got it as you can see my remarks to Sunflower above when she asked me to stop. In all fairness (if there is such a thing) I had NO IDEA that this could trigger a Chump…because I had no idea that a Chump would agree to Polyamory unless under duress as you stated was your case.

    My opinion was based squarely on David actually stating that he and his Ex had a GOOD marriage, that they both decided in essence to spice things up, and he gave NO indication of any marital problems that would have ushered this idea into the marriage other than the pure “excitement” of it that appealed to both. No pick me dance was in the picture as this was an entire year before his Dday, otherwise I would have kept my fingers from making ANY comment.

    My apologies for any Chump that got triggered.

    Over and out…again. Really.

    • I second Tempest in the opinion that you have become abusive in your responses. I’m not quite certain why this particular topic has you all jazzed up but it is very evident that you hold quite an opinion on this. Not that this life style choice would be anything I would entertain but I for one can acquiesce that others would. Not my place to judge! He is asking for help, advice……not judgement.

      Sweetz….you would suck on a suicide prevention hotline! Just sayin…… Over and out

      • Well Kimmy, since you took your shot and wondered why I would get jazzed up? Maybe because I do NOT see David as being a Chump. I DO see him as having been abused though…similar to the way that Chumps are when Cheaters fall for their SECRET AP’s and can’t figure out why they are being treated so badly. It is par and coarse for when a spouse detaches for someone else. It is brutal.

        Both he and his wife decided to get into this “thing” having no previous marital duress…merely for the pure excitement of doing so. It turned out badly for David, and now on some level I suppose, for his Ex also. I guess I see them both as being Cheaters…albeit, he is the one who did not get to the exciting benefits of it FIRST like she did…but he encouraged her to sleep with a man so that he could join in as a threesome. I also do not think that anyone can estimate and/or avoid the powerful emotional responses to sexually bonding with a third party like he/she thought they could just like Tempest said.

        Funny, when the rest of CN gives a 2×4 to a Chump to get them to realize the full scope of their problem, that’s okay…but when I give the same coming from a place of obvious morality, calling out FACTS that David disclosed…that is not okay? Also funny is the fact that anyone here can call out “abuse” when they do not like someone’s different opinion on things, even when it isn’t meant to be. I wonder how David would feel about it?

        My point was: I personally would not call it being Chumped when both parties gleefully enter into the world of agreed upon Adultery and one gets burned in the process. That is like giving comfort to an OW when she gets dumped in my opinion. Examine that. He was ABUSED after the fact, not Chumped. If David had “scored” first, the tables would be turned.

        Anyway, that is just my take on it all. You have your opinion, I have mine, David will glean what he wants out of it. It does not sound at all like he is hurting and/or suicidal. It sounds like he KNOWS he blew it (too) and is reeling from the guilt of that and additionally, wondering if the “right” thing to do is now that SHE seems remorseful, is to take her back. I wouldn’t merely because of her sheer brutality during the discard…but I would also not want a man who thinks that getting additional sex outside the marriage is okay either…under ANY name that you want to call it. That just seems like NOT what this site typically addresses as Chump Nation.

        G’night Kimmy

        • I get you Sweetz. Your argument makes sense. I do not believe you are being judgmental. You are stating facts in chronological order as they were offered in David’s letter. Your moral ground is sound. Unfortunately, this is not the first time on this site that a dissenting voice has been shouted down in the name of ‘abuse’.

          PS: Sweetz is not a troll.

          • Funny again, EVERYONE here knows the pain and destruction of Adultery yes? That is what the entire site is about…the pain and betrayal and the moving on. Leave a Cheater…gain a Life. But David is a cheater too by the very fact that he “encouraged” his wife to get a man so they could have a threesome with him Oops, he let her do all the heavy lifting to set up his fun, but then he got left out. Damn.

            So, we now redefine what Adultery looks like if we can give favor to one of the guilty parties who was CLEARLY “all in the game” to do the same? Then when someone comes along and reminds him about what adultery REALLY is and the FACT that both parties are just as guilty….Gallows! haha! You are all quick to hang anyone out to dry who dares to identify the very lack of moral conscience that everyone here has been suffering the effects of…because what exactly??? Sheesh. If David had been a woman or an OW, you’d probably be all over her to remind her that she got what was coming to her except for perhaps the abusive discard…so yeah, focus on the abuse that he held the door open to, rather than on the fact that his Ex BY NATURE grew to hate his guts after she had fallen for someone else…AND that HE set her up to do this even when their marriage was deemed as being “good”… with HIS full intentions to get in on the fucking action.

            What couple does this and does not expect to meet up with consequences at some point? This man clearly did not cherish her when it counted…a man who sets up and gets off on the thought of participating with another man fucking his own beloved wife…is THAT what CN is all about? That’s Okay with y’all? What a surprise.

            Nearly every one of you seem to want to overlooked the FACTS about how David’s marriage failed…especially the part that HE also played in it. Side stepping the horror of Adultery in favor of spotlighting the abuse card or his Ex’s “deception”. Umm…why is he off the hook? Did he not take Vows of faithfulness too? Or is lying or being discarded deemed more noteworthy a crime than breaking a Sacred Marital Covenant? Speaking of deception, do you think that his Ex actually KNEW that Polyamory was in her future when she stood at the altar with this man? That’s what happens when all ideas of morality are off and game is on. Liars gunna lie, and cheaters gunna cheat…and David was ALL IN for the cheating TOO…sans the lying.

            But I get it…you all made a mistake, assigned sweet upstanding moral character to a cheater who came on this site (like OW sometimes do) just cuz he’s a “good dad” (who introduced Polyamory into his boring marriage and the results thereof), and now need to blame shift your over site on to me and make me out to be a villain, claiming that I am triggering people because I point out what the face of his part of the Adultery looks like.

            But because my name is not as familiar as others, or ESPECIALLY because I am a Christian, you do not tolerate my honest observation. If someone else more popular had pointed the irony of David being on this particular site, you’d have been all over it. And I KNOW it for a fact because it happens all the time. Christians get attacked here if they dare to point out anything remote about their guiding principles that might help someone.

            You all have NO IDEA about how many Christians you really have here…and you assume very few by the looks of it, and have treated them like unwanted outcasts. AND YET, here is the REAL irony…you ALL fully expected to be married to someone who lives morally like one BECAUSE you made Christian-like Vows!!! David and his Ex and children are suffering because of the lack of them. THAT is why I spoke up…to help him to see where the source of HIS ongoing guilt is coming from…and what he might do about it. I’d have done the same for his Ex if she would have showed up. So I get bashed for it. You don’t hear much from Christians here because so many of you endeavor to devalue what they have to say and silence them.

            • Very powerful Sweetz. You have taken a lot of undeserved vitriol today and I’m not sure most of it makes any sense whatsoever. If more people in our world held your God-centered clear convictions about keeping true meaning in relationships ALL chumps would benefit and be better understood and more certain of the support they deserve. Conversely, if more were to hate the standards and values you espouse, we’d all suffer all the more.

              • Sweetz,

                Yee haw! Nothing like a good verbal whipping for the hypocrisy of inviting a third party into the marriage (to marry is to join two together) then crying foul.

                Damn I love this crowd!

            • Bravo Sweetz. I have enjoyed reading your powerful and clearly articulated posts. You don’t have to be a Christian to understand the necessity of a moral conscience. I am a lapsed Catholic, so I am not evaluating your argument from a religious standpoint. Did you ‘trigger’ some polyamorists on this site? Maybe. Let this be a cautionary tale for them.

              • I sincerely doubt that I triggered a true Poly here…although perhaps a few Chumps who may have been coerced into becoming one in an attempt to save their marriage as Tempest said. Even then, a Chump would have already absolved themselves knowing it was NOT what they would have normally done and was against their true character.

                A true Poly knows the possible outcome when they decide to cast aside morality…and if they didn’t, they should have…yet they “bank” on the very morality of “honesty” and “transparency” and some twisted version of “faithfulness” while violating the very moral laws that would guarantee the failure to keep their marriage LOL! If this is not cake eating…then what is? Just because you do this openly, with consent, and with agreements…does it REALLY make for a good marriage? Is “lying” the ONLY sin in play here? Esther Pearl would think so.

                Their pain and suffering is the direct result from God’s moral standards being violated. Yet, like I said, they all assumed that their Vows meant something and EXPECTED their spouse to uphold at least some of God’s standards…even while living in denial of the very God who designed the basic nature of morality within each human heart.

                You do not have to be “religious” to KNOW when morality is violated. Even a CHILD knows right from wrong…just ask one who sees mommy or daddy kissing or even holding hands with someone else. I am not religious per se, I absolutely DO have a very personal relationship with God…but I do not practice rituals that are commonly known to be “religious”.
                Only one person asked David if HE were the one who instigated the Poly thing (and of course, got no answer)…no one asked him if HE had been indulging in Adultery already behind the scenes unknown to his Ex…no one asked him if his wife may have felt totally devalued and jumped ship because of the result of him wanting Poly…no one cared that he is just as big a cheater with his intentions as she was with her actions. He fully expected her to go along with slamming body parts for his pleasure and then simply walk away from the emotional turmoil of doing so…what he did not expect was that she would bond with the guy and not want to share him with David instead. It backfired. Totally Hedonistic behavior on both parts…but w/o morality, what difference does it make? All bets are off.

                So she fell for her AP…I would almost (but not quite) be tempted to congratulate her were it not for the fact of it being adultery. At least on a cursory level, she actually FELT something for her lover besides the sexual excitement…whereas, David only wanted to get off on strange and seemed to have no emotional investment that typically goes hand in hand with marriage and sexual intercourse…not even with his own wife! THAT is Sociopathic in my view.

                David could easily compartmentalize sex vs love…his Ex could not. Once she and her AP had sex and she fell in “love”, she naturally wanted to be with him, perhaps because she could clearly see that her own husband did not value her AT ALL at that point. It is no excuse…but more understandable than the cold calculated sex that David intended to have on the side.

                But yet…everyone here congratulated David for his part in this simply because he did not get the chance to indulge himself with his Ex’s AP (as agreed upon) and she was brutal during the divorce instead??? Nearly everyone of us was treated brutally during the divorce…but we were NOT willingly going along with the cheating that would guarantee it. David was, hence, he cannot shake his guilt…which is actually a GOOD thing until he comes to terms with his own sins against God and the marriage.

                But hey…he is a “good dad” who helped destroy his own family that he should have protected.

              • Im gonna just squeeze this in here since there is no reply button below to Sweetz’s continuing diatribe on morality and opinion regarding David and his motives and whether or not anyone is triggered.

                First and foremost, there is difference between being congratulated and being supported. Most people here support David in finding his peace in his life and with his children.

                Second, in terms of MY being triggered, it’s not from any sin on my part having dabbled in whatever you thump out of the Bible as being so, but from my abusive ex husband who “adored” telling me what a shitty wife I was and how he had no other choice but to try and make me be submissive and godly because that was his job as head of the household. My salvation depended on my understanding the heart of God through my ex who would not accept how abusive he was towards me because he believed in Jesus and God.

                In short Sweetz, you’re being abusive. Did you miss the part about telling the truth in love? Did you miss the lessons of the Pharasees who spent all their time patting themselves on the back over how righteous they were, while judging and condemning others? Did you miss the part of where there is forgiveness for those who are humble in admitting their mistakes? Pretty sure David is in a place of forgiveness…. and he has been ever so gracious and humble regarding the places where he did wrong… and I am pretty sure he was long ago forgiven by the God you claim to serve, so why do you continue to condemn him?

                You’re being a total, self-righteous bitch, Sweetz, and I’m sick of your abusing another member here.


    • “Only one person asked David if HE were the one who instigated the Poly thing (and of course, got no answer)…no one asked him if HE had been indulging in Adultery already behind the scenes…”


      I actually was going to respond to the query regarding who initiated it. Many responses here and it’s taking me awhile to reread and respond here and there.

      It was a mutual decision. We had discussed it here and there as fantasy. When my XW turned 39 (literally on her 39th birthday) she said she felt like she’d to make the fantasy a reality. I’m not putting it all on her: I responded just as enthusiastically (though also with a vague and in hindsight ominous sense of wariness). To be clear, we had no intent of making it a “lifestyle.” It was to make a fantasy a reality. Once, maybe more than once if we liked it. Clearly a Pandora’s box was opened.

      And no, I was never disloyal. Nor was she to my knowledge. In fact we always acknowledged how I’d never even looked at another woman nor she at another man. We completely trusted each other.

      I will absorb your slings and arrows. The guilt I feel likely will never leave me for even the 50% I played in this. It was the worst decision of my life and for five years I have delved deep within myself to try and understand. And even if I never quite do, I surely have no interest–to say the least–in ever delving into this again.

      Thank you for your responses.

      • David,
        Thank you for clearing that up, and I hope it is okay with you if I respond in return?

        To simplify the complexities:

        1) It was a mutual decision to toy with Adultery in an otherwise good marriage…as in “Temptation”.
        2) She broke the “rules”, unexpectedly bonded emotionally with the AP, and turned against you…as in “No man can serve two Masters, he will hate one and love the other”.
        3) You both now agree that it was the worst decision ever made…as in “Enlightenment”.
        4) Neither of you would EVER do such a thing again…as in “Remorse”.
        5) Prior to this, neither of you had “eyes” for others…as in “Faithful”.
        6) The two of you had complete trust in each other before…as in “Blessed”.
        7) You both are taking 100% responsibility for your own actions…as in “Humility”.

        I would call that some serious (though painful) progress if my understanding is correct.

        Seems to me that both of you seriously underestimated the power of unleashed Evil, and the whole family paid dearly for it.

        Could you not both find your way towards forgiving each other…as in the “Divine Directive”, and consider it a Epic life lesson…as in “Growth”? It does NOT mean that you “should” get back together. Perhaps, if nothing else, you can both put things in a much larger perspective and move on in peace between you seeing that the damage is often beyond the human ability to repair.

        It does not surprise me that your Ex is now wanting to reconcile…perhaps her choices have disgusted her and evolved into a working conscience as yours have…albeit slower due to the complexities of her AP “distractions”. Her exile included the experience of having someone else to contend with…yours was alone. I hope my Ex develops deep regrets too someday (for his sake)…but I won’t be holding my breath waiting in the meantime. His Adultery is a lifelong habit starting in his early twenties and continuing into his mid sixties. Cheating always starts with the entitlement to indulge in a fantasy as we all know, and lacking a strong moral conscience, the momentum can become quite unstoppable much like the laws of gravity because some people never learn from the consequences of it.

        Your story appears to be more of an anomaly compared to most here however…out of the “norm” for those who have lifelong character disorders (from everything you have said). You might then keep in mind that TIME and BEHAVIOR will reveal if any True Redemption is beginning to unfold out of these ashes. Nothing good ever seems to happen in an instant, and like they say, “the wheels of Justice turn slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine”.

        One caution: It is easy to gather support and continued momentum for ANY view that you are inclined to take. But if a gut feeling persists for years in spite of that support, it may very well be that Someone Else may be trying to get your attention during your season of “exile”. It is your journey, and no one should else should be standing at the helm navigating it for you except for God.

        In the end, I hope you are able to find your way to having Peace in your heart.


  • Here’s my interpretation: 1) you are still jealous (of the AP), 2) you are lonely, 3) you have an idealized version of what a ‘family’ should be, 4) you don’t know how to live without chaos, and 5) you still don’t have healthy boundaries. Is this harsh? Maybe…but we’ve all been there. A few others have pointed out that you are clearly far from ‘meh’?

    David, when I re-read your letter, I wonder what it is — that you want?

    • Yes! He still isn’t seeing clearly or taking responsibility for his lack of boundaries. This isn’t “happening ” to him.

  • I think other people said it more eloquently, but she sucked before the polyamory experiment happened. She would have still sucked if it never have happened. It may have had something to do with triggering her to blow up your marriage and family at that particular point in time. But that’s still the person who she was all along, nothing changed her. If anything at all, it brought out the real her sooner than later.

    There are plenty of poly people who don’t lie, cheat, and destroy relationships and families. There are plenty of non poly people who do all those things. We don’t change who we are on a fundamental moral level from experimenting with an alternative lifestyle. Although a lot of people like to moralize and say that nonmonogamy is a slippery slope to depravity and lay blame and accountability on it.

    But that’s simplistic and sloppy logic. We are who we are. We suck or we don’t suck. There may be things about her that don’t suck, but good people don’t blow up lives, and then double down and keep twisting the knife.

  • I can relate to agreeing to things you wouldn’t normally agree to in desperation to save the marriage. This is a milder case then agreeing to polyamory or open marriage, but when I asked STBX on Dday if he was really serious about trying to fix our marriage through marriage counseling and he said yes, I didn’t say “then you have to give up Schmoopie and go no contact” I said “then you need to put your relationship with Schmoopie on hold while we are in counseling”. Pretty mild. Or course STBX said “yes I will do that for you Chumpinrocovery” like he was making a huge sacrifice (which he didn’t actually follow through on). In my individual session with the MC, he took me to task for not being more forceful and demanding STBX go NC with Schmoopie, but at that moment, sitting in the car confronting STBX with what I had just learned, I felt like he was on the edge of just leaving and I was afraid to be any more forceful than that. If he had asked for an open marriage at that moment I don’t know how I would have responded. By the time STBX brought that up weeks later, I had had enough time to realize that I only wanted to save my marriage if we would be equal respected partners and that gave me the power to say no. I guess that’s why STBX now claims that I didn’t fight hard enough for him.

  • 2012 was the year my cheater dropped dead so for me that date is also etched deeply in stone in my universe. Ack.

    2 years ago I married a great guy. His XW had a narc attack where she became convinced that everything wrong with her life was his fault and there was green green grass out there, she need only run towards it. He begged her not to leave, they had a 2 yr old daughter. Never mind he was doing counter terrorism for the fucking Joint Chiefs of Staff and 9/11 had just occurred, what is spousal faithfulness when there is green grass to chase.

    So she dumped him and played hard ball to get every dime. She started dating a guy in NJ who eventually got a restraining order on her. After a multi year, acrimonious divorce…once it was finalized, she approached him and suggested a wreckonciliation,,,she would sign a prenup she said blah blah. By then he had had enough of her to not want anything more to do with and declined the offer.

    They were civil and decent to one another for a while but while he declined a romantic relationship, he was rather easily manipulated by her…she threatened to limit visitation with his D and was so traumatized by the whole thing, he had one girlfriend (for 2 weeks) in the 12 years after their divorce.

    She married a guy who has much less money that her first husband…then he started dating me (yes 12 years after their divorce). The gal who played nice offering him a reconciliation HATES that Im living the life that she walked away from. She is now mean, manipulative, and uncivil in every possible way.

    So the niceish person who pitches the idea of getting back together is still the person who will rip your face off if they dont get what they want…this is who would get in any reconciliation.

    My husband and I went to his daughters graduation and they treated us like lepers. Never mind we paid 100% of the private school tuition (in addition to 2x the child support the court required). I am wife number 2 who had zero to do with their divorce and she treated me horribly…it was ghastly.

    Like CL said, do not even consider putting your other arm into that woodchipper. Let her marry some other hapless victim and pray for the guy. We both look at her new husband with a lot of compassion.

    When I started dating after cheater died, I didnt want some guy who hurt and betrayed his first family, but great guys who were dumped by women (who have no sense) are rare…I feel VERY fortunate to get one of them….your next partner will feel the same about you.

    • Unicornnomore,

      Well said. David, take this to heart – “… great guys who were dumped by women (who have no sense) are rare…I feel VERY fortunate to get one of them….your next partner will feel the same about you.”

      Hugs. Strength. Peace.

  • Maybe “absolution” is a good word for what you are looking for David?

    Maybe this will help: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and Just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. 1John 1:9

    Just know that the guilt you are experiencing can be washed away by your own repentance and confession to God. Then go forward and build a NEW life on that fact. Yes, you will have “regret”…but true remorse is what keeps people from doing the same things yet again.

    Best Wishes,

    • Thank you, Sweetz. I am not religious, but I do not believe I have completely absolved myself. I feel guilt. Yet I believe I have gone through my own version of penance–if penance can manifest as years of solitary pain, a sort of “exile,” and deep self-examination.

      • Yeah…but do not take her back…that is NOT part of “regret” or “penance”…it is part of Wisdom. Learn WHY you did what you did and resolve in your heart never to do anything like it again.

        Look up to Heaven and tell God (who you do not believe in) that you don’t believe in Him but that you REALLY are truly sorry for your part and to help you be a better man in the future. That is all He (who is not there lol) really asks from us. He does the rest.

  • Everyone else has offered great advice so while I don’t have too much to add, I’ll share something my therapist regularly says: It’s my job to be the sane parent. My ex threw everything into upheaval and continues to do so in his quest for twu wuv and the romantic, passionate soaked relationship he thinks he deserves.
    Despite our co parenting counselor’s advice to wait at least a year before introducing our boys (then 9&11) to her, he waited just six months after we separated. That was May 2016. By January 2017 she had moved in along with her 2 younger children (13&15) who she has part time. In June 2017 they were married. From all accounts, they all get along and I’m thankful for that. But that’s still a lot of change for two little guys to go through in less than two years, especially when what they saw was two parents who got along really well and seemed to really love each other. (There was no “seeming” on my side).
    So my job now is to hold strong and help them navigate all of this change and show them a sane, measured, thoughtful parent who puts their needs first.
    Going back to your ex wife is the opposite of sane. It will mean bringing all of that chaos and upheaval back into your own – and more importantly your children’s – lives. I’m no psychologist, but I’m willing to bet living with a single dad like yourself who clearly loves and is devoted to your kids is way healthier than living in an intact family where one parent is a selfish asshole who puts her needs above all others, while the other is loyal and loving but always living in fear of another D-Day.

  • Dear David,
    I agree with all the excellent advice that CL and CN have given. One thing you said really resonated with me: “My search for a new partner has been fruitless, but I’m finally okay with that too.” I have an XH who circles around for narcissistic supply all the time, especially when he’s between girlfriends. And I have not found a new partner in the last 4 years since the divorce (after almost 35 years married) and I am often lonely. But I remind myself over and over again about what I told my daughter, “I would rather wait for the right person to come along and treat me well and love me than to go back to your dad who cheated on me and lied to me for many years and never really loved me.” It’s like the scorpion and the turtle- you know what they are. So many things my XH said or did and I can’t un-see or un-hear them! I miss terribly the partner and the marriage I thought I had, but I know that this is a mirage, a fantasy, and that he will not change and if he’s in my life I will not have the energy to find someone who will love and appreciate me because he will take over. Please, David, hug yourself tightly and love yourself enough to keep her from hurting you again. You may have two arms for the combine, but only one heart!

  • “I still blame myself 50% for going down that path. I feel terribly guilty for my part in encouraging her. We played with fire. I played with fire. It was vain, foolish. Even when I post to Chumplady, it was with no small amount of guilt, for I fear that if the other members knew my “twist,” I would be run out of town on a rail. This is what happened at the other site: most members ostracized me, essentially accusing me of helping bring about the affair. I don’t blame them, frankly.”

    Good grief stop blaming yourself. This didn’t happen because you played with fire. She was going to cheat on you no matter what. I think she tricked you so she could blameshift. A very dirty trick. David, she sucks. Model strength and self respect for your kids. Don’t raise future chumps. (“Kids, love is when your spouse puts you through hell, and you ask for more!”). Five years have gone by? Good heavens don’t go back to square one now and go through it all again!!!

  • David, I recommend listening to Bob Seger’s Still the Same over and over. Some pertinent lines:
    Turning on the charm, long enough to get you back And
    I had nothing left to say And
    I just turned and walked away

    Wishing you peace and strength

  • One thing. Who had the idea for the poly marriage? I think that IS indicative. There is a big difference in ” going along” and actually instigating it.
    Whoever suggested it was clearly thinking their marriage was not ” enough”.
    If it was you David, then also that is yet more of a factor why you don’t want her back as you were not as fulfilled as you remember.
    If it was your ex, then neither was she and she will do it again once the novelty of reconciling wears off.

    Either way, anybody who can drag their partner through an awful divorce is someone you do not want back- ever. Nobody is worth that pain. I would have more sympathy with a person who has apologised and been good with the divorce, They seem few and far between. Horrible people do this stuff, and horrible they stay.

    • Well Seriously…everyone except me missed that because they were trying so hard to defend anyone here who “might” indulge in Poly and validate David. David clearly stated that it was HE who encouraged her to try out having a short term fling…nothing really deep into the Poly lifestyle…just enough to get his wife to commit adultery and get his thrills…perhaps so he could justify what he may have been already doing? (I am speculating on that part). Yet he said that his marriage was GOOD. So why this? Was this a diabolical ploy of David’s to get his wife into the same dirt as he was? (More speculation…but I would not doubt it).

      Tempest says that often when Chumps go to the Poly route at the threat, demand, or encouragement of their spouse, they most often do it because of duress, pressure, or fear of losing the marriage. Cheaters are the ones who put it out there and do the pressuring. Sadly, I would absolutely agree with that. And I suspect that this was also the case between David and his Ex but he never really gave enough info to come to a hard conclusion other than below:

      David comes here and SAYS that HE is the one who encouraged it…he TOLD her to go out and get another guy and that “he would join them for a threesome”. But everyone assigned that she already had one? What proof? He set her up to desecrate her body and the marriage FIRST, she did as he asked (being desperate or stupid or both), then for some strange reason, she turned against him after that process was well underway…and he now calls this whole thing “his Dday”. So yes, he is the one who instigated it…but you are the only one who thought it might make any difference. To me though, it showed him to be every bit as much a cheater as she became.

      Now he is still suffering guilt 5yrs later, and looking for CN’s validation after his Ex fell for her AP and the result of a destroyed marriage. Only he was contemplating taking her back…cuz he can’t quite get himself another woman who has any interest in him after all this time. Karma? He is no better than any OW who comes here after getting herself burned playing with the fire of Adultery…oh excuse me, Polyamory is a better word.

      Only thing is…CN would have jumped all over any OW coming here, whereas they decided to “support” David even after what he admitted pulling his wife into…because she turned against him afterward. Surprise! Who knows how long and what manner of pressures he put on her to do this? It was HE who assigned to his Ex that this was something she also wanted…but how can anyone here know that for sure? One thing I DO know…because he said it himself, is that she afterwards began funneling her paychecks into a private account. She planned to get OUT of the marriage…but he never bothered to say WHY other than because she fell for her AP. But I think I might know.

      I do not blame his Ex for turning on him and hating his guts and throwing the AP in his face that he planned on having a swinging good time with. I might have done so too especially when it fully hit me how very little I meant to my own husband that he would push me to have sex with someone else simply so he could join in…especially at a time when I believed the marriage was already “good”. If this is the best suggestion that David had to offer his wife when the marriage was GOOD…what would it have looked like if the marriage was BAD? Why didn’t David just go out and get his own Poly AP during this agreement? Maybe because his idea of getting a big boner was really all about watching another man fuck his own wife? Classy. This is NOT a man who loved or protected his wife and I personally believe she knew it and hated him for it.

      David said he was bored in the sexual dept and wanted “something to spice things up”…perhaps Porn was not doing it for him…I don’t know…I am just speculating about the Porn, but what else would make a “loving husband” get his wife to do such a thing otherwise? But one thing I do know is that CN attacked the wrong person…calling his Ex wife every vile thing in the book based solely on David’s narrative, while letting him totally off the hook…and of course, she was not here to defend herself or set his story straight. So yeah, they should not be together…ONE of them WILL do this again…but it might not be the person everyone thinks it is.

      • Oh, and if I may? David stated that it is HE who receives Spousal and Child Support. That may explain the horrible and lengthy divorce process…and yet, it also could explain why she might have wanted him back at least initially during his discard? Perhaps his Ex did not think it fair that she as the busy career woman with the OBVIOUS much higher wage, should be forced to pay a man who pushed and instigated the destruction of a marriage that she may have been (at least initially) trying to save? Maybe she realized that she had painted herself into a corner with this man financially. For all we know, David may have been a lazy low energy slug who sat around in his underwear spanking his monkey to Porn while his wife worked her ass of earning enough for all of them. He could have resented her for her success, AND he would have had plenty of time for his own affairs and concocting ideas to get her down to his level of guilt…but now he has a “good job” yet still gets Spousal and Child Support? So yeah, he thought his marriage was good…perhaps because she was doing all the heavy lifting. Maybe that is why he “tried so hard to save his marriage”…financial cake. See?

        Moral of the story is: When two married people BOTH agree to be cheaters…how do you ever really know what the whole unvarnished truth is? Which ever one gets the narrative out first and gets a “A” for good grammar or speaking skills to a group of on line people who don’t know them? Liars are going to lie, and cheaters are going to cheat. End of Story.

        • Jesus God, Sweetz! What did punctuation ever do to you to make you hate it so? Periods. Use them. Stop… talking in… long pointless rambling paragraph sentences… that never end… but use up all the… ellipsis in the world…

          Also, generally just stop. We get it. You don’t like polyamory and think that your version of your religion is the One True Way. We know. You’ve made that very clear. Repeatedly.
          Thank you for sharing, and have a nice day. Now please stop.

  • Hello, my name is Patty Bianca’I caught my husband cheating on me thankfully my friend gave me a reliable contact, h a c k s e c r e t e @ g m a i l. c o m he works with discretion and delivers, he does all sort of hacks, access to social networks, icloud, and many more. Viber chats hack, Facebook messages and yahoo messengers remotely, call phone GPs location tracking, spy on whatsapp messages i would prefer to let his service speak for itself,his service are cheap you can contact him if you have similar issue and tell him i referred you.

  • David
    I thought “polyamory” was more about having an actual relationship with the other party. From the description you gave, it sounds more like the lifestyle swingers have.
    I assume your ex thought a less abrasive title would be better received and she was right, you fell for it.
    Here’s something you need to seriously think about…whether you label it poly/swinger/hall pass/open/experimenting, it’s insignificant the big scheme of things. She excused her behavior simply by slapping a label on it and sharing openly with you. She duped you into believing she was justified because there was no deception. Holy shit pal, that’s some total mind fuck, expert level, diabolical type deception she threw on you. This type of manipulation goes way beyond someone being sneaky so things go their way. This is a disordered person who has no consideration for others. Need proof? When she’s acting remorseful, pay attention to what happens next. If there’s an excuse or explanation following, they’re lying. Remorse is a feeling stemming from accountability. Justification is pursued for self preservation. They aren’t symbiotic.
    Stop looking through your nonexistent crystal ball for the slightest confirmation on your “what ifs”. That’s not meh, it’s make believe.

  • Mine thought he could keep me on the hook right from the start,however he couldn’t not share all his juicey Ow stuff with me and I kept walking & he was shocked. He broke up with her three times and each time tried to hook me back. He cheated on her and has her still dangling and another couple on the side and still sending me texts that he loves me etccetc usually when he has hit the booze. But also tells everyone else as well. Just sick sick demented individuals. So glad he is out of my life. He called last friday as he received very a threatening phone call and text because he has destroyed someone else so family. So messed up. I unfortunately have to have contact as we have two younger daughters and a business together. Bring on the day I can go totally NC.
    I have learnt a trick to deal with his rubbish I just ignore it and i pretend he didn’t say anything. It’s taken 4 months of practice and getting caught up in his crazy a few times. But have it down pat now.

    For example on FRiday with the threat he received, he texted me to call him saying it was urgent. I ignored it as there were no specifics. He then sent another one saying he had received a threat against his life. So I sat on it for and hour or so and then rang him as the girls were going to be with him over the weekend and I want to know that they are going to be safe. So he starts straight up accusing me of stirring things up and into rage mode, abuse etc. I ignore and bring it back to topic asking lots of questions about the call and message he received. He is put off footing and naturally responds. When I’m done with assessing the situation I ask what he has been doing in the last few months that may be the source of such a call. He is silent and says he can’t think of anything kind of vaguely. So I tell him to think about it some more and take whatever information he has and to go to the police and the rage setting switched back on. I ignore and tell him to take it to the police. This happened two more times as I try and discuss how serious he thinks it is. My not responding to his raging takes the fire out of his spit and I tell him he has to take this seriously as a parent and think about the girls safety first and foremost. It was Father’s Day here in Australia so it would have put a spanner in the works to tell the girls age appropriately of course and cancel what had been planned with their adult siblings. Anyway he eventually saw reason and the conversation ended calmly. I then received two texts apologising, the first I’m sorry but not sorry the 2nd a more genuine I’m sorry not sorry. So immature and still my fault. I just laugh because he really is a poor excuse for a human being.
    Thankgoodness I don’t have to see him or talk to him on a regular basis. Life is so much better even if it is complicated. Hang in there and don’t get sucked back into that black hole vortex that is their crazy lives. Fly and be free ????

  • David, I just want to throw in the suggestion that your ex may not have been faithful before you tried swinging.

    Or that if you had not tried it, she would have cheated anyway because she doesn’t keep promises.

    Still, even if the polyamory led to her cheating, she behaved badly in the divorce, right? Could getting back together really work?

  • Also, may I suggest you read Jenny Block’s book “Open” and see if your wife could have been following her lead at all.

  • BDSM/Swingers/Polyamory rules and boundaries are very very clear.

    They are on the constant lookout for sadists, predators, swingers who are clearly there ‘without permission’ and manipulative players, who make the space unsafe.

    They get thrown out.

    I was told: one of the biggest red flags is when people are lured out of the ‘space space’ of playing where the rules and boundaries are very clear. That is when abuse and manipulation happens.

  • David,
    Here is a good reason, besides all the other reasons given, to not even consider a reconciliation. Research shows that children quickly exposed to a new partner following a divorce, are more likely to grow up and become divorced themselves. The reason being, they learn that a partner can be replaced easily. So your ex set that up for them. Get them to counseling to help deal with what’s happened, because the damage they have been exposed to may not be something you can see.
    If you take the ex back, you just help reinforce the lessons their mother has taught them, that a partner can quickly be replaced. They will see you become the continued chump and will either follow in your footsteps, accepting crumbs and being abused when they grow up, or they will mirror the lessons your ex taught them.
    Think about them and what you want to teach them.
    I think of that on nights alone and how it would be nice to get a hug from someone now and then. My son is grieving still and not ready…so I chose to not expose him to anything stressful at my home. He already has to deal with my ex having his 25 year old GF hang with them. That is hard on a child.
    Be there for your kids, get through this and enjoy the moments you have with them and you may find, that’s way better then trying to make a banquet out of crumbs.

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