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The “Redeemable Cheater” Fallacy

The first rule of writing publicly, they tell you, is Never Read the Comments. But hey, I’m a chump and rejection is my superpower, so I’ve been known to follow my link backs… and read the commentary about this blog.

It’s an interesting exercise. I encourage anyone trying to make a convincing argument about anything to read their harshest critics, because their shit just makes you stronger. Last year I had the honor of listening to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg address an incoming class of law students at Georgetown. She talked about her friendship with fellow justice, and jurisprudence arch nemesis, Antonin Scalia. Apparently Scalia was a hoot at dinner parties and had very fine taste in rugs. (They shopped together.)

However, when it came to matters of law, the two couldn’t be further apart. Take for example, the decision to allow women to attend the Virginia Military Institute (a public institution). Scalia wrote the dissenting opinion (to not allow women in) — but before he released his opinion, he first gave it to Justice Ginsburg.

Well, said Justice Ginsburg, Scalia was a formidable opponent and he tore her arguments to shreds. And all that did, she said, was make her more determined. A sneak peek at Scalia’s attack, gave Ginsburg the opportunity to redraft her opinion and NAIL THAT MOTHERFUCKER DOWN. (Um… not her exact words.)

He just made her stronger. So with that inspiration in mind, let’s discuss this recent Reddit thread.

My problem with CL, which is the same problem I have with a lot of people here, is that she doesn’t allow for the possibility that different cheaters are different. IF you are someone who has an unrepentant cheater and can’t see it, she’s great. And maybe truly repentant cheaters aren’t terribly common, but they absolutely 100% are not as rare as she makes them out to be…

I guarantee there’s been cases of people who did have a cheater that would have never done it again, who were convinced by CL to leave because according to her, cheaters never change.

She takes her experience with an unrepentant serial cheater and projects it to all cheaters. That’s as wrong as if someone who had sucessfully reconciled were to say “I did it, anyone can.”

My problem with her is that she doesn’t just say that redeemable cheaters are rare, she comes very close to denying that they even exist.

Ah, the Redeemable Cheater fallacy.

The argument goes, that the message here (Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life) might make you scurry away and miss an opportunity to reconcile with your cheater.

They were going to come around! And I scared you off. Not all cheaters are the same! You might have an Exceptional One!

Let’s throw some logic at this shit, shall we?

1.) It doesn’t matter What Kind of Cheater you have. What matters is what you will tolerate.

This blog is all about YOU, the CHUMP. I know that is radical in the infidelity discourse, but I have zero interest in going down the rabbit hole of cheater potential. Can they change? Will they do their therapy homework? Will that affair fog ever dissipate?

See what I did there? I put all the focus on the cheater and off of YOU. We get so mired in untangling cheater skeins of fuckupedness, that we don’t stop and ask ourselves what WE want. It always comes back to — IS THIS RELATIONSHIP ACCEPTABLE TO YOU?

People in reconciliation squirm away from this question. They muster defenses of the cheater. Their potential. How thoroughly the affair partner has been vanquished. NO. The question IS — are you okay staying in a relationship with someone who is capable of casually betraying you? Can you live with those mental gymnastics?

You do get a vote you know. Your needs matter. It’s totally OKAY to have a deal breaker.

If you bond deeply and love with your whole heart, betrayal is devastating. It’s not a “bump on the marital road” — it’s an improvised explosive device that just cratered your armored vehicle.

You can stay with the saboteur and engage in a lifetime of peace talks… or you can walk away from the flaming mess.

Yes! But maybe it was a one time kind of sabotage! They got drunk and built a bomb! This wasn’t an experienced, serial bomb-maker! It was a kid with a pressure cooker and some nails! 

Look at the crater and tell me what kind of difference that makes.

2.) How “redeemable” they are does not matter.

Let’s say your business partner embezzled $50,000 from you. They are NEVER going to embezzle again. They promise! Do you still want to stay in business with them?

Cheaters may very well change. I don’t argue here that they can’t — I argue that entitlement feels great, and humility and consequences do not. To cheat means you can suppress empathy (or have none). Character change is slow and painful and its rewards are not immediate. I don’t think this is an attractive path for most cheaters.

And the fact remains that if someone embezzles from you, and transgresses to this degree, you cannot reasonably be expected to ever trust this person again.

Sure, they could go on and form a new business partnership and never steal from the till, but they destroyed YOUR relationship. It all comes down to risk and what you’re willing to tolerate. (See point #1.)

3.) I am “projecting” my experience and we cannot draw any conclusions from 16.5 million other experiences.

How nice and reductionist this is. Well, Chump Lady is just One Bitter Woman’s take on infidelity. Or Bully For Her, That New Life Thing Worked Out. Do not draw any conclusions!

Ah, instead of the cheater being exceptional, I am exceptional. Got it.

Except that I’m not exceptional. My story is very ordinary. What’s not ordinary is that I shared it. Because most people graduate from this shit storm, go on to lead better cheater-free lives, and do not look back. (Why would they? Why would you want to revisit the painful shit storm?)

I keep the place going because 99.9 percent of the advice out there SUCKS. And I want there to be the kind of resource I wished existed when I went through this. And now there is.

Leave a cheater, gain a life. Draw your own conclusions, CN.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
      • Hell yeah! Rock on CN and CL.

        I mean it’s for anyone to decide what they do with the viewpoints you present here. And I guess that’s all that was discussed there. The person you quoted stated that ‘his’ issue was this. Not for him. And yeah then he was kinda like: She says this and if people believe this they will miss out on that. And that’s what irked me. He says he doesn’t want you to sort of think for others, or say what others need to think, but in the end he does it himself.

        Bit hypocrite. Otherwise this is a good person on that subreddit.

        • I went to Reddit and read his comments. Hey, cheaters “just” accidentally get drunk and fall into some woman’s vagina. “Random” unicorns actually exist, and that mean CL just won’t acknowledge all the hard work they do to reconcile! It’s not fair, gosh darn it that CL won’t give cheaters the opportunity to prove how trustworthy they really are! Excuse me while I puke.

          I can picture this guy siting in his underwear, watching TV in his recliner, drinking beer after beer, complaining to anyone who will listen how unfairly he has been treated for his “mistakes.” Married and divorced probably at least twice, cheated in both marriages, and unable to find a woman who wants to put up with his selfish crap. Full of justifications for his infidelity with claims like,”It happened during the company’s annual convention in Las Vegas, so it doesn’t count.” He’s not a bad guy, he just wasn’t given the “chance” to redeem himself.

          The lack of insight is staggering. CL is a convenient way for him to avoid accepting responsibility for his conduct. He doesn’t want to do the hard work of trying to figure out why he cannot maintain a stable relationship. After all, it is so much easier to blame someone else for why he is alone. CL’s truth cuts just a little to close to the bone.

          He has a female counterpart. She cheated because, gosh darn it, she wasn’t getting the attention she deserved. She wanted her marriage to work, she really did, but the house needed cleaning, the kids had to be cared for, the bills didn’t magically pay themselves, and her husband didn’t even acknowledge her most recent hair cut. Surely, she shouldn’t be expected to tolerate that kind of abuse! Sure, she screwed her husband’s best friend, but it didn’t “mean” anything. Her husband won’t give it a rest and forgive her this minor transgression. Poor, poor pitiful her.

          Cheaters hate CL and CN because people can come here for the truth, not some babbling bullshit. Redemption and reconciliation require acknowledgement of wrongdoing, reflection of the pain that was intentionally inflicted, commitment to change, and years of hard work, all of which are antithetical to 99.999% of cheaters.

          When dealing with cheaters, why look for a unicorn is a herd of jackasses? As Tracy has so accurately portrayed, a jackass painted white, with a fake horn glued to its head, is still a jackass. Thanks, but no thanks.

          • Uhm, not to rain on your parade, and of course I don’t know if it’s true (because internet), but this person is a betrayed spouse/chump himself. He’s as far as I can tell reconciling. I don’t know how well it is going or anything. But please, he’s not a cheater trying to defend reconciling. He’s a betrayed who is more pro-reconciliation.

            • Thank you, I’m the poster in question and this is basically the case. The only thing I’d clarify is that I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m pro-reconciliation. I’m anti-projection. I’m against anyone who takes their experience and situation and tries to apply it to everyone else’s situation.

              • Denial is a powerful emotion. This is a person who wants to think his cheater is somehow different than the rest. She isn’t.

              • That’s not what happens here so you clearly STILL don’t get it. This site isn’t about projection. This site isn’t about the cheater. It’s about the chump and what’s acceptable to US. If it’s acceptable for you to be in a relationship with someone who cheated on you, then by all means, have at it!

                So many of us here were not married to serial cheaters (myself included). I stayed for three years post dday and it turned out to be a complete waste of my time because cheating was a deal breaker for ME. And really, I’m the only one that matters in that equation because my ex made unilateral decisions about my health, finances and future without my input. He had his say and eventually I had mine. Unfortunately it took me three years to come to the realization that cheating didn’t work for me but better late than never.

                This isn’t a pro-reconciliation site…and really do we need any more of those? I submit that we do not. Just rock on with your reconciliation and I am sure you can find support at one of the gagillion websites that cater to that activity. You’re not going to change what this site stands for and your reconciliation success or failure won’t have anything to do with Chump Lady or Chump Nation.

              • Chump Lady once stated that she doesn’t buy a cookbook about Texas BBQ….then bitch because there aren’t any vegan recipes.

              • Don’t you understand that it takes a very selfish conscious decision to cheat in any form ? That if you truly loved your spouse and valued your marriage you would NEVER CHOOSE to do it !!

                Chump Lady is dead on that 99% of people who cheat are selfish and are sad that they got caught and have to face consequences–NOT that they did it !!

                You are either a cheater yourself who had to face consequences or are a chump who is deep in denial. If you really were cheated on (and I was and it destroyed my marriage) then would you be willing to hire a Private Investigator to track all of the “sincerely repentant cheater’s” communications, and whereabouts ?? Would that “repentant cheater” be willing to sign a Post nup that if they get caught cheating again, they get NOTHING in the divorce ?

                People who cheat suck and a truly “repentant cheater” IS a unicorn because it takes lying, deception, and usually stealing marital funds to do it. Someone who can do that is 100% of the time a POS.

              • Good luck to you, Pardner. I hope it all works out.

                Btw…how are those mind movies that are on a continuous loop in your head? You know, the ones that Mother Nature has cursed males with….regardless of different, individual situations.

                Beating the shit out of the other guy won’t even stop them.

                Has that MC told you everything you’ve done wrong that allowed an affair to happen?

                Did you write down the list of things you’ve got to change and provide her in order to fix this? Because…you know…you were at fault, too.

                Has that MC brainwashed you yet into accepting the “fact” this is “Our Affair” instead of “Her Affair?”

                How many days after D-Day did you send her some flowers? I bet they were gorgeous!

                Best of Wishes with that Ghost in your brain…because he never goes away.

              • I don’t think it’s projection at all. I think when we see A, B, C, and D, all in a row, it’s not unlikely there’s an E coming along after. Humans are very powerful pattern detectors, and one of the things that got me hooked on CL was seeing my experiences echoed so clearly, so many times. And I like that CL also addresses what a truly remorseful cheater would look like, and what they would do. I’ve never seen one, but at least I might recognize one if I did!

                Of course, I’m one of the Chumps who thought they had a remorseful cheater, one who promised SOOOOOO sincerely never to cheat again, no matter what, even if he was terribly unhappy in our relationship, etc. We did all the things you’re supposed to do, therapy, more time together as a couple ….. I bent far far over backwards, ‘repairing’ my couple, making sure our relationship was a great place for the cheater to stay.

                Of course he cheated again, of course he did. Entitlement, low empathy, extreme hunger for narcissistic supply, and being perfectly comfortable with lying … those things don’t go away.

                For me, I don’t regret that I tried to save my kids’ family. But seeing the damage cheater narc did to our kids, while I spackled and carried so much of the relationship and family responsibility, I SOOOOOO regret not leaving, the first time he cheated.

              • You can read approx 16.5 million other people’s experiences. All flavors of the same vanilla with different sprinkles on top. None of whom are projecting anything upon anyone.

                CL has had her own experiences which she has written about. You can read everyone else’s experiences too. No projection. Just the same sick story with various attributes.

                No one on this site would shame you because you are reconciling. Most will tell you, been there …. done that and the result was X. I would say most WANT you to be successful in your reconciliation. Please stay, please post and know whatever you choose, you have a virtual support network here.

              • Anyone who doesn’t like the CL message should get off this site and find one that suits them. After I finally accepted there was no hope for my husband and our marriage, I found the reconciliation boards, especially the ones that support staying with a “sex addict,” disgusting and dangerous. So I stopped visiting them. See how that works? It’s really very simple.

              • One thing CL and CN do NOT do is define cheating. Over and over, the question is: is this relationship acceptable to you? More deception, less deception, unrecoverable betrayal or tolerable betrayal: CL doesn’t project those, she gives chumps tools to evaluate the behaviors. She also has an article on true vs. plastic remorse. A one night stand vs. years of theft: one party has still made a unilateral decision, and that requires reckoning.

              • I’m pro-reconciliation, too, but in order for people not be naively conned by their already-bad-risk partners, they need the proper EDUCATION.
                Wouldn’t you want to be able to predict a more accurate future for your relationship? You’re really willing to just “wait and see”, when someone is trying to at least show you what you should be seeing and not seeing in your relationship, in order for it to be a constructive one?
                I surely would have liked to have my eyes opened by someone the first time, so I wouldn’t have wasted more time than I should have.
                I would have had a totally different outlook deciding to reconcile, if I’d had the tools to decide with! I perhaps would have still gone forward with it, but I would have made different, more empowered decisions.
                Don’t you want that, too?

                I believe you may feel at fault in your relationship and you’re trying to benign both of your behaviors. Call it a gut feeling, that I’m having.
                If it’s so, I know how much harder that makes it to make a judgement call on your abusive spouse.

          • How is it they have no insight? Cheating requires agency. It’s a deliberate act requiring much more than having sex. The paper trail proves contact through texting, lying to meet up, spending money, driving to the hotel and swiping the credit card. Mistake my loyal ass.

            It’s a choice cheaters make.

            • Let’s spare a thought for the drunken cheaters who make a mistake on a work trip. No forethought, no planning, no emotional connection. Sex is just sex. Is that… better? For a chump to live with the thoughtless spontaneity of the betrayal?

              • Exactly! Either the affair was a big deal, in which case it was clearly way way more important than the cheater’s relationship with the chump. Or it wasn’t a big deal, in which case the cheater was perfectly willing to hurt and betray the chump for … not much.

                Sounds like lose-lose to me.

              • Well said. To carry the thought a bit further: Why would the cheater want to go to all the trouble of sneaking around and lying? Why not just leave? Either he loves the activity of tricking and humiliating the chump because it is loads of fun AND/OR he is sticking around for Chump’s money and services.

                Both were true for me. The douchebag would bring his secretary to our house for holiday meals and prance around like a fool because he was so thrilled with his achievement, and he would screw her in our bed when I was out of town. He could never live his lavish life, which included entertaining the whore, on his salary. Both of them are parasites.

            • When cheaters say they ‘regret’ their cheating, you have to speak fluent ‘Cheater-eese’ to understand what they mean. They’re referring to their own disappointment that the cheat-y sex wasn’t as hot or fun or intense as they were anticipating it would be. And that’s why they have no intention of repeating the experience, hence the waffle about ‘making mistakes’. The mistake was that the OM had stinky breath, cold sweats, and made weird humming noises during climax. Or perhaps it was when the OW’s wig flew off in the middle of the drunken act before she passed out cold and wee’d the bed. Or when the OW/OM started boiling bunnies and talking about what kinds of table decorations they want at their wedding reception after a tastefully short engagement between the two of them, of course. ‘Regret/mistake’ only means they want to flee the affair partner they thought would be so wonderful but who they sadly discovered to be an actual sack of shit.

              The ‘regret’ is all about their disappointment and ‘buyers remorse’. It’s not for the Chump. They simply mean to have this epiphany and rediscover their marriage vows long enough to repel the now-needy and demanding creature they had disappointing sex with.

          • Watched the ugly bff (big fat f*cker) Harvey Weinstein climb into his car, saying to the reporter “We all make mistakes”

            Uh,no most of us don’t make his kind of mistakes…

            Would love to hear from his first wife Eve Chilton as to why they divorced…Yuck-a cheater and a harasser/predator !

            • “Mistake” = stripping naked and chasing women around a hotel room

              “Mistake” = raping some of those women

              “Mistake” = being such a liability to your company because of your appalling behavior that your OWN BROTHER turns you into the media

              Emma Thompson got this right about Weinstein: ““I don’t think you can describe him as a sex addict,” Thompson said. “He’s a predator – that’s different. He’s at the top of, as it were, the ladder, of a system of harassment and belittlement and bullying.”

          • Now for the truth. I broke up after3 mos to follow my heart and I told her this 1month later she calls cause she pregnant. I say” let me pray on this and get back with you.” Pray gets reply is “YOULL MAKE RIGHT CHOICE”. So all move in together and for years nothing but ex still my friend no Fkn and she heard voicemail confirming I wouldn’t Fk her. Than I’m constantly being accused of cheating while I’m finding her sexual profiles. It gets bad she breaks up and we both part. I than FK 1st time but she is stalking me so I can’t make new work 6mos later we try again but she is constantly accusing and getting caught lying saying you lookin for me but I’m at Shaka house and you never checked there.hmmm. Than we have her getting crazy mad when I tell her our neighbor FK other neighbor hmm. I’ve never laid next to her and been a cheater. She broke up every time while constantly threatening to FK

        • I want to thank you for this site. I’m not married to a cheater but a lot of the questions and stories on here reflect things that happen in life, just not to the extent a lot of people here have experienced. And learning coping strategies or boundaries is never a bad thing. You make me think about uncomfortable topics and that too is not bad thing.

          I found my way here via Captain Awkward’s site. Someone mentioned it, I was curious and came looking to see.

          • Exactly, Anon, this is the place to learn how to think critically = honestly about many problems that occur in life. Even after I reach Meh I will still be here.

          • Hi there Anon… I come here because my FOO has a narc, I come here to remember that (person) sucks and to beware. I’ve learned so much, it’s very helpful.

          • How right you are. I’m now in a good healthy relationship but I come here from time to time to ensure my compass is still calibrated to True North. There are some good home truths here about unacceptable behaviour, double-talk and deception that can apply to one’s relationships with colleagues/bosses, friends and even other family members. Critical thinking is the most underrated skill in life.

      • This person might be someone I know.

        Last year, after confronting my husband about his affair with his ho-worker and kicking him out of the house, I immediately told the OW’s husband. He didn’t believe me (and was actually quite rude to me). Eventually, this guy had no choice as OW (his wife) asked him to leave their home; and soon after, my Cheater-Ex (her boss!) moved into her home with her four children, and my 6-year old son was there 50% of the time.

        I ended up becoming friends with this guy (OW’s chump husband), introduced him to CN, and we shared information to help support our children. He ended up moving back to Toronto as he needed to focus on his career.

        My Cheater-Ex and the OW broke up – (gee – not that romantic with 5 kids!). I texted OW’s chump ex-husband to see how he was last week, and he said he was moving back to the west as him and wife are trying wreckonciliation.

        I wish him well and happy he will be in the geography as his kids…. But, my sense is that his cheater wife needs a break from the kids.

        You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink…..

      • OMG….my ex perv …Dancing Dick from the great State of Indiana was also an embezzler! His charges: Theft by deception.

        Deception defines the Dancing Dick- perfectly. That is who he is and what he does best.

  • After a year of attempted reconciliation with a serial cheater my research conclusion became:

    “Much like The speed of light, the suckable of my wife…while approachable…can never be equalled nor surpassed.”

    • Sound research! I would give you the Nobel prize super duper chump.

      I am ruminating and becoming angry this morning about a comment that cheater’s aunt made last night after I told her for the third time children and I could not attend her daughter’s wedding reception bc cheater would be present and it would be too uncomfortable. She said the children are caught in the middle. This morning I am thinking they are NOT caught in the middle. They know right from wrong and they know he wants them to be ok with his bad behavior. He treats them horribly. They would not lie and play games with him but he has done that to him. There is no middle ground in betrayal. It is black and white.

      I just told her yes it is sad but I wonder if I should tell her she is wrong or if that is just futile

      • Wouldn’t call her….

        Speaking of the “middle,” she has put herself in the middle of something that is none of her business.

        Do as you please with you and yours and leave me and mine alone. Your opinions have no validity when it comes to my decisions.

      • Why not give the children the choice? If they want to attend the wedding with their father, they can. They are old enough to decide. You, on the other hand, will not be there.

        Of course, you already know how your kids feel and that they most likely won’t want to go with your ex. But this way, you are not the one making the decision for them. And his aunt can get off her high horse. Only people who want to bury their heads in the sand and want everyone to get along regardless of the huge amounts of betrayal and hurt that has been caused are delusional. They just want everyone on the playground to get along. Reality is that there are some people on the playground that you should not play with.

        • They have chosen not to go.

          My lawyer called me today to let me know stbx wants to take adult children’s deposition in the case. Once again confirming he has absolutely no empathy for them and he is the crazy one. I can’t for the life of me figure out what benefit this will be to him. He is the one complaining about cost and it will be costly. My lawyer has told his lawyer we do not condone it. Lawyer told me just to sit back and watch it backfire on him.

          He is trying to intimidate.

          Just when I think nothing surprises me, he does.

          • I bet he thinks that if questioned they will admit that you have colored their opinion of him. My STBX accuses me of this often. A narcissist never sees that they may deserve the kids disdain. They are always a victim.

  • I am one of those you are writing about, focusing on him redeeming himself and not my own needs. He’s doing everything he can. The problem I am having is with me.

    Since I read the post the other day and comments, I got to thinking (and writing) – this I think refers to the point you make in your post.

    “…my original belief about cheating…”if you cheat, it’s over.”  By reconciling, am I being untrue to myself? I can not seem to get past the “how could you do that?” even though my husband and I have discussed this question ad nauseum.
    How big of a chump am I? Am I kidding myself thinking we can successfully save our marriage, or am I in the middle of the ‘pick me dance’, not knowing when or if the dance will end.  If we reach another tough patch in our marriage, will he choose to stray again? What example am I sending my sons when they see that their father screwed a whore and I took him back? What does it say to me as to how low of a standard I am willing to settle for in a life partner, a husband? Don’t I deserve more?”

    • Dolly–I think you are asking all the right (and painful) questions. And I think you know the answers. Everyone here has struggled to come to some kind of cognitive and emotional equilibrium on this issue. Not a fun path, but I will tell you it makes more sense with distance from the person who victimized you.

    • Exactly central to the point Tracy is trying to make:

      “He’s doing everything he can.” OK, great. Is his “best” enough to give you confidence that YOU can trust him again? Do YOU want to live a life of suspicion, uncertainty, always wondering about that run to the bathroom with his phone or the questionable explanation about why he’s late for plans you had?

      Im traveling at the moment and had dinner last night with the guy who was my boss 25 years ago. He’d gotten dribs and drabs of my saga with Kunty Kibbler through my social media postings and was hoping I’d share the full story, so I spilled everything.

      It was obvious that I was hitting a lot of nerves as I spoke, and his comments and questions betrayed a lot of introspection in the moment. When dinner was finished and we were leaving, his last words to me were:

      “I cant believe I’m saying this out loud: I’m a lot happier for you for having looked out for yourself and left that situation than I am with myself for staying in mine.”

      What Tracy wants is for us to never have to say that about ourselves.

      • Wow, powerful story, UX. So true–who wants to live the rest of one’s life feeling like a shell of one’s self because we tolerated someone else victimizing us?

        • “Shell of our former self”

          This describes perfectly how I felt between dday#1 and dday#2. RIC tells you that it takes 2-3 years to recover from betrayal. In my experience, it takes losing the cheater. I was twice as far in recovery after 6 months post dday#2 than I ever got during the 2 years after dday#1.

          • Yes! Once they are gone, you can recover because you focus on YOU (and the kids). When you are “reconciling,” you are 100% focused on them… playing marriage police, pick-me-dancing, sifting through “fog/trickle truth,” worrying about AP, hiding the truth from family&friends so things aren’t awkward for your spouse, feeling guilty that you aren’t over it, etc., etc., etc. In hindsight, I would have kicked him out immediately on DDay#1 if I’d known how much easier it was to rebuild than reconcile.

      • My XW has indicated that she wants to reconcile—even though she’s still with the OM. (I’ll wait for the laughter to subside.) Here’s the thing: even if she DID do everything needed for reconciliation; even if she WERE miraculously truly remorseful; in short, even if she had a brain transplant, she would still be the person who did this to me! And she would always be THAT PERSON. I would go back to the emotional criminal. Even if my resentment of her would dissipate (or more accurately, even if I spackled over the crimes) I would live a life of self-loathing. I would have to cast aside all the self respect I gathered up to leave this person. And for what? Because of hope? Potential? That’s not the life I want to live.

        I have my weak moments. I still miss the parts of her that are missable. But then I remember. And then I take a deep mental breath and call to mind only a fraction of the many hideous things she did to me and our children and I sober up.

    • I did wreckconciliation for three years with a one time (that I know about) cheater. When I found chump lady I finally started seeing the light and the brightest light was that I had the agency to walk away. It didn’t matter how many times he did it; whether he was a serial cheater or if it was a mistake he regretted. It didn’t work for me anymore. I didn’t trust him at all and I couldn’t stay married to someone I didn’t trust. That lack of trust eroded whatever love I had left and I felt like I deserved better than to be shackled to someone who I no longer loved.

      In my post divorce life the last three years, I transferred to a different job that allows me to learn a whole different side of the business I worked in for more than 16 years. It’s a job that has brought new opportunities and traveling, which I love! I pursued and earned my MS and I helped my elderly, hoarding parents move 70 miles from the home they lived in for 40 years. No small task. I could have never done any of that had I stayed married to the cheater. I would have been too busy in the marriage police force. And I have absolutely no doubt that he would have found a new kibble dispenser again. It’s who he is.

      Dolly-only you can answer the questions you have but you have to first ask yourself the question, “what is acceptable to me?” I thought my ex wanted to really work things out but he just didn’t want to lose half of his assets. Often times that is the motivator for cheaters. Maybe it’s not for yours but they aren’t terribly original as a group.

      • Cheatersuck, I think your post is excellent because it really puts skin on the cost/benefit analysis of staying with a cheater. The troubled feeling in the gut never goes away when you ‘wreckoncile.’ Doubt keeps popping up. You then are tap dancing faster and faster trying to make life ‘happy’ and trouble-free for your cheater spouse and your kids if you have them. For what? Oh yeah… That ‘Hope’ thing. Yet you know that you don’t have super powers. Had you stayed your would have been exhausted, your ex would have resented time spent working and your MS degree. I mean God forbid you spend time helping your elderly parents, right? You did good. I bet you mean the world to your elderly parents and you have no guilt cause you were there to help them out. More importantly, shouldn’t we spend our time with people who truly love us and worth time and worry?

    • You sound like you are in a rough spot. Like your feet are walking and your heart is smashed, but you’re in the reconciliation cycle because of something else. Examine that. Why are you ‘trying’. Ease, comfort, habit, external factors like religion culture and group perception? It’s ok to decide to not love them. Even if they are now perfect. The person they were through actions while you knew nothing means that you have agency. Your mind may try to protect you from things that hurt like a bitch. If that happens to be your spouse… so be it.

    • You have two timelines in your past….the timeline of when the cheating occurred and the time of when you didn’t know it was occurring. Those timelines collide on D-Day. You start looking back comparing the two…and it becomes mental torture. “He wasn’t at work that day, instead he was screwing her at a hotel…and that was the day I had his favorite dish ready for him when he got home. My God, we had sex that night…..”

      By dumping a cheater, you put those 2 timelines in a box on a shelf…and start creating one, new timeline.

      • SuperDuperChump, I love your analogy. I find myself doing that sometimes (less as the years go by), remembering a date and thinking where I was/what I was doing and what he was doing with his married whore. It can really play head games on you and take you right to your knees.

        Next time I have those thoughts, I’m going to put them in a box, on a shelf and continue skipping towards my happy future.

        • Yup.

          I’m not sure I will ever leave one of mine behind to be honest. I think I will carry it forever, since my darling wife decided to use the day before our wedding anniversary to cheat, something I only realised later.

          I was originally meant to be away that day (apparently, she made plans), but i’d managed to rearrange things so i’d be there the entire weekend. I remember that I was super miffed when she texted at midday on Friday (wedding anniversary being on the Saturday) to say that she was going out with some colleagues for drinks, & sorry, she knew it was bad timing but she wasn’t sure she’d get the networking opportunity again. Oh, and that she hoped it was OK, and that I probably wouldn’t be able to contact her the rest of the day since she was due to be really busy (rolleyes). I remember she got in about 10pm and, looking guilty, gave me my wedding anniversary present early. The worst thought did flash through my mind but I spackled, and I let myself believe that she’d just felt guilty for having gone out instead of spending the night with me, but since I was the love of her life, her rock, the person she wanted to grow old with etc that of course she’d never cheat.

          Flash forward 3 weeks and it becomes too much to spackle over. I catch her in a lie. She denies it at first, then crumbles. The last 7 months have been a process of having multiple “Oh shit” moments as described above. Some I wish I hadn’t had. Like realizing the above.

          Now, every year of my life, I am set to have 2 days back to back – day 1, 1st known date of cheating. Day 2, wedding anniversary. I don’t know how to put that stuff in a box and lose it. At this point i’m kind of resigned to carrying it around. I can’t forget it, just let it get to a point where it matters less. And the only way I can make it matter less is by building a better life for myself without her.

          • MightyChris,

            You really helped me make my decision whether to give him a chance at wreckconcilation or file. I made a list like you suggested, cried a lot, but in the end I retained a lawyer. Still NC and no looking anymore at Facebook. Please see my post today I mentioned you and some other Chumps that helped me. Thank you!

            • NOREGRETS, that’s *really* great to hear. Well done, you are amazing! Keep taking the small steps to healing, & don’t beat yourself up if you have moments when you struggle. I will find your post and have a read, but I’m glad to have helped in any small way. It feels like giving something back to the place that 6 1/2 months ago helped put me on the right direction. Gawd that time has flown by.

              • MightyChris,

                When I read today’s post I was waiting to see if you, Martha, or even Kim commented because I this letter from this woman put the nail on the coffin along with everyone’s response. Although the man admitted to cheating and he may appear remorseful by following the steps. What are the steps? I mean are you following someone else’s or your own? Do they have a backup plan. The guy is lawyer. How can you say you have no money. That is your excuse to stay. God, I wouldn’t want to be that woman and find out in a year or possibly longer that you wasted your life on a cheater. Life does fly by and you will never be happy because the images are there, the trust is gone, and your belief and faith are shot to hell. Hope you gain a life lady because your self esteem is going to continue to go down lower. MightyChris you and several of the Chumps after one time WE were done. A leopard doesn’t change it spots. Nor does a cheater. As long as you stay they know they’ve gotten you under their narcissitic spell. Sleep on that!!!

          • MightyChris, that box is heavy now, but it’ll get soooo light with time, that one day you’ll realized you put it down somewhere, at some point, and didn’t even notice you weren’t carrying it anymore.

            I was I think 4 years out when I realized I hadn’t noticed our anniversary, the date of DDay #2 (the decisive one, 7 years after #1), or his birthday. All passed without even a moment’s notice. Never thought it would happen, I was so devastated after kicking him out (I was following my head, not my heart for sure, at that point!). Now, he’s just someone that I used to know.

            • Agreed. Over four years out now and my former wedding anniversary recently passed. I realized it was the date but it had no impact on my mood or day.

          • MightyChris

            The Limited used our anniversary to meet up with the whore also. I celebrate it as my freedom day. It works! Keep taking care of yourself. You deserve better.

        • I find it helpful to conjure up a particularly egregious action she committed: for example, as my mother literally lay dying, about to be transferred to hospice (where she indeed died immediately upon arrival), my XW was (I’ve now figured out in hindsight) texting the OM in the hospital hall. Among my mother’s final words to her were that she knew her son would be ok because his wife loved and would care for him.

          If I reconciled with my XW, my mother’s ghost would kick the fuck out of me. She took NO shit from assholes. So for this alone I would not accept her back.

          • Such low life’s David. Within a few months of my mom passing he was cheating. Yet for all I know she’s one his recycled whores.

            And my mom as yours would be proud and smiling at our badass intolerance of abuse.

      • Two time lines… Exactly! I’m inches from “meh” but still want to kick myself when I think back to all the times I felt guilty taking our kids on vacations alone because he was ‘working so hard to provide for us’.

        But it was also two worlds; my world before I knew, and the world after I discovered his cheating. It takes a while to process the reality of it, and assign meaning.

      • This! All the times I look back and recall those moments when he and my “best friend” were actually meeting up right in front of my face, and I believed their stories! You know…the moments when I inadvertently served as her babysitter so they could go fuck.


        Now I’m moving on to that new timeline.

        • Yes, I had that situation, too. I even encouraged their “friendship” because neither one of them had many friends and because they had some common interests. “Yeah, why don’t you guys go and I’ll watch the kids.” Good times…

          • kaycan! I encouraged it, too!!! In the beginning, he was hanging with her husband, and I was hanging with her. And then somehow, this shift occurred, and they were “bonding.” And I didn’t see anything wrong with the fact that they were soon becoming best friends. But her husband did, so I was actually helping them have opportunities to go for chats and that sort of thing. THE STUPIDITY!! I could smack myself!

            But the babysitting thing for me was more: Hey, can you take my kids with yours to the dance recital (kids in the show had to be there ahead of time), because I have this thing I have to do. And hey, since your hubby’s going a little later, too, I’ll just give him a ride.

            Little did I know what she meant by “giving him a ride.”

      • Kaycan….this is such a beautiful distillation. Thank you!
        My dday#3 (23 years in between #s 2 & 3) just devastated me. And while he appears to be sincerely (????) remorseful and working on himself, he effectively killed my very deep, committed, 31-year love for him. I have drag-assed towards the divorce I seriously NEED, but today’s topic goves me the clarity I needed.

        THANK YOU, all! I LOVE CL & CN… keeping the focus on me: the only variable I can control and can extricate from the dreaded skein.

        • I misattributed some things…shouldn’t post on the fly.
          SuperDuperChump’s timelines blew my chumpy mind! But i adore what everyone shares. Y’all are giving me the keys to freedom!

          • The horizontal timelines are mentally worse when you discover time & date stamped text messages. Hell, you even start looking at a calendar….and realize that when you worked overtime to buy those Cowboys tickets for his birthday, he was texting her while sitting right next to you at the game.

            Then….guess what happens every time you see or hear anything related to the Cowboys.

            Cheaters suck…..actually, more than the Dallas Cowboys.

            • Thank you for defining what I couldn’t quite put my finger on: two timelines. I am grieving the life I thought I had but the other timeline crashes into my thoughts during work and sleepless nights. Things are lining up: late for dinner, had to help because she had no one ( she was an alcoholic crack whore half his age, so I thought he was kind “mentoring” her) why we even helped finance a house within a mile of ours. They even had me babysit her child and then write a letter of character to the courts when she was in jail for a DUI while pregnant with my EX s child . (I found out 7 years later) . I wrecknciled for a year and then she died. I was told to get over it , she was gone, couldn’t hurt me anymore. But those damn timelines , competing for what was real and what was lies . The “aha “ moments still haunt , the events clicking into place on my reality timeline occur almost daily . Thank you for that wisdom and also to CN for the support and virtual hugs to do what we all must do to regain our self respect back as well as the respect of our children; start a new timeline by leaving a cheater and gaining a life.

      • Oh yeah, like when I was planning that trip to Europe with my daughter and ex mumbled something about wouldn’t it be great if the boys could be at camp at the same time so he wouldn’t be stuck being Dad alone for two weeks. I set it up that way exactly because I wanted him to get a break too and have a stress free ten days. That was my gift to him. Guess what he did with that gift. I even thought about surprising him with a week rental at a lake cabin so he could really relax and maybe spend some time there with the boys as well just before they went to camp (I was looking at places near their camp). I ended up not doing that because he got a new job and I wasn’t sure he would be able to get away. Thank god I didn’t, because it would have just been a big expense that benefitted Schmoopie. I think there was some Karma, however. The stress of being in a full blown affair and questioning his marriage gave him shingles. Meanwhile when we got back he almost didn’t even come to pick up daughter and me at the bus stop when we got into town which would have required hunting down a cab. He was also really distant and refused to kiss me or sleep in my bed. I got up in the middle of the night after waiting hours for him to come to bed to find him asleep on the couch. I was devastated. DDAy was less than a week later and I continued to be devastated for months. I still have my down moments but I am getting better.

        • Oh yeah, and after DDay he used my having set things up to leave him “home alone” as another excuse to cheat because I made him lonely. Huh? That was his idea in the first place. If he had originally said “Woudn’t it be great if the boys and I could do something fun together while you are gone” I would have made different arrangements.

      • SuperDuperChump, yes to timelines! We can choose to stay stuck in an abusive cheater timeline or fresh start in our own cheater free timeline. I chose me and my own life 22 months ago.

        After 34 years of marriage on a cheater timeline, I almost lost my life by staying too long getting high on the hopium and cheater future promises of change. Fear can be insidious and paralyzing.

        After being diagnosed with highly aggressive cancer 22 months ago I knew I wouldn’t have a future if I stayed. “The body keeps score and it always wins” -Brene Brown.

        After 10 surgeries, 7 rounds of chemotherapy and immunotherapy I received my first NED (no evidence of disease) this week. My decision to leave a cheater literally helped me gain my life back. The empty blatherings that cheaters can change aren’t true and I longer sip the toxic RC koolaid.

        I’m now focused on loving life, seeking joy and being grateful I listened to my body’s pleading to leave.

        Looking back, I wish I would have trusted my gut decades prior and made myself my priority. I stayed stuck in a long, painful timeline with much suffering from the twisted mind and broken promises of an entitled cheater.

        I have found my long silenced voice, my joy for living authentically. My body, mind and spirit not only feel healthy and happy but honestly integrated and whole. I’m 100% cheater free and well on my way to being cancer free. I’m living timeline correlation proof of choosing me and living my best life cheater free.

        Chumplady and Chump Nation helped me go from slowly killing myself hooked up to a cheater’s constant IV drip of lies and manipulation to I can’t stop smiling I’m cheater free life.

        Remove your cheater’s IV, give yourself oxygen so you can see clearly; stop trying to fix them and save yourself. Reality: cheaters cheat and you can only save yourself.

        • FreeNow,

          My heart is so full hearing your story and yet sad for all you have endured. I am happy for your diagnosis of being cancer free. In the time that each of has to walk the earth never let anyone not respect you, lie and cheat you, or let you believe you are nothing. God put you on this earth to be strong within yourself and you have proven that to your X Cheater and beat the cancer. You are truly MIGHTY!!!

        • FreeNow, I am so happy for you! After DDays, much gaslighting, fake remorse and wreckonciliation I had a cancer scare myself. While I lived for weeks in agony waiting for the verdict (and all that time cheater never asked about the results) I just saw the truth one day. My body was screaming at me and I was not taking it seriously.

          When I look back at my life with the cheater, I always had a feeling there was something wrong. Cheater was extremely secretive about everything and I attributed it to his FOO issues but in my mind I had these ongoing silent fights with him almost over everything. Things I was afraid to voice but which were killing me from within like why would he hide his income, his business partners, why would he buy a car and not tell me about it until it was in the garage, why would he go for his business trips and be reluctant to tell me where and when and when to expect him back, what was he texting about for such a long time with “a colleague” etc etc…If I had voiced those questions (which I did occasionally) he would turn the whole thing into a fight where I would eventually apologise for being unreasonably jealous, controlling and insecure. So I learned to shut this mind chatter down until after DDay it was getting worse and all about “what if he contacts her again, or what if she does, how would he respond, how would I know that he is faithful now” and on and on and on. And I still could not voice this because “well, we talked it over, and it’s done and over and he did not want me to bring this up constantly!” I kept this mind chatter on, it would not even stop in my sleep, at some point I thought I was going crazy. This time my body said enough. And it gave me the real scare. And that’s when all the stars miraculously aligned, I discovered CL and got hooked up and found so much support and agency. My body thanked me for it. And my mind chatters stopped.

          I still get the blues and not at meh yet and not even divorced yet (separated) but I am on the way there and not looking back.

          I firmly believe that you will be cancer free because the main cancer is gone from your life. Now you just have to deal with the remnants and chemo kills these fuckers off. Big hug to you.

      • That’s brilliant–the two timelines. And when the two timelines come together, we have the opportunity to re-establish truth in our lives. Brene Brown has been one of my touchstones since the days of the discard, before D-Day. My own “two timelines” are so clear in retrospect. So many things that seemed inexplicable were suddenly clear once I knew about MOW.

        Female chumps may find Dr. Christiane Northrup’s book, “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom” to be a game changer. Our bodies have intelligence or we wouldn’t be walking around upright. But what we stuff down in our subconscious or unconscious is there for the body to deal with while we ignore or deny it in our lives. Living with STBX the substance abuser, I gained weight every year and “nourished” my body with comfort food because I had no comfort. It’s all a system. Failing to deal with stuff in our lives degrades our health, absolutely, over time.

    • You’ll get a lot of advice on this. I tend to be tender with the heart of a person in your shoes because I acutely remember the intense pain of that spot.

      Here are some things to ponder as you struggle with your two highly undesirable options and I am basing the questions I’ll pose (to which I don’t need public answers) on the following knowledge:

      Humans learn to survive and grow by analyzing and adapting to their experiences. You have been intimately betrayed. The past will never change and you, therefore, will never truly fully “get over” the trauma the cheating has inflicted on you. Yeah, you can and will heal more and more over time, sure, but no sane person ever completely forgets about being harmed.

      So, knowing that, can your cheater fully accept that things will never be like they used to be, that you will always need more (work, acceptance of your pain, reassurance, information/transparency, etc) from him than you used to in order to feel safe enough to stay? This means:

      * He will have to eat crow while you process your pain and grief and remain fully present for you every single time, with no exceptions, without changing the focus to himself (nothing like “aren’t you ever going to trust me again?” or “this hurts me too, you know” or “I know I hurt you, and gosh I’m sorry, but…”)

      * That he will never again have your total admiration or trust without any tinge of suspicion whatsoever from you

      * That he will have to listen effectively to what you need and deliver it without complaint including adopting new behaviors like not watching certain movies/TV, not joking cutely with others in a way that could be construed as flirting, not joking about cheating or making sexual jokes about your gender, etc.

      Can he accept these things without questioning them or resenting you? Can he be present for and with you without taking your need for him to be tangibly accountable (which you’ll need so you can feel safe enough to stay) as a personal affront to him?

      If he can’t give those things, it won’t work anyway. That’s a reality. Eventually, if you can’t heal because you’re not safe, your ability to suppress your needs will break from exhaustion. And eventually, if he can’t fully embrace accountability and change, he will resent you enough that he will act out until you leave. These things are just how we’re made.

      I wish you peace and strength.

      • Amiisfree
        Love this reply. I don’t post much now as I’m busy doing the getting a life thing but this topic was the cornerstone of everything for me. Once I realised it was my choice to decide what I could live with it was soon all over. All done and dusted from ddays to divorce in 12 months. The further away the ddays get in my rear view mirror, the better my life becomes; the surprise and delight of seeing my anxiety decrease not increase, the feeling of my having my own agency and capabilities, the excitement of being at the helm of my own life, the sudden calm in the household. The thought of having stayed and tried to reconcile becomes more the stuff of nightmares the further out I get.
        The process of divorce after infidelity is awful no question but pales into insignificance living with the constant threat of further cheating. Once that trust has gone it’s best to steel yourself and strike out for your own value.
        I had much fear. Huge fear of the divorce and what would come next. All of which has proved unfounded. I also underestimated my capacity to live a full and happy life on my own terms.
        As CL says, it’s not about them. It’s all about you. The question of whether they can change or not is beside the point. The damage has already been done. My vote is to take responsibility for your own well being and make that new life.

        • Loved hearing from you again Capricorn – you have always posted compelling comments.
          “The process of divorce after infidelity is awful no question but pales into insignificance living with the constant threat of further cheating.”
          This is a powerful statement here.

      • “If he can’t give those things, it won’t work anyway. That’s a reality. Eventually, if you can’t heal because you’re not safe”

        Boy Howdy…good explanation.

        I was in wreckonciliation for 7 years and I did not heal…I made moves towards healing and he (who was too limited to find any other coping mechanism other than blame) would say something that would rip the scab off and I would start over.

        Healing was a possibility for me, if he had done a number of things I could list here, I might have done rather well…he didnt do those things though.

        I actually trusted him after the affair and I think that he may very well have not cheated again, but I had NO EARTHLY IDEA how much cheating preceded the affair that I caught him in. He worked hard at keeping the door to that closet nailed shut and that is where 90% of his energy went, NOT into helping me heal.

        This fucking mess manifested itself EVERY DAY. He liked to move…(he self medicated his mental illness with distraction and going somewhere else was a favorite solution). I did the move thing (7 major cross-country moves) until DDay after which I refused…the kids were older and needed a stable home. We had a home, I had a job…no Im not going to chase that particular windmill – but if he hadnt cheated and melted down, I surely would have (I was readying myself to move that very year). THE REASON I DIDNT MOVE WAS HIS BETRAYAL (repeat 1000 times). Every fucking day he whined like a 6 year old that I wouldn’t move completely ignoring his responsibility in how we got to this impasse. He died in the house I refused to leave…I still live in it, in fact I need to go spread some grass seed.

      • And that he will have to show you his credit report every year and get an STD test every year…

        Mine didn’t change… he just took his subterfuge deeper.

        • Oh boy that brings back a memory. When I asked him if he used a condom he said ” no she’s clean” I said how on earth do you know that? He said “she’s not like that.” Whaaaaat??? Oh she’s willing to f@ck a married man burn”she’s not like that”. Smdh

          • You must also have been married to the same jackass as me. Clients, co workers, escorts the LT mow. God. They were all ‘clean’ according to him.

            Seriously, it’s six degrees of separation. I have screwed nearly all of LA and Orange County, SF, Atlanta, Columbus in the US alone by virtue of these clean skanks with the whore. And sadly I never got to experience any of the pleasure 1st hand. #annualSTDpanel

            • That’s what I told my kids during “The Talk”–use a condom because you’re not just having sex with your partner, you’re having sex with every person that partner has been with.

              My daughter’s reaction: EWWWW!!

              My son’s reaction: Eh. Guess which one I had to take to a doctor for an HPV test??? Talk about the Gift that keeps on Giving.

      • Great advice amiisfree! I don’t know about Dolly but it really makes me think can you live with having to have to tell him what the proper parameters are. He cheated and he says he is sorry but he should have known that was outside the parameters in the first place. Once Eve ate that apple, there was no going back.

        If dolly’s X is repentant and she is still here that says a lot.

        It may seem hard to leave and go on but good choices usually aren’t the easiest and the hard part will be outweighed by gaining a life at the end. It is unlikely you will break free of your insecurities about him if you stay.

        Hugs- I know it sucks!

        • What Feelingit said: Can you live with having to have to tell him what the proper parameters are? He cheated and he says he is sorry but he should have known that was outside the parameters in the first place.’ My ex-boyfriend might not have cheated, but I know that he gaslit, lied to me, and disrespected me in very obvious hurtful ways, even after I told him that these things were hurtful! I believe that there is a passage in the Bible about Jesus saying something like, ‘Forgive him, for he knows not what he does.’ These unethical people who became our mates and partners KNEW EXACTLY WHAT THEY WERE DOING AND THAT WHAT THEY WERE DOING WAS UNETHICAL AND CRUEL! What they were/are doing were/are NOT ‘mistakes.’ They are self-serving acts of aggression. I can also tell you that between D-Day #1 and the day my now ex-husband filed for divorce four months later as I forgave my husband all types of abuse and chronic infidelity, I did not have even ONE peaceful hour. Anticipate the possibility of that type of torment if you stay. My healing would have started DECADES sooner (and thus my life would have evolved much differently) if I had physically and emotionally fled the scene shortly after the abuse/mistreatment started.

          • RockStarWife – Great to see you back on CL, you have been in my thoughts, and I am glad to hear that you can now call your cheater your ex-husband.

            You have gone through hell and I hope you’re well on your way to Meh, your wisdom and strength are an inspiration as I forge on, thank you!

      • Amiisfree
        OMG, you are brilliant. This is me. My cheater just can’t and won’t give me what I need to heal and yes, I can tell he is resentful when I try to get it.
        This will forever be a stumbling block, not to mention the fact that I will never trust him again.
        I know I have to go, and after 40 years, four kids and grandchildren it’s unbelievably scary and painful but I have to do it.
        Thanks Amiisfree and CL and CN, without you guys I would never have seen the light or plucked up the courage.
        Love you all

        • I believe in you!!

          I’m so sorry you’re going through this. But you only live once… give yourself a life without his abuse. Trust me – what happened was a blessing in disguise. It’ll be hard for a few months, but believe me when I say you never had what you thought you lost.

          You’re finally free, friend 🙂

          – Janet

      • If a cheater was really capable of doing what it really takes to earn back trust and truly care about the spouse they cheated on and can rise to the occasion of the hard work it would take to eliminate all the baggage that comes with infidelity, then they never would have cheated in the first place.

        Its the myth of perpetual motion. One of those things that looks good only on paper…or while toking on a bong….nothing more.

        • Sunflower36,

          “they never would have cheated in the first place”
          If it doesn’t hit a Chump sooner, it does later.
          It always hits, whether they stay or go or whatever.
          That is why we are all here.
          Damage control, struggling to put all the impossible pieces back together, holding each other up.

          But, always remember, Chumps are good people, it is not us.
          Sometimes, as we walk along life’s path we will witness something very odd, strange,
          Suddenly we may come upon a few tiny tiny flowers growing through a slab of cement.
          The scene takes our breath away. We stoop to feel, could these tiny beauties be real. Yes, velvety soft, real flowers growing threw cement.
          Moments like this take our breath away.
          Chumps would notice the flowers, cheaters would stomp on them, not even noticing they are there.

          I have to keep remembering, “they suck” to have cheated in the first place!

      • Great post, Amiisfree. Newbies, heed her wisdom.
        “Eventually, if you can’t heal because you’re not safe, your ability to suppress your needs will break from exhaustion.”
        This statement is so true and applies across the board in life — regardless of the reason you don’t feel safe: Toxic workplace, abusive parents, noncheating but assholeish partner.
        I nearly drove myself into the ground working for a narcissist for 15 years. Not sure which one was more damaging, that job or my cheating exhusband.

    • Dolly,

      I was in the same boat and will not offer advice, but just some questions that I asked myself at that time:

      – Everytime their phone rings are you going to wonder?
      – Everytime they are on the ipad are you going to wonder?
      – Everytime they leave the house are you going to wonder?
      – Everytime they have a meeting/dinner/work late are you going to wonder?

      Is that how YOU want to live?

      • I’ll add to what Khris stated so well, ‘Every time he (liar) opens his mouth or writes something, are you going to wonder?’ I do with my lying ex-boyfriend, who I thought was my friend for decades, as well as my lying, cheating ex-husband. I can’t even enjoy the ‘good memories’ (e.g, memories of trips lying ex-boyfriend and I took together, parties we attended together, meals we ate together) because I always ask, ‘What was real?’ I am struggling to enjoy three DECADES of my life because the taint of dishonesty, a fine toxic powder, has landed on all the memories of my late adolescence, early adulthood, and middle adulthood! I hope that you won’t add to the already existing damage by hanging around to accumulate more things to doubt and thus damage.

      • In my case I always wondered, then I started stuffing those emotions and denying what I suspected. I just wanted to keep my family together. Not a healthy dynamic.

      • Yep, that is it in a nutshell. That very unique ‘feeling’ that results from the experience of wondering, hence my screen name; Wonder No More.

    • Dolly,

      My cheating husband (almost 40 years of marriage, two episodes of cheating that I definitely know about, many others in hindsight) tried to reconcile.

      This sums up his efforts:
      1) “You didn’t marry the wrong guy! You married a guy who just made a mistake” “Just”? “Mistake”?

      2) Text from cheater on the day of our would-have-been 40th wedding anniversary (three days before divorce was final): “I betrayed my promises to the priest, but I will always love you”. What about his promises to me?

      3) Famous Last Words huffed and puffed under our roof as he stomped out of the house for the last time: “But I’m NOT a chicken!” (chicken is slang in my language for a promiscuous man.) Imagine putting them through the Universal Bullshit Translator… “I only cheat on you with one woman at a time”. Do I want someone who has this level of moral reasoning?

      4) He is full of debts, has a shit pension. I have no debts and I have a life pension of my full salary …. I think self-interest is really where his “attempts” to reform come from.

      • Clear Waters,

        That ‘I just made a mistake’ defense makes me see red! I got that from my lying ex-boyfriend after he lied about lying! While in counseling with a really stupid psychotherapist (don’t know how she made it through high school, much less her master’s program), I got after a couple minutes of stating some basic facts about my marriage, my husband’s adultery, ‘You have to FORGIVE; everybody makes a mistake.’ I felt COMPLETELY invalidated. I found a new psychotherapist for my family.

        The (extremely low) level of moral reasoning in these cheaters/liars, some of which have IQs in the top tenth of 1% of society, is really astounding. Academic IQ does not equal emotional IQ which does not equal ‘goodness’ (aka character). I finally quit banging my head against a concrete slab trying to explain basic ethical principles to my now-exes. Fortunately, my friends tend to have great character (integrity), very high emotional IQ, and, in many cases, high academic IQ (not a requirement to be my friend but something I admire in these friends).

    • Dolly,
      I truly believe that people make mistakes. I truly believe that not ALL cheaters are cheaters for life. I truly believe that should someone cheat, s/he can repent and not do that again. But the keyword here is: REPENT. (On, in the origin of the word: c.1300, “to feel such regret for sins or crimes as produces amendment of life,”—-> Note: ‘as produces amendment of life.’ THAT’S THE IMPORTANT PART!)

      I gave my STBX a second (technically third) chance. And found out with D-Day#3, that he had not repented. Lawyering up (this past July) was easy at that point.

      And like CL always says: What are your deal breakers?

      You said that up til now, cheating was a definite deal breaker. But now that you’re confronted with it, you’re re-evaluating that deal breaker, because now you have to. And life is hard. And it’s not always Black & White, even when it seems like it is. Because there’s a lot of other shit involved, like kids.

      I let a lot of shit slide under the proverbial carpet because of my kids. I guess it was more important to me that they grow up in a house with two parents. (Was I being selfish? Because I really don’t think I would have handled the whole: having to send my kids to “his” house, and being without them on a daily basis.) Also, because: IT WASN’T ALL THAT BAD. While there was A TON of egg-shell walking, there was plenty of laughter and good times. And not for nothing, when he wasn’t around, things were calm & quiet. It was enjoyable.

      So you’re wondering if you’re doing the right thing…the answer? Only time will tell.

      But I would highly suggest you create a list of “deal breakers” as they apply to this current situation of post D-Day. And present him this list, and in order to reconcile, which includes repenting, he’s going to do a hell of a lot of really hard work to GAIN BACK YOUR TRUST. And for the most part, cheaters who aren’t repentant, aren’t gonna do it. So if he balks at this, run.

      If he loves you, and wants to save the marriage, he’ll agree. He won’t put up any resistance. He’ll be SHOWING YOU HIS REPENTANCE. Not just telling you (like my STBX). It is 100% in your right to require complete access to all phone records. Passwords to social accounts. A need to know where he is 100% of the time, with proof.

      Then, you have to ask yourself, how are you going to handle having to patrol all of that. Because it’s tiring. Exhausting. Ask yourself: is it worth it? Is HE worth it? And I’d add on to that list, that there’s no time limit for “bringing it up.” My STBX always conned me into believing that I needed to prove how much I trusted him. Don’t let that happen.

      And as far as your kids are concerned, if you proceed with reconciliation, you’re showing them that sometimes people make mistakes (even ginormous ones), but that people sometimes get 2nd chances. And that your family is worth fighting for.


      And never forget, you’re allowed to change your mind. Say you’re on this reconciliation road and you discover you’ve reached the end of the road, that’s ok.

      In the end, you have to do what’s right for you. You just have to go with your gut. It’s telling you something. Even if it’s something you don’t want to hear.

      • GoWithYourGut – thank you – I agree with everything you said. I keep reading different blogs, posts, etc because sometimes I think things, or feel things that I don’t quite get, and coming onto blogs where infidelity is addressed, I see that what I’m thinking/feeling isn’t unusual or wrong. I am struggling right now between staying/leaving. Unfortunately, there are two outside factors which also affect my decision, the first is my younger son who is struggling with major social anxiety/depression. The second is finances. We are broke. So until those two things get resolved, I am unable to justify upsetting the family further. It is disastrous right now. I don’t really have to monitor my husband, while slow at first, he now is very up front with email, location, phone calls. I feel his efforts are genuine, he will talk whenever I feel triggered or upset. The only obstacle right now is ME. At this point, I have to continue with the status quo for now and try to figure out what is best for me.

        • Dolly,
          The main reason I stayed to “reconcile” the first time, was because of finances. I was a stay at home mom while the kids were little, and never had a career. And he made enough to support us completely. But around the time of D-Day #2, he was selling his business to his partner, who didn’t have the finances. And my STBX was making some seriously poor choices financially.

          So, after D-Day#2, we “separated,” which consisted of him turning our family room into a bedroom for himself. And I was never really good at staying angry at anyone, and he seemed really contrite, and was so sad…so I let him back in. Or at least I thought I had.

          But I never did trust him again, and he didn’t really work at gaining it back. Just sort of pawned the responsibility onto me. Basically gaslighted me into believing that it would be up to me to show him how much I trusted him. Also the fact that he cheated because he “didn’t feel loved,” so I had to prove my love to him.

          Also at the time of D-Day#2, our one daughter (who is actually the one who found the evidence that he was cheating, and thankfully shared that info with the guidance counselor at school, who told her to show me!) was in the middle of therapy sessions for anxiety. She was 12 at the time. So I understand that struggle, too.

          In the end, Dolly, you do what you have to do to survive. And if that’s sucking it up, and doing the best you can right now, you do it. I vowed to myself (like so many others) that I would wait til my youngest graduated. And I put on a really good show! Even to myself. (It’s much easier to handle walking on eggshells and living with someone you don’t trust and mostly hate, if you feel you’re in control of the shit storm.) (BTW, D-Day#3 occurred in July, two years before my youngest graduates. So didn’t quite make it to the goal, but I’m good with that.)

          In response to this comment you made: “The only obstacle right now is ME,” I’d like to say: You’re in mourning. You had this relationship that died. In it’s own way. Sure, you still have a relationship, but the dynamics of it are now COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. Mourn that loss and change. Allow yourself to grieve it, FOR HOWEVER LONG IT TAKES. This isn’t something that has a time limit.

          If your husband, who for now is still contrite and feeling guilty, starts complaining at all over why you’re not ok, or why you’re not reverting back to the person you used to be, STAND TALL AND TELL HIM, THAT THIS SHIT HE CAUSED ISN’T SOMETHING THAT’S EVER GOING TO GO AWAY.

          Tell him that you can’t take something like that and make it disappear. You just can’t. And that’s not a threat, it’s just a fact.

          So hang in there, Dolly!! Hopefully you ended up with one of the very few who actually wants to repent. And if not, hopefully staying with him until you can move on isn’t too horrible or long.

          • Great post. I also wanted to wait until my youngest graduated, but my asshole had other plans.

            Dolly, I truly understand your position but please ask yourself how small you are willing to make yourself and your needs in order to stay in this marriage. You want to do more than “survive” — you deserve to thrive and live a honest, authentic, rewarding life.

        • dolly, you need to be really good to yourself. I hope you’ve got a good emotional support system and maybe a pastor or counselor to talk to. What you’re going through is really tough…

        • Dolly,

          I ‘get’ much of your predicament. I was both a mother of young children, one of whom has special needs, and a grad student earning virtually no money at D-Day #1.

          One reason I stayed with my husband was I knew that if I separated from him, he would get time alone with our kids, which he eventually did–after he left me, and he might physically harm them, which he did while I was not around to protect them. I stayed with my husband to be a human shield for my children.

          Another reason I stayed was I had virtually no income. You say, ‘I don’t really have to monitor my husband.’ Please think again so you don’t enter the haunted house I entered! I thought that I could trust my husband. Guess what? My husband was siphoning money from our accounts, money that he had promised to invest in our kids’ college fund, to pay for sex with prostitutes. I am not telling you to stay or go, but don’t assume that ‘quiet’ = ‘good’ in terms of protecting your kids and you! Please, today, set aside your rightful share of your community assets and keep a close eye on your accounts! If I hadn’t moved several thousand dollars (less than that to which I was legally entitled), my kids and I would not have had money to run when we needed to and money to hire my FOUR legal teams! I would have stayed even longer in a situation in which I felt as though I had to barricade my kids and me in my kids’ bedroom every night to protect us. Another benefit of moving the large portion of our community property into my sole accounts (I told him an hour after the transfers.) was discovering how he truly felt about me. I immediately realized that he was ‘all about him’–his narcissistic sociopathic self came out in its full, scary glory! He has repeatedly told people, including lawyers and judges, who have never punished him for perjury (saying that I stole from him and molested children), that HE had to divorce me because I stole his money. He even had police come to our home to search me, although HE was covertly taking stuff from ME. So then I knew what I was dealing with–a monster, not a contrite, repentant cheater. Your case might not be as extreme as mine, but don’t assume that it won’t. Good luck!

        • Dolly,

          It didn’t apply to me because cheater left but one of the best pieces of advice I have seen on this site is get a post nup agreement. Make sure it is to your advantage. That will go along way in gaging remorse and repentance. The financial troubles work both ways, he may be playing you because he can’t afford divorce.

          Also I hate to hear you say you are the only obstacle. That is an attitude you need to change. You did not cause him to cheat. He created the problem and if you are feeling uncertainty, it is not an obstacle, it is a guide telling you something is off, proceed with caution. I think go with your gut has one of the best handles on this site for a reason.

        • Dolly,

          AS CL/CN consistently showcase, it does not matter what your cheater or your family or his/her family thinks: YOU can decide what you do upon finding out you are cheated on whether to stay or to leave. YOU get to determine what is a deal breaker in your marriage/relationship.

          Leaving my X after DDAy#1 and having divorce papers stating me as the plaintiff will forever allow me to tell the story and provide proof to whomever wants to see it that his detestable behavior killed our marriage, and my getting a divorce was about getting the death certificate…

          I’ve posted the list below in earlier CN threads but it bears a repeat, especially for new chumps. I would highly recommend that you and all new chumps read Lundy Bancroft’s “Why does he do that?” When I started reading, I saw my whole married life in a new light, and was shocked to realize how many of my life choices had been the result of having married a very smart manipulative covert cluster b. As I was seeing his true colors post- DDay#1, I started observing his actions and only communicate with him over email… That changed the whole dynamic and allowed me to realize how manipulative my X is, and how totally void of human decency he truly is… I haven’t talked to him live for over 3 years, don’t even say hello at drop off or pick up, and that is fine by me.

          The list about what real remorse and contrition looks like. Please do observe your cheater, most can pretend up to #3 or #4 quite well due to the image management threat you a posing by having proof of their manipulative and duplicitous nature… Few will go beyond that…

          1. Admit fully to history of psychological, sexual, and physical abusiveness toward any current or past partners whom the cheater abused. No Denial and minimizing, no discrediting the chump’s memory of what happened. A cheater can’t change if s/he keeps on covering up parts of what s/he has done.

          2. Acknowledge that the cheating and other abuse was wrong, unconditionally. The cheater needs to recognize the false justifications s/he has tended to use, including blaming the chump, and to talk in details about the reasons why the cheater’s behaviors are unacceptable without slipping back into defending them.

          3. Acknowledge that the cheater’s behavior was a choice (as opposed to a loss of control). Cheaters need to recognize and fully comprehend that, during each incident, there was a moment of giving oneself permission to become abusive and a choice about how far to let him/herself go.

          4. Unconditionally recognize the effects of the cheater’s actions and abuse on the chump, on the children, and demonstrate true empathy for those. The cheater needs to talk in detail about her/his cheating’s short-and-long term impact, including loss of trust, anger, fear, and loss of freedom and other rights. This of course, has to come without a poor sausage routine of feeling sorry for her/himself or talking about how hard the experience has been for her/him.

          5. Bring to light her/his pattern of controlling behaviors and entitled attitudes. S/he needs to speak about the day-to-day tactics of abuse s/he has used to mislead the chump. Equally important, s/he must be able to articulate the underlying beliefs and values that have driven those behaviors, whether these beliefs include considering her/himself entitled to constant attention, looking down on the chump as inferior, or believing that one isn’t responsible for their actions if “provoked” by a partner.

          6. Develop respectful behaviors and attitudes that replace previously abusive (and now stopped) behaviors. Chumps will observe examples of such behaviors as improving how well s/he listens to the chump during conflicts and during more peaceful times, carrying her/his weight of household responsibilities and child care, and supporting the chump’s independent pursuits. The cheater has to show in observable manner that s/he has to come to accept the fact that the chump have rights and that the chump’s rights are at least equal, if not higher than the cheater’s at least right after the cheating is discovered.

          7. The cheater shows observable signs that s/he has reevaluated and changed his distorted image of the chump, replacing her/his previous distorted view with a more positive and empathetic view. The cheater starting to show appreciation for the chump and pay attention to the chump’s strengths and abilities are signs that the cheater is starting to recognize her/his previous habits of exaggerating her/his grievances against the chump and her/his distorted view of the chump’s perceived weaknesses. Note that this is extremely hard to assess when dealing with a cluster B with sociopathic tendencies.

          8. The cheater has to make amends for the damage s/he has done. The cheater recognizes that s/he has a debt to you and to your children as a result of his/her entitlement and abusiveness. S/he can make amends by becoming consistently supportive and kind, and by putting her/his own needs on the back burner for a few years. S/he can also make amends by talking with people whom s/he has mislead about the cheating and the underlying or blatant abuse, and admit to them that s/he lied. Making amends also includes spontaneously paying for objects that s/he has damaged. Note that, at the same time, the cheater needs to understand and accept that making amends is not equivalent to wiping the slate clean, that all the amends being made still lead the cheater to a place where s/he might never fully compensate the chump and other important persons who have been hurt by her/his behavior.

          9. Fully accept the full weight of the consequences of her/his chosen course of actions. No whining about, or blaming the chump for problems that are the result of her/his cheating or other abuse (e.g. the chump’s loss of desire to be sexual with the cheater, the children’s tendency to prefer the chump, or the fact that s/he is on probation).

          10. Fully commit to not repeating her/his abusive behaviors and walking the talk. S/he should not have an unconditional and steadfast focus on her/his values change, as well as her/his attitude and behavioral improvement. No name calling, no blameshifting, no impatience with the pace of her/his probation. If s/he does backslide, s/he cannot justify the return of her/his abusive attitude or behaviors by saying, “But I’ve done great for X months; you can’t expect me to be perfect!” No bitch cookies for displaying basic courteous behaviors!

          11. Accept the need to give up her/his privileges and do so. No more double standards, no more flirting, no more taking off with for girls/guys week-ends while the chump look after the children, and to being allowed to express anger or disappointment while the chump is not.

          12. Accept that overcoming cheating and related abusiveness is likely to be a life long process. S/he at no time can claim that her/his work is done by saying to you, “I’ve changed but you haven’t,” or complain that s/he is sick of hearing about the cheater, or abuse and control and that “it’s time to get past all that.”

          13. Be willing to be accountable for her/his actions, both past and future. Her/his attitude that s/he is special and above reproach has to be replaced by an unwavering willingness and ability to accept feedback and criticism, to be honest about any backsliding, and to be answerable for what s/he does and how it affects the chumps, their families, and especially their children.

          Fellow chumps, I hope this outline will help you realize that you are worthy of respect and that it is your right to break up with your cheater at any point if they do not show contrition or are not willing to take the steps above. Forge on CN :)!

      • And keep in mind that there isn’t any way to know whether the cheater is really practicing dependence or managing to fool you. Oh he pleaded and pledged that he would willingly and without hesitation, do ANYTHING that I needed to reconcile.

        So I followed the relationship police handbook to the letter. I had the tracker on his phone, knew what I assumed were all his passwords, had access to his phone and laptop. Even access to his checking account to monitor transactions, and he never socialized without me.

        But I didn’t have access to his workplace computer. He works, I work, and that means that I couldn’t monitor him every minute of every day.

        It turned out that while he was “doing the hard work” and showing me true repentence, he was getting online during his work day, playing Sad Sausage on social media with an account I didn’t know about, and sucking up attention and kibbles from a woman who he had convinced that he was in an abusive relationship and afraid to leave.

        I don’t know if she was his exit strategy, if he was trying to build a long distance relationship with her, or if she was just a convenient kibble dispenser. She lived across the country, but that’s no real barrier. She was completely sucked into his victim scam. She was emotionally invested in him too.

        He told her that he was being completely controlled and socially isolated, a virtual prisoner who didn’t even have control over his own money. He lived in constant terror and fear. He couldn’t escape or I’d cut off his access to his bank account, and use my tracker to hunt him down. And if I was enough of a sociopath to completely control him, who knows what kind of physical harm I might do to him.

        He wasn’t sneaky enough and checked that account on his laptop and didn’t log out properly one time. I gathered my evidence and waited to confront him. He never suspected that I knew.

        One night not long after that, in a casual conversation, I asked him offhandedly who (her name) was. He skipped a beat, and at first he played it cool. But when I started laying out the evidence, he lost his cool. He started desperately lying, but I had evidence to refute all the lies. He got more and more panicky and spun completely out of control. Then he turned on me and verbally attacked me. He called me crazy, said I was delusional, and I’d imagined everything I was accusing him of.

        That was the last time I ever spoke to him. The next day, I sent him a no contact notice, changed my phone number, locked down my social media, and deleted and threw away every piece of evidence that he’d ever been in my life.

        So, the cheater doing the hard work, showing true repentence, living in remorse, are all mind games we play with ourselves because we want to trust again and feel like we have some shred of control. In reality, every minute we’re not directly monitoring them is an opportunity we give them to betray us again.

        • ChumpSaidBuhBye,
          They always, eventually, leave a crumb, don’t they? And what a crumb you found!

          After I found my STBX’ crumbs of evidence with D-Day#2, he presented the “contrite, I’m going to change” demeanor, even offering to install a tracking device in his van, which I laughed at.

          Tracking him meant nothing if I couldn’t track the whore, too; not to mention the mental exhaustion it would cause me. Totally not worth it.

      • Good post. At the end of the day, each of us will do what is best for us. I find CL &CN invaluable in telling it like it is. If something said here causes someone to rethink the decision to reconcile, that’s a good thing.

    • Dolly,
      I think you are a reflective person who needs more time. I stayed with my cheater x for longer than I should have because I am a person who needs to be quite sure. It just took me more time than some of the other chumps. I wasn’t so much pick me dancing as telling HIM to pick me dance. And I watched him oh so carefully and learned more from my therapist and CL and when I made up my mind I was 100% sure.

      Be kind to yourself and give yourself a little time. The clarity that comes gives you the strength to do what you need to do. I do tend to idolize the strong chumps who kicked their cheaters to the curb immediately, but I had to respect myself, and that’s just not me. I also had to heal some from the trauma of Dday. I just couldn’t think straight.

      • Great post, KathleenK. We were traumatized by Dday. We believed in marriage and working through problems. We didn’t want to give up an intact family for our kids. Sometimes, it takes some time to to wrap your head around it all.

        By staying, I can live with the knowledge that I gave my marriage another chance. I set boundaries after dday#1 and when he crossed those and there was a dday#2, I was given undisputed proof that my STBX lacks character and empathy and that will not change.

        Do I wish I had kicked him out after dday#1? Yes, but I fear that I would have been wondering about the “chance” that he may have been able to change and our marriage could have survived. Now I have no doubts about ending it.

      • This really resonates with me – I’m still there but every day feel stronger and I’m having therapy so that I can resist any psycho manipulation when the time comes. I’ve wavered and believed he has changed and have waited three years. However, every now and again there’s a tiny incident which gives me that ‘gut feeling’ – e.g. last week him being really angry and insulting over an apparently random man at a party, who it transpires was the steady boyfriend of one of my husband’s Schmoopies 20 years ago – so is he still jealous over someone else all these years on? I’m training myself to listen to the gut instead of repressing it. He says I’m imagining things and putting a narrative on something that doesn’t mean anything – he just doesn’t like ‘that sort of man’, but my gut is saying ‘not quite right’. So I will keep vigilant so that I know when it’s the right time to go – CL has it in her book, that the urge to know more and more details after D-Day is so that the Chump can experience the last straw and feel ready to ‘trust that he sucks’. It’s a version of that – stay with the ‘reformed’ one until it’s absolutely obvious even to the most stupid of Chumps that he hasn’t changed. I wish someone had told me years ago what he was doing – but would I have listened? Doubt it – low self-esteem and urge to spackle is so great.
        This site is the only place where these thoughts can be shared and we realise we are not mad or bad after all – just sad.

    • Dolly; from one that stuck around awhile. Yes, you lose respect for yourself in my opinion. If you go against your own principles and boundaries to excuse wretched behavior, your self esteem cannot help but be affected.

    • Dolly-
      The simple answer is yes, you deserve more. Fear of the unknown can paralyze us and puts us in a position to compromise ourselves, and what we truly deserve (to be with someone who isn’t willing to sacrifice a marriage and family for some easy pussy) Fear of raising kids alone…. I’ll make it work instead. Fear of getting divorced….. I’ll stay and then wonder if I made the right decision. With enough distance comes clarity….. distance yourself and make a an educated decision based on what you can live with, not one based on fear.
      IMO: I promise you, if you go NC and work through you and your feelings, he’ll eventually reveal himself….. be prepared either way.
      I was married to my “soul mate” for 12 years. Things got hard with our daughter who has significant mental health issues and his PTSD manifested itself in a terrible way. I made excuses for him for months, did the pick me dance…. all of it. He continued to get caught….. he just can’t be alone. Bottom line, I cannot be willing to set myself on fire to keep another person warm. That’s just ridiculousness. Trust me, once you are healthy, you won’t want to be attached to someone who is broken and who so easily gutted you. I’m a therapist who would tell you to run, good hearts don’t cannibalize their kindred.

      • I told STBX that he needed to find somewhere else to stay while he got himself to a doctor and into counselling. That lasted about 6 hours before he was with OW#2 (and I didn’t even know about her yet).

        It was my fault that he starting shacking up with her…I kicked him out, it’s not good to be alone, he had no where else to go…

        Yes, they show their true colours, and quickly.

      • Lost#220Deadweight – I hear what you say, but this is where my internal battle goes: In your case, you said your H continued to get caught. Until mine shows me differently, this was not an ongoing thing. We had problems (no excuse) and his frustration took him elsewhere. When I found out, it ended and he has been not only talking the talk, but walking the walk. As a therapist, assuming he is a one time cheater, do you think there is there the possibility that he learned his lesson, is willing to do the work, and things can work out? And on the other hand, my value of loyalty and trust make it hard for me to accept what he did. That’s my struggle, I’m sure what many others have gone through as well. If there was a DD#2 I don’t care if it meant I’d be homeless, I would leave him.

        • Give yourself space and you will gain some clarity. Someone being in your same space makes it hard to make good decisions. How I found out about the continued cheating….. because I dug and found the evidence. Had I not dug, I would still be oblivious to cheaterville and homeslice.
          One cannot make good decisions when we are double minded; we have evidence but seek to believe something different.
          I would recommend that you don’t compromise anything about YOU. Loyalty and trust…. you have EVERY right to question that, he fucked with who is supposed to be the most precious person in his life. And for what? A piece of ass? Attention? An escape from responsibility? Question is will you be able to handle the possibility of a DD#2? It would have literally killed me and I just wasn’t willing to take that chance. I am too valuable and precious to risk that chance.
          Do I think ppl can be a one time cheater? Absolutely. Does that put pressure on you to ensure it doesn’t happen again because “you had problems and he took his frustrations elsewhere?” Absolutely. If he shows humility and remorse and allows you to take as long as you need to feel safe again with him (could be years, could be never) then only you get to decide if you are willing. YOU not HIM. Hugs to you…. I seriously hate that you’re on CL because you’ve been cheated on. No matter what you decide, no matter how shitty it was, you did NOT deserve to be cheated on and if you are ever made to feel that way, I would caution you with trying to reconcile. Adults handle things like adults, not running to another person for comfort/sex. Again, hugs to you!!!

        • Dolly, I have only recently come to realize that if the chump knows he/she would never cheat under any circumstances, and expects the same of his/her spouse then even one cheating episode shows that cheater doesn’t respect/love the spouse as much as the spouse respected/loves cheater. Who would knowingly want to live with that.

          • FeelingIt,

            You are spot on! That’s why I kicked mine to the curb after 5 years of not knowing he was cheating and finally finding out. Have a lawyer retained. It only took once with me. Thanks to CL and many of the CN. I’m getting the book Leave a Cheater Gain a Life in the mail and I can’t wait.

        • My Presbyterian pastor husband said he was being transparent too. He gave me his passwords. He even put spyware on his own phone so I could see all his texts. He took me to marriage counseling and an expensive marriage retreat. I spent over a year like this. I would have stayed for the children. Heck, I loved him deeply. I would have stayed for me.

          He didn’t, however, show me his secret extra phone paid for by his mistress. I couldn’t see how he skyped from his work computer and had secret emails, secret Facebook names, and a whole other life. I discovered all that a year later when I put a voice recorder in his car, which I did because I FINALLY decided to trust my gut.

          They take it so secretively deep that it’s hard to find.

          I had no job, no home, and 2 children.

          I had to ask for help.

          Now I live in freedom and peace. My children are doing great, I have full custody, and my house is my own. I worked like a dog to get it that way.

          You can do it too.

        • Dolly: Insist on a polygraph if DDay #2 is what you need to make yourself a priority and kick his cheating ass out.

          Our MC didn’t believe X and insisted on one. X refused. I kicked him out. Months later several other women came forward with proof of years of cheating. He said not to respond to them- that they were Nigerian phishing scam…. NOT! One was his client and one a former co-worker! They had emails, receipts, pictures, etc. He had been fucking around for 18 years!!!!! A total con artist. Told me the DDay 1 woman was just a texting flirtation, no sex, etc. total lie! I found a hotel receipt and then called her and she admitted everything! He is a complete and total liar.

          I am so glad I did not prostitute myself by letting him continue to abuse me in exchange for his income. I’m better than that and my kids deserve a better example of a mother than that.

          Btw—X “said” all kinds of things to try to control the facts and prevent consequences but his actions didn’t match.

          So glad I kicked his ass out after the 18 weeks of the hell after DDay 1. Life is unbelievably peaceful and truthful today. I have to work harder than ever to make $, but I feel great about myself. Not a cheater in sight and my kids respect me.

      • Lost Deadweight said so eloquently, ‘I cannot be willing to set myself on fire to keep another person warm. That’s just ridiculousness. Trust me, once you are healthy, you won’t want to be attached to someone who is broken and who so easily gutted you. I’m a therapist who would tell you to run, good hearts don’t cannibalize their kindred.’

        I have ‘put myself on fire,’ probably almost literally, in the foolish hope of maintaining a relationship with disordered people who abused and mistreated me. It’s great to remind oneself that ‘good hearts don’t cannibalize their kindred.’ Some of my exes HAVE repeatedly cannibalized their kindred, including me.

        If I had gotten out of these abusive, unhealthy relationships much sooner, before the relationships had completely down the tubes and all my self-esteem was Missing in Action, I may have avoided incurring severe long-term trauma (good psychotherapy to even partially undo decades’ worth of damage is time-consuming and VERY expensive–I could have avoided all that) and possibly prevented some of my more recent relationships from falling apart, or more likely realized early on that those relationships had no chance as my partners were going to consciously try to harm me, or more often, use me, not consciously try to harm me, but harm me by acting only in their self-interest (ego-stroke, free, convenient sex with Ms. Right Now, who is killing herself to prove that she is worthy of being considered a candidate for future wife, until woman who they considered Ms. Right came along). I got relationships all wrong. (Most) men will chase ‘b–ches’ (women who know their worth and don’t expend any energy tolerating crap) while mis-treating, disrespecting (sometimes in subtle, subconscious ways), and finally dumping loving, loyal women who waste their valuable lives catering to jerks. I should have acted like a ‘b–ch.’ Now I am working on becoming a healthy, not bitter-looking ‘b–ch’ although I think that I have virtually zero chance of finding a decent partner with whom to form a mutually happy, healthy committed romantic relationship, because I want to be treated decently by people in general for whatever time I have left. I am the queen of ‘suck it, and see,’ reconciling with cheating, lying exes for 30 years! Going back has NEVER been a good idea! I just allowed cheaters and liars to hurt me more by putting myself in the middle of the firing range without armor–they had better aim the second time around because they had the practice of the first round! (Odd that I never went out into the middle of the firing range while I was in the miltary, but psychologically, I expose myself to danger all the time!)

        Dolly, please don’t let yourself become severely damaged (depressed, angry, jealous, and unproductive) like me (and likely my kids). Live the wonderful life you deserve!

        • Rock on RockStarWife ! Here’s to becoming a bitch in a good way…a babe in total control of herself,who knows her worth and won’t be trampled on and used by anybody-romantic partner,family member,boss/colleague or friend.


          What would you male chumps like your badass acronym to be ?

    • Dolly

      Think about the other woman for a moment. What did he tell her to justify having sex with him? Ask him. I’m sure he’s going to blame her. Yet she doesn’t have children with him or invested years in a relationship with him. YOU HAVE.

      It’s a chumps mistake to listen to his narrative. Does he frame it as if HE was the victim? Therein lies the answer.

      Yes, you’ll hear how he wants to avoid the consequences and avoid true remorse. It’s what they DO.

      Have him sigh ma post nup. Watch the rage.

      • Actually I did ask him. He takes full responsibility and does not blame her at all. He doesn’t frame himself as a victim either. He acknowledges we were in a bad place he emotionally detached from the marriage. The skank he cheated with was a woman he’s known for 30 years. Her husband filed for divorce and she went to him for help. He’s an attorney. He referred her someone but of course had to “help“ and make sure everything was in order and they begin commiserating about them miserable marriages and one thing led to another. I’m the one who blames her partially because 1) he knew he was married, and 2) I really believe she manipulated the situation to her advantage. She’s wanted him for 30 years and the timing of both marriages crumbling worked to her advantage. And when I say that to my husband, he says it was his decision
        I said I don’t worry too much about phone calls tracking etc. I meant that I feel comfortable for the most part he is being honest. However that doesn’t mean I don’t look.

        • So when you were in a bad place you agreed to see others? So he was vulnerable? And the timing of their divorce was when you were having problems and he cheated? Sorry Dolly. Look at the timeline.

          • No. Never agreed to see other people. But we were both disgusted. We both felt like the marriage was over but due to financial hardships and our kids, divorce wasn’t really an option.Her husband filed in September 2015, there were less than six calls to him between then and March 2016. We started having problems in February 2016. Their phone calls ramped up in April and when I took my kids to the beach at the end of June, that’s when things got sexual. Credit card statements show him taking her out during the summer, nothing before that. I had done the research, his story confirmed what I found.

            • Should say our problems hit the peak in February 2016, we had been unhappy prior to that but still managed to have fun occasionally and do family things together.

              • Dolly

                My experience has always been that the problems begin when they start looking.

                Have you touched base with her ex husband? Why not ask him?

              • Doingme – Did not touch base with her ex, but know mutual friend. She has autistic sons (so do I) – she is nasty POS but always had a thing for my husband, her mother was his secretary in his first job. When he broke up with his GF, 9 yr relationship, she thought she had a chance. He dated different people for a while then met me. She meanwhile got engaged to her ex but tried to get my husband to go out with her saying she’d end the engagement. He was never interested romantically. Occasionally her mother would visit and she’d visit my husband, sometimes going to lunch – The skank would tag along. When H filed for divorce, he was at the end of his rope, she was drinking too much, smoking too much pot and on anti anxiety, anti depressants, had that stomach surgery cuz she weighed at least 300 lbs. She was nasty to him (I read their court records) – He actually thought he’d ‘wake’ her up but she called my H for help. I checked the phone records going back a year before the filing and there was nothing, so I believe him as to the timeline. He felt sorry for her because of the autistic kids. He was pissed at the husband’s behavior because he knew the challenges we had with our sons. He believed every word she said when she made her husband sound like an abusive, negligent asshole. Then they began commiserating about their unhappy marriages and she gave him the attention he was lacking at home. I don’t believe he went out looking for an affair. We were unhappy, she was around, it was a perfect storm. I may be taking the Pollyanna approach but until I’m proven wrong (and I am one hell of a detective), I do believe him.

              • Eeh… Dolly, you call this a “lapse” but what you describe sounds a lot more like an intentional, ongoing set of lies, betrayals and conscious decisions.

                “they begin commiserating about them miserable marriages and one thing led to another.” BUT “She’s wanted him for 30 years” and “tried to get my husband to go out with her saying she’d end the engagement” and “Occasionally her mother would visit and she’d visit my husband, sometimes going to lunch – The skank would tag along.”

                So… he just started hanging out with a woman he knew wanted to fuck him, and making her his #1 confidant about his marriage troubles… and whoopsie, sex happened? Yeah. I should say so. Was there really no one else he could talk to about his marital troubles? Male friends? Pastor? Online reddit forum? Counselor? Family member? Siri? *Anyone* other than the recently-single woman with a 30-year goal of getting into his pants? That’s who he picked? That wasn’t a whoopsie, that was intentional, and it led to exactly where such things usually go.

                “Their phone calls ramped up in April and when I took my kids to the beach at the end of June, that’s when things got sexual.”

                How exactly did that thought process go? He waited for this. Planned for a time when you were busy with the kids and scampered off to bang the skank. That’s not a lapse, that’s intentional foresight and planning.

                “Credit card statements show him taking her out during the summer”

                Putting incriminating info on his credit cards was a lapse. Planning dates and spending your family’s money on her was thought-out and intentional.

                “He was never interested romantically.”

                Didn’t stop him from having sex with her, did it? Or stop him from all the other times he took her out during that summer? But even if that’s true, does that make it better? That you meant so little to him, he was willing to betray you for some needy swamp hog he didn’t even like that much?

                “she was drinking too much, smoking too much pot and on anti anxiety, anti depressants, had that stomach surgery cuz she weighed at least 300 lbs”

                And yet he still decided to fuck her This wasn’t Megan Fox breaking into his room wearing a whipped cream bikini, this was him seeking out the desperate skank he knew had a thing for him and making use of her friendly ear for alllll his marriage woes, and then making use of her friendly vagina.

                “I may be taking the Pollyanna approach but until I’m proven wrong (and I am one hell of a detective), I do believe him.”

                1. You can’t *prove* things like “once we started having trouble, he intentionally sought out the one person he knew would fuck him and started talking about how much he didn’t like his wife in the hopes that she’d meet him halfway and start having an affair” but… you could definitely deduce it.

                2. You believe him, but you also believed him every time he lied to you about the affair (just think of all the lies that were necessary to keep his actions hidden) so what’s changed in your perceptive abilities that lets you know that when he says he won’t ever cheat again, this time he really is telling the truth?

                3. Maybe you really are a great detective, but is that what you want in your marriage? To be constantly checking on him like the parole officer of a con artist?

              • Traffic spiral:

                Wow! You said what I was thinking with a spectacular prose that is dazzling yet poignantly clear.

              • Feelingit: Gee thanks. Although, like CL says, this stuff is both common and predictable. It doesn’t take a genius to make some good guesses on what the 800th verse of “I’m Henry the Eighth” will say.

    • Reading your post takes me back to that sickly sickly daily feeling of yucky half awakeness. Where everything has lost colour and is in slow motion. Where the brain is endlessly trying to win out over the emotion.

      Mine did “everything he could” too. But looking back, he didn’t really. He still left the occasional intentional pinch in there to confuse and agitate me so he could get some kibbles. An example: a girl he worked with texted him, he shut it down. I could read his response. BUT, how does girl get his number? Because it’s in the emergency contact list. Why does she feel ok texting him if he is allegedly making his boundaries clear at work these days? Because she’s young and silly. I need you to tell her it’s not appropriate and not to do it again. Ok I will when I next see her.

      Suddenly he never worked he and shift as her anymore and never saw her to talk to her. Just never had the chance. He enjoyed me anxiously asking him every evening. But he was so plausible and seemed so contrite and “frustrated” by fact their paths hadn’t crossed.

      Guess what. After I realised I couldn’t betray MYSELF anymore and kicked him out after 18 months of supposedly flawless reconciliation, he had moved that girl in to his apartment 10 days later.

      That endless questioning of self is not a life, it is torture.

      • Your problems were going on long before her, then he had an affar. So what’s going to make that better?

        And no affection at home? PLEASE, you’ve got to be kidding. Affection? He was fucking. And what happens when something else comes up that requires your attention? He sounds like a taker Dolly.

    • Dolly, I’m in the same place. Blaming myself for his affair. I’m not perfect but who is? I can’t take the pain but I know whatever happens I have no choice. Can’t eat, sleep, think straight & I shake all the time with my heart pounding. This sucks so bad

      • Polite Witch It does suck. But I have to say, I don’t blame myself for the affair. I take my responsibility in the problems we had in the marriage. His affair was his choice his fault 100%. He showed no character and a total lapse in judgment and integrity. Do not blame yourself for one minute. HE did it. HIS choice. I was like that for the first four months, lost 20 pounds from stress. No matter what you choose to do it will get better. Hugs. xoxo

        • Dolly, rereading all these posts this morning and seeing so much great advice.

          Just want to say as an outsider, I see you continually attempting to justify his behavior with we were in a bad place. He says he made a bad choice.

          The key to me is you were both in a bad place and you were able to keep from making that bad choice. Think more about what lead to the bad place. We’re you equal partners getting there making equal efforts communicating to get out?

          My guess is no and the bad choice could ultimately be the fatal choice.

          I think I sounded a lot like you the first few months post dday. Stay here and keep reading.

          I hope your husband is genuine but I am not hearing it in your writing..

          I see that in my own but only with hindsight.

        • Your mouth to God’s ears! Trying to stay positive & keep telling myself that no matter the problems we had/have doesn’t justify his actions. After 15 years together I still can’t believe this is happening. Thanks for the comments & hugs. Back at ya! ????

          • Polite Witch – your physical symptoms say severe trauma. I hope you have access to a good therapist to help you through this horrific time. Ugh those symptoms are so horrible and uncomfortable. Take good care of yourself. And no, you are not to blame for the affair. A man of integrity would tell you he is unhappy in the marriage and you would either work on it together or get divorced. He has no integrity. ((Hugs))

      • Hey, I guess you’re early into this. I’m 7 months down the line & just wanted to say, it does get easier. Just hang tough & focus on yourself. You cannot afford to have any space for him in your heart right now. 1 thing; it was not your fault. Repeat after me: “It was not my fault”.

        Remember, he broke the bond you had, not you. It’s likely you didn’t do a thing to deserve this, but if you cut your toenails in the dining room or left the loo seat up, that’s not justification to cheat. Nothing you did (short of cheating yourself) can ever have been justification for him to cheat. You owe him… NOTHING. You owe yourself all the love and care you can muster.

        Seriously, if there was something wrong in the damn relationship then it was his duty as a responsible adult to bring it up and try and address it first, and second, to end the relationship in a normal healthy way if there was no hope of fixing whatever issues there were. But I’m betting that didn’t happen, because he’s an asshole shithead. How do I know? Because he cheated.

        Cheaters (both men and women cheaters) have major character flaws that led them to act like this. It’s nothing to do with you. They would have cheated sooner or later on ANY partner due to those major character flaws. But for, I don’t know, waking up 5 minutes earlier on the day you originally met this guy & having never met as a result, another woman would be in exactly your place right now.

        I had 6 “amazing” years with my wife before she cheated & the relationship felt great – but as soon as I had a down spell (ill, low energy, feeling down), she lost interest & went elsewhere. In hindsight I realized that all the tough times I thought we’d been through together that would bond us, were me supporting her. As soon as I needed support she was out of there. What i’m trying to say is that, those of us in relationships with cheaters are basically sitting on an unexploded bomb, and sooner or later, the smallest thing will trigger it. It’s nothing to do with us, just our dumb luck that we’re the ones in that position.

        So, I say again; It’s NOT your fault.

        • Yup. AFTER he cheated, he then told me about how unhappy he was, and the petty things that bothered him, like my leaving the lights on in rooms after I left them. Yeah, that’s definitely a deal-breaker and justification to cheat–thanks for the insight, asshole.

      • So many of us know that pain. Politewitch reading your post makes me think: no contact is the only answer. No one should ever give an asshole cheater the opportunity to cause that pain twice.

        • I wish no contact was feasible right now but we have 2 young autistic kids who will be devistated if he wasn’t around. It will set them back on so much progress they’ve been making. I’m actually more afraid for them than myself. I really don’t know how to handle this. Thank you so much for responding. I’m finding this “support group” community is empowering me! ????

          • Oh Polite Witch,
            You are such a loving, caring Mother, always putting your children first.
            It has to be so very very difficult.
            I am so glad you found CL, CN. There are so many experienced Chumps, like Feelingit above, who can listen to you pour out your heart and offer you advice.
            I am sorry for your hurt and pain and I send you love and many many hugs.

          • PoliteWitch, we have 2 autistic sons as well. My kids have been making progress, but my youngest is fighting mental health issues from social anxiety due to his autism. Last year he felt the world would be a better place if he wasn’t in it. Because of a number of issues, we are also in a terrible financial position. Until those things get resolved, I can’t even think straight. I know exactly what you are going through. I wish I had some answers but I don’t… just try and be kind to yourself – what he did reflects on him, not you. His decision, his fault, not yours xo

          • Politewitch, I don’t know your story so I can’t speak to your situation but I do think that looking after yourself first is most important. You have said that you have physical reprocussions and not dealing with that can only be to the detriment of your children. I don’t have autistic children but I do have children with ld’s and it is a part of who they are.
            You say it is important that he be part of their life but it is his responsibility not yours to make that happen. Kids sense this. My 12 year old told me within weeks of his dad leaving, that he already felt his dad wasn’t there for him. I was clueless.
            The kids hated seeing me the way you are describing yourself and once I stood up for myself and realized I don’t have to take his crap, I got their support. I now think their anger was at me because I was not showing the values I had been teaching them.
            Now, their anger is at their cheater dad because he has gone against those values and is unrepentent.
            If your cheater will not be there for those kids if you hold him accountable (autistic or not), you don’t want him there.
            It is not easy but it is better.
            Kids will defy the odds with one sane parent. Despite the years of gaslighting and believe me , I still question myself frequently, I would like to think I am that sane parent and it contributes to my children doing amazingly well and horrible stress.

            Hugs and strength to you. What is best for you, is best for your children.

          • PoliteWitch

            Children with autism need structure. Do not stay with a man who creates chaos.

            Once you leave him HE will be able to do the heavy lifting 50% of the time. They will get used to the new routine. It will be difficult at first however they will embrace it over time.

            I think you have a right to be fearful. Yet as many of us have found our walls sing once we exorcise the abuser.

            Face that fear and allow him to live without depending on you to do all the heavy lifting.

            You’ll get a break and have time to take care of your needs. You think you can control everything. The way to get control is to deliver those consequences. Divorce him. Live your life.

    • This is such a painful decision, and my heart goes out to you. I kept offering my cheater another chance because she “had a hard life” and “never had the chance to learn about commitment” and “was recovering from FOO abuse and addiction” and “trying her best…” I, too, had history of neglect and abuse, and I had been alone, scared, and in need of support. So I “gave her the benefit of the doubt” and kept investing in her, encouraging her, loving her “no matter what” because what happened to her “wasn’t her fault.” But while having poor communication skills to resolve disagreements in a mature manner might be something a person can fix by making a concerted effort, having a HUGE ego and NO empathy for others is part of a character disorder that makes narcs fundamentally unable to have mutually loving and respectful partnernships. You are NOT a bad person for believing you have value and deserve to live without this kind of earth-shattering betrayal and chronic pain.

    • Dolly – That was the most heart wrenching part of DDay for me. Knowing that my spouse, the one that had nursed me through my pain of being cheated on in my previous LT relationship, the one that has been so compassionate to his mentor after her husband cheated on her, the same person had been fucking a grawhore for over a year when I found out…

      The level of duplicity was and remains staggering (thanks shared custody)…

      When I stumbled upon the secret email address he used with his mistress, >500 emails flipped the switch for me to “beyond unreasonable doubt.” He was ashamed and I became the biggest threat to his reputation… Cue to the three channels of mindfuckery we’re all very familiar with here at CN… Abrupt switches from charm to rage to self-pity…

      I remember not being able to stay in the same room as him yet having to live in the same apartment, our daughter was 8 at the time… I remember that disgusting feeling of having no “good choices.” I could either stay and destroy my self-respect, or I could leave and destroy my kiddo’s belief in families (because I knew by then that this was not going to be one of these conscious uncoupling thingies…)

      I was moved out and initiated the divorce 3 weeks post-DDay#1. Things went from bad to worse when he moved his mistress into his apartment 4 months later. Having to share custody 50%/50% knowing that our kiddo was exposed to that kind of mindfuck is the hardest thing I ever had to do… Or so I thought… Classic cheater tactics during the divorce proceedings, it took me 16 months to divorce that rabid cluster fuck, and the punches have kept coming through custody craziness I can do nothing to stop because so much harm has to be done to our kiddo before the courts would even consider changing our custody plan… All this to say to chumps that share custody that Meh is very difficult to impossible to achieve when a chump has to be the sane parent gobbling down shit sandwiches on a continuous basis…

      Even in this difficult situation, I am still very secure in my decision to divorce him after DDay #1. I have had proof after proof now about how much he sucks… For example, two months after our divorce he married his mistress, and their union was so special they proceeded to hide it from everyone for over a year… Even to his own daughter to whom he lied when she asked him if he was going to marry her… He said no when they has already been married for months…

      We have a number of years left in shared custody, and yes it is awful, but it would be far worse to have killed my soul to knowingly remain married to a person with that level of suckitude.

    • I faced similar tough questions. There’s more than just your marriage you have consider. I stayed 4 years before finally announcing I no longer wished to be his wife. Staying was a mistake.

      Once I knew what sort of duplicitous character my ex was capable of being, I couldn’t talk about my personal life to anyone but my inner circle. I avoided talking about him and it became obvious to all that something was up… Which makes things awkward and you come off as strange. By staying with a cheater, YOU have to learn to compartmentalize. Post dday, i could no longer airily discuss banal family activities to anyone. For 4 years! it felt fake and forced. Once I knew what my husband was capable of, no matter how reformed he swore he’d become, I could no longer be nonchalant about him or our life together. I couldn’t even answer simple remarks such as, ‘what a beautiful picture with you two and the kids!’ Because I knew the truth – my husband stole from us and fucked around on me regularly for years and all I could offer back to such remarks was a tight lipped smile and a polite ‘thank you’… Followed by an immediate conversational topic change.

      Talk about screwing you up.

      My advice. Get out.

  • Don’t get me started on “the Chump didn’t try long enough / hard enough” bullshit!

    About 20 minutes into the conversation when told my Cheater we were getting divorced, she took her phone and left the apartment.

    Within minutes, I got a call from my MIL. I knew not to answer that, and I let her pleading bullshit go to voicemail.

    Five minutes later, my SIL called. I answered that one. She acknowledged my right to want a divorce, but then argued that her sister (my Cheater) had never been so messed up…and this was indicative of an imminent breakthrough back to fidelity. In other words, my SIL was arguing that I shouldn’t get divorced because “it’s darkest right before the dawn,” or some other such bullshit taught in Redeemable Cheater 101.

    I replied that I agreed with her that her sister has never been so messed up, but that only proved that any efforts by me to fix things were useless, and I wasn’t going to wait around for my Cheater to get even more messed up.

    I said goodbye to my SIL. Desperately, she responded with the familial “I love you, JC.” I hung up on her.

    Redeemable Cheater, my white ass.

  • Being a chump is often a secretive thing. We know this. No one wants to admit what has happened in their relationship / what they’ve tolerated etc. When people “confess” to me that they are also a victim of infidelity, I send them here. We can feel safe in our chumpiness here. Thanks for all you do, Chump Lady!

    • I think that it also part of the reason that you are a shell of your former self during wreckonciliation. You don’t want anyone to know. If things work out, it is better that people don’t know. But keeping that all inside and not sharing it, is just another reason you are a mess.

      • Staying with a cheater is like living in a carnival fun house with mirrors that distort your image and floors that move back and forth, keeping you imbalanced.

        I was a hollowed heap, with hardly a shred of recognizable self left before final DD.

        Only by leaving a cheater can you stand firm, look in a mirror, smile at and admire the image of yourself staring back.

        No matter what I told myself over 3 and 1/2 decades and 3 DDs, XH did not change his core character or cheating ways. I only gave him the opportunities to be more covert, dysfunctional and near bankrupt us after my working almost 40 years.

        Years of IC, MC, self-help books, 2nd and final chances wasted decaded of my precious life.

        I knew deep down things weren’t right. The difference for me now is that I know it wasn’t me and I deserve better.

        I choose to live in a home with solid floors and walls, light-filled and clear image reflective mirrors.

        I no longer fool myself into foolishly spending time fixing cheating fools.

        Your truth shall set you cheater free and on a pathway to self respect, self worth, sweet calm and bank accounts with positive balances.

        Almost at two years and not a nano second of regret leaving a cheater.

  • You were at that event with Georgetown Law? Lucky you, you brushed shoulders with my cheater! Anyhoo… Saw that thread too and I’m glad you’re addressing it here. It’s not enough that we have to deal with the character challenged, we have to deal with their supporters as well. SMDH. Thank you for all you do CL!

    • I am struggling with that kind of crap too .. I tried wading through the septic tank of all the save the cheater at any cost and kept getting turd tripped on the it’s your fault not your fault but’s your fault spew..I thought maybe I am just being defensive because it pissed me off on so many could they say I have no control over his choices in one breath then blame me in the next? And the amount of work I am expected to do to help him swim to safety while I drown in a smelly stew of my pride, self esteem, values etc is just something I should not have to me lame lazy or half crazy but if he was unwilling to work on the relationship before he flushed it down the toilet how the hell can I believe he is actually going to put in the much harder work of repairing my broken heart, loss of respect, and zero trust? Especially when it will require him to take full responsibility for his actions when the entire system continues to give him an out by pointing the stank finger at me?! I am not perfect by any means..but I always believe if you fuck up own it..take your damn lumps learn from your shitty choices make amends when possible and soldier on. I just don’t see this waste of space doing that…he had no real excuses for hurting me( repeatedly I now know) so he went with the tried and true..blame it on the wife…I just have to call bullshit on that… I am the nicest kindest most stupid trusting believe your shit person on the planet..the more I gave the harder I tried the worse he treated me…I feel like he let me swim to the life preserver and snatched it away every time I got close..he knew I was drowning in his shit sea of lies and didn’t care it was eventually going to drown me..I just can’t see me treading in sewer water much longer. Nothing is worth this kind of sacrifice…I would not wish this on anyone..not even the morons running the affair recovery garbage.

      • N2U…preach it sistah. “stank finger” good image. I actually did choose the awful path you described and it didnt work. I was trying to figure out when to go based on the logistics of my kids. I had saved $40,000 in my “escape fund”. His next rage would have been my trigger to leave. God may have tired of the whole thing and opted to end it quickly & he dropped dead.

      • Nobody2U,
        Loved your post! The imagery is poetic. And the truths they speak are spot on!

        So glad I’m flushing my STBX down the toilet, where he can wallow in his own stank shit.


  • Redeeming a cheater? Reminds me of a TV game show I’m about to pitch to the Food Network, in which clinically depressed people try to prepare an edible meal solely from ingredients retrieved from dumpsters behind fast food restaurants.

  • 1. Evidence shows that someone who cheats in one relationship is THREE times as likely to cheat in a later relationship. I’d bet that a person’s probability of cheating in that SAME relationship is closer to 25X more likely. No one should get a chance to re-victimize us.

    2. All kinds of emotionally abusive behaviors happen during a cheater’s devalue of their spouse; emotionally abuse has no place in a healthy relationship. Once it happens, the relationship itself is no longer worth having. We are worthy of respect. Buh-bye.

    3. Once someone has cheated, the imbalance of power due to the deception is so astronomical, the marriage can no longer be salvaged, IMHO. There is no way possible, short of revenge cheating, to equalize the power imbalance and have a healthy, reciprocal relationship. Who wants to have to be a lying, cheating asshole to take revenge on your cheating partner in order to retain a marriage? “Gee, I’d like to lose my integrity so that I can stay married.” Just no.

    Ergo, the cheater has imploded the marriage, and it is not incumbent upon the chump to conduct an empirical test to see if they have a Redeemable Cheater. Done and dusted.

    • YES. Cheaters are abusive, cheating is abuse. Even if it’s not overt (in my case it became overt when he wanted to discard me) it is an environment of abuse with the lying and gaslightig, and triangulation with anyone and everyone. Cheating isn’t just an event, it’s a tactic used by narcissistic people and narcissistic people create environments of implied threats and intimidation (with a smile!). It damages you over time.

      • And just to chime in here, I haven’t seen a single instance of cheating where the chump wasn’t massively overcompensating for the cheater. Like looking for jobs for them, doing all the household and child rearing duties, making all the money. Opening your eyes to the 80/20 of your relationship is one of the reasons to leave (see #1 above)

        • Kelly, I struggle with this. While lawyered up and moving forward I struggle that it took me two DDays and wreckonciliation in between to finally decide to pull the trigger. While my entire relationship with cheater was 80-20 with the exception that he was the main breadwinner at the beginning (I moved countries for him and did not speak the language but still had a professional job with low salary).

          Why was his constant emotional abuse not the trigger sufficient for me to leave? What is so wrong with my self esteem that I tolerated this for years? I always knew I was an accomplished proffessional woman and I now am in a good spot in my recovered career. So finances were not the scare for me. But then what? Why was so so afraid to “let others win”? Was it vanity? Inability to admit failure and shitty partner choice? Clinging onto the potential? Inability to lose and determination to “show” the cheater that despite his FOO issues we could still have a good relationship even if it was only me trying?

          He was so adamant about NOT having children and delayed it for about 3 years until he realized I would leave him if he continued. This was discussed and agreed upon before marriage. He knew I wanted to have children but he kept postponing it because I had to make myself comfortable in his country, learn language, find a job, make a network….And when he “graciously agreed to impregnate me” I recall I was soooo thrilled I was talking to a friend and telling her that I would make this experience pleasurable for him so that he would not feel that anything changed in his life after our child was born. Ha! That meant his quiet evenings and mornings, no child rearing responsibility or help anticipated, just enjoy him when you want. My friend told me I was soooo wrong by doing this. He eventually arranged it so I had moved to their family home in another city with the newborn and he stayed behind in the city we both lived and worked and visited on weekends. And still didn’t have anything to do with the child.

          So my struggle today is why why why was all that neglect, indifference, reluctance to take up responsibility and participate in child rearing with me, isolation both emotional and physical, outright indifference…why was this not enough to leave? Why did I have to discover an affair as long and even longer than our marriage with his ex gf, then multiple sex accounts, then have a second DDay to finally say enough? Where is it that my parents (in a good relationship) did wrong and how can I develop that self esteem in my son so he would recognize abuse right away.

          Too many questions..

    • Integrity is what someone does when nobody is watching.

      Cheaters did what they did when nobody was watching and judging. This is who they truly are. I dont need to be threatened into good behavior because “everyone is now watching” or the 10 Commandments (a whole other argument against cheaters, especially Jesus Cheaters, ever achieving atonement) or some arbitrary set of cultural rules.

      I am a good person who doesnt harm others because that is who i am. In front of you and behind your back.

      One thing that i always noticed about my cheater was how he never had a kind word to say about anybody, but had seizures when i would take such umbrage at what someone supposedly said or did that i decided on my own to confront thosr people for their bad behavior.

      He actually said one that he needed to “dial it down” (the lies about everyone else) before someone truly got hurt because of things he said about them.

      Remember. Remember whatthey looked and sounded like when they were swearing on their kids’ lives, Jesus, God and anything else of sacred importance…..that they were working late, driving around looking for your flavor of ice cream, stuck in traffic, or had a second job.

      Remember that. Because it was designed to cover their lies. Now. Tell me what their kying face looks like or what their lies sound like.

      I cant live like that. I am perfectly willing to admit to my God and my kids and myself (the only ones i have to answer to) that i simply have no interest in expending the kind of energy that is required to split atoms, to decipher a known liars’ thruthiness.

    • Tempest,

      I agree with you. I was in the throes of putting together a pros and cons list. I stopped! He cheated once with the same person for 5 years and is now living with her. But as my mind goes into the 24 years could there have been others? I think about the times we would go to bars and when I would go to the restroom I would come out and he’d be talking to a woman at the bar, not even noticing I was back for 5 or so minutes and no introductions. Do you have good memories or do you have like I do the time to think about the way he treated you and you ignored the red flags, you turned them white, which is what I did. I threw him out and I have had NC. I have retained a lawyer and I am going to spend the rest of my days without the what if’s or should I wreckconcile. He has shown for years who he was. I allowed him to further evolve into the narcissit that he is. I don’t want to wonder or monitor his whereabouts. When you cheat the trust is gone and I don’t care what anyone says even if you wreckconcile you will never trust him again because those questions will come into your head and drive you crazy. So I ask why make the time you have left on this earth about making sure he never cheats and you win with your dancing so you think. It’s a losing proposition and I choose not to endure anymore and get on with my life without a narcissitic cheater. Thanks to Chump Lady, Martha, Might Chris, Kim, and others who helped me see the light. Your kids already know there is a narcissit living in the house. Mine didn’t know the exact meaning but they are proud of me for standing up and not taking it. That’s what I taught them about life. NO ONE PUTS YOU IN A CORNER!!!

    • Hi Tempest,

      Revenge cheating–For ethical reasons, I couldn’t do it! And even if I could and my ‘insta-partner’ was ‘OK’ with what we were doing., I couldn’t imagine how it would make me feel better–I imagine that I would cry, feel nauseated, or feel completely numb during the act because I was grieving the loss of who I thought my lying, cheating partner was and disgusted with myself afterward. I can’t even fathom true dating right now, two months after my lying ex-boyfriend left, because all I can feel are grief, anger, and jealousy over the death of my relationship. Closest I can safely psychologically get without feeling like vomiting is going out for coffee with male friends!

      • So true, RSW. And both partners having affairs = never going to be a healthy relationship. All signs point to “exit” after infidelity.

    • Tempest
      Drop the mic! Well said, indeed.
      Even revenge affair wouldn’t work. They don’t experience feelings like we do. Or they couldn’t have cheated in the first place. WE would feel like crap. They would either get off on it or use it to justify more of the same abuse or more!
      Cheating needs to be called the abuse that it IS. Would we ask a beaten spouse, with broken limbs to “give it one more try, maybe it won’t happen again”?
      CL is a lifesaver. CN is my new oxygen. Thanks for blessed harsh reality, Tempest!

  • IMO I have not read a single comment on this site that sounded like the cheater was redeemable. In my case, by the time I discovered what was going on – cheating wise – it was already past redeemable. I was just scared and in denial. Seeing potential and looking for ways HE could redeem himself. Doing all the work. Internalizing the misdirected blame and crumbling. There was never an apology or regret. Add in the verbal abuse, physical threats of violence (like shovels and small furniture being thrown past my head and objects being slammed around me with screaming and veins bulging out of his head), soul crushing silent treatments, public embarrassment, pathological lying, stealing money, etc that went along with the affairs. There is not a shred of bad advice on this site. A spade is a spade here. Just look at all the people that were fooled a 2nd 3rd 4th time. They believed in redeemability. They trusted again. And look what happened.

  • Hmmm. If Tracy’s super power was to convince every reader to immediately leave their cheater – even repentant ones – ASAP – there would be no repeat visitors to this site. Instead, there would just be a long queue of car, bus and Uber vehicles massing outside of divorce court with her “Leave a Cheater” book in hand.

    In reality, Tracy’s message is about chumps sharing their collective insights and wisdom about GAINING A LIFE and focusing on themselves after infidelity. To do so, the cheater must be “left” mentally and usually physically since many chumps have become unable to see their own situations clearly (frog in boiling water) as the betrayal and gas lighting are debilitating to their ability to value themselves and have healthy boundaries.

    Since chumps become chumps over time, many of us need time to internalize the CN wisdom.

    And of course, the humor always helps.

    Rock on Tracy and CN!

    Because many of us are so entrenched in keeping

    • Excellent points. Disordered people spent decades grooming us to eat shit sandwiches and it often takes us a long time to clear our heads of these patterns.

    • TiredChump,
      Loved that! Love the focus being on “GAINING A LIFE.”

      That’s the most important part of all.

  • Unfortunately, you don’t end up on this site or reading CL’s book unless you’ve gone through some real shit. Those of us (read: all of us) went through some real shit to trigger us to go online, research and find these types of resources. We are lucky we found CL. Many chumps aren’t as lucky.

    Maybe there are one-off cheaters out there where things got patched up, and so those chumps never got to the point where they went looking for help. But given what I’ve seen on this site over the past couple of years, none of us are here because we were dealing with one-off cheaters. We all dealt with serial assholes.

    So to the commenter’s point, yeah maybe there are some redeemable cheaters out there and those chumps didn’t go into online/Amazon mode, but if it gets to the point where a chump ends up here – then there’s a 99.9% chance that that chump is dealing with an unrepentant, full blown asshole – and those types have absolutely no shot at being redeemable.

  • I have been on here daily for the past few months. CL and CN have already helped me so much just by knowing im not alone! I am 3 months in on d day #2! I put a lot of hard work into wreckonciliation 12 yrs. ago because I didn’t want my children to come from a broken home like I had.
    Not a day went by that I ever regained my trust. I would find myself furious every time something inappropriate happened and I would feel jealous because before ”dickstick” cheated I was never jealous! The longer I am no contact the more of his true colors I see shining back at me. 22 yrs and all I have to show for it is two broken-hearted daughters who don’t believe in marriage anymore, because if their beloved daddy could throw his family away for a loose troll at work then nobody can be trusted with their heart! Maybe in time after the divorce is final we can all 3 forgive (for ourselves) and move on. For now I have let them know they can feel however they want and it’s ok! My “late husband” (because he’s dead to me) has image obsession As does his family. What I once considered a wonderful family to be a part of have also turned their backs on my children and shown me that it’s more important to turn a blind eye to dickstick and his “cheater peter” then to reach out to my hurting girls and see if they can give them support through this terrible mess! Ugh ????.
    I do know this, once a dog runs it’s not likely they won’t do it again and again as each opportunity presents itself. So save yourself the trouble and shut and lock the gate after they run the first time bc once a cheater always a cheater, at least to the one who they cheated on!

    • Now for the truth. I broke up after3 mos to follow my heart and I told her this 1month later she calls cause she pregnant. I say” let me pray on this and get back with you.” Pray gets reply is “YOULL MAKE RIGHT CHOICE”. So all move in together and for years nothing but ex still my friend no Fkn and she heard voicemail confirming I wouldn’t Fk her. Than I’m constantly being accused of cheating while I’m finding her sexual profiles. It gets bad she breaks up and we both part. I than FK 1st time but she is stalking me so I can’t make new work 6mos later we try again but she is constantly accusing and getting caught lying saying you lookin for me but I’m at Shaka house and you never checked

  • Thank you CL for another amazing post. And you hit the nail on the head by asking the question “what do I want”? Too many times the question is asked what does the cheater want? Why ask him/her? They ALREADY did what they wanted. My turn now….I divorced the turd….

    And as much as I am still wading through the crazy financial situation he left me in, I’m much happier. I was one of those people who said that infidelity was my line in the sand. And after DDay, I tried to keep him around, but the only thing that helped unravel was my sanity. So I showed the ho the door and began divorce proceedings.

    The reason CL catches so much flak is because she talks about it. In the 6 years past DDay I have told my story so many times and am amazed by the sheer number of people who have similar situations but kept quiet. Why? As chumps we accept the blame and guilt of why our partners cheated, when in fact we had no say in the matter. The night I kicked ex-ho out, he texted me “You made me shit to everyone”. My reply…”I didn’t make you shit, I just didn’t keep the secret”.

    • kurleegirl,
      Your response: ”I didn’t make you shit, I just didn’t keep the secret.” is AWESOME!!
      I’ve been with my STBX for 25 years (actually, just one month shy of it), and he had it ingrained in me to never talk dirt about him. Nothing negative could ever be said, because “we don’t talk about personal stuff with others.”

      Since D-Day#3, this past July, I’ve been telling EVERYONE!! Coworkers, church friends, family members, hell, even strangers! It’s like I can’t contain myself.

      • GoWithYourGut,
        Sing out YOUR Truth, sister. I have done the same…it is not my bag of shitshame: it’s his. And other future victims need forewarning of his character. (We live in a small, tight-knit community). HIS shitty character is not my fault. Nor is it my responsibility to go gather all the shards & body parts resulting from the IED explosion HIS affair caused to try to Frankenstein them back into some semblance of a marriage. It IS about what I want. HE did WHAT HE WANTED. Now he wants what we had before. But he killed it. No zombie relationship for me. I tried that before (hence DDAY3), look where it got me? Blissful honesty awaits me on the other side of a divorce I never wanted, but now crave like a cold glass of water in the desert.

  • There’s no “repentant cheater” as long as the abusive/disrespectful/entitled mentality continues.
    What you may have, if you’re “lucky”, is a faithful abuser.

    Very few people can suddenly develop respect for their partner, the chances of that happening depend on the reasons why it was lacking in the first place.

    I say this having cheated/had poor boundaries in my teenager years and having done the mental switch required to successfully commit to an adult relationship later on.

    A “repentant cheater” will AGREE with Chump Lady’s message, not fight it. If they’re trying to show you things from a different perspective (justifying, diffusing responsability, blurring the lines, etc.), they are still not getting it and they will repeat destructive behavoir again.

  • My cheater left so reconciliation wasn’t an option, but I still would argue-how do you stay with a cheater if infidelity was NEVER an option for you, period.

    And chump lady, you are too nice today- mental gymnastics? sounds almost like a rewarding exercise, I was thinking something more along the lines of contortioism.

  • I LOVE you Tracy.

    One important point for me is: do we want to risk our chance of gaining a life over waiting for a cheater to redeem him/herself?

    How long would that take? My educated guess is that it’s the time it takes for a unicorn to shave off its spiraling horn with a nail file and turn into a horse. By then I will be under the daisies.

    How long ago did Adam eat that apple? But humankind STILL has not learned the lesson…

    Life is too precious to waste on exploring rabbit holes.

    • Ever notice how so many cheaters ask for space/time post D-Day? It’s like a bloody physics conference. Nevermind that they just stabbed us in the heart, they need time. Stop asking me if I want to reconcile, I NEED SPACE GODDAMN IT!

      I firmly believe that if I had given my wife time, i’d be no further forward.

      But I did give her the space she asked for… and more. At some point she actually wrote to me lamenting the space between us. Laugh? I nearly shat myself! (this may be a British only expression! :D)

      • MightyChris…you made me laugh. BossHogg has cried to the children about his loneliness & sadz since I put him out. Nothing compared to the loneliness I endured living WITH his serial cheating ass! You are mighty, chris!

    • Life is too precious to waste on exploring rabbit holes! I will remember this each time my mind wonders to his fuckupedness skein!

  • “The question IS — are you okay staying in a relationship with someone who is capable of casually betraying you?”. I’m not.
    And if you ask the cheaters this same question, neither are they.
    They feel entitled to our forgiveness, but they chose a chump because they were looking for a forgiving faithful and stable partner. The deal was only on one-side. That’s what happened to us chumps.
    Why shouldn’t the cheaters be satisfied if we let them go and redeem themselves with somebody else?

    • Yes! I love the way you worded this, merry! Today’s entries will be reread by this chump any time my courage or memory fails.
      Tracy & CN, I hope you can comprehend how grateful I am for your support, guidance, analysis, metaphors, wisdom, humor and FUCKbombs! You have totally saved my life and opened my chumpy eyes to gaining MY new life.
      Thank you from my head & my (NOW healing!) heart!

  • Maybe the reddit people have accesss to special science. Like a pregnancy test pee on a stick type detector that will help us identify legit full blown terrible assholes or the small minutiae who really wont cheat again. And then science will get better and better, we could detect the ones who MIGHT cheat again, will ALWAYS cheat again, are very early in their CHEAT, or …. like ovulation tests or early preg tests- help you identify cheating down to the point of INCEPTION…

    Not only am I supposed to figure out how to put my soul back together, I’m supposed to be gracious and accommodating to the person who set it on fire after running it over with a Mac truck. And shredding it with a kitchen mandolin because soul julienne is so hot right now. And it’s imperative that I give them a chance to not do it again. Because the 13 years of hookers and go workers weren’t enough of a test.

  • Not too long ago I retired from a very rewarding career…a little over forty years…
    A labor and delivery nurse…my passion.
    I have one work related regret, that is that I didn’t tick and keep a little count book each time I was present and assisted with a birth, each time (and there were many), that I actually did the delivery, ( not all babies pop out, there are shoulder dystopias, footling breeches, etc.).
    Hundreds, probably thousands of births.
    Just thinking how many Chumps has Chump Lady pointed in the right direction, indeed saved their very life from continuing on with a cheater type partner?
    Hundreds, thousands, MILLIONS!
    Chump Lady has attributes, she has a proven record. She doesn’t fool around. She has proven tactics for gaining a life by leaving a cheater.
    It doesn’t matter what her critics say, she is what she is, she is a life saver.
    Chump Lady,
    Thank you for all that you do and for all that you give.
    forge on.
    A challenge for you is to tick off your victories. Impossible to keep up the ticks, but still fun to try.
    Millions of ✔️’S

      • Thank you Feelingit.

        I am sorry for all the hurt you and your precious children are going through.
        But, I do have to say, I see strength in how you and the children are dealing with everyday life.
        Stronger and stronger, each day, YOU are.
        Your cheater is dirt in your rear view mirror.
        One day he is going to wake up, feel like a ton of bricks hit him when he realizes all the true gems he has thrown away, discarded. His loss.

        CL, CN advise, listen to us Chumps, but it is the Chump herself/himself, who has to do all the difficult heart and soul work of accomplishing a cheater free life.
        Feelingit, YOU are mighty!
        Your five kids are too!

        (((((ManyManyHugs,as you go forward)))

        • Peacekeeper, I’m not sure some of these cheaters ever regret what they lost. I think that some of them live in a world where everyone else is to blame for their unhappiness. And that they lack empathy. For a long time, I kept with the thought that someday, my STBX will regret what he did and losing his family. I no longer think that. Quite simply, we are replaceable. And they will just keep replacing…

          Thank you for all your kind words on here. I love how you focus on building people up. And what a wonderful work life to know that you have contributed to all those new lives!!

          • GetMeFree,
            Your kind words really touch my heart today. Thank you.
            My cheater loved to change jobs. He was CEO, I was a front line worker.
            I always quickly put down roots and cried when I had to locate to a different work place.
            ( and settle my two daughters into new schools, friendships, etc.)
            But, it always proved to be to my benefit as I loved and was blessed with each job I had.
            ICU was another area I was experienced in and the other, which was also a favourite, was palliative nursing.
            What a privilege to witness the beginning of life and to be present with a person as they took their last life breath. My goal was to make that as peaceful and as pain free as possible. The palliative patient’s family members were an important part of palliative care. There is no medicine to block their pain as they say good bye to a loved one.

            Thank you again GetMeFree.
            I know sometimes I can rattle on and on, but just to ease one Chump’s, pain is a little miracle all in itself.

            • I love you Peacekeeper 🙂 Beau the Monster Biter does too 🙂 Thank you for being here 🙂

              …wish you had been there with my Mom and my little brother…


              • JeepTess,
                When I was new to CN you reached out so lovingly to me after a difficult post I made and I will NEVER forget your kindness.
                YOU have that way about you in all your posts.
                I replied in an earlier post recently ( you may not have seen it) and I referred to your new porch post in the forums.
                My heart was so saddened for how your cheater treated you at that time. But, your positive outlook on life shone through even at that difficult time. YOU still saw the beauty in that new porch and you kept your pride after all the hard work you put into its construction.
                I know it is beautiful, just like you.Thank you JeepTess.

                And Thank You for your kind caring heart for my Family’s sad loss.
                My heart and my mind is so heavy with worry right now.
                The love of CN holds me up.
                I know we all have problems and heartache in every day life, but how many people have a 24/7 lifeline like CN?Not many.
                I am so blessed.
                With love to you and all CN!


      • KathleenK,
        Wow, I was ok with my above posts, but then I read yours and JessMom’s posts and tears are streaming down my eyes.
        But, it’s ok, they are happy tears.
        I am sitting outside on my daughter’s porch, with her “high needs” dog. She is away for the day with her children.
        Some may remember this daughter lost her husband, suddenly, tragically four months ago. Now the children have to have a lot of medical tests done as they have some symptoms of their Dad’s ( unknown at the time) illness.
        There are also financial worries.
        ( the sweet dog was her husband’s bestest friend and vice versa, so the dog is still in trauma and we don’t leave her alone a lot). She is slowly doing better. My heart aches for her as we can tell her he is not coming back, but she doesn’t understand. ( also she witnessed everything as did the children, when my daughter performed CPR on her husband for 45 minutes).
        My cheater is no emotional support. His response to all is “Buckle up.”

        I have posted before that I don’t journal, but here I go journaling in my posts.

        Thank you KathleenK, thank you each and every Chump who listens to me when I open up and pour out my heart, and you lift me up.
        You really do and I love and appreciate each and every one of you!

        • Yes peacekeeper it all comes together now in what you did for a career. The most important person at each of my childrn’s Births was the nurse- the dr. Was just a prop to catch the baby. The nurses were not all equal in their skill and I have no doubt that you would fall in the angel category.

          By the same Token, when my mom passed, she was in icu palative care and then home hospice. Same thing- the good nurses were angels and again I bet you are that nurse!

          You are an angel here!

          • Feelingit,
            All you are going through and you take the time to read my posts and send such a loving message to me.
            Thank you so much!

            I am very happy you stood your ground and that you and your children did NOT make plans to attend your cheater’s niece’s wedding reception.
            Keep on being Mighty!

        • Oh no… 🙁 I don’t know how I missed this 🙁 I am so sorry for your daughter and her children and their dog 🙁 Peacekeeper I am so sorry 🙁

          …oh honey

    • I need to thank you, Peacekeeper … hearing what you did for a living brought back a GOOD memory from one of my children’s births. STBX was cheating during ALL of them I know now … plus he was a horrible jerk during the last one … so, I have been really struggling with those memories.

      BUT, you reminded me that my first was stuck in the birth canal — she had an arm raised above her head. They had to push her back in and adjust her before I could push her out again.

      Okay, sounds horrible (and felt horrible … the shot of pain meds they gave me had worn off by then) … but, while she was stuck, the doctor was trying to keep me calm. He commented on how thick and long her hair was — he was able to wrap her hair around his finger. He had me laughing during what could have been a scary/anxious time for me.

      I’m beaming from ear-to-ear. 🙂 Thank you for reminding me!… Maybe other happy moments from their births will start to break through now …. to have those memories back is valuable beyond measure. Thank you thank you thank you! (((Hugs)))

      • JessMom,
        I am so sorry that your cheater was a jerk when you delivered all your precious babies.
        I relived your first daughter’s birth with you and I imagine her little hand up by her head and I admire your Doctor’s skill at successfully delivering her, all the time encouraging you and making you smile. He is a great Doctor.
        Do I remember correctly that at one time one of your children was on life support after an accident??
        You always shine through as a very loving and caring Mother!

        Oh yes, JessMom may other precious delivery day memories peak through. You earned them!
        A tale, I was told, by Doctors I suppose, was that, babies born with a hand raised up, “were looking for money!”

        (I will never understand how cheaters can hurt innocent children by not giving a care to be a loving presence in their life.
        That will always remain a mystery to me.
        Having carried two pregnancies, lost one and caring for two children, now loving beyond measure four precious grandchildren, I count this as my greatest Blessing)!

        • Peacekeeper: Yes, the little one with all the hair … 17 years later was in a bad car accident and ended up on life-support for four days. Thankfully, she survived and is thriving — working, going to school, has her own place. 🙂

          Thank you for your kind words — and, I very much agree that I had a great doctor. I was very fortunate (and grateful — I must have thanked the poor man a hundred times while I was giving birth!! LOL).

          You said “I will never understand how cheaters can hurt innocent children by not giving a care to be a loving presence in their life. That will always remain a mystery to me.” …
          So well stated. I cannot agree enough.

          • JessMom,
            So happy your little girl survived that terrible accident. It must have been so difficult for you.
            She is a survivor, right from the start, like her Mom!

    • Peacekeeper,
      I agree 100%. I had already lawyered up when I stumbled upon Chump Lady, after searching: “how to handle sending your child into the hands of her father’s whore.” Answer? That’s a shit sandwich you just have to eat. And in finding that answer (as unfortunately unfair as it is), I found hope that I can survive this. And found the support I need to get through it. I love this website. I love the people who willingly share.

      I *am* a little surprised at the sheer magnitude of infidelity and narcissistic assholes, though. But hopefully after reading all the horror stories (along with some funny as hell anecdotes), I’ll be able to see the red flags a little better, should I venture forward with trying to find my happy ever after.

    • Peacekeeper, I love your insight about CL. She has saved AND inspired mightiness for how many lives????? Mine for sure, for what it’s worth. And my children’s lives…

      I shudder to think about my life if I hadn’t stumbled across that Amazon review directing me to Chump Lady and Chump Nation (instead of buying a RIC book).

      ON the other hand, my father was a great chump. But if he had not maintained his chumpiness and belief in my mother’s sincerity I shudder at what my life would have been had he left me and my sister with our totally harebrained mother. Maybe he would have fought for us, but in the 50s it would have been extremely difficult to get us out of the USA and back to his country. My mother did try to be a good woman for a while (luckily while she was raising me), but in the end she gave up trying to redeem herself and my dad died a very sad and deceived man. And this kills me with sadness, more than over my own marriage.

      On a lighter note, 41 years ago I spent every Thursday delivering babies. I loved it. And, like you, I regret not following up on their lives including the little footling that had me so scared. And the homeless woman who had TRIPLETS and found this out after she had delivered the second one (no prenatal care). A boy and two girls, Sidney, Shirley and Sirlene. I always wonder what became of them.

      Peace to you!

      • Beautiful post ClearWaters,
        I am sorry your childhood was so difficult and for your sadness over your parents.
        It is so wonderful to remember so many deliveries over the years.
        One lady I happen to see occasionally still credits me with breast feeding assistance I shared with her and that baby is now in university.
        I remember each of my nurses for each of my own deliveries. I was so fortunate and will never forget them.
        I understand the feeling when an unexpected baby comes out after the first baby is delivered.( before ultrasound and modern technology) Makes you wonder how so many babies survived so well.
        I am glad that you found CL at the right time.
        You and your Children are Mighty!


        • Peacekeeper, I think there are a lot of us working and retired nurses here. I retired from postpartum and neonatal nursing. I was also a lactation educator. The first half of my nursing career was as a psych nurse.

          I think we nurses wind up being chumps, just because of our ability to empathize, our willingness to serve, and our can/ do attitude. So many of the natural abilities that make us good nurses lead us into chumpdom.

          I suspect it also makes it harder for us to leave when we should. We have soft hearts and can’t stand the idea of suffering without trying to make it better. With the exception of our own. It’s harder to claim our own space in the sun because someone else might need it. But we have to remember, we count too, just as much as every soul here on planet Earth. And we have a right to live a happy, abuse and cheater free life. Our compassion and love can flow out to people who will appreciate it and not those who will use and abuse it. Hugs to you and your family.

          • Tessie,
            I respect you so much. I have sometimes commented on some of your posts. You may not have read my replies as I am often late reading, making my replies tardy also.
            I remember Beth once saying a beautiful tribute to your son, about your bravery, and that you are so cherished by CN. I could not possibly agree more.
            I have read of the loss of your son and I am moved to tears often. Your story lives in my heart and I send you hugs and love forever.

            I did not know you are a nurse also.
            ( once retired I believe we will always be a “nurse”) (especially the old strict nursing school type). As a “sister nurse” I cherish knowing that it is the right thing to do to reach out to others, don’t just think kind thoughts, say them, do them toward others.
            I love your posts Tessie and how you reach out to others.
            I feel honoured that you reached out to me today.
            Thank you very much!


            NEO NATAL nursing! YOU have my highest respect.
            I will admit to being very experienced at labor and delivery but, once that little baby was out and if he or she was in more than the normal amount of newborn distress I was so so happy to hand that precious bundle over to you, the expert in that vital area.
            Wow, us nurses, could we chat up a storm!

          • Thank you, all of you healing nurses. I am a social worker who works side by side with nurses in hospice care…we are of the same cloth in a lot of ways. I have loved reading your stories here today and I feel so GRATEFUL to be on community with your open, warm hearts. We all truly deserve someone who can reciprocate that. But if not that, then reprieve from abusers who take advantage of the best of us.

            • ChumpDiva,
              I have the utmost respect for your profession of social work.
              I worked alongside social workers in the case of infant abductions. Often, for safety reasons, the new Mom did not know that her baby would be taken from her soon after delivery and that was always a heart breaker. I felt that she has placed her trust in me after I coached her through long hours of labor. I tried so hard to encourage that Mom to work with all the agencies in order to prove herself worthy and capable of getting her child back. The baby’s safety was always frontline, but still, it was heartbreaking. There was often physical violence when a partner learned his child was apprehended. It was especially sad when a police officer or two were on the other side waiting with the social worker.
              Your job is stressful. I think a lot of people don’t understand how very very difficult your job can be.
              I do and I appreciate your role in life so very much.
              Thank you for your supportive post.

          • On the other hand, the mistress/new wife that fucked up my life is a labor and delivery nurse who has ZERO compassion and no thought or care to the pain and suffering she has caused. She is proud of herself.

            • Twitching.
              This labor and delivery nurse is a disgrace to the nursing profession. To all the human race actually.
              I am so sorry this happened to you.
              She is in the wrong profession as she clearly lacks respect for others.
              I am sorry for your pain.


  • It is not my responsibility to help Mr. Sparkles know his worth and have the character to make decisions that don’t intentionally harm other people. I was his wife, not his mother.

    It is, however, my responsibility to know my worth and act accordingly. (And, raise my children accordingly because they are watching.)

    (And… RIC people… I stayed for 8 more years after the first D-day. I did the MC and all the work. He didn’t. He kept lying and cheating. Funny that.)

    • ICanSeetheMehComing,
      I said exactly this to BossHogg when I was still talking to him. “It’s not my job to teach you right from wrong.” He’s 64 fucking years old!
      My kids respect me and see through his pathetic attempts to “get to know them” all of a sudden. They’re 21 & 15! Where has he been? Buying underwear, perfume & sex toys (& DaisyDukes cutoffs, hence “BossHogg”) for a married 45-yr-old who worked for him & who dresses like a slutty 14 year old who, he tried to tell me, was “like a sister” to him. WTF?! I told him if that’s how he thought family is supposed to be, he wasn’t safe to be around. That was when he told me he needed me to teach him.
      Too late for those lessons…
      Where do these people come from? We have been together 31 years. You THINK you know someone. The disordered thinking that sets the groundwork for infidelity is every bit as dangerous as the actual behaviors. That is what I’m divorcing: disorder. I may sift through the ashes later, to see if there are any salvageable artifacts from (perhaps) better days within the bookended affairs of this trainwrecked marriage. But for today, for my incredible kids and For MYSELF, I need to leave that cheater so that I can GAIN MY LIFE.
      Before I found Tracy, I was floundering reading RIC info (like I had at Dday2, 26 years ago), feeling sick to my stomach when imagining wreckonciling or just fear but true HOPE (vs. RIC hopium) about divorcing BH. I don’t remember how I found her, but I will forever be grateful to her and every one of you, CN, for lighting a path through the darkness and giving me a macheté to slice through the jungle of fuckedupness out of this mess! I need to return regularly as my blade needs sharpening or I get tired. But you ALWAYS deliver MY truth and values back to me and help me to stand tall and project my own MIGHTY into this shithow. I love you for it.

  • Deception is cruel and abusive. Cruelty and abuse are bad for relationships and harmful to partners.

    Bad behavior begets consequences. Cruelty is bad behavior.

    CL is spot on. After someone abuses you, the high priority question is not whether the person will abuse you again. The high priority questions are:

    (a) how can I protect myself from further abuse immediately so I can find a safe place to analyze my situation?

    (b) is there any reason I accepting this abuse for any period of time is in my (and/or my children’s) ultimate best interest?

    (c) if the answer to (b) is “no”, what’s my most available and least harmful escape route to safety?

    (d) if the answer to (b) is yes, what do I have to do to transition to a state where the answer to (b) is no?

    The question of whether the abuse is likely to continue then falls behind things like “what’s my new normal?” And “how do I remain functional in life and take care of my kids while I deal with the outcomes of the abuse” and things like that.

    The abuser doesn’t get top billing unless we give it to him/her.

    • Amiisfree – you cut through so much shit, right there!
      I may print, cut & paste this all over my house! Love you! You are brilliant, your clarity is platinum!

    • I accept responsibility for cutting a fool in front of my kids and I am ashamed. One day I hear her say:” I don’t talk to you when your drunk”. Bam I’ve become much soberer not perfect but not drunk no mo. Than I realize the lack of respect all the “time conflict “and lack of reason and unwillingness to be practical was her. Mind you I was wrong when half the time I reacted. I can count on one hand how many sorry I’ve been graced with not empathy.marcassist is her

  • Excellent post, CL! In the immediate aftermath of DDay, I focused on his potential, trying to understand what led him to cheat, how I could get him to change, etc (sigh). Now I am asking the right questions that CL identifies about what *I* want, and what is acceptable to me in a relationship. Not only is the cheating a deal-breaking, but so are all the lies, betrayals, gas-lighting, emotional abuse, devaluing, etc.–all of which began years before the actual affair.

  • One point I’d like to make is in law, if you kill someone there is a difference between manslaughter, murder 1 and murder 2.
    The key is the amount of planning and premeditation.

    If your marriage was awesome and your spouse went to a party without you, got drunk and had sex with someone, felt horrible and immediately told you and begged for forgiveness that’s one thing. It’s a whole not her thing to plot, plan and sneak for weeks or months setting up and having an affair.

    As I told my ex on Dday, both hurt but I could forgive the 1st instance with mc and work. The 2nd instance is unforgiveable because they plotted, planned and were deceitful. How could you EVER trust someone again who is capable of that ?

    • Same boat, I could understand the 1st incident, but not that he would go and do it again (and worse), the second time around, after we discussed it and committed further to the relationship, etc. He had a chance there to reform and did not take it. Plus, he tried to lie, cover-up and refuse to comply with my requests for safety, so his abusiveness really started to show.

      And even abuse specialists say “never let anyone cheat on you a third time”, meaning once could be a one-off in a lifetime, but two already means they are committed to bullying you. So you don’t give let them do three, you get out.

  • Cheaters feel entitled to cheat….

    Cheaters feel entitled to reconciliation…

    The common word is “entitled.”

    Entitlement will not make a relationship in any form or fashion work.

  • The complication is that you have now idea how truly repentant the cheater is. That’s all inside THEIR head. You as the chump have to spend time looking, guessing, analyzing their behaviors to glean what is going on with them. <>. I’m 5 months in from Dday and anytime I see my cheater wife smiling and happy, in brain I’m thinking ‘what’s going on here? why is she happy? is she cheating? I’m not happy right now. Is she truly sorry about what she did?

    • I think your good point here forces us back to CL’s principle–the decision about what to do with a cheater has to be about YOU. Do you want to stay with a person who cheated on you without ever knowing whether she is repentant or not? If you need to know she is repentant, then you should leave because that is knowledge you cannot ever have. If you need to know your spouse will NEVER cheat on you again, then you need to leave because that is a kind of assurance you cannot ever have. If you want to keep your marriage more than you want repentance or confidence in your partner, then for you staying may make sense. Chumps in marriages (or long-term relationships) tend to think about the “us.” The key to responding to infidelity is stop putting the emphasis on the “us” (or worse yet, the partner) and start putting yourself first.

    • She can smile because it wasn’t her trust that got shattered. It wasn’t her self esteem that got busted and her heart wasn’t shit on!
      My man whore also walked around happy go lucky, his secret was well kept, his image still sparkling and everyone still believed he was such a great catch. I am 3 months in to betrayal #2 ( that I’m aware of) and people in our lives still walking around shocked about what could have possibly happened to make him leave his wife and children of 22 yrs.
      Looking forward to freedom and in time after I heal, someone who is worthy of my faithfulness and devotion!

    • Yes, when I was 5 months out from Dday and a walking zombie who could only sleep with sleeping pills, I would hear my X whistling in the kitchen. Throughout his life, his charm had gotten him out of most consequences – he was so sure I would reconcile!
      I had to ask him to please not whistle and he just shook his head sadly (so sad that I was a bitter unforgiving woman who found it so difficult to trust). He was shocked when the consequences caught up with hi and hit him hard (postnup was in place – he was so sure we wouldn’t ever use it). He is basically no contact with his kids and his reputation is ruined. Wonder if he is still whistling.

      • KathleenK

        I am new to CN. Only been around for a little over two months and I found CL and CN and it has helped immensely give me strength. My STBX had a 5 year affair that I found out about. I am not wreckconciling with him because he lacks remote and empathy. Not to mention I will never trust or believe in him. The lies are overwhelming. The red flags were there but unfortunately I ignored them. Do you mind telling me your story or possibly where it might be in the blogs. Thanks! Here’s to gaining a life.

        • Hey NoRegrets – I’m sorry to read your story. You sound very strong and mighty at only 2 months out – wow!
          Dday for me was 3 years ago. I found out my X had had a 10 year double life of craigslist hookups, hours a day porn habit and daily skyping, ( webcamming) with both men and women. I had a full breakdown (hair fell out, couldn’t eat or sleep, shaking all day – symptoms recognized by most of us chumps). I spackled – maybe it was an addiction problem and he could come back from it and be the man I thought I had married? Over the 2 years of wreckonciliation, I learned he was a full on covert narcissist incapable of empathy or remorse and that he felt fully entitled to forgiveness, his reputation, his children and alimony from me. I struggled and worked hard with my therapist. My ruminating thoughts were a big stumbling block for me – I just couldn’t wrap my head around it all. Time and therapy have helped. I loathe my X and am moving on with my life. I feel happy every day and am the sane parent for my kids. I am very healthy, sleeping without medication and rarely getting triggered and shaky. I am not fully at meh yet, but it is getting closer and closer. I felt a deep kinship with Dolly in the thread above because some of us just need more time to process. CL, CN. my therapist and a few very good friends have helped me so much – I love coming to CL to feel validated and understood. I hope that soon you can feel the peaceful feeling of gaining a life and moving on. It does take time but each of us can get there with the rest of Chump Nation cheering her/him on. (((Hugs)))

          • KathieenK

            Thank you for sharing your story. I am not Mighty in the least but devastated. I found out 4 months ago, but I had so many red flags in the 24 years of marriage but in the 5 years it was more prevalent and I ignored them. When I found out 4 months ago I was checked into the emergency room because my anxiety was off the charts. I was alone of course and he was nowhere to help. They needed to put me on medication ASAP! I couldn’t be calmed down and my blood pressure was very high. I have been seeing a therapist and I’m on depression and anxiety medication. I have lost 25 pounds and I can’t seem to put on any weight. I wasn’t heavy to begin with. I am in shock to be honest that this happened. I asked my therapist if I should let the OW know what she was getting and he said considering what you are going through, you have nothing to lose. I also sent the same note to the OW parents. I have remained NC and I stopped looking at social media because they are both provoking me. I’m not going to do the “Pick Me Dance” or wreckconcile because I will be the marriage police. I have more respect for myself and I want my kids to understand that it wasn’t me. I just stood up for me because there is no one else to. My STBX lacks remorse, empathy, and I believe he has done this before without me knowing. I may still have feelings still in my heart but everyday I am living with out him I am praying the feelings will go away. I will never forgive “the Narcissit” that he is. If anyone is Mighty it is you, CL, and the rest of the Chumps. My heart goes out to everyone of you. Finding this site has been a God Send for me because it gives me strength that I don’t have at this time. I am barely holding on, and as much as I have had thoughts of hurting myself, my kids are the only thing at this time that keeps me going day by day. As far as Dolly, I have re-read her story a few times and I think I have it straight now. When the person you love has been lying, cheating, and has no respect for you there are no chances. Life is crazy already, so why make it any harder by trying to figure out the details of the affair and if they will cheat again. You live in hell. You think they care, but they don’t they gaslight you until the coast is clear and on to the next Shoompie. I didn’t learn any of this from Tracy’s book. I figured it out all by myself and with the help and guidance of CL and Chump Nation. If someone who you love doesn’t respect you then it is time to leave. Because if you don’t respect yourself than they will win everytime and you will always live in a depressed, high anxiety, and low self esteem state that is completely dependent on a Narcissit that will never love you because they don’t know how. I choose to GAIN A LIFE and I’m taking it one day at a time.

            • NoRegrets, You are mighty – you are marching through this horrible situation and you are TRYING. You have figured a lot of stuff out because you are TRYING to do your best. The physical symptoms alone are enough to send you to bed incapable of getting up, and the psychological symptoms are even worse. You are in the hardest time – only 4 months out. Please just have faith that it will get better because you are on the right road. Just keep doing what you are doing. Take your meds (thank god for them), try to take as good care of yourself as you possible can, be kind and patient with yourself. When your STBX lacks remorse and empathy and is a cheater, you really have nothing to work with. The pain of that realization is excruciating and the shock incapacitating, but in the long run life will be better. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make you 1 year ahead. The calmness and peace that can come with time… I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to be coming out the other side. I am not at meh, but I am past the worst trauma (the part you are in). Just have faith and keep marching along doing your best. It sounds like you are doing all of this NoRegrets! You are mighty!!! You are dealing with one of the hardest things in life and you are making it. ((((Hugs))))

  • Arnold said it the best, right at the beginning. He said: the character that allows one to cheat, is the same character (selfishness, entitlement, meanness, lack of care etc) that brings problem to the marriage before the cheating.

    I wasted 5 years trying to reconcile with a character that was capable of cheating. Despite my absolute devastation, I tried.

    No, he never changed. Not one bit. Not even the possibility of consequences changed him.

    The IC said: Patsy, can you see that his affair was the finally unacceptably hurtful PART OF A PATTERN? (took me another 4 years to get this).

    He is very, very very good at pathetic and feeling sorry for himself. Taking responsibility – not so much.

    No, I have 5 years empirical evidence (and more cheating followed) that the character that can cheat, does not change.

    • Bingo.

      I caught my cheater wife in 2011 trying (never got the proof she succeeded) to mess with a guy whose wife had been deployed to Afghanistan. Went to couples counseling, she made all kinds of promises to change her thinking and behaviors and now here I am 6 years later busting her screwing her 24 year old massage therapist and I’m just thinking ‘I WASTED 6 YEARS OF MY LIFE’ believing her. What a freaking waste. Take heed- cheaters do NOT change.

      In 2011 she was visibly scared that I found out. In 2017 when I finally got her to confess she was so unemotional about initially and confident that she could talk her way out of. It was like she was stunned that I caught her. They do NOT change they just get more arrogant.

      • Zell, when I caught skankboy, he too was so stunned he could barely walk or talk. Did the idiot think he would never get caught? Evidently, yes! When I was tossing his crap out of the house, I walked into the den and found him crying. What was up with that? Bet he wasn’t crying when he was banging the howorker.
        When I found out about the affair, there was no mental or emotional energy left to even consider reconciliation. Now the hound dog is sniffing around, telling mutual friends how he “feels like an asshole for doing her wrong.” I hope he slips on a banana peel over a cesspool!

        • NMSB

          Do you have any idea how fucking funny you are? You crack me up. In Six Feet Under the beginning of each episode begins with someone’s untimely death.

          However, twisted I hope the Limited’s prosthesis Pops mid suck and the whores face blows up. One can only fantasize.

  • Bravo CL! They can bash all they want. You literally saved my life. I had no clue how I badly I was being abused, until I found your site. If you saved just one life it would be worth it, but you have saved many more. Who cares if they can change? We have lives to live.

    • Artemis, so true !!

      I’ll illustrate something that happened last night to me. It is 6 years past Dday and divorce and I am happily remarried to an ex-Chump and we’ve been together almost 2 years. Anyway, I accidentally broke a plate in the kitchen. Without my even realizing it, my wife said that I immediately got all upset, said “I’m so sorry” and cleaned it up. My wife is good about bringing my attention to remnants like this from the Ex because she is very chill and wouldn’t have said a word about the plate. My Ex on the other hand would have hollared, screamed and thrown a fit saying horrible things about me.
      The thing is that I consciously didn’t realize I acted that way !!!

      CL is so right that I know now that the cheating was the tip of the iceberg and my Ex was and is VERY verbally and emotionally abusive and most of us don’t realize we are being abused because we are the frog in the boiling pot.

      I’m my old self again but my sister said it best why she detests my Ex so, not so much for the cheating but “I hated what she turned you into”. Thanks CL, “Leave a Cheater and Gain a Life” !!

  • What’s interesting to me is that they were saying you came “close” to denying redeemable cheaters exist. But you never have. In every article about unicorns, you talk about how hey, who knows, your cheater *could* in fact be a very rare unicorn. But….sure seems like that’s baaaaarely ever the case. That’s all you’re saying. You’re encouraging hurt and bewildered people to simply put one foot in front of the other, and base their actions in what’s reality 99.9% of the time. It’s not super productive to spend too much time conjecturing about the .1% of real redeemable cheaters out there, because most of us won’t end up with that lot in life. I’m entirely in agreement with this, as it’s a logical way to move forward. You can’t predict the future, and that’s the exact reason you need to try to act based on what will *most likely* happen. That’s life. Anything else is enabling, excuse-making, and waffling.

  • I thought I had an exceptional cheater the first time about 12 years ago. Our kids were 2 & 4 years old. He was in a fellowship and working a lot. I kept the kids and household going AND worked too in a stressful job. But it all revolved around him. I had to keep 2 little kids quiet so he could get his sleep when he was home. I cleaned the house, bought groceries and cooked all the meals, mowed the yard, paid the bills and he would play golf if he had free time. I did the adulting. Shmoopie was a twice divorced nurse in the unit who had a history of cheating on her husbands but she got him and they could chat for hours over a sick patient. Yes I can see how that was the better option. Once we sold the house and the kids and I moved, I guess that adulting for himself wasn’t so grand so he needed me back. I thought it was stress and fatigue that caused a premature midlife crisis in his early 30’s. What a unicorn I had but was really a jackass with a horn glued to his forehead.

    Fast forward through the years with 2 suspicious secretaries until he got caught redhanded with our 14 year old daugther’s 20-something year old sports coach while almost 50 year old Dr. Sparkles was volunteer coaching.

    Whatever is within them that they can justify cheating once still lingers in there. I liken it to getting shingles flairs after chickenpox. That virus lays dormant until it doesn’t. It’s there lurking, waiting to come out.

  • I have been reading the Chump lady for the past four months I am four months out from D DAY number five SLOW LEARNER all I can say I’ve never made a comment because I’m still tangled in UNTANGLING THIS fucked up mess but I will say that I too am just an ordinary story I’m gonna come back one day and post it all but I am so grateful and thankful that four days out from Dday number five while laying on the tile floor in my study crying and trying to figure out how to get up enough strength for another pick me dance how to make myself better, how to figure out how to reconcile, how to fix this problem I stumbled upon the champ lady‘s blog it was a game changer 30 minutes later I had lawyered up gathered all my ducks next day took them to my lawyer and got what I deserved and he got what he deserved still a lot of legalities and things going on but there is no 5th WRECKconciliation there’s just a lot of leave A CHEATER GAIN A LIFE ????????????????????????????????????????????
    thank you from the bottom of my heart my children thank you so if you’re out there wondering how to fix yourself when it’s not your problem stop ❣️lawyer up ❣️gather your ducks you deserve better you’re not bitter you’re just better ❣️
    My only regret is that I didn’t find the chump lady sooner ????

    • So sorry for what you and your kids have been through, NotBitterJustBetter. I know what that lowest of lows feels like and it’s horrendous.

      But, wow! You certainly showed how Mighty you are when you grabbed the lifeline and pulled yourself up!

    • NotBitter

      Love that you picked yourself up and filed. Each and every Dday it gets worse. Having ENOUGH is THE way to fix yourself. You STOPPED tolerating abuse. Clapping loudly! Take care of your needs.

    • Better, I’m also 4 months post Dday3. Your post is such a joy to read! Welcome and goid luck on your journey. I’m looking forward to hearing your story.
      Welcome, welcome, warm chumpy hugs!

      I just LOVE your “name!”
      When I info dump on people, and realize I’m saying to much, or whatever, I say: Sorry. I’m very bitter. But I don’t have to be. So hopefully, I’ll be able to focus on the “Just Better” part of it all.

      And like you, I’m so glad I found this site. It’s a lifeline in a crazy shit storm!! And really glad for you, that you found your inner strength to jump ship! I recall how scared I was when I called the lawyer, but am so glad I did.

    • Someone above (who was in the thread) said that the person is a Chump. So, I think he/she is still drowning in spackle.

      • It was hard for me to put down the spackle- so I get what the reddit poster is going through. I thought my relentless positivity and never say die attitude would keep a crumbling marriage together until my husband could grow weary of missing his mistress (who he claimed to have cut off- but secretly was still very much in contact with).
        and even then, I was willing to make do with a relationship where I knew I would never trust him again.
        It was awful and soul sucking. But then one day I looked at him and just snapped. I walked out of a public place, not angry, not demanding answers- just finished. And he saw it- and he panicked.
        Ever since that day, the spell was broken. Through what remained of our counseling, our divorce he spent all of his time trying to pull a 180. Because the triangle had collapsed and it was just him and schmoopie. Alone, together, with nothing to mutually hate (me). It was horrifying , scary and freeing all in the same moment. It took me way too long to get there, but I did. Now when I smile after seeing him and his girlfriend together he becomes angry yelling “sure, go ahead and laugh at me. It’s fine”
        And I know that no matter how long it takes any chump, they either get busy living or get busy dying (sorry Shawshank).

    • Yes, the person who wrote the original post is a Chump who is a bit put off because of the collective weight of experience that advises Chumps not to consider the cheater, but to focus on the Chump’s own needs.

      I think this is a tough thing to do. You look at all the years you were married, and all those emotional and financial sunk costs, and you look at the betrayal, and you think to yourself that the entire marriage couldn’t have been all that bad, could it? Isn’t there something salvageable after all that time?

      The hope, and what we call hopium, is that somehow, if WE work hard enough, We Chumps can “move on.” Our cheaters are different; they’re confused. They didn’t mean to hurt us. They made “a” “mistake.” They Love Us. Really. They tell us we need to give them a chance. And we want to believe that it’ll work.

      What Chump Lady and Chump Nation do is to throw the bucket of water on that hopium pipe. It’s not about US trying harder to make it past the cheating because we should feel sorry for our Cheaters. It’s about US looking at ourselves and our boundaries.

      How are we with living with a cheater? Are we okay with being the Marriage Police?

      This doesn’t say that everything before the cheating was Bad. It just says that the Cheating is the deal breaker.

      In my own case, CheaterX did have some behaviors that I was able to overlook prior to the cheating, and it was only after I discovered the cheating that I realized that those same behaviors, which I knew at the time devalued me and my experiences but which I spackled over because I knew he had shitty role models growing up and that in my mind he was trying hard to move on–those same behaviors are very common to cheaters.

      I also realized that in my own mind, cheating was my deal breaker. I wasn’t going to be married to a man who had “have an affair” in his emotional tool box. Even if he said he’d never use that tool again, how could I ever be sure?

      Trust is a big deal to me. Once it’s broken, it’s never the same again. It’s like that china figurine that you broke as a child. It was glued together so that you can’t really see the cracks, but you know forever that those cracks are there.

      I didn’t want that kind of marriage.

      And that’s why Chump Nation is here.

      • Thank you. I can relate to every single word you have written here. I am copying this post to read and re-read.

  • This makes me mad.
    We should all be so lucky as to not have invested precious time in thinking our cheaters were the ones that could change. I know there are some here that were one and done….I so admire you.
    I suffered through multiple D Days.
    We are here because we did know they were fucked up, most of us did try to save it.
    Wasted time.
    Most of us are here because we hoped what that misguided blogger wrote was true, but it wasn’t.

    • This!

      Unraveling STBX’s 20+years of deception took a couple of YEARS for me. I can’t remember how many times I did:

      1. I would find something
      2. STBX cried, apologized
      3. I made it clear he needed to come clean on everything
      4. He might come up with something small (or nothing) and then swear THAT was all
      5. He “said” he committed to fixing himself and our relationship

      I desperately wanted to save my marriage — my “intact” family. I was infinitely worried about the damage to my kids (yes … facepalm in hindsight … the damage to them came from STAYING through this BS).

      Then, I found something else. Same 5 steps. Then, I found something else. Same 5 steps.

      I gave this man more chances than I can count. I would say that these chances weren’t just a waste of time … they were destruction of time. They were horrible and hurtful days, weeks, months, and YEARS of added misery for me and my children. Lesson learned the hard way.

  • “If you bond deeply and love with your whole heart, betrayal is devastating. It’s not a “bump on the marital road” — it’s an improvised explosive device that just cratered your armored vehicle.”

    This. Is it.
    But the “armoured vehicle” is actually your SOUL, never mind your worldly stability, family structure, etc. It is a devastating assault on the most basic level of one’s existence…definitely not a casual transgression.

    Whatever the “reasons” in the vast majority of cases, I agree with CL that, with very rare exception, anyone capable of harm in this way has deep-rooted character/psychological issues at the core of their being. You can’t will healthy attachment or integrity into a heart and mind, nor can you rewire a faulty neurological reward system. Whatever it is, it exists naturally or it doesn’t.

    I was suddenly dumped from a 20+ year marriage in shocking, mid-life cheater fashion. I had no “opportunity” for reconciliation. The way CL frames things has helped me with the very necessary emotionally detachment process by bitch-slapping me with concise undeniable truths I know intellectually but must emotionally internalize. She also prompts me to identify my past “spackling” and signs of his entitlement that will help me “fix my picker” moving forward. Infidelity was not the issue all along but there were other problems/traits that are consistently also identified by CL and CN- these are all deep-rooted issues beyond my control. With CL’s help I am accepting moving-on without that well-deserved apology or ever really understanding “why”or “how”, a great source of anguish to let-go of! I’m learning to just “trust that he sucks” instead aka: letting his behaviour speak louder than anything else.

    CL is fabulous support, especially as an antidote after some well-meaning individual says “something must have been missing in the marriage” (…other than 2 faithful, committed, communicative, partners!). Thank you for your hard-ass, realist, commentary CL!

    • So well said MrsJackass. Mine ditched me when we had 2 small kids. Grass apparently wasn’t greener with twice divorced and history of cheating howorker and begged back. Thought it was a midlife crisis although we were only in our early 30’s. Through the years there were 2 suspicious secretaries (although this is now a true hingsight but my gut was screaming at me/my head was denying then) until he left for our daughter’s 20-something year old sport coach and he’s now almost 50. He was always miserable in all aspects of his life including work, hobbies, his family. I thought he was happy at home, that it was the 4 of us against the world. Now I know I was his Plan B in life and he was always on the prowl for something better. I was the enemy in his mind too.

      CL is so right that this is a pattern of behavior that so many a chump are able to spackle over and see the cheater in the best light. The cheating is just one more sign of their shittiness. I think I could have denied that my cheater wasn’t a unicorn in between his 2 known schmoopies. Everyone thinks he’s a great guy. He’s so damn sparkly and fun in public. They don’t see him bitching about them behind their backs. Once you see who they truly are though, there’s just no going back.

  • The common theme between that post, the IRC, and a majority of their supporters is: our agency is dependent upon circumstances, influence or external cues of others. Now I’m not denying that influence exists, it does, that’s why we steer our kids away from hanging out with the community drug dealer (among many other reasons). But I also know, from first hand experience (I’ll get into that in a minute) that those with strong agency are able to resist influence based on strong moral principles and a sense of strong identity.

    Influence can work with our morals or against our morals, and angency involves the creation of meaning and the capacity for imagining things in different ways of being and acting. This concept is often twisted to imply that the ability to resists influence is equivalent to having a closed mind (read Esther Perel). Now I do believe a closed mind does not have the capacity to even imagine things from another perspective, there is no weighing of information happening. But that certainly is not true of chumps who have pick me danced the skin from the bottom of their feet. We did imagine things differently, we adjusted our thinking and acting in hopes that things could be different. And it was precisely this experience that strengthened our agency against the influence of bullshit. So while there seems to be this mentality that chumps are black and white thinkers, closed minded, etc. they diminish the complexity of our experience, which is precisely what they accuse chumps of doing to the Cheater. Hmmm… chew on that hypocrisy for a moment.

    Okay, onto how I strengthened my agency.

    I was a shitty teenager, and put my parent through hell. All the bad choices I made, in my mind, were the result of external influences. A common theme among teenagers “well everyone else is doing it!” My agency was easily influenced because I didn’t have a strong sense of who I was. Luckily those with the capacity for feeling guilt can use it to strengthen their agency, or degrade it further, by rationalizing why they had no control over the influence of their choices, it was the complexity of it all that drove their acency to making that bad choice (and even more infuriating is the word choice is often substituteD for mistake). The degradation of agency seems to be the the mentality of the IRC and their supporters.

    What I learned from being a shitty teenager, I learned that you First have to admit that you are behaving like shitty person (contrary to new age thinking, guilt is not evil!) … and then you decide who it is you want to be! This is your agency! I learned that the pang of guilt you feel when contemplating a shitty choice is precisely the moment you stop and say “I will not do this”. You don’t justify and rationalize until you can find a loophole where you can fit that choice into a tiny compartment of of your mind. Now of course this lesson can be learned by a cheater, but it’s highly unlikely. I assume most of us have learned these lessons by the time we reach our twenties, and the fact that 30, 40, and 50 year olds haven’t by that point in their lives is very telling of their capacity to do so. Possible, yes; likely… uh no!

    So finally to my point… infidelity has a way of stripping away your identity, and when we’ve lost a sense of who we are, yes, we are vulnerable to influence. (Note: this idea can not be used to reinforce the Cheater perspective, because of course the cheater had the agency of choice, the chump didn’t). What CL does is remind chumps who they are… people who do not deserve to be fed shit sandwiches. She reminds them that they are not at the mercy of the cheaters choices, they get to choose what is acceptable to them. She helps remind them that their agency is their own, instead of relying on the influence of others opinions, she asks them to call upon their own. “Is this acceptable to you?” The focus is on their own agency, not on uncontrollable variables outside themselves. She reminds chumps that they are the only ones they get to control. Pick me dancing is a sad attempt at influencing anothers agency, and if that persons agency is so easily swayed my influence, that’s probably not someone you want to be with anyway, unless of course you are going to lock them in a closet and be the only influence they ever encounter.

  • “I guarantee there’s been cases of people who did have a cheater that would have never done it again, who were convinced by CL to leave because according to her, cheaters never change.”

    This is risible. It really is. Bwahahaha! As someone who read ChumpLady’s archives front to back after DDay2 out of 6, I’m pretty darn sure that nobody leaves a cheater just because Tracy Said So. The more typical reaction is, “Gosh, I would hate to lose all respect for Mr. Wonderful like all these chumps do for their cheaters. I don’t want to have to start calling him a flaming dog turd and trust that he sucks! I love him! He loves me! He just needs to find out what’s wrong with him so he can fix it and be a sparkly unicorn! Here, I will send him this article to help him keep his horn!”

    Then, months later, we return to ChumpLady, tails between our legs, and admit she was Right. About. Every. Little. Detail.

    Anyone who came here and left a cheater after DDay1 based on reading chump experiences is a wise person who most likely was already inclined to leave and just looking for confirmation to trust their gut. Good for them.

    And, I will not be surprised to see Reddit Guy back here eating humble pie after he has DDay6.

  • I met a man that I loved at first sight. I loved him before he even knew me. We were at a 3 month training session, he was a few weeks ahead of me. Four years later we ran into each other again, at a 3 month training session, he was several weeks ahead of me. Within that four years I had married. I was young. It should’ve never been a marriage, it should have been an extended dating period. Before I went off to that 3 month training session I told my then husband that there had better be a lot of changes by the time I got back (he had little to no ambition). I did leave it as if there was a chance, but I really was just gone in order to make some quick money so when I got back I could leave for good. What happens, I run into the man I loved at first sight four years earlier. Turned out, he loved me too at first sight. But what did I do. I didn’t tell him I had a husband at home. Had a wonderful 3 month summer. The best year of my life. Absolutely wonderful. The memories keep me living. At the end of of it I had to come clean, because the love of my life wanted to take it further. Well, it didn’t go over so well (of course, I don’t blame him). He said he could never trust me again. When I got home I asked the 3-year husband or a divorce. We divorced. Never talked to the love of my life again. Five years later I married again. Stayed married for 20 years. Never cheated. Never looked at another man. Never thought about cheating. Nothing. Ever. Then my 20 year husband cheated on me. Not only did he cheat on me, but when I confronted him, he left. We both went no-contact. Karma for me? Probably. I don’t miss the 20 year marriage. He was a horrible person. But, I probably brought it all on myself. Nevertheless, I would never trust a cheater to not cheat.

        • “I didn’t tell him I had a husband at home. Had a wonderful 3 month summer. The best year of my life. Absolutely wonderful.”

          Perhaps this is a trigger since you admitted you cheated on your husband and justified your behavior?

        • You were a faithful wife for 20 years. Your 2nd husband cheated. But you think it’s Karma because of a mistake you made years ago.

          That’s not how “karma” works. Your efforts to do the right thing for 20 years is resolving your “karma.” Where you went wrong is in picking a “horrible person,” probably because no one could live up to the “love of your life.” I’d suggest therapy so that you can untangle these things you see as “cause and effect.” Other than the “love at first sight” man ending the relationship because you weren’t honest with him and the possibility that you picked a bad man because you couldn’t have the one you wanted, there is not real linkage between these events, other than they all involve you and how you make choices.

          Therapy might help you feel you deserve a wonderful life and partner.

    • You know that saying “If they will do it with you,they will do it to you” ? Your “love at first sight” had healthy boundaries and integrity.

  • I am well beyond any thoughts of reconciliation. I read CL almost every day as a way to keep my spirit strong, and possibly gain some wisdom or pass some along. It is like a daily devotional for me — but the language used is pretty salty for a devotional! However, I like it, and feel it is therapeutic.

    I don’t believe that every person who cheats is irredeemable. But once the relationship is damaged in that way, that relationship becomes damaged beyond repair. Once one partner decides, unilaterally, and with malice aforethought to “steal” from the other partner, that he/she is entitled to live with the secret gains achieved by lying and cheating, then the relationship is forever changed. Maybe the cheater will be sorry and will have regrets and will learn a lesson — but if this is possible, they will need to start a new relationship with a different person and they will have to work very hard to keep their resolve strong not to ever do that again. The chances of a cheater being this type of person seem to me to be extremely small.
    I find that living life as an individual has provided many unexpected delights, and while I had some very good times as part of a couple, I also had the worst times of my life as part of a couple. There is risk in every relationship if trust is part of the relationship. A friend can mortally wound you with a betrayal, a marriage partner has an even bigger obligation to be honest in my mind. Maybe some of the arguments against monogamy are correct for some people — maybe some people are incapable of being monogamous. Those people should not marry, again, and/or agree to enter a relationship with someone with that basis if they are incapable of keeping that promise. With the majority of the stories I have read about the people of Chump Nation — we were explicit in our expectation of monogamy, and we were fooled. Many of us did try to reconcile, and were unsuccessful. Many of us found out, after the fact, that we had become involved with serial cheaters and con artists. Many of us found the descriptions of Type B Personality dysfunctions to be very accurate.
    We are not bitter bunnies. We tried. We found a better way for us to live — an authentic life, drama free, a life without a cheater. If someone in the RI finds that rare happiness with their even rarer remorseful unicorn, more power to them. Personally, I think our odds are better. Most people I know regret the loss of their time and effort in pursuing an unobtainable goal of reconciliation with an unrepentant partner. After I accepted that what I hoped for would not ever be, I started feeling better. Now, I can’t stand to imagine how awful my life would have been if I had stayed.

    Just because someone else thinks you should be married, or stay married, does not mean that is the right thing for you. What has been interesting for me is asking someone who does not believe me when I say I don’t plan on being married again if they would remarry if anything happened to their spouse? The overwhelming majority of them get a horrified look on their face and say “NO!!!” Now why do you think they answer that way if wedded life is such bliss? Perhaps it can be, but perhaps for many it is not so blissful. Whatever. I am much happier with the life I gained than I ever was with the cheater(s) I had.

  • I guess I’m not just a meh with my cheater ex, I’m at meh with people chasing unicorns too. Look Reddit guy, every one of us is here voluntarily. We didn’t enter Chump Nation and then have our passport revoked. We are here because we believe Tracy and our fellow chumps are correct – the way to happiness is to leave a cheater and gain a life. Did Tracy “convince” me to leave my cheater? Nope but her blog and all the stories from my fellow chumps with SO MANY similarities to my own story reinforced the decision when I was ready to make it. You’re not there yet? That’s okay. It took most of us a while to reach that point. Follow your own path. If it leads you to a unicorn, yay you! If it leads you back here – the welcome mat will be out and you’ll have plenty of shoulders to lean on.

  • I think that this is the power of CL, shifting the focus from the cheater and onto the chump, empowering chumps to take back their agency. I also believe that cheating effectively ends a relationship, because the cheater has devalued the chump so effectively that establishing a healthy dynamic is next to impossible.

    That said, the rhetoric around cheaters and chumps in CN must be simplistic in order to push reluctant chumps out of their spackled nests. And that is its
    weakness. Not all chumps are paragons of virtue who were propping up cluster B sociopaths. CL does acknowledge that in passing, but the main thrust of the site is cheater vs. chump without consideration for those toxic relationships in which those roles overlap.

    And that’s Ok. It’s not CL’s job to catalog every type of cheater and chump, or to unravel why every cheater cheats. CL serves as a much-needed counterpunch to the pummeling every chump receives from the RIC. That’s important and mighty.

    We just have to understand that it can look simplistic to those who haven’t been where we are. And so the criticisms aren’t necessarily ill-intentioned so much as missing the mark.

  • Oh, boo-hoo, some cheater who didn’t deserve it and would never cheat again got left! Tragic! Said no chump ever. What galls me about this narrative is that cheaters are entitled to another chance after they cheat. I admit I did try this once or twice, with people I actually do not think cheated on me again. Why didn’t it work? Because it destroyed my trust for that person; I never viewed them or the relationship the same. I knew they didn’t value us or me enough to not cheat, so I soured on the relationship. So I left anyway. The end.

  • I don’t know any marriages that survived cheating. “They” say that there are many marriages that do. Well, where are they?

    • And I am not talking about just hanging on. I am looking for the “everything is hunky dory” marriage recovery. THAT is the unicorn.

    • LetGo

      I thought mine did. Until the next…19 that I know of. And I was sick, loving him after the final Dday. I’m not proud of it. Yet the first time I found CL I KNEW I wasn’t crazy or alone. Hopium…was replace with hope. Love this nation. It saved my life. It’snever too late.

      As sick as I was I fought for myself, a hard thing to do after years of abuse.

    • I was in the company of a married couple 8-years post-cheating at a large “fun” family oriented baby shower. It was awkward. No one seemed comfortable, and there was little fun going on between the two.
      There was a lot of extra cheek pecking and “Look at us,” going on. I wanted to kosh them both over the head to get them out of their misery.

    • But how many chumps suffer in silence? How many are protecting the cheater’s image during wreckonciliation so that that elephant doesn’t forever linger in the room if they do end up staying together?

    • I know one person who had an affair at a time when the spouse was totally unplugged from the marriage. This person got therapy and turned back to the marriage as did the spouse. It was a lot of work but neither was an “entitled” narcissistic type and the “unplugged” situation was extreme and did not involve something that the couple could do together. And they were very young at the time. They learned, together, that marriages don’t survive if either partner diverts major energy.

  • Chump Lady and Chump Nation – THANK YOU! Thank you for the sanity. Thank you for the bitchslap to reality. Thank you for the 2 x 4 of lucidity.

    I remember in my first year of marriage, I wrote in my journal that I could actually imagine a better loving relationship than the one I was in. Wow. Such insight even in that first year. I knew that something better was out there, whether that be a relationship with myself being single for the rest of my life or a relationship with someone else who truly is someone worth spending the rest of my life with. The sad part is that I was so determined to be coupled that I endured 10 years of abuse to find out that I really do need to enforce my own boundaries. No one else is going to do that for me.

    The most important point of this whole site, in my opinion, is that question “Is this relationship acceptable to you?” It’s was the turning point in my relationship. I started thinking about that question a lot and while it still took me a long time to come to terms with that question mentally, I can say that the way I was being treated, even without all the cheating components was not acceptable. The cheating components were the nail in the coffin. After 3 years of trying to reconcile, I just kept thinking, “I just don’t want to do this with you anymore. I hate the way you treat me. Period.” The vast majority of SHitler’s behaviors were not acceptable to me. I love that I know that now. I think I would still be in the fog if not for this site.

    • Marriage detective,
      I read many comments that say “wow. I could have written this exactly.”
      I never truly understood that feeling until now. I could have written this! There are very telling things in my old journals from the early years of marriage. I was so insightful back then but I did not leave. I was intent on being a couple and did not really dig into who he was. He looked good on paper, as they say.

      Ten years later I am getting my ducks in a row. Like you, the turning point came after I stopped asking “why does he do that?” and started asking “why do I put up with it?”. That is in large part thanks to this site. I had lots of therapy previously but CN and CL this kind of pulled it all together.

      Anyway, thank you Marriage police for putting the story into words.

      • Oh, and

        “I endured 10 years of abuse to find out that I really do need to enforce my own boundaries. No one else is going to do that for me.”
        has been a HARD lesson to learn.

        I was always looking around for someone to make it better, tell him he was being unfair, and to fix my life. Little by little I am moving forward, finding my agency in baby steps.

      • Battle

        I think we all have a question when faced with the unthinkable betrayal.

        And the place I got stuck repeatedly was in the denial stage of grieving what I thought I had.

        Cognitive dissonance was learned early in my life growing up with an amazing mother who repeatedly said, “I can’t believe…

        One of the turning points in therapy was when I was told I no longer needed to gather evidence after making yer another ‘I can’t believe’ statement.

        Believing forced me to face the pain once and for all. And fuck it was a shitload of pain.

        Years of therapy for the chump and the disordered, rather than work on themselves find a new victim.

        That resentment a chump feels after the discard given the belief they are happy is a farce regardless of the image projected. They’ll always need a pedistal.

  • The only unicorn story I ever heard with some credibility is Cheryl Strayed’s in her book “Tiny Beautiful Things” in which she reveals when she and her now-husband first began dating, he cheated, and the woman called her and told her. She says that literally “years” later she thinks it strengthened their relationship and made it better. Though I’m pretty sure it could have been better if, ya know, he’d never cheated at all. But that was her choice and she apparently stands by it. There, that’s 1. *rolls eyes*

      • (or that may have been her first husband; either way, once a person cheats, rationalization is going to be their main line of defense.)

      • What an awful article. Wish I could un-read that. If that’s not an article about why cheaters suck, I don’t know what is.

      • What?! While she was married she slept with a slew of guys, got pregnant with someone else’s baby, and had an abortion? Good grief! And so many excuses. Just. Wow. She is crazy.

        • Jeez, NWHI, don’t you realize it was because of her Grief, and her need for self-fulfillment! (Now I’m left wondering when my mother died why I didn’t have the desire to screw the entire Dallas Cowboys team.)

          • Hahahahaha! With all of our grief together we should have F***** the whole NFL league! (Except for Goodell, he’s an ass!) (I get dibs on Tom Brady first!)

    • That womans story has always bugged the shit out of me. Her sucky behavior while married to a stand up guy and then her stunningly dumb PCT hike. Now I know why search and rescue is so needed, because entitled, selfish idiots who don’t seem to have the sense god gave fleas walk among us.
      I also hate her advice on……or is it Jezebel? IDK, but it always felt off, and then I saw that it was advice from Cheryl and it all made sense. UGH

  • I had this idea to start. Like LAM wasn’t -so- bad because I’ve read so much worse on various sites. What it really comes down to is what I’d be willing to tolerate and what I think I deserve. I’ve always had a problem with both as my self esteem is in the shitter. I remember cheating being one of my dealbreakers, then immediately started the pick me dance for a short time right after d-day. I watched myself like a movie, knowing I was going against my basic values because of his potential, or my lack of self worth or a whole host of stupid reasons.

    • Love and Chumpiness,

      You sound so much like me! Even after being chumped and abused by my husband and doing the Pick Me Dance in some form or fashion for years, after my cheater husband left, I entered into a relationship with someone who I thought was a Great Guy, fellow chump, who I wanted to marry. (I started believing, that maybe, just maybe, there was a Karma, the one that ‘evens the score’ for the innocent, long-suffering.) Wrong–Different face, similar behavior! He repeatedly lied to and mistreated me. Even after breaking up with me out of the blue twice in less than three years, even using the same crushing words, ‘I want to run away from you. I want to get married,..but I don’t see you in my future.’ Until I found out that he hooked up with a co-worker the second he dumped me (maybe before he dumped me) on this second break up, I took the Pick Me Dance to the Olympic level because I desperately wanted to win the Pick Me Dance (win the mostly fantasy, not real, him back), which I felt was necessary, like air and water, for survival. I thought that I needed to make up for my ‘deficits’ and show him that I was worthy of his attention, love, and respect. As a separated mother, I worked up to 70 hours/week to hang out to some very bad jobs and keep money rolling in, got a great new job in a new field, interviewing for it the day following the night I stayed up with my dying father-in-law with my abusive ex-husband by my side, took software courses to become a super-skilled professional, got a new car so that I wouldn’t look ‘down and out’ and ex-boyfriend wouldn’t look down upon me and be ashamed/embarrassed to be seen in group photos with me (because then he might have to acknowledge that I was his girlfriend), helped address needs of my children, including the one with special needs (had to fight for inclusion in Special Ed), finally got divorced after a nightmarish three-year long court battle, grieved the loss of several relatives, young and old, who died or are dying of terminal illnesses, successfully coped with a chronic back condition that prevented me from sleeping for four years, moved a few times, prepared for a bodybuilding contest to look like the hottest, fittest middle-aged woman who every walked the Earth, and even prepared to compete in a triathlon and marathon (although I hate running) to impress him (out of shape, overweight as he currently is, he had run a couple of marathons), started working again toward earning a black belt. (Although not always successful, I tried to be/appear cheerful throughout the strife.) Yet I still wasn’t GOOD ENOUGH for him! He even had the gall to tell me that I could stick around (have the honor of his presence), if I didn’t expect any romance from him. (That occurred during the last discard phase, when he was offering me the ‘privilege’ of being demoted from girlfriend to F–kbuddy.) I hate the fact that I feel very jealous of his new girlfriend as she gets to spend all day with him at work (as she, like him, is a financially very comfortable engineer in their company who works great with my now ex-boyfriend, according to him, the guy who appears to be ‘all that’) and then gets to spend all night with him (she is relatively young and childless) and they get to ride off into the sunset without a care in the world while I am alone (and feel as though I will, much to my chagrin, never experience a happy committed romantic relationship) and struggling mightily! I don’t want to throw a self-pity party, but I can’t seem to escape this destructive psychologically tortuous vortex no matter WHAT I do (meditation, therapy, medication diet, exercise, journaling, trying new hobbies, etc.) I am so upset, that my hands have tingled (from anxiety) for two whole months! The discomfort is so severe that I sometimes think that I would cut off my hands to kill this sensation!

      I think that I have a trouble with perfectionism. The perfectionism may have arisen from a need to feel perfect in order to be loved by my parents (although I know that being perfect cannot protect one from all the tragedies and rejections in the world). I am fairly sure that to most outsiders, it looked as though we had a very healthy family, which we did in some ways. (I used to tell people that my childhood did not lead to problems in my adulthood. I was being honest, but I think that when I said that I just couldn’t make the connection between childhood events/relationships and adult events/relationships.) However, certain aspects have been unhealthy and damaging. For most of my half-century of life, my father, who generously provided academic, financial, and some instrumental support, and presented my truly amazing superstar of a younger sister, as the golden child (she is in terms of talent, beauty, and compassion for people), has invalidated me, calling me a liar, although I never lied to him, criticized me, telling me that I was a failure in my romantic life, ‘parental life, academic life, professional life, and athletic life, and has virtually never hugged me nor told me he was sorry to see that I was hurting after experiencing major traumatic life events (e.g., my divorce). He yells at me for even mentioning that I didn’t sleep well because I thought about the trauma! In essence, in court and at home, I have been not only violated but also silenced. (May explain why I write so much here.) My mother, also generous in many ways and somewhat martyr-like, has also been critical and withholding throughout my life. I have tried to kindly describe my thoughts and feelings on this matter to my parents, to no avail. Perhaps the lack in my relationship with my parents has driven me to seek out comfort (validation, affection) from men, even men who are abusive, dishonest, unfaithful, or just plain self-serving and emotionally unavailable, in an attempt to provide what was missing in my childhood. I hope that what I have written on this site will help not only me but also many readers who are seeking a happy, healthy, authentic life.

      • Rock Star Wife,

        As someone (Tempest, maybe?) said earlier, you are asking some very important yet painful questions. Keep doing that, keep coming here to read others’ stories and get support.
        You say you can’t seem to escape the destructive vortex even though you’ve tried many things.
        It looks like you are on the right track with your questions. I encourage you to pursue them.

        I know perfectionism and it’s relationship to striving for parental love. It’s tough.
        But now you know.
        And if you grew up in the 80’s in the USA like me you’ve heard “Knowing is half the battle.”

        (Cheesy reference but I just had to.)

      • So good to see you writing on the board, RockStar.

        The important nugget I glean from what you wrote is the idea that you have to do things to be “good enough” for anyone. Surely, that foundational belief that they only way to be loved is to “be perfect” can lead to perfectionism.

        The next step is to figure out who you are (not a marathoner, for sure) and for you to love yourself. That is what saved me, in the long haul. I learned to love myself and to focus my energy on living what I see as a good life, not to make myself into someone who will be “loved” by some abusive man. (Hey, I’ve got this in my life history too.)

        My decision to take a full 2-year break from relationships helped work on digging into my own life and to stand on my own, in an emotional and psychological sense, without the need for approval from others. One thing I’d suggest: shift the relationship with your parents to a far more superficial level. Don’t talk to them about your life. Ever. Have a nice dinner, buy the Christmas presents (and be ready for criticism about your choices), keep them filled in on kid events, but unplug emotionally. You will never, ever get what you need there.

        And here’s the surprise. Once you unplug from your parents emotionally, you will get them back, in a weird way. You won’t NEED things from them. You can enjoy their more positive aspects and have a relationship in the present. Therapy helped me a lot with this shift as did reading here, reading about narcissism (my mon) and (wait for it) my astrologer friend, who is very wise about the goal of living our own lives, not getting stuck in the past.

        In the end, if our parents were inadequate or neglectful or toxic, we must accept that we will never get what we needed as children. That ship? It has sailed. But now that we are adults, we can give those things to ourselves. We can learn to love ourselves while still striving to grow and change in healthy ways. We can stop relying on others to do that work. That was a revolutionary idea for me; I spent most of my adult life trying to get from male partners what I needed when I was 5. Think about that. It can’t possibly work. And really healthy men want partners who aren’t stuck emotionally in childhood. The good news is that once you start this work in a conscious way, you can make a lot of fast progress, especially if you have a good therapist who is on board with the project (and a good astrologer friend, ha ha).

  • I’ve heard Dr Gina Barreca say “It’s really hard to move forward in your life if you’re always looking backward”. To me, that sums up perfectly life trying to live post-cheating with a Cheater (unicorn or not). Similar to CL’s line “is this relationship acceptable to you”? We ALL have hopes and dreams related to our lives. I would bet 99.9% of the people on the planet have hopes and dreams BEYOND just “I want to be coupled up with someone”. Can you achieve those hopes and dreams and move forward if you’re always looking backward (and looking over your shoulder)? I would argue “no”.

  • This. X 1000,000,000!!! The responses here show that. I show my bf your blog sometimes and this morning i did. He argues that’s our point of view as chumps and sometimes men cheat and really do love their wives and can reconcile. I called bullshit as I have done before.. he was married 23 years faithfully and lost his wife to cancer so has no experience either as a chump or a cheater by the way.. he knows this is a concrete and titanium reinforced boundary for me. It is one of the things standing in the way of me getting serious about marriage right now…more discussion will be happening and no engagement for now. If not for CL and CN that boundary would not exist.. thank you for me being able to take care of me.. I wouldn’t be doing that if not for you… REALLY!!!

  • Quite some time ago while I was wandering lost in the foggy woods, I stumbled across a blunt WordPress blog written by someone with the unlikely name of ChumpLady.

    At that time I still clung to the belief that Mme YogaPants had been seduced by the evil, manipulative Senor Moneybags and that one day she’d realize what a great guy and family that she was walking away from.

    Beyond the reconciliation industrial complex which already had me in it’s grip, there were not one but two unicorns that I had sighted. The first one was another couple in the village I live in where the woman had come home after a year or so with her guy. Now the guy she came back to was quite the ass. I thought – well – if he can win his wife back, why can’t I? After-all – he doesn’t even wear any sort of tie, much less a bow tie! The other unicorn was Mme YogaPants’ own brother who we will call Mr. Choo Choo. Well, Mr. Choo Choo had had “just” an emotional affair and he and his wife were all reconciled and happy although Mr. Choo Choo looked like he was wearing an ankle bracelet and was scared of the warden. And if they could do it, well, there was a great example that we could follow. Maybe they could even help us.

    So – to address the original question.

    Yes, perhaps some cheaters are redeemable for a particular value of redeemable. Each of us as individuals have to decide for ourselves what we will and will not accept as “redemption”. At one point I would have been thrilled to sweep everything under a rug. Is that redemption? I would have thought so. Do some cheaters change? I don’t know. I know a few cheaters and generally, including Mr. Choo Choo, the appear to not regret their choice to cheat. They seem uncertain of their choice to reconcile though. The ones that stayed away seem somewhat happy with their choices, but there’s always a hint of uncertainty, anger and pain under that veneer. The ones that came back that I know of seem to have not done it out of true love, but rather for other more selfish motives. In the two cases I mention, money and security were involved. Mrs Choo Choo uses the spackle trowel with the large heavy duty mix I know. I occasionally think of inviting her over here but I’ve cut myself off from all of my ex-inlaws and really don’t need to shop for more pain.

    So the question has merit. The answer, subject to interpretation and perspective.

    A great topic and discussion as always.

    Oh – and I’m pretty firmly a current resident in CN. I booked my room in a suite here when I realized that there was nothing that I could do, or could have done that would have made any difference and that it was indeed all about Mme YogaPants and her choices. I will probably move to the Land of Meh in due course. Probably on a Tuesday.


    • Hey BT — a coworker told me he is finalizing his divorce this Monday, and won’t be in for work, cuz he’s going to see his therapist.

      He seemed sad, we talked a bit, and it came out that he is the cheater. I asked if he wants to reconcile, his answer? “I don’t want to hurt her anymore.”

      • And this is what all of us should receive. A repentant spouse who understands the pain and devastation and helps us move on with our lives without them.

        I’m mostly grey rock with Mr. Justification, but still have to listen to him ramble on about his therapy appointments and how much HE wants to stay a family. I just have to walk away when he tearfully says, “But I don’t want any of this!”

        Selfish to the end.

  • Rehabilitation might be possible if the cheating partner: has empathy, has maturity to address relationship &/or other personal problems, and really wants to be in that relationship. However, once trust and respect are gone, your relationship is done. It can not be regained.

    After DD#1, I held on. I don’t know why…So I would add to CL’s list, ‘you CAN end a bad relationship’. It sounds dumb but I didn’t know I could end a bad relationship.

    You can love someone, but that doesn’t mean you can make a life with them.

    CL, I love how you offer such clarity and tough love.

    • You’re not wrong with anything you say in your first paragraph. However, I suspect that partners with empathy, maturity & desire to be in the relationship don’t end up being cheating partners to begin with!

    • Yep, what became clear after discovering stuff was that he still didnt respect me or my needs (such as full disclosure) and wasnt grateful at all for the emotional labor that staying in the relationship and rebuilding trust required of me. His entitlement lived on.
      He gave me nothing to work with. What hurt most was that he seemed to truly invest in the relationship during two years of reconciliation, but in the end he just liked the new script we were playing and I always questioned how long that would stick with him.

      • Sounds just like I started to experience before I got out (only 2 weeks after Dday). Clearly outlined my needs to my wife, she was too busy focusing on needing time and space for herself, etc. That was it for me.

  • Heres my thing. I DID the reconciliation thing and did it well! We rebuilt and did well for several years.
    Then he did it again.
    My point is this. Even in the cases where they do repent/honest remorese and work honestly…the capability is there.
    Do it once shame on you…do it twice shame on me. There wont be a third time.
    If you have the gumption to go reconciliation with and honest hard working reconciler .. just know it can still happen again.
    As chump lady has said… what is a acceptable relationship for you?

    • Apparently its been proved that even genuine remorse is not a predictor of reformed behavior.
      Only mentality changes can produce the change in character and the irony is you don’t even need remorse for that.

      • That’s not “genuine remorse”–people who are genuinely remorseful don’t repeat their terrible behavior. They change. Or grow.

        Genuine Imitation Naugahyde Remorse puts people on good behavior because they want to evade consequences. Once the danger is past, then…

  • CL,
    All I know is, CL, you have helped me get the hell away from the cheaters and manipulators in my life and I am much happier for it.

    I don’t really care if my two cheater ex’s are doing their best to be fine gentlemen. Let ’em do whatever they want, as long as I never have to take the risk of being around them again for one minute.

    Once someone shows me such lousy character, life is too short to waste any time giving them a second chance.

    • How do you stay away from manipulators, Marci?

      Once I knew what I was looking at, I saw that several people with whom I serve in the faith community (all wormed/climbed their way into leadership roles) are top-notch manipulators, helping themselves at the trough of the giving souls.

      • My answer to the question of how you stay away from manipulators:

        You learn to recognize manipulation when you see it. Then you learn how to establish boundaries to protect yourself. Ether remove the manipulator from your life or you learn how to set boundaries that limit the damage they can do (as in, learning to deal with a manipulative boss when the job is otherwise perfect for you). In QM’s case, I might either change “faith communities” or find other ways to serve that don’t require contact with the manipulators. (Just because people are in “faith communities” doesn’t mean they aren’t very troubled. Narcissists are often drawn to people who are “followers”).

  • I know ONE truly redeemed cheater. She and her husband were a godsend to me after D-day. When she talks about her affair, she does so with humility and takes full responsibility. After the affair they separated and she enrolled herself in a 12-step program (it was the only treatment she could find in her small town 15-20 years ago). She re-made herself. She completely restructured her boundaries in multiple areas of her life and is the first to say that any cheater who blames their chump is full of shit. She learned new coping mechanisms and uses them. I count her and her husband as good friends, and along with CL, they modeled to me what real redemption and real remorse look like. What my ex was doing to try to save the marriage looked nothing like what she did, because of course he was still cheating.

    Like the affair, redemption isn’t caused or controlled by the chump. It’s 100% on the cheater. The chump can give room for redemption but cannot force it to occur. I gave plenty of room for redemption, but my ex didn’t take it, not the first time, not the second time, and not the third time. He used that time to double down on vilifying me and deeply entrenching himself in a sense of entitlement.

    The only thing a chump can do is back away. The cheater has to seek their own way to redemption. And 99 times out of 100, they don’t bother.