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Fix Your Picker Tips

Hey, it’s Friday and maybe you have a date this weekend. Or a bad rash just thinking about dating. Or maybe there’s still a cheater snoring on your sofa. What you need are BOUNDARIES!

Today’s Friday challenge is How to Fix Your Picker. If you’re a recovering chump like me, you need this skillset. And maybe a lifetime of refresher courses… (no, I really cannot host book club again… okay, okay, just this sixth time, but this is IT. Doesn’t anyone else have a sofa and cookies?)

Here are my Improved Picker tips:

Do NOT rescue anyone. Healthy people don’t need rescuing. They pay their bills. They function like adults. They manage their crises. Sure, everyone has some bad luck sometimes. We can all use a helping hand on rare occasion. Bu how people meet the challenges in their life says a LOT about them. Good people do not presume. If they lounge around on fainting sofas waiting to have their brow mopped while you bring them a hot toddy and your check book — fuck ’em. Steer clear.

Do NOT settle for lopsided arrangements. You need a partner, a friend, not a project. Healthy relationships are based on reciprocity. Don’t do for someone who wouldn’t do for you. And don’t presume reciprocity (oh, of course they would) — watch what they do. Do they pick up the check? Do they hurry to do for you like you do for them? Do they get pleasure from giving to you? Or it is all about them?

I see a lot of straight men fall for this. They want to be a caretaker, feel needed and powerful, and are flattered by apparent “helplessness”. Choose a competent person with a job and their own money. Find an equal. Women fall for the caretaker role too — they jump in as “mommy” and polish the jerk up, find them employment, manage their life. DON’T DO THIS. Healthy people aren’t looking for parents and life coaches. That’s not your job, okay? Your job is girlfriend/boyfriend. That’s IT.

Do NOT run yourself down. Oh, no one would want me because I’m a single parent/a special needs kid parent/I’m fat/I’m old… whatever. If you’re a good person and you’re responsible and loving? You’re a stock that trades high. Never forget it. Bonus points if you have all your hair and teeth.

Beware of people who lead with self pity. Is it always someone else’s fault? Do they see themselves as a poor sausage, and worse, do they want you to see yourself that way too? Do they flatter you by running other people down around you? Oh, your parents don’t understand you. They suck. She’s out to get you. He wants your job. Wingnuts isolate their victims. Only you understand me. Wingnuts idolize and devalue you. Why? It’s easier to manipulate you that way. The self pity is real. You, however, are just of use.

Beware the love bombers. If it seems too good to be true? It probably is. Take it slow. Crazy will reveal itself. Anyone who moves too fast or “loves” you before they have a good long time to get to know you? That’s a red flag. Pay attention to how much they really know about you. Are they truly paying attention to your quirks and interests or are they feigning it with vague, over the top praise? Do you feel like your best self with them, like you do a friend who loves you warts and all? Or do you feel like you’re living a fantasy? Keep it real, chumps and don’t be in a rush. Let enough time elapse to let their character show.

Last but not least — DO NOT BE AFRAID to dump someone. If someone is pressuring you for a permanent commitment too soon (marriage, moving in with you), or on the other side, is vague and non-commital about exclusivity (after many months or years together) — DUMP. If you have deal breakers, abide by them. Don’t be afraid to “next” someone, because I promise you there is always a next. There are many, many people out there. You can afford to be choosey. Don’t panic if you meet a lot of sucky people, or decent not-quite-a-good-fit folks. You’ll learn from them, and may just enjoy something light and casual. Not everyone is life partner material, (assuming you even want that).

Be careful out there, chumps. A good heart is a terrible thing to waste on a fuckwit.

What have you learned about fixing your picker and un-chumping? Tell CN!


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  • I’m still in the self -pity / run myself down phase I suspect. At 50, I just can’t imagine ever having a new relationship again. Having experienced the unexpected, sudden abandonment thing, where he ran off and has never been seen or heard from in the last 9 months (Ultimate NC!) I have very little to go on re: a dodgy picker. How will I ever know when I think it’s OK?

    • Sugarglider

      Pick yourself first. I’ll raise my hand for the caretaker, fixer role I assumed. It takes time and practice to take care of your needs. It will give you the strength necessary to even consider dating at some point. There’s a lot of boundary setting in all our other relationships that comes first also. It took a few years to get there.

      • Sugarglider,
        Has it been 9 months since your D Day or 9 months since you last heard from the cheater?
        Is the cheater an ex yet?

        It takes a LONG time to even start healing from infidelity. Years, not months!!!

        Especially after 50 (when dating is with a different body and mind than you probably didn’t have the last time you dated).

        Please don’t date until you are ready.

        In your case, ready means that you’re no longer tracking the last time you heard from the cheater! It should be more like you can’t remember when you heard from them last and don’t even care.

        And, there is a huge difference between dating before you’re ready and dating when your mind and heart are truly available.

        • 9 months since both. He blithely announced he was “ending our relationahip”, admitted the affair, and took off. Refused to reply to any form of contact and i decided not to chase him. Formalities are not done but i am close to initiating. Thanks for explaining the difference. And 1 like yourpoint about the 20 yr difference since lasr dating.

          • Sugarglider, when you wrote “and I decided not to chase him” I yelled ‘YAY for Sugarglider!’ That alone shows that you are mighty.

              • do not be even a tiny, tiny bit surprised when (not if. Definitely when) at some stage in the future, most likely when you genuinely are happy and ticking along well, either with someone else or not, but just actually content and happy with a full, good life, your Houdini re-appears, via an email or some other exploratory, non-committal ”I’ve been thinking about us, how are you?” exploratory communique.

                They very, very often do this when things haven’t really worked out as planned with Twu Wuv or Schmoopie or Miss New Boobs. You’re a good fall-back option and for certain they are keeping that line in the water to the extent that they know very well when you are doing fine, are happy, not actually thinking or them much at all… and this brings them leaping back, without you ever saying a word.

                Do not, under any circumstances, fall for this crap. This sociopathic abandonment is a gift, be glad you were strong and mighty enough to say ”oh, okay” and leave it at that. Never cave, not for any reason. He will resurface. It will leave you all shaky and upset. Be ready and just shake it off.

      • Thanks Doingme. The shift from poor me to first me is still a bit hard right now. i can work on it.

      • sugarglider –
        I’m so sorry that you’re here at CL with us. It’s a terrible blow to discover your spouse is a sneak and a coward. Running away like yours did is childish!!!

        I’m older than you. There are plenty of nice, trustworthy, attractive men out there!

        You are way too fresh to even think about it now. The shock of your betrayal & abandonment will mess with your head for a while. Self care and getting your legal situation addressed should be your sole focus now.

        You can do this. We’re here to help you get through it.

      • Once I started putting myself first and didn’t always run to everyone’s aid (aide – so?? brain freeze) I was “bitter”, “in a bad mood”, most people stopped calling.

        It was very easy to weed out people that only used me when they needed me. My sister, for one and actually most of my very good friends. I wasn’t in a bad mood or bitter, I was/am happier than I’ve ever been but people who knew me never saw me any other way.

        Not only was I letting my husband watch me jump through hoops but so did everyone else. My circle of “friends” and family became much much smaller but I learned a lot about my picker when I started speaking up for myself.

    • I’m 50 too. He told me on my 49th birthday he was leaving me. I’ve spent my life raising kids and still have two young ones at home. Dating seems a daunting task right now.

    • I’m also 50 and have been alone for over 4 years. I’m still scared to trust and put myself out there again. I feel like I now know what to look for and what to run from, but just getting out there is a huge hurdle.

      • 52 here, and on my own for 2 years (well, much longer, if you count the loveless non-relationship I stayed in for far too long). I disagree with “If you’re a good person and you’re responsible and loving? You’re a stock that trades high.”. It’s hard to feel like a high-trading stock when perimenopause makes me feel old, unfeminine, and the opposite of sexy. Not to mention there’s not exactly hordes of men making my phone ring off the hook.

        Truth is, I’m still relatively attractive and there’s even one man (my own age!!!) who is pursuing me. But all I can think is: “he can date women 10 years younger. What the hell does he want from from an old lady like me?” *sigh*.

        • He is pursuing you and not someone 10 years younger simply because:

          YOU are attractive, responsible, loving and are a stock that trades high.

          • Thanks, SuperDuper.
            Just read your post below about dating your cat-loving, vegetarian, total opposite. Chemistry is a mysterious thing!

            • Read my letter in the archives. July 13…”Miracles Happen on Tuesdays.”

              Best of wishes for you.

              • Yes Deedee, you must read SuperDuper’s post from that day. Almost every day I remember it, for some mysterious reason when I park my car at work (probably because my place is in front of a nice park where a resident toucan lives) and I smile and think how wonderful life is even with the shit.

              • Read it! Serendipity stories are my faves. Her car just happened to not start when she just happened to be parked next to you, and you just happened to know car mechanics … Great ending to a crappy story of massive betrayal.
                Continued happiness, SuperDuper!

        • deedee,

          I’ll speculate on his behalf here, since I don’t know him. He wants to be with someone genuine. He wants to be with someone his own age, with common life experiences, similar average life expectancy, and so forth.

          I’m 53, and happily remarried. But if I were single right now, I wouldn’t want to date a 40 year old, or a 35 year old. I’d want to be with someone my age, someone I could grow old with, not grow old as they finish maturing. I want a partner, not a nursemaid for when I’m 75.

          FWIW, my wife is 7 months older than I am. Anything within 2 years is ideal as far as I’m concerned.

          A man in his 50s who wants to date women in their 30s for their looks and youthfulness is shallow and narcissistic. A man in his 50s who wants to date women in their 30s because he doesn’t have kids and wants some, and will overlook the age difference if she is willing to, that’s legit. And he better be willing to really take care of his health so that he can be there for her when he’s in his 80s and she’s in her 60s.

          You’re doing exactly what CL warns about – don’t devalue yourself. There’s someone out there who wants you for you. Integrity, wisdom, kindness and honesty are worth a lot more in a spouse than a hot body with fewer miles on it.

          Hugs. Strength. Peace.

          • yes, us too. Chumped badly at 40, wreckonciliation from Hell, widowed at 48, dated new hub at 49, married at 50/51 were both now 53. No way either of us would want to be with someone much younger. I do joke that he is the only successful 50 yr old (he retired at 51) who was willing to date his age. We had that conversation:

            while dating prior to engagement…

            me: you know you could date someone younger, even have more kids, right?

            him (single and not dating 12 years): If I were going to do that I would have done it by now

            We like that we take life at the same speed…we have dorky old people hobbies and enjoy the same things

          • Thank you, aeronaut. You’re right, of course. Not every man is a shallow, young-skirt-chasing stereotype. It’s just hard to live in a culture that worships youth – especially in women. I mean, my body is in “hotter” shape now than it was in my 30s (thanks to working out regularly), but men don’t “check me out” anymore. That’s ok – I don’t need to be ogled at this point in my life – but it’s an indication that things are not as easy as they used to be.

            It’s good to be reminded that quality men like you do exist!

            • From a man’s perspective, they are still checking you out. They have just learned to be more discreet about it than they were in their 20s and 30s. It always amazes me when you women come on here and think that your stock is not high for any reason. I mean I get it – I was chumped too, so I understand the self-esteem hit that one takes from that. However, you women so underestimate the value of what you have to offer. I see it time and time again on here, and I will admit that it leaves me baffled every time I see it. It seems to me that the only thing that you are lacking is the confidence that was stolen from you by your cheater. Well, fuck the cheater. You own your confidence, and you can take it back.

              As far as the single guy out there, Aeronaut is exactly right. If he is worthwhile to you, he is looking for a partner. He wants someone who has had similar life experiences that he has had, and that he can share future life experiences with. If he is in his 50s and single, his heart has been broken too. It may have been by death, but more likely it has been by someone ripping it out and stomping all over it. Sound familiar? He is probably busy in his career and has no idea how to meet you, even though he would really like to. Even if he does meet you, he is probably scared to death to approach you and ask you out on a date. Remember, his confidence has been shattered too. He has probably convinced himself that he will be alone for the rest of his life, and has resigned himself to that reality. How do I know all this? I was that guy for a good decade before my fellow chump and I fell into each other and nursed each other back to reality.

              If he is in his 50s and is looking for someone in his 30s, he is not the guy for you. Fix your picker, and don’t settle for less than you deserve.

              I am sorry this has become lengthier than I intended for me to try to get you women to stop devaluing yourselves. Your stock is extremely high, but you do not recognize that fact. I can understand it, but I don’t understand it. Does that make sense to you?

              • so great! Ok so yes. …. I am not valueing myself highly enough. And yet….this is part of the confusion. Cause i think…’hey i am as good as anyone. Educated, employed, intelligent, healthy, self supporting……so why did this happen?”
                but i clearly back 20 yrs ago was just so happy to finally have a relationship and 20 yrs on he was still there. So its gonna take me a while longer to work out my picker and my boundaries thanks for the shot of wake up!

              • It happened because the guy you were with was an idiot with a personality or other mental disorder. That is on him. It is not on you.

                As mentioned above, it takes time. I just hope your recovery is speedier than mine to know that none of it was your fault. NONE. OF. IT!!

              • ChumpedbyLoser, I really appreciate your words of encouragement. I must tell you, though, that what you say is not my experience. Most of the men I know in their late 40s – mid 50s, who are divorced or widowed, have had no problems whatsoever finding a partner within a year or two of becoming single.

                My married girlfriend always tries to fix me up with this-or-that recently divorced man. Her husband generally listens on and doesn’t say a word. One time, I said to my friend – “why would so-and-so want to go out with me when he’s probably looking for a younger woman?” My friend’s husband piped up and said, “you’re right. No offense, but if I were dating now, I wouldn’t be looking for anyone my age. No man would”.

                And there you have it. Now, I know that doesn’t mean every man thinks like this (case in point: you and aeronaut). But such an attitude is very common and completely acceptable. It’s biologically and evolutionarily explainable.

                So, when you say you can’t understand why we women lack confidence in the dating world – this is part of the reason. The good thing is that many women in their 50s – including me – are not all that freaked out by the prospect of being on our own. So, on the one hand, we may have lost some ability to attract an age-appropriate partner, but on the other hand, we don’t really care as much as we used to about having one.

              • Thank you, as a 50+ woman who hasn’t dated for 25 years I needed to hear that I am still an attractive option for some men (the kind of man I want for a partner!) Thank you!

              • Chumped By Loser,

                I needed to read what you wrote in November (below) – I probably needed to read it before now but as with love and commitment and loyalty, I say “better late than never.”

                Herein is some of what resonated so much with me tonight, (BTW as I’ve been stood up by a cute guy I never met and I THINK it’s b/c my soon to be ex & I were featured in a prominent “thing” that discussed our “35 years of a wonderful marriage” and how we navigated the primaries/election last year. WHILE we were being interviewed, h had already been making plans & I did not get the memo, or he was readying for the big coercion.

                HERE IS WHAT YOU WROTE—

                – It always amazes me when you women come on here and think that your stock is not high for any reason. I mean I get it – I was chumped too, so I understand the self-esteem hit that one takes from that. However, you women so underestimate the value of what you have to offer. -It seems to me that the only thing that you are lacking is the confidence that was stolen from you by your cheater. Well, fuck the cheater. You own your confidence, and you can take it back.
                -If he is worthwhile to you, he is looking for a partner. He wants someone who has had similar life experiences that he has had, and that he can share future life experiences with. If he is in his 50s and single, his heart has been broken too.

                Even if he does meet you, he is probably scared to death to approach you and ask you out on a date. Remember, his confidence has been shattered too. He has probably convinced himself that he will be alone for the rest of his life, and has resigned himself to that reality. How do I know all this? I was that guy for a good decade before my fellow chump and I fell into each other and nursed each other back to reality.

                If he is in his 50s and is looking for someone in his 30s, he is not the guy for you. Fix your picker, and don’t settle for less than you deserve.***

                THIS ^^^^ IS GOLDEN—THANK YOU

            • I guess we will have to agree to disagree on that point, and I disagree with your friend’s husband. My wife is 5 months older than I am. We are 55. If I were out there dating, the last thing I would want is someone younger than me and competing with guys her own age. I would be afraid that she is more interested in my wallet than she is in me. Otherwise, she would be dating guys her own age. I have been lied to before about someone’s feelings for me, and that was before I could offer financial security. Now, I would be convinced that the financial security is the only thing of interest. No – it would be someone around my own age that I can discuss the past, present and plan the future with.

              While I certainly respect any woman’s desire to go it alone, I still do not think a woman’s lack of confidence in the dating world at really any age is justified. The value of what you bring to the relationship table is just too great. Trust me on this one, the right guy is out there looking for you.

              • Could you articulate what this value is that we don’t know we bring to the table? Because I’m not sure I know.

              • This is really kind of you to say, and maybe that’s the crux of it; that we DON’T understand what we bring. Not that we don’t believe you, it’s just really hard to appropriate after so many years of being looked down on.

                There’s so much red pill stuff about how we owe men sex, and so much assault that if the value is just our anatomy, well, that doesn’t seem that special. And our youth is gone. And we’re all a little bit busted up on the inside. So what do we bring?

                I know for myself that I loved someone well and faithfully, raised our children, stayed in shape, contributed financially and always did more than my share in almost every area. It is thus hard to imagine our kindness and devotion being that important, because they certainly weren’t enough to keep husband faithful. So… what? I make a mean spaghetti? Will I be replaced by Olive Garden at random?

                I have a new boss with whom I work closely. He’s so… decent. It’s weird. A gift to get to know someone slowly over a year who appreciates me, compliments my work, and then does his own. I know what a good employee I am, but it still feels super strange to have someone just be nice. Every day. For no reason. With no agenda.

              • Ok. This is fair. I could write a whole blog on this one. You might have to move over, Chump Lady!! Since nobody would want that, I will try to keep it short and to the point.

                Lets look at what the right guy wants, or even needs, even if he does not know it, versus what you are offering. As I mentioned in other posts, he is looking for a partner, but the point is, he needs a partner in all aspects of his life. That means someone he can share past experiences with, both positive and negative, and discuss what was learned from those experiences. In short, I am talking about wisdom. You bring that.

                He needs somebody that he can discuss the day-to-day challenges with, both personal and professional, to determine the best course of action, taking into account the empathy required for the other side of the challenge. I am talking about integrity, kindness and honesty. You bring that.

                He needs somebody who will challenge him to expand his world to include other interests and experiences. You are not his clone. You have other interests, and he may find he enjoys them simply because you do. You bring that.

                He needs somebody who can accompany him to required social engagements, both personal and professional, who will not embarrass him by her conduct, who he is proud to have by his side. I am talking about maturity. You bring that.

                He needs somebody who he can set both short-term and long-term goals with, determine how those goals will be achieved, and work with together to achieve those goals. They mean so much more when they are achieved by joint partner efforts. You bring that.

                It is not about the cooking and the cleaning. If he has been at all successful, he can simply pay to have that done if he does not wish to do them himself. It is not even about the sex, although of course, sex is important. For a decent mature man, sex is not about getting off. It is about sharing the intimate experience with the most important person in his world. It is not your duty. You don’t owe a man anything, and you damned sure don’t owe him sex. It is something that you both share because you respect and love the other. With the right guy, you bring that.

                In short, I am talking about mutual respect, honesty, integrity, empathy, wisdom, maturity, the perfect combination of selfishness and selfless-ness, and all the other aspects of that perfect partner relationship. That is what he is looking for. That is what he needs, even if he does not know it. You bring that to the relationship table, and its value is priceless.

              • This was the only place I could reply to your last thought on this thread.

                Thank you for that. It helps to focus on those.

          • Aeronaut I know you wrote to deedee but……. Yeah the OW is 33. this helps me to see what i have to track in myself

            • Sugar

              “Educated, employed, intelligent, healthy, self supporting……so why did this happen?”

              Haha, my therapist had the answer to this question.

              He said, “He can’t get intelligent, attractive, or someone employable (she’s mentally ill, gambling addict, addicted to pain meds, ugly, and explosive-yet fuckable with an arrest record a mile long for assault, dwi, lisence suspension).

              Regardless of looks and age they seek out someone with a lack of class and morals. The Limited is at the end of his supply peak. He’s an old Narc and falling apart. He turned sixty this summer.

              I on the other hand am fairly attractive, earn a good salary and have a degree I earned later in life.

              Spending time untangling Cheater Logic always comes back to- it’s all on them. Not you. It’s all about entithement and power and control.

              I’ll be damned if I waste my energy believing his life is better. He’s a dickless coward.

              • “Spending time untangling Cheater Logic always comes back to- it’s all on them.”
                YES!! every time I untangle the logic around an event, it ends up with “so – he must have been lying” or similar – and I have long accepted that it is nonsense. That there is no answer because it doesn’t make any sense.

                My therapist pointed out that I am not the woman he started with. I have grown up over the years, but he didn’t do any more study, volunteering, career development etc and just stagnated – so he is still 33.

                I’ve let him go – but yet to find my way forward. this is a useful post for me right now.

          • I respectfully have to disagree with one of your statements, Aeronaut. A man in his 50s looking for a woman in her 30s is just not right under any circumstances.

            If a man hasn’t had kids by the time he’s in his 50s, he needs to just forget about it. He’s not doing anyone any favors by procreating at that stage in his life. Who wants a dad in his 70s when you’re graduating from high school? What woman really wants an 80-year-old husband when she’s 60? And what good reason is there for a woman in her 30s to accept a man in his 50s as the father of her babies? I’m sorry, but large 20+ age differences just creep me out.

            I would seriously question the motivation of any man old enough to be a grandfather who professes “wanting kids” as the motivation for marrying a woman 20 years younger than himself.

            • Yes, I agree having kids that late can be selfish and inconsiderate. Some men don’t care. They have babies that late just because they can.

              Cheater x is turning 61, just married 29 year old AP, and had a brand new baby. In his mind, he has given her a great gift and loves to create “mini-me’s” everywhere, more people to worship him.

              Our teens cannot resist the baby. With his doting mother (in her 90’s), our teenage daughters, and hot new wife, he doesn’t need to lift a finger much less change a diaper.

              • There is a high rate of sever mental illness in folks who have older fathers (it has to do with how long meiosis has been going on and the possibility for genetic accidents after that much time). These psych disorders often dont manifest until about the age of 20…so when wifetress is 50 and has an 81 year old hubby, she may find her 20 yr old in deep difficulty. I dont wish this on young people, Im not judging, its just a thing

        • @DeeDee – I’m 49 and my BF is also 49 – but before me he was dating a 28 year old. TWENTY EIGHT. When I found this out, I was HORRIFIED. She was old enough to be high daughter. I was plagued with insecurity – even though they had already broken up months before I met him. On his dating profile I literally laughed out loud when he listed the age range of women he wanted to date as 28-48… I laughed and said “yeah right buddy, like any 28 year old would date YOU”…. until I found out he was dating her 2 years! They broke up because she hounded him for a baby and he would not comply. So, that’s one thing you got going. Lots of guys our age are “done with children. ALSO, he said (and I quote – please forgive crudeness) “women under 30 don’t know how to fuck”… he said the younger women may have tight bodies but he said they are not good in bed. His words, not mine. Finally, he said he “ran out of things to talk about” with her. They had nothing in common culturally (he and I laugh ALL the time, we both grew up in the 80’s, like or have at least seen all the same movies, like the same music etc). Yeah I’m old like him, but he seems to be pretty happy with me. We’ve been happily living together over a year. BTW I was 10 years younger than my X and know what he said about me the last 18 years? I was “old”. No kidding. So, guys hung up on youth are just pathetic but there ARE guys OUR AGE who like women OUR AGE. So, GO FOR IT with your friend your age!!

          • Thank you, Chumpy. I totally believe your man when he says he ran out of things to talk about with the 28 year old. Wasn’t that the issue with Prince Charles and Diana? Not so sure I’m on board with the “women under 30 don’t know how to fuck” thing, though ????. Happy for you that you found a good one!

            As for the guy my age who likes me – he’s in the “decent-but-not-quite-a-good-fit” category. But I’m very grateful to him for helping me shake off the feeling of total undesirability that my Ex left me with.

            • I’m worried I still don’t know how to f*ck! I’ve only been with two guys my whole life and one of those was Nasty McCheater-Pants, who never seemed happy with my “performance.” My hope is that even if I’m a lousy lay, when the time comes for me to (possibly) date and fall in love again, that the next guy will be happy to help me improve.

              • Sex is not really about technique or “performance”. McCheater-Pants must have lacked all the spiritual and emotional intangibles that make sex transcend the physical act. You don’t need to improve your performance – just your picker!
                P.S. fellow Toronto chump. Nice crisp sunny day today, eh?

              • Certain Womenfolk “don’t know how to fuck” is not a kind, or true, thing for anyone to say. Period. Note his blameshifting for the years of so-called bad sex (riiiiight) with someone 20 years his junior. And the triangulation— that’s not a compliment to the current partner, that’s a red flag. So, I used to spackle over this same type of shit. “But he just has a really crass/funny sense of humor that only he and I really understand…” Yeah, I said that a lot. It’s hard to see it when the insult comedy is just so golden, but stick around long enough and you’ll be the butt of the joke, too.

              • My first boyfriend hurt me so bad in that department. When I knew better, it was really hard to forgive him in my heart, but now I just laugh because he missed out.

              • My ex presented a “No Sex” ( in bubble letters at the top of the page.) timeline to friends and family to justify the cheating. The bad sex was always blamed on me.

                I am now in a relationship with my first crush (1st grade). He tells me I am the best lover he has ever had in his life. We have been dating for a year and a half and still have sex multiple times a day. I agree with Deedee. Great sex is more than “ Performing” It has an intangible intimate component. Chumps have the capacity for this connection with another person. Narcs do not. That is why my ex needed the excitement of bjs and anal sex with a howorker in the minivan in the elementary school parking lot.

        • deedee – I’ve met many single men in my age group that want to date “age appropriate” women. They like being able to talk about things in common. They know what they’re doing. They may be worried about their own appearance and age (or sexual attractiveness).

          If there’s a guy interested in you, trust that he has eyes, ears and a brain. He’s well aware that there are women younger, hotter and richer. He’s interested in YOU.

          • Enthusiasm and a sense of humor is essential to good fucking. Everything else can be learned 🙂

            I don’t see any age issues for relationships, what I see is a culture that insists women are past their expiration date at 30 and men don’t have an expiry. Look at ads, see the smooth perfect face of the woman selling the perfume, see the craggy wrinkled face of the man selling the cologne. Culture, men are allowed to age, women are not. I see culture that thinks a man with a woman 10-20 years younger is OK. At the same time the same age differential woman to man is considered awful or weird. Patriarchy, statistically women live longer and healthier in general than men, the age differential should skew to older women and younger men in relationships. And because someone will say it, I’m just answering ahead of time: Biology my ass, there is no scientific basis for that claim, it’s an excuse.

        • Well my ex left me for a woman who is almost exactly a year older than me (he is also a year older than me) so no, they don’t all go for younger models. Alas, it seems that our cheaters prefer women of questionable moral character regardless of age.

          • Yes! Mine left me for some who is 7 years old then me and him. Of course she has no moral character, she was married and sleeping with a married man.

    • I’m 53, divorced for 3 years. I was married to cheaterX for 26 years, so the last time I dated was in the mid 1980s! I have no idea how to date anymore. (Online? No thanks.) I’m getting more and more comfortable with my post-divorce single life and embracing the idea of being content and alone forever.

      • At 60, I am loving my partnerless life. I know it isn’t for everyone, but it also is not anything to be afraid or ashamed of. There are a lot of us single folks out there. As my nephew once told me,”There are worse things in life than being alone.”I may be alone, but I am also free, and that is a glorious feeling.

        • Violet – what a wise soul your nephew is! And how wise you are too. I love everything you wrote.

        • I’m with you, Violet! At 61, I have great friends, the good fortune to live in an area where there’s always something fun to do, and two great kids. As far as romance is concerned, “been there, done that, got the T shirt” with absolutely no desire to restrict myself with a relationship right now. Meh!

        • Count me into this too Violet. Am 55 and am very happy with my single existence. I am not afraid to date, I just choose not to. Like Violet said, not for everyone, but I don’t need a partner or spouse to complete me.

        • Add me to the mix. I’m turning 65 next Tuesday and have been traveling on my own in my motorhome for a month and a half now. Having the best time! No one grumbling about anything or trying to ruin it all. Going where I want, when I want. Currently sitting at a great campsite in the New Mexico desert enjoying my first cup of coffee and a wonderful brisk, scented breeze. Couldn’t have done any of this with cheater ex. I’m one lucky, grateful woman!

          • Tessie,
            You made my day. I am smiling, picturing you at your campsite enjoying the warmth and peace.
            You certainly deserve this Tessie.
            I hope you are in a very happy spot next Tuesday.
            Early “Happy Birthday”wishes to an awesome Lady!


            • I will be 70 in a couple of weeks. Have been on my own now for 6 years. The first few years were hard after 33 years of marriage. But now, I am actually happy this all happened. I am a much more together, contented person that I ever was. I have the best family and friends a person could ever want. So, another partner? Probably not. Though because I am happy, I have some new men “friends”. I do mean they are just friends. We volunteer together, have coffee together and lots of laughs. But we aren’t “dating” and that works for me. I hope this balanced life continues. You don’t need a partner to be happy.

              • Finally Free

                I too am around your age. Married 34 years & abandoned 2 years ago for OW
                I find my loneliness still is with me but I try to keep busy. Financially strapped causes me not to do the things I’d like to do but I take one day at a time

                Karma hit my ex.. the ow died in a car accident last month & already he has a new woman in his life. That’s how shallow & cold he is.

                Hopefully I’ll feel better as time passes.

                Hugs to you ????

          • Tessie, you are one of my heroines! I can picture you there enjoying your morning coffee and I just want to say, Awesome! Enjoy the view and the coffee and the peace.

          • Tessie,
            That sounds amazing! I’m 43, with a job and teens/young adults still at home, but I’ve dreamt of doing what you described…taking to the road in a mobile home (I’d really love one of those adorable tiny homes). Maybe once the kids are completely self-sufficient, and I don’t have a bazillion bills to pay (which will be easier without my STBX spending SO MUCH on completely wasteful things), I will be able to hit the road and explore this wonderful country we live in!

          • Tessie…you are my hero!! I so want to travel around the country but it seems scary driving a motor home alone, but hey, you’re doing it! I wish I was there with you at that campsite enjoying a cup of jo. I’ve always wanted to see New Mexico.

          • Tessie – Your birthday is the 21st? Mine too – I’ll be turning 60 this year. Happy birthday to you!

            And this fine, cold morning I’m sitting on my own sofa, in my own home, enjoying my coffee and sharing the quiet with my dog.

            Last night, I walked into my home after work and into a surprise birthday party, arranged by my daughter. My dearest friends, my family – my two brothers, one who had to make special arrangements to fly home a day early from a business trip and the other who drove 300 miles to be here to surprise me – my dear mom, my son and his girlfriend- a house full of love and laughter. All for me. I still can’t believe they’d go to wo much trouble fo me.

            Shithead cheater would NEVER have botherd – never did bother in nearly 40 years of marriage, but expected a parade and adulation on his birthdays.

            Off I go; brother just woke up and time to talk and make some breakfast. Life is good.

            • Why thank you, and happy birthday to you too sister Scorpio. That is so cool that your family would do something so loving for you. Isn’t it wonderful to see how many people really appreciate and love you? It’s a testament to your value as a good mom, daughter and sister, not to mention, a good friend.

          • Tessie–If you’re headed further south to the middle of TX, a reminder that you’re always welcome here!

          • Hey wow. … Cheers to all the beautiful mighty women. Reading your stories is great

        • I agree. I date a Very Kind Man but live alone and that will never change till I toddle off to assisted living or whatever is up ahead…

      • Strad

        I never dated anyone but the Limited. Together from sixteen to fifty seven.

        It was akward at first. Instead of alone I consider myself independent. Living with a man who led a double life nearly broke me. The fucker claimed he liked single after Dday. And when the settlement was signed (in my favor) he said, “I think about you all the time.” My response, “I’m single!”

        I’m dating a man I’ve known for years. We have a great time together. However. I’m still meeting new people. It took awhile to meet all CL’S criteria for fixing my picker. Being single opens up a whole new world and living in it without a fucking cheater is amazing.

    • Sometimes, you have to look outside the box.

      I am a 49 yr. old, Texas Country Boy. I grill an awesome ribeye, keep a sawed off shotgun under my front seat, watch college football, love dogs, scratch my balls occasionally in public, and listen to Country/Rock music.

      I am in a committed relationship with a 47 yr. old woman from the city who is vegetarian, anti-gun, hates sports, has a cat, and listens to Jazz and Classical.

      We are completely “opposite.”

      I have never been happier.

    • My husband left me unexpectedly Jan.12th 2015. I still cry nearly everyday. He was the nicest, sweetest, most generous man i had ever known, so i thought. He tells me i was a bitch, which is probably true and he says that’s why he left. Plus he said i was fat (i was a size 10, 5’8, 155 lbs, not fat, but not skinny either, healthy) He always complained about my cooking, the way i dressed, the way i decorated the house, etc. nothing i did was ever good enough for him and he never thanked me or complemented me. One thing he did say was that no matter what, the sex is always great between us, but then he developed Erectile Dysfunction and that’s when he left me and our 3 sons to take his 30 year old assistant from work on a grand tour of Las Vegas. My Mom pointed out to me that he’s been browbeating me from the get go by making me sign a prenuptial and not giving me access to finances. Throughout the marriage i always felt like i was in the dark about money and his secretive ways. In hinesight, it was because of the prenuptial contract, i always felt like i could be replaced in heartbeat-and that’s exactly what happened. He was able to leave me so easily, no financial reprocussions. His company brings in 30 million a year and i am financially destitute. My mom wants me to fight the prenupt. Currently, I am now seriously dating another man who my mom says is treating me just like the Ex did, she says he’s the same kind of man. OMG she’s right. I am such a Chump!
      I need to fix my picker!!!

      • Dandoopy,

        Sounds like your ex was a pathological, abusive, cheating turd. When you are still crying every night, you are not yet to the place where you emotionally realize this, even if you do so intellectually. NOT a good time to start dating again. You will get there! On the day you finally do, you will realize that by getting rid of X you dodged a bullet. ( To have to grow old with that narc shitbox, no matter how wealthy he is, will probably be hell. Schmoopie will get her karma). Till then, probably the best thing to do is learn how to have fun for yourself, without a lover. When you are able to do that, you will be able to date again, and be innoculated against these narcs. Go do the stuff YOU like to do by yourself — there’s not only no shame in that, but one of the perks of age is that people actually think you are COOL when you do. Have fun, and hope those tears are a thing of the past soon. And BE CAREFUL with present BF: don’t feel bad if you gotta say buh-bye.

      • Dandoopy

        He’d make a great subhuman piñata hangin by his big balls.

        Run that prenup by an attorney or two. And see a therapist before you end up with another Asshole. You deserve better!

        • Dandoopy

          Oh dear, your first few sentences make me wince, b/c he mistreated you but you describe him as being kind and sweet. And why would YOU say you were a bitch? (If so, maybe you tired of the put downs?)

          Get a good therapist to help you see that he was NOT the sweetest most generous man; he was critical and demeaning. Get your mojo back. Get yourself back.

          PLEASE see a doctor for your continued daily crying after 3 years. I am NOT saying you “should be over it” by any means! I’m saying you are stuck in the grief and it becomes a cycle that traps us. (Been there, done that.)

          I was married 35 years, now separated 16 months. With intensive therapy I have come to accept the changes forced upon me with a more realistic & more positive eye. The mourning has been speeded up (and very aided, really) by my husband’s truly shitty behavior during the divorce. The shithead has not seen the kids for 16 months and has not spoken to our older 2 in a year. We have spoken once for a few minutes about insurance, in 16 months and ALL of that only happened after the court ordered him to pay me support. He then quit his job – well HE SAID he retired to avoid paying me. I had to hire a PI, etc etc etc

          He appears to have replaced us all and that itself says a lot about him, NOT me or the children. It says that I was far more invested in the family and marriage than he was. I projected my moral compass and values onto him, which is why his behavior and choices were so damn confusing to ME. I can now see that -on most days.

          Also please see several lawyers because with kids, there WILL be some money coming. MANY prenuptial don’t end up being as iron clad as the drafters pretend them to be. Check for failure to disclose, not having access to adequate counsel when you signed, etc.

          I’m a lawyer and I’d never believe a prenup is unbreakable, without several legal opinions. Even if it were so, there is more for him to lose by fighting it and having the negative publicity than there is for you. In my situation since my ex was offering me so little, it did not make sense to not fight.

          Like you, I was devastated by his departure. And did not see it coming although now in hindsight I should have. But his timing, OMG he left me right when I got very sick and I was impaired for a few months, utterly terrified of what was to come. And that is when my DOCTOR husband – whom I put through medical school and training, chose to abandon me.

          It hurt deeply to see me and our kids replaced so fast…and so publicly. Let us REFRAME your loss…as mine has been reframed.

          My therapist has helped me reframe my situation in 2 ways and both apply to your situation I think.

          FOREMOST – my husband’s choices are not about me at all. They are too crazy and over the top…SO

          What have I truly lost? (And what have YOU truly really lost?)

          Whereas I lost a hard working, great wage earner with a good physique, and many dreams of the future I thought we’d have, and which I sacrificed for, for so long; I also lost a man with poor character, who was not loyal, I lost a man with a LOT of cognitive dissonance to maintain such a level of dishonesty for so very long. The DOCTOR is truly a practiced liar. I didn’t get it (or I chose not to get it), partly because of the sunk costs theory – which I suggest you read about.

          HE lost a beautiful, intelligent hilarious and loyal wife, who liked/likes sex. He also wounded 3 great children who will never have a loving relationship with him again.

          I didn’t really know why he left when I think about how much effort I put into the marriage, and how little he eventually did. I mean, he lowered the level of expectations I or the children could have of him at the end. He gave less & less over time. Became increasingly very critical. His selfish became a glowing blinking light no one could miss. Yet I was blamed for his working away from the family; he is a physician who can literally work anywhere in our country and most nations in the world.

          (I sometimes wonder if he subconsciously wanted me to file for divorce. No matter.)

          Do I or our children matter to him? If so, he’s lost a lot. Of course the fear is that we don’t matter much to them.

          But in a way, I feel more pity for him if he doesn’t care b/c it means he leads a shallow life.

          No normal person, no good person can deeply wound the 4 people who loved him the most – and emerge unscathed, unless he’s a completely cruel nut case who finally let his mask drop. So, consider that possibility…

          Our son said “Good riddance to lunacy” and in your case, if you still see your critical sniping, demeaning husband as a sweet man, you are living in a lunatic world with a lot of gas lighting.

          Turn off the gaslight and come into the daylight. It’s better out here. I have more inner peace now than I’ve had in a long time.

      • “He was the nicest, sweetest, most generous man i had ever known.”


        “My Mom pointed out to me that he’s been browbeating me from the get go by making me sign a prenuptial and not giving me access to finances. Throughout the marriage i always felt like i was in the dark about money and his secretive ways. In hinesight, it was because of the prenuptial contract, i always felt like i could be replaced in heartbeat.”

        One lesson is fixing our pickers is learning to pay attention to what people DO. A man who makes you sign a pre-nup, is secretive about marital finances, and nurtures the idea you “could be replaced in a heartbeat” cannot, by definition, be “the nicest, sweetest, most generous man” anyone has known. He was just a guy who love bombed you with money that HE controls.

        Fixing your picker is learning not to spackle to convince ourselves a bad person is a good one.

    • I’m 50 and I’ve been chumped twice – by husband and then domestic partner. I didn’t love my husband and was afraid of him, so I welcomed the opportunity to get myself and daughters out of that situation when he decided he’d rather be with OW (who would not keep seeing him if he stayed married to me). But…I loved my partner fiercely and we built a family together that was the most important thing in the world to me. She’s an addict and master liar, and she was incredibly destructive with her last affair. I went on a few dates with someone one year after LadyLiar left our home, but there were red flags (hey! at least I noticed them!) and I still wasn’t ready for a relationship. I miss intimate companionship, but I don’t trust anyone anymore.

      • When you trust yourself, it will be time to consider dating again. If you date an addict, you are setting yourself up for trouble. Addicts LIE. That’s part of their “disease.” You can “fix” them or “love” them into being honest.

    • I’m 9 months out and beginning to feel somewhat normal again but at 60 do not want to date. Luckily I was able to pay him out of the house and I will not let any one move in again. I can’t be bothered going through the whole process of getting to know someone again and as my ex was a ‘nice guy’ there is no way of knowing who is truly nice or not. I have lots of friends and will be happy on my own one day.

  • Let me just add that fixing your picker is not just about romantic relationships — it’s about ALL relationships.

    • Very good point. I know I’ve been a chump my whole life in all of my relationships. The boyfriends prior to the now ex husband were cheaters. My dad was a cheater. I joke now with my mom that ‘I married my dad’. Fun loving, never met a stranger, outgoing (realize now as kibble seeking). I’m shy and have always been attracted to these outgoing, take charge types.

      • Same here. I’m somewhat introverted and reserved. Never needed a huge circle of friends and socializing exhausts me. My Ex is an extreme extrovert. Always center of attention; hogs the limelight; everyone is a friend; constantly talking to strangers everywhere he goes.

        It never occurred to me that this was kibble-seeking behaviour until I found CL and CN! Now I see it as a pathological need for constant attention/adulation from every and any source available. He preferred strangers over me because I was a devalued kibble-dispenser who was no longer dazzled and WOWed by his sparkly sparkles. So grateful I found this place!!

        • deedee,

          Me, too! Also an introvert and very reserved, and mostly prefer to be at home watching tv or reading. And my STBX and his whore are both so narcissistic. Back when she was my best friend, she was EXHAUSTING to be around. And then, after DDay#2 (1st one between them), I started realizing how similar the two of them are. They’re both kibble hogs!

          It was a relief when I stopped talking to her (just before DDay), and now that he’s moved out (just after most recent DDay), exponential relief!

        • “He preferred strangers over me because I was a devalued kibble-dispenser who was no longer dazzled and WOWed by his sparkly sparkles.”

          Omg! This is exactly it!!! ????????‍♀️

      • I have had a very bitter awakening that I was so used to being used and manipulated by my then-spouse, I was also badly used and manipulated by my work…it was awful to wise-up to the amount of crap I took from them. I tried to force them to do right by me and they refused. My legal recourse had passed its statute of limitations had been exceeded so yea, we can get so accustomed to abuse that it feels normal

        • It is the little things that you do that I hope will gradually empower me.

          I gave myself a pat on the back the other day for ending a phone conversation with a friend because another call I was expecting came in. That is the kind of stuff that was hard for me because I would worry about hurting someone’s feelings. Chump vulnerability.

            • Me too. Tiny things like recognizing when I’m hungry or “nature calls”, realizing I have the right to eat or pee asap.
              This comes from years of putting my needs aside. Even those needs.
              It seems ridiculous and extreme.
              But, Baby Steps.

        • I took more abuse from my former boss than I should have too. I guess I thought it was ok because he abused everybody else too. I am fortunate to now work for a company that values me and the work I do. That worked out so maybe I will find the right guy someday too. I can always hope.

    • Exactly! I can pay lip service to the idea of dating but it in reality, it is like talking about that trip down under I would like to take one day. It is a possibility but it is more of a dream at this point. I am not even divorced yet and with my fuckwit, it isn’t likely to be soon although I can hope.

      I am finding myself putting every relationship in my life under a microscope and analyzing people’s actions to the nth degree. I question everybody’s motives. Some of that is good but I catch myself being almost paranoid and that isn’t good.

      The catch 22 is love bombing can be subtle and confused with just niceness. The things fuckwit did when we dated seemed like nice touches not grandiose. Now I can total them up with speed , his subtle: I am just a dumb tradesmen, everyone is jealous of you, and I love you after only 3 weeks(probably the most glaring red flag I spackled over.

      I recently had to get a new auto policy and the agent I went to is a friend of many years but not someone I am close to at all. He is going through a divorce so we have talked about the awfulness of it. Anyway, he has been telling me that I could sell insurance and it would be a great way to work from home. I told him I will consider but find myself completely analyzing him and his motives and wanting to distance myself from him. I may have good reason but who knows.

      I feel like I do a complete character analysis of everyone I know and meet. It makes me feel judgemenatal and snobby. Is there a happy medium?

      • You were (and are still being) traumatized by what he did. It may take some time to let your guard down. And until you get more confident in your instincts, I think you will be analyzing people. Don’t be too hard on yourself. I’m right there with you.

      • Maybe still do the complete character analysis the same as you do now, but be flexible about how the person fits, or doesn’t fit, in your life? Not every person you know well needs to be in your inner circle. Maybe that’s not applicable to you. I just know it’s applicable to me, a thing I had to practice.

        • You are right. I think most chumps probably have a higher than average degree of empathy which makes us vulnerable. I think people open up to me because I am non threatening but then I tend to be too open in return.

    • Oh, how true CL. I used to be a Chump in every aspect of my life (except as a Mom, I am an awesome parent, not Chumpy at all). My sister, brother, and both my parents tried to control, shame, and use me after my divorce. How shocked they were, when I shut that shit down CN style! No more Narc abuse in my life, I see that coming and head it right off at the pass! Boom!
      I love my new freedom and self sufficiency. I live alone, and it feels good, and strange, at the same time, but it’s definitely teaching me life lessons I really need. Maybe I’ll live with someone, someday, but right now I like the solitude and peace.

    • That’s a great point! I have realized during this whole process that I have a seriously defunct picker. I have a particular “friend” who is verbally and emotionally abusive. She is subtle and often times I leave a conversation wondering wtf just happened. Just the other day, we were talking about a tragedy that happened 15 years ago involving the death of a small boy (18 months). He drowned in a river under the supervision of a babysitter.
      My friend knew the family, who at the time were living on the river in a camper.
      After finding out about the boys death and the location where he drowned, we realized we were nearby hiking along the hillside of a canyon. I remember being shocked that this happened near where we were.
      My “friend” was recalling the events when she stayed angrily “We were hiking and I remember I REALLY wanted to talk with them but YOU had to go”.
      News to me.
      I absolutely do not recall her really wanting to talk with anyone nor that I had to go anywhere. But in that instant I felt like she was somehow indicating that the tragedy may have been prevented if not for me.
      I know it is unlikely we could have intervened and I’m 99% sure no such conversation took place, but for whatever reason, this “friend” feels the need to rewrite history to make me out to be somehow responsible.
      Even if it was true and she begged me to see her friends and I insisted we leave, why someone would further potential feelings of guilt involving such a tragic incident is something I cannot understand. As a friend to anyone, I would NEVER say that.

    • NO shit. I have a total ass at work who is making shit miserable for more than me but he’s got me in his sights to take down. I knew who he was within a week, he confirmed it within a month. Thing is, I would normally leave the job but finding work that is 4 days a week telework is not easy, I like it. Also, he’s pissed me off, he has been trying to get me fired. Sabotage, lying, omitting info, fucking with rep, you name it he does it, and he does it very well. He has gotten rid of good people in favor of incompetent sycophants. At this point, I will drive him off this job or he will cave to appropriate behavior. I don’t give a shit anymore which way it ends. Actually I do, it’s stressing me out at a gut level working under the conditions. I know I need to bail if it doesn’t resolve soon, but I see light in the tunnel of getting him to leave or fucking act right, so I’m giving it a bit of time.

      • Good for you Dat. It is tough having to fight for what is yours, but sometimes, necessary. You are courageous, and canny enough to know when to throw in the towel. Hugs….

    • When we fix our picker, we fix the 1/2 we bring to the relationship. And that makes relationships with some people impossible. If you aren’t in the “fixer upper” business, you can’t pick an addict or chronically unemployed person or someone who is “broken.” They can’t do relationships and you know you can’t fix that, so they aren’t in your eligible pool. And they wouldn’t want you because you aren’t in the business of fixing people and doing life for them instead of yourself.

  • “Healthy relationships are based on reciprocity. Don’t do for someone who wouldn’t do for you. And don’t presume reciprocity (oh, of course they would) — watch what they do.”


    I moved across the country to be closer to my family. The plan was that my narc and I would relocate. I went first, as I got a job first. My ex was meant to follow me. But did he apply for jobs in my city. He applied for one.

    What did chump me do? Stay in my new city? Dump my narc when what he said about wanting to move to my city, didn’t match up with his actions?

    “Don’t do for someone who wouldn’t do for you.” Gosh, I wish someone had of slapped me across this in the face at the time with a huge, cold, wet fish.

    Why would I move back to a city … to be with my narc … when he wouldn’t move to be with me? Ugh, the waste of money, time, not to mention stress of changing jobs interstate within 12 months.

    So… chumpy me moved back. Based on narc’s self-pity (he favoured the poor little lost boy approach), love bombing promises of babies, marriage, buying a house together and other narcissistic lures that were like brainwashing to me. I didn’t think critically. I was dumb.

    As soon as I moved back, the silent treatment, extreme devaluation and infidelity began.


    I’m glad that experience if behind me, but shit, it was a hard lesson to learn. However, it made me mighty. Never again, motherfuckers.

    • Exactly. I turned down a 30k a year raise and moved cross country to be with my stbx. Bc he “couldn’t live with me and the kids.” Surprisingly (not) 1 week later he starts texting new neighbor and 3 weeks later they have sex. Exactly One week before I move cross country to keep our family together. Then he keeps up the affair while I’m at work, at a job I now hate.

      • Call your old colleagues, see if there is an opening for you to return, if not, find another job, hating the job is a soul killer. Fight for happiness.

        • Yep, and look at it as a stepping stone. It’s not forever. You’re a smart person. It’s only a matter of time. You’ve got this.

          And fuck your cheater off, ain’t nobody got time for that. They make me sick.

      • It’s a hard lesson to learn, but put yourself and your kids FIRST.

        Also if you’re the type of person who can get a 30K raise once, you can do it again. Work hard, build networks, and apply again. You can do it!

        As @Datdumwuf said, you could network with old colleagues? Even if an opening isn’t there at your old place, they migth know something else?

        Jobs are only temporary. A year or two and you could try to move on. Best of luck.

        Remember – you got offered a 30K raise once. You can do it again. Know your worth.

    • I moved to be with him *full knowing* that he would never had done the same for me.
      But I didn’t like living in my city, so it didn’t make sense for me to ask him to move.
      Besides, he was quick to get a job before me, and im sure he also did it to have a valid reason not to move and ask me to.

      He would become extremely defensive and start firing excuses when i mentioned he wouldn’t have done the same for me.
      But I always knew it in my heart he wouldn’t. And yet, i guess i projected, thinking he was insecure about leaving his home town, because thats how i felt about leaving.

      • I’ve seen enough, not just in my life but in the lives of friends, that if I were in my 20s, I would never quit a job for a man. I would never move for a man. I would never give up a cat for a man or a car for a man. I would never disrupt kids’ lives for a man. Not even their father.

        That’s not to say the couples in a stable marriage can’t move or go on adventures. But if the relationship isn’t based on reciprocity, giving up a life, a home, a job to move is a bad deal. And it’s a terrible idea to move to save a relationship. A basic bottom line is to make sure you always have the means to take care of yourself.

        • Yup, learned that the hard way!
          I believed in fairy tales and thought a traditional family (with split, as well as shared, responsabilities) was possible. I didn’t know what feminists were complaining about. Now I know.

        • Yes, yes, and triple yes. NEVER make yourself financially dependent on another human being unless there is a spelled out contract about (a) the other person adding $$ to your own retirement pool, and (b) long-term financial support (even if, and especially if, the relationship ends).

          The only caveat I would make to moving for someone is do it only if it is a move you would make for yourself. I have moved twice for a man; the last one (the move with Hannibal Lecher), I gave up job security and money to do so. While this made me vulnerable, it also allowed my children to have a much less-stressed out mother, and both moves were long-term beneficial for me. Frankly, I count the move to my current location as one of the 4 best things to come out of the marriage (2 of the others are my children).

        • Yes, so much yes! “Never cross an ocean for someone who won’t jump a puddle for you”.

          I learnt this the very hard way when I tried to sustain long distance with a guy based in London (he works in finance and I am a freelancer). Asia to London flights werent cheap and I ruined my finances. Not to mention I felt I was “asking too much” when I would want to have an honest conversation about the future (we’d been together for three years) as I felt the easiest way would be to get married – this would also ease visa pressure. I applied franctically to jobs, took unpaid holidays from work to visit him, tried to spare him the distress of this process as much as possible. … Only to find out (during a very expensive holiday we took) that he had been sexting his ex. He ultimately revealed that ldr was killing him and he felt he was wasting his youth… We are both thirty and those words were like a knife to the heart…

          I try to repeat the opening quote but I confess that to date I still feel it was my fault it didn’t work and that I wasn’t good enough for him.

  • Thanks for the helpful tips chump lady 🙂 I’m still working on not running myself down… I hope I can find genuine love one day but I can’t even bring myself to go on a date right now 🙁 It’s so hard not to feel worthless after someone you loved does such awful things to you (and stupid… how did I not see it… and ashamed, because it took me so long to leave).

    Right now I have a really sweet pet parrot to come home to and that’s getting me by. And I recently discovered chocolate-flavoured red wine. That’s helped 😛

    Stay strong fellow chumps!!

  • Definitely the work I need to do for myself and moving towards ‘meh’. As I do the post mortem on my marriage of almost 20 years, my mind wonders back through my life with cheater and even to the dating time period. I remember cheater telling me about how his best friend was asking him about me, things like what are her hobbies, interests, favorite music, etc… Cheater said his friend made fun of him cause he didn’t know any of those things about me. And cheater is definitely the sad sausage type.

    Being chumped now twice by cheater for different schmoopies over the years, I look at people differently. Really differently. I was on vacation with the kids this summer and relaxing in the pool. There was a woman standing by the pool in her bikini talking to a husband and wife in the pool. This mousy voiced woman was ‘chatting it up’ with them. I realized through overhearing the conversation that her husband and kids were back at the room. It sounded like she was stalking the husband. She was a kibble seeking ho. I was flabergasted. I really don’t know that I would have ever seen the red flags before CL & CN.

    • twiceachump, I’ve witnessed women like bikini women talking to X, with me standing next to him. I found it amusing watching these women and their intense interest in talking to X, occasionally glancing over at me with a fake smile. Being a Chump it never occurred to me that their intentions were anything but friendly. If I ever get involved in another relationship I will never be that naive again.
      I will no longer tolerate or waste my time with anyone pretentious or fake. I was the Pollyanna of making excuses for questionable behavior and looking for the good in people.

      My advice for dating or any relationship is to trust your gut, pay attention to those red flag moments, it’s self preservation. If something they say or do sounds questionable or doesn’t add up or you feel something isn’t quite right, trust your gut.

      • This!! Trust your gut. Don’t just override it with “I’m being judgemental.” “I don’t know their circumstances.” “He must be having a bad day.”

        If it feels off, it probably is. Err on the side of your gut.

        • Yes! And when a sentence about them in your head starts with “maybe…”, know you’re spackling.

  • Fixing my picker … setting boundaries. At 43 years of age, this is a startling new concept for me. For over four decades, I had no idea this was necessary!

    But, thanks to the massive realization that not all people care to be decent (and the cognitive dissonance that came with that), I’m improving at a very fast pace!

    Funny enough, my first step has been simply applying my new-found boundaries to the people who’ve purposefully used, hurt, abused me in my past. I have ditched the majority of my birth family (with good reason); I’ve also ditched a number of “friends.”

    All of these people showed me who they were and I refused to believe them at the time. Now, I believe a person — and I act on that knowledge. To people who know me, I probably look like I’ve lost my mind. What they need to understand is that I finally found it. 😉

    • Good for you JessMom! I have followed your posts and you are truly mighty! We all need to remember what good and special and smart people we are! I’ve been practicing self affirmations myself lately and it helps. I doubt that I would ever bother to try to find another partner at my age; but, I’m comfortable with that thought. I have a good life now and just need to get on with the business of living it.
      Cheers to all us mighty chumps!

      • Thanks, Lyndaloo. 🙂

        I am with you on not bothering to find another partner. I have a full life — and so much to work through in myself still. It’s not on my radar and I’m good with that.

        You said: “I have a good life now and just need to get on with the business of living it.” — this is beautiful — and true for me as well.


    • JesssMom, I’m getting there, too. I have set up firm boundaries with my family of origin and stay far away from them with good reason! They want me to keep playing the scapegoat in our family dynamics and I refuse.

      I’m having a bit more touble setting healthy boundaries romantically. I struggled trough 13 years of an abusive marriage (one of my ex’s favourite things to do was to refuse any and all physical and emotional intimacy – I was very unwillingly celibate in that marriage, yet completely faithful to him. He is also a closet alcoholic – he kept it hidden until after we were married and yes, in hindsight, there were red flags I missed). A while after I ended our marriage legally and moved out (there is a one-year waiting period where I live!), I met a fellow chump. After knowing him for a couple of years, here’s what I see: his boundaries with his abusive ex are very loose, to the point where she is still manipulating and intimidating him and he won’t take any steps to protect himself and his two small children. She was and still is physically abusive to the men in her life. I really like this guy, and thoroughly enjoy his company, but he is still on the mend. I’m afraid to dump him, because it’s the first healthy, nonabusive, reciprocal sex I’ve had since the 1990s. (The few times my ex could bring himself to touch me – I can count the number of times we were naked togeher in our entire marriage using my fingers – he abused and demeaned me. I refuse to call it sex. It was some other horrible thing.) Mr. Fellow Chump has some other red flags (towering rage misdirected at me instead of his ex, self-harm). I’m working on gathering courage to shut it down. We go to the same church, and so see each other every week. This is going to be horribly difficult. I don’t want to stop seeing him, but I know I have to. I don’t want to hurt him, but I don’t want to keep hurting myself by waiting for him to set up proper boundaries with his extraordinarily abusive and manipulative ex. Sorry about the long rambling story! Thanks for reading! I have been reading CL every day for years, and I will keep coming back every day. It’s better than all the therapy I’ve had.

      • If he rages at you instead of his ex who is the problem, he is ABUSING you. Believe what he is showing you. He will be willing to misdirect all anger at you. Get out.

        • Thank you for your insight, Jojobee, and thank you for taking the time and energy to reply. CN is a lifeline.

          My gut is yelling at me to get out. I just need to muster the courage to do what my gut is telling me! Also, I keep falling into the mental trap of trying to end things with the least possible amount of hurt for him – but then I catch myself amd remember that I can only control MY acctions and responses, not his.

            • Baffled, I am sorry to hear you found such an assholish guy.

              I am a dude, and this is how I recommend you dump him. Meet in a coffee shop with an outdoor area. In public for safety, but no meal to linger over. Be as clear as possible. “I don’t love you any more. I don’t see any future at all with us. We will not be friends ever.” (And if he whines like a little bitch: “if you ever call me or show up uninvited again I will call the cops.”) (And then put it in writing in an email.) You may well want to be friends with him at some point, but if you wimp out and even hint at that you are only making it more difficult for him and yourself.

              Don’t muck about with his heart or yours. Rip that fucking bandage off quickly. He won’t like it either way because you are giving him sex, but the colder and more definite the ending the more humane it will be for him.

              Best of luck, Baffled.

  • The other day at work a client came in and rushing through the room, he flashed us the warmest, softest smile I’d ever seen. It felt so genuine, it went through my body. It made me think that warm, kind people do exist after all. After some internal wrestling, some days later I peeked at him on FB and yeah, he appears to be an overt narc, fame-thirsty and with quite a vulgar streak. Picker, back to fixin’!
    Noted: strangers don’t wow strangers when they walk into the room. If you’re dazzled, that’s sparkles.

    • THIS. Unknown, your comment really hits home for me. I remember one of the first things my new step-mother said to me when I met her: “When my daughters walk into a room, people notice.” She made me feel small. And I’m already small, I’m 4’10”. It was the writing on the wall that I was going to be pushed as far away from my Dad as she could and as far as he would allow. (Follow up: it ended up being pretty far). Now I know the proper response: “Oh. I’m sorry to hear your daughters are narcissists. There’s no cure for that, you know. Such a shame, such a shame.”

      • Yeah we def see people differently now. Before these kinds of characteristics would be charming or we’d be envious at how easy people light up a room. But they’re looking for it cause they seek attention. They constantly are needy of it and thrive on it. Confident people aren’t looking for it. They just have it. Cocky ones are the self-centered narcs who will never have enough. Stay away from that.

    • Wow, this is going too far friends. A guy gives a warm smile and you look at FB later and decide he must be a narc. That is not normal, more to learn about yourself in order to learn about fixing the picker. Plenty of people are genuinely confident and give a similar vibe to those who seek attention at first glance. The ability to know the difference is often in simply getting to know them. I suspect right now, if you met me you’d write me off as a narc just because (for reasons unknown to me) people tend to like me on first meeting. I almost wrote a joke to end this but it would probably convince you I really am a narc, LOL

      • You’re treating my experience as though you know for a fact I’m wrong in my conclusions.
        I don’t assume to know I’m right or wrong, just saying that a guy sparked my interest, I learned more about him (yes, through FB, welcome to modern society), I didn’t like what I saw and ended my crush. You don’t know what I saw, so you can’t know you wouldn’t come to the same conclusions I did, either.

        While “Old me” would have been “oh well, but I don’t *know* him, so MAYBE these things I’m seeing that I don’t like don’t mean anything, I should look past them, etc.”
        I’m not saying this guy is a cheater, next, I’m saying possibly there’s a reason I felt so “flashed” by him, since it turns out he is flashy. Maybe it’s a coincidence, maybe it’s not. But I’m processing things much differently and cognizantly than I would have and for now that seems like a good thing.

        Oh, and I’m sure I come across as a Narc many times. That’s because I have those sparkly qualities myself, I’m efficient in that way when I need to be, and if someone decided to stay away from me because of it, certainly I would not be offended. We must all exercise our best judgement and I let people do that.

    • Due to my previous role as a pastor’s wife, and certain work experience, I have learned to enjoy interacting with people whom I don’t know well. “Life Skills for Adult Children” taught me how to make small talk, and I truly want to learn people’s stories. I am tall, and articulate, and light up a room. And then I need to go sleep for a day and a half. Sometimes happy, warm, friendly people are really just happy, warm and friendly. ; )

      • I fully agree, but perhaps they light up a room while not leaving a “mark” inside people and if you checked their background you wouldn’t find reasons to stay away. I feel that’s the difference here.

    • I think the same thing about “charm.” I can’t be charmed. That’s someone trying to cast a spell on me, to make me disable my own capacity for judgment.

  • Great post! Amazing! And thank you for mentioning the single parents with special needs. This is by far my hardest mind challenge. Not thinking anyone will take me on because my daughter will never achieve independence (unless a miracle, of course). Fixing your picker post divorce has proven to be quite the challenge. This will be an amazing post to refer back to! I million thanks CL!!

    • I know it’s hard to believe but my therapist mentioned research that was done about the happiest groups of people. The findings were:
      1. The most happiest – married men
      2. The second happiest – single women
      3. The third happiest- single men
      4. The least happiest – married women
      I thought it was interesting. Just some food for thought.

      • Ex MIL did trips with other widowed women in her church and the priest. She was telling me a few years ago how the priest had noted when a wife died, the husband was married again within a year. When the husband died, the wife was fighting off the widowers with a stick and going on road trips—happy as could be!

        • Men appear to have a tough time being on they’re own hence the need for Schmoopies waiting in the wings. I went to the funeral of a friend’s mother recently. The husband and family were in a receiving line at the church after giving my condolences to my friend and her siblings I extended my hand to friend’s father he said in a loud voice ‘hi sexy’. I was dumbfounded! I quickly walked away sat down for the service. I thought he must be drunk or on something! Well not 3 weeks later he was with his new girlfriend. This couple were married for 50 odd years, he was the minister at the church. My friend has confided all sorts of horror stories about her father who has since passed away. One less creep in the world!

          • I think men have a hard time being alone in general, not just cheaters and narcissists. I’ve observed this for a long time. Even here in Chump Nation it seems most of the male chumps have found someone new, while the women chumps aren’t looking very hard and sometimes actually prefer to be single.

            I brought this up with my therapist once, and he said generally men don’t get the bonding and intimacy in their friendships with men that women get in their friendships with women. But men still have a need for bonding human connections, and often the only source for that is through a romantic partnership. Thus, men seek to be partnered more than women do, especially later in life after the childbearing years are over.

            This is definitely true for me. I have lots of female friends, and several very close relationships with women, including my sister and my daughter. And despite opportunities in the “partner” arena since my marriage ended, I haven’t been at all tempted to embark upon another romantic relationship.

            • I think it has a lot to do with our culture, men are raised with being taken care of, while women are raised to be the caretakers. That is slowly changing but it’s far from equal. Boys are not taught to take care of others the way girls are as children, not just teaching but experiencing it, seeing how their parents interact.

          • When my mother was widowed she chose not to seek another spouse because she didn’t want to be a nursemaid. She was quite content with her garden, books, and her cat.

      • I remember reading something similar, only it said the second happiest were DIVORCED women. Analysis was the married men were receiving emotional support, and the divorced women were so damn glad to be free of being expected to provide it (unreciprocated).

      • I fully believe that married women are in dead last place for happiness. As if I needed more reasons never to remarry. I fear my chumpiness will never fully be cured, and I’ll always have to work hard not to find covert narcs attractive. I know there are happily married women out there somewhere though I do not know any in real life— they all wish they had an equal partner at home.

      • I believe I read the same about life expectancy decades ago and it didn’t even surprise me back then.

    • Same here. I just decided I plan on moving forward under the assumption that I will stay single. Then if somewhere down the line, I find someone worth letting into my life (and my daughter’s), it will just be a bonus. Making a happy life on my own is my goal. I don’t ever want to “need” a romantic relationship to make me feel whole again.

      • Ive always strongly believed in wanting, not needing. I remembered explaining the difference to cheater yeasrs ago and he was angrily annoyed that he didn’t understand what I meant (roll eyes). Funny thing that I always knew he scored low on moral development, but I never equated that to cheating. I really bought into the idea of dynamics in a relationship…

  • Thought of ever being vulnerable and giving my heart to anyone ever again, utterly terrifies me. I’d rather be lonely.

    Guy came to house recently to clean my carpets and upholstery. I had the full on blitz of gushing compliments. What beautiful skin, bone structure….I don’t want this job to finish today as it means I won’t see you again. Blah, blah, blah. I couldn’t wait for him to go so when he asked me out for lunch despite my pretending I had a very jealous partner who wouldn’t take kindly to his offer, his response was,….”Oh, he doesn’t have to know. It can be our little secret.”

    Are there any honest men left in this world? Plus how insulting to me to assume I’m a liar and cheat too. No, like Janet and her chocolate flavoured red wine and lovely parrot, I’ll stick with my dogs and a tub of ice cream for now.

    • Can you report that guy to his company? That was classic sexual harassment, completely inappropriate behavior. I’m sorry and angry you were verbally manhandled in your own home.

      • Thank you Susannah. I did think about reporting him but to be honest I was worried it would give him an excuse to come back. When someone has your home address you feel a little vulnerable don’t you? Was just so relieved to be rid of him. I noticed that my dogs seemed extra clingy and protective too. Maybe they didn’t like his vibe either.

        • Wow, Natalia, that guy was a real aggressive creep. I’m sorry he can’t be reported and lose his job, but you have every right to keep yourself safe. Since a similar thing happened separately to me and my sister following our divorces from cheaters, I think I’m going to file this under “typical creep scenarios that you should watch for” shortly after divorcing a cheater. Perhaps these people who lack empathy actually instead have a sort of radar that detects pain levels. They then assume that heightened pain equals easy pickings. Looking back, I see now that these guys move insanely quickly, lack professional boundaries, love bomb with words, and expect instant payoff with a date or sex. Note to self: one more area to rehearse a strong boundary. Stay strong and know your worth.

          • Yes, good idea Finding Bliss think I’ll note that too. I haven’t even started my divorce from cheater yet but totally separated and never taken him back, at least not physically. Emotionally is another story but getting there. This is NC day 22. Yay!

            So sorry to hear something similar happened to you and your sister. Maybe these types from creepsville do have a radar, but if they read it right they’d see our experiences make us more wary than most.

            • Have a friend,female or male, come over for coffee next time you have a handyman come do work inside your house. They are either checking you out (is she single ?) or the contents of your house. It’s totally inappropriate to hit on a client after they’ve been in your personal space.

          • I’m noticing that I’m attracting a whole lot of unwanted attention, do we send out chumped pheromones or something? Him knowing the address is creepy.

            • I think this is something to watch out for too, love and chumpiness. I think we probably send wounded prey vibes and they draw vultures.

  • JessMom, I’ve also rid myself of family members for good reason. Over the years I made excuses for their lack of respect, and treating me as if I was something they needed to scrape off the bottom of their shoe.
    I realized after finding CN that I was pick me dancing, wanting them to like me. I’ve put away my dancing shoes.
    Same with “friendships,” and neighbors who I thought were my friends. I was afraid of hurting their feelings but not anymore. My feelings are a priority now. They’re not my tribe and I’m not going to waste any more of my time with them.
    No one has my permission to treat me with disrespect.

    • Good for you, brit!!! That is mighty — and so awesome.

      On the “pick me dancing” … yes, that is exactly it. It’s so hard (especially with family) to accept that we don’t mean jack-shit to them, which is why (IMHO) we danced and danced.

      But, goodness, yanking off those dance shoes and hurling them into the dumpster is so liberating!

    • Yes, same here.

      I’ve let go of three “friendships”, two of which were based on their attempts to manipulate me; and another which seems to be a fine mix of envy and contempt.

      Away with them!

      All my other friendships are absolutely fine.

      And yes, I too am committed to being merrily single, but only getting coupled up again *if* the guy is of good character.

  • One note on the “trust your gut” idea: if you grew up in the orbit of a narcissistic parent, having a narcissistic partner can feel very familiar and comfortable. The lack of reciprocity, the focus on their needs and the shrinking of your own. Also, to be frank, the ambient resentment and sense of moral smugness that can be very addictive.

    In contrast, I found that dating and marrying another “giver” can be uncomfortable. There is a constant challenge to be my best self and live up to my wife’s love. But you shouldn’t mistake the occasional discomfort of that challenge—which can be a powerful force for good in a person’s life—with a bad relationship.

    • This is so true.

      Early Childhood Picker Training

      As mighty as I was learning to become in my current relationships (kudos to CN), it wasn’t until I untangled that skein within myself that I could really start to heal, retrain, and avoid that trap.

      I’ll never get it totally right – but will gladly accept that limitation to ‘mainstream’ my life with the nonnarcs.

      So that’s my advice to Chumps (especially those with a narc parent): untangle your own skein, extract it – for it is a foreign body (like malaria), and forgive yourself.

      And keep coming back. Chump Lady is my quinine.

    • It’s true, that’s the one thing I need to retrack my instincts on.
      I am instinctively attracted to narcs and sociopaths. Possibly, that’s how I grew to ovverride my instincts altogether, because in a way I couldn’t actually trust them.

  • This is an excellent list CL! Thank you. I applied the boundaries and behaviors to watch out (that I learned from CL) for to my friendships, relatives and business relationships first, then to the few people I’ve dated since divorce 4 years ago. Through self reflection on my dead marriage and experience afterward, I found my major hooks of pity and sparkles. Any of those hook attempts come from someone I don’t already have a reciprocal relationship with, I just minimize my responses and pull away.

    I will always be attracted to sparkly people with passion for the things they do, who tell a good story and stir my hope. But I don’t “serve” them in an effort to earn a relationship anymore.

    I like how someone phrased it, I’ve developed an “allergy” to the narc behaviors, my gut reacts. It’s up to me to listen and respond to my gut.

  • I’ve got a man who I’ve been seeing for almost a year who I just need to be done with. I need to end the relationship but I can’t bring myself to do it!! I realized the only way I’ve broken off a relationship is with conflict. I don’t know how to say, “ this isn’t working for me.” I’m afraid of the fallout. I’m afraid of actually being truly single and alone.

    • I have the exact same issue. I met a woman soon after the abandonment began who had grief issues as I did and who I could relate to. We did help each other in the beginning and I am very fond of her. A year later the red flags are blowing in the wind yet I cant say the words for fear of how she would take my rejection. Clearly even 16 months after DDay my picker is still not fixed – I would appreciate any words of wisdom that CN could impart.

      • Breaking up with someone is always painful, when you are a person of decency and compassion.

        It’s natural to overthink the other person’s disappointment and heartbreak, and to feel responsible for it. But you really can’t control other people’s feelings, you just need to treat them respectfully and responsibly. That’s what you owe her.

        And in a voluntary dating relationship, that means telling her it’s over, if your heart isn’t in it.

        Arrange a time to talk to her, either sit down together or phone, and tell her simply and calmly in your own words that it’s not going to work out and that you’re sorry. And of course, if it’s true, you can always tell her that you care about her as a person, and you wish her the very best.

        My personal opinion is, after the conversation has taken place, it’s best to quietly take leave as soon as possible, and let things settle.

        Honesty is the best policy, and it will be a huge relief to get it over with. And besides, there’s always a chance that you’ve underestimated how well she is able to handle it (or is thinking the same herself….)

        • If it helps, you can “bookend” the breakup with someone you trust.

          Bookending works like this: before the breakup, you call a trusted friend for a pep talk or accountability, or whatever you need.

          You do the breakup, and then after you have left you call that same friend.

          This helps me to face things I dread. It also answers the fear of not knowing what to do/think/feel afterward. I’d hate to go home alone after a breakup.

          Also during the breakup you can be encouraged knowing your bookend friend will be there for you after.

          Good luck.

    • Sunflower36…I have been in an on/off relationship with a fellow chump going on a year now, too. He has baggage from his divorce 10 years ago. I HAD baggage & from my divorce a year ago (yeah, we started seeing one another 2 weeks after mine was final) but through therapy & coming to CN, I am dealing with mine & am ready to move forward. Sometimes I think he uses his “chumpdom” as an excuse not to get closer. I hope no one takes offense to that statement. This is just my opinion of my current relationship.

      I get it…as chumps we get hurt, our children get hurt, our lives implode & we don’t want to repeat the process. FOR ME, though, it’s not that I’m afraid of being alone, I just don’t want to be. Yes, I know I need to keep my picker on point & to be cautious to protect myself & my heart, but I have a lot of love left in me to give to the right man. And, I refuse to be a prisoner of the past treatment & abuse of my XH to the point that I end up being alone for the rest of my life. I feel that he wins if I allow that to happen. This is just where I am in moving forward.

      • Sunflower and others, clearly if we want to date, there are guys out there. Some may not be the right ones. But how will we know if we don’t try? And you tried and if he’s not the one, move on. Spare him as well, esp if he’s falling deeper and deeper. In the long run its better for both of you to end it now.

        • Oh, he’s not falling deeper and deeper. He’s got narc qualities that just do not work for me. Sigh. I know I need to break it off, and that I will feel lighter once I do. I also know he will accuse me of cheating…I’m not. He’s accused me before. I don’t know why I’m still in this.

          • One thing for sure, you will feel lighter. I wen out with a guy, about 3 months. Great guy, on paper. But just wasn’t feeling into it or excited about it. I think I just didn’t want to be alone and he was a really sweet guy. Maybe I wasn’t ready. Either way, once I pulled off the band aid, I felt a lot better. He wasn’t happy about it, but it w the right thing for both of us. Just saying don’t prolong it and do whats best for you. And from the sounds of it, who cares what he thinks. You know you best

          • My therapist gave me this idea for how to dump a narc safely— start acting so needy that the narc eventually dumps you. Ask to borrow money, his stuff, interrupt him when he’s talking and start talking about stuff that interests you. Be demanding. This is almost impossible for a real codependent chump to do, but it’s narc repellent once the narc decides you are not of use. And as a corollary, Ghosting was practically invented for escaping narcs. You can just ghost and start seeing other people without needing to have a sit down conversation with the narc, just move on with your life.

            • This sounds great. I just wouldn’t have it in me to be that sort of person. It takes a special kind of asshole to be this way, and we all know atleast one 🙂

              • Plus there is the very real possibility of this backfiring — often if a narc senses a fellow narc, that is attractive to them as a challenge.

            • I’ve never been good about ending things without conflict either. I’ve been in one serious relationship since my divorce (which was a long time ago) and I knew things weren’t right as he was pushing me to marry him. Lots of red flags. He was super sparkly, all past relationships of his were the women’s fault when they ended, financially unstable although he earned six figures, fucked up adult kids. I also found a receipt of his where he bought drinks for someone in a bar while we were living together… he never mentioned to me that he met anyone. He was super secretive about his money and where it all went and what he had done with it.

              I tried several times to get him to talk to me about what was going on and to talk about money before we got married. No deal. That was not going to happen.

              So I dared ‘to create a crisis’ and blew it up. Not very grown up and that’s on me but I did dodge a bullet and I feel nothing but relief.

            • I’ve never ghosted a person before but I did when he got hold of my credit card number and used it. I received a call from my bank,went through the purchases,looked at a map and realized the points of purchase were on the way to the hydroponic grow house Mr. Narcengineer was constructing with his son. I don’t smoke pot-give me a glass of something sparkling-champagne, cava, sekt, prosecco

              Done and done-swimming against the tide of being raised to be polite and proper…and a chump !

            • Demands work great to repel any narc!
              They can be reasonable ones, it’s you having a voice that pisses them off.

        • Yes, I’m with IAP. Put on your empathy boots and think of how they would feel with the wasted time when you know they aren’t the ones. I think it is hard to hurt someone else’s feelings – I know I have that problem too – but do it. Free yourself up for someone who you can be in a long term relationship with. Don’t beat yourself up that you are with someone with whom you can’t or don’t want to make it work.

          • All of y’all should break up immediately. Imagine if you knew the person you were seeing was on a website writing the same things about you that you are about them.

            Chumps deserve to be happy.


            • I did on Friday night.

              It was not pretty. He changed from channel of self pity to rage before I cut him off and blocked his phone number and on Facebook.

              I wanted to tell him I wanted to date again (I’d actually signed up on a dating site, knowing he was checking up on me all the time.) and I was preparing to tell him that when he kept telling me I wouldn’t let go of my ex. He thinks I’m waiting to be his Plan B.

              I didn’t end it well, I totally came off looking like a cheater, but I really don’t care anymore. I’m not interested in dating, but really had no problem with him believing I did. He can think what he wants, I just have to be done.

    • Well, I am about to write a post below about how learning to be alone is the first step to fixing your picker.

  • Don’t be in a relationship where you are needed.

    Instead, find a relationship where you are appreciated.

    It took me 48 years to learn this.

  • I spent 3 decades propping up my fuckwit and I am afraid I would have no idea what a different partner looks like. I was the rescuer to that passive aggressive, personality-disordered jerk. I realize that role must have served my needs and so it is not just about rejecting losers but also trying to figure out why thought I needed to do any propping up at all.

    We were just in high school when we met and I did a huge amount of “he’s got potential” storytelling in my head. In fact, I know that 90% of his success in life was because I was kicking his ass through engineering school, job searches, and exotic foreign work, constantly telling him he could do anything he put his mind to and taking over 100% of the adulting to allow him to succeed.

    I made us wealthy with my money management investing and administrative skills and similar high salary. He doesn’t know how to pay bills. He is a very low-ambition type otherwise except for the current run-from-mortality chasing of 25YO Schmoopie, he has energy for that (for now in the love bombing time, but I know he still sucks with her and she will be discarded, too).

    His 3 siblings did not have the good fortune to marry decent people and are living in filthy hoards with serious crazy and drug-addled lifestyles. That absolutely would have been fuckwit if we hadn’t gotten together, he was on the path to Loserville just like his family. He admits this.

    So if I am All That and a Bag of Chips that made him what he is, why do I feel like I can’t score a decent, hard working guy with good character? I have been over-responsible. He hated that, and yet never stepped up when there were ample opportunities for him to. I was trained that he will never, ever be around when I need him: he can’t put the aging cat to sleep, he is not going to drop his work day to go pick up a kid who needs a ride, he is not going to finish home improvement projects he starts, he is going to ignore everyone and zone out. He left me with his dying father (the entire family did, I was the one there when he actually passed away, not one of the fucking losers could handle it). He is a moody teenage boy at best and a flaming disordered asshole at worst.

    I hope I can find an actual partner one day. I absolutely will not settle.

    • You said you were just in high school when you met, so don’t be so hard on yourself. Your mate choice sounds like it was a feature of your youthful inexperience, and maybe parents who failed to advise you not to marry your high school sweetheart, not so much a mature person with a bad picker issue. Next time, you won’t marry someone from such a troubled family of origin unless they have had years upon years of therapy, and can speak openly and cogently about their issues.

    • I *think* you feel this way (as I have) because if you base your value on all these things that you have done or can do for someone (in my mother’s words, “live to make others a success” ????), then a person who doesn’t need someone to do all these things for them – all the “adulting” – would not be able to see your value, nor would they want you. Know that this is false logic, and that you bring so much more to a relationship than life management skills. ????

  • The first guy I dated (waited till Ex had been moved out a year) was …. wait for it…. a cheater! Cheated on his ex wife twice! Of course that didn’t come out till much later. He came out of the gate pursuing hard (red flag someone who felt lonely would overlook). How I interpreted that… wow, he must really think I’m special. He lived out of state and when he came to my place he would stay the WHOLE weekend.

    When I addressed not being able to get things done that I needed to do, and maybe we should plan on him staying one day and one night from now on, he basically told me, “do what you need to do. I don’t need to be entertained.” Then I phrased it “I’m feeling a bit smothered” I then got the “I treat you like a princess ????????, why are you pushing me away?” When I told him it was “too much too soon” I got more guilt tripping. Of course he used my ex cheating on me as the indication that “I was damaged, couldn’t trust, was afraid to get close, blah, blah” The old me would have questioned myself and thought, maybe he’s right. The new me listened to what I wanted, and his reaction to my clearly stated wants was very telling. He wasn’t interested in Respecting my boundaries, he just tried to convince me they were wrong. Through the course of this it came out that “I was like his untrusting ex wife” and the cheating came out.

    Fixing my picker is a hard and ongoing process. It’s really easy to be sucked in by the love bombing, But I’m learning to listen to my gut when it’s telling me something is off. I find the hardest thing is bouncing back to my old pattern of questioning myself, because in healthy relationships you consider the other persons perspective. I just remind myself to keep my perspective separate, and that compromise doesn’t mean agreement of perspectives, it means meeting in the middle. That way I hold onto myself without being selfish. I also now understand holding to a boundary is not being selfish, it’s valuing your worth.

    • “he wasn’t interested in Respecting my boundaries, he just tried to convince me they were wrong.”

      Beautifully stated!

  • The weekend after I returned from taking my DD to College for her freshman year (2.5 years post d-Day/ separation & 6 months post-divorce after 21 yr marriage), I decided to try online dating. But the way I went into it was that it wasn’t like house hunters—I didn’t HAVE to choose house a,b,or c. I could chose “none of the above” and stay where i was. Lots of opportunities to fix your picker there!

    But I have to say that going through the process was therapeutic. Writing a description of myself and choosing photos reminded me to focus on my best qualities and to clearly state my expectations and dealbreakers (needless to say, I googled each guy I went out with to check that they were actually divorced). One of the sites had a lot of questions to help you find a compatible match, which I didn’t want to necessarily share with strangers, but made me think about things, since my last dating experiences were from the point of view of 21 year old me.

    And going on dates was a picker-fixer too. The guy who straight up asked how many dates before sex? Pass. Guy whose daughter is extremely allergic to cats?(I have 3; college daughter has asked me to bring them to visit) Pass. Super nice guy whose (time consuming) hobbies don’t interest me at all? Pass. Guy that I find so physically unattractive? Pass (ok, not my finest moment).

    So now I’m dating a wonderful guy that I enjoy being with and we’re both very happy. 🙂

    • I heard awhile back, that we have to be relentless when dating, meaning relentless in moving on when there are attributes that really don’t work for us, particularly the seemingly “shallow” ones.

      Looks are important to many many people. The person you are with MUST be physically acceptable to you. That doesn’t mean a knock out or ripped to everyone, but a nice smile, laughing eyes, attractive mannerisms, etc… all work to be physically acceptable to someone else. Maybe not everyone, but… one is all we really need… the right one.

  • Much of what I’d say is already here. I’ll just add this one. For your purposes as a potential date…

    • Soon to be divorced = married.

    • Going to leave her, but struggling to tell her because I don’t want to hurt her, or waiting until some financial thing changes to make his move, or staying but only for the kids = with her.

    • Separated and agreeing to see other people = together

    •. Still love him but he isn’t a sexual person and I need to fulfill my needs in life because hey that’s fair = together

    Yesterday my colleague, who I knew was in a divorce process, called his ex his wife. I delicately asked him why. He said “because I’m still married. The day the divorce is final, the ring comes off and I start calling her my ex.” I said “that makes sense.” He volunteered this gem: “I would do that anyway, because that’s the truth, but it’s especially important to me to be clear about it for the kids. If they have to see their parents divorce, I at least want them to see me treating a marriage like a marriage.”

    That, my friends, is how you do a breakup right.

    • I always find it interesting how both my and my STBX’s lawyers both refer to us as your wife and your husband. Your colleague is right. Until the divorce is final, you are still married.

      • Overall I agree, however, I would point out that some very un-evolved states (HELLO VIRGINIA I’M TALKING TO YOU) require *physical separation* of a year *and one day* before you can even FILE. My divorce in that state took 2 years. And yes, I dated during that time.

        I would say you need to have filed papers and be physically and emotionally separated.

        There are a lot of fakers out there though. Use your best judgement. But I hate that conservative idiotic laws of the RIC sort keep people locked in matrimony. That said, the same patriarchy has fault divorce still on the books, so that’s a plus.

        • Well, my state does not require the period of separation and I am coming up on almost 2 years anyways. The sheer amount of financial mess that I am dealing with makes me not a good person to get involved with. So much of my life is still tangled up and most of my assets are unavailable until legally separated. Until that is settled and my life is my own, I honestly do not feel available. I do not want to get involved with someone else until I stop being consumed with trying to sort it all out.

          For example: I am going on 3 weeks just trying to get STBX to sign over the title to an old car that he parked on the side of the house a year and a half ago. My son turns 16 soon and the car is supposed to go to him. It is currently not registered or insured. How could I possibly give my attention to a new relationship when so much of my time is consumed with shit like that? I need to get free first.

        • Good point. So, yes, in that case, it makes sense to just be really transparent. And, to your point, the person should be clearly separated in that type of case.

          Still, though, if you’re still legally married, that’s a complication the other person has to navigate with you until you are divorced, so the other person still has to field the realities of dating a married person for a while. That is probably a tough call for someone freshly out of their own marriage. As always, YMMV.

          • Yup. Transparency is a must. Here’s a fun reality of dating a still-legally-married person in a fault state— you run the risk possibly getting deposed by the married person’s spouse’s lawyer because if you have intercourse with a married person it’s adultery up until the judge actually signs their divorce decree, in my state anyway. So my personal boundary is I have got to see the dude’s final (signed) divorce decree or no dice. And so many of them lie. Three times I have heard “I’m divorced” when the truth was they were separated but still legally married. That’s just not ok for me.

        • I live in Virginia and I’ve been separated for 32 months. Some of that is because my STBX is a narcissistic douchebag, but I digress. We are very close to an agreement, thank God, but that one year waiting period and the required “Spare the Child” video (basically a video you watch in court, with your douchebag, explaining how not to fuck up your teenager when you separate) is a colossal waste of time. I was summoned to watch the video 6 MONTHS after he filed, which was almost 2years after the moved out. (He is military which is a whole other shitstorm of drama.). And our court date is 10 MONTHS after the filing date. The waiting game sucks. Here’s hoping that we settle soon, but at least I know I’ll be finally be free of this fucktard no later than the April court date. It’ll finally be Tuesday!!! ????

        • Try being like the UK where I was just reading today that it’s FIVE YEARS before they can divorce with no fault. AAARGH!!

          If there’s reason, adultery, etc., proven by evidence, then it can be sooner, apparently. And heaven forfend that the ex-wife request alimony (fainting couch).

          • Five years of physical separation before the divorce can be declared no fault? That is harmful. Such a long waiting period makes it even more difficult to flee abuse, especially if the one fleeing doesn’t have enough money for a good lawyer. We all know how manipulation escalates during the separation period . . . .

    • Thanks for that amiisfree! That, is exactly how I see it and it just seems like common sense but to so many including my stbx fuckwit who has and is introducing his whore to everyone when there is no divorce settlement even on the horizon and he is pleading the 5th on adultery. WTF, why doesn’t anyone but his kids call him out for it?

    • Except for when the cheating spouse is still living in the house and Introducing the kids to smoopsie. At that point I modeled to my kids that respect and loyalty are reciprocal, by refusing to wear a wedding ring that symbolically meant nothing.

  • Pay attention to actions, not words. My STBX said all the right things but his actions did not back them up. “I will trade you places. I will stay in the house to take care of the kids.” “It is so hard when my time with the kids is limited.” Yet he skips out on the majority of his court ordered parenting time.

    I knew my picker was getting better when I visited my cousin. As he and my aunt were showing me around his new house, they kept mentioning how his girlfriend painted this room or that one. It was his house and she had her own house. Meanwhile, while they were giving me a tour, that same girlfriend was manning the grill, tossing the salad, etc. I felt this weird deja vu about how I was always the one to do everything in my marriage, too. I later learned that he had cheated on his wife which was the real reason she divorced him. Sometimes, it is in the little things that their character is revealed.

    I still don’t trust my picker quite yet. I mean I was fooled and deceived for over 20 years, but I am listening to my gut more.

  • Best way to fix your picker? Surround yourself with people who treat you well, engage in reciprocity, and are concerned about YOU. Most of us either had family-of-origin issues where dysfunction felt “normal,” or are coming out of cheater marriages where we weren’t treated especially well (or both). I do not believe we can fix our picker for friendships or romantic relationships through hours of therapy; you have to live the fix.

    Keep friendships, and make new ones, where the other person has your best interests at heart. Avoid (to the extent possible) people at work who are negative or critical. After months, years of this, you will be razor sharp about detecting cruelty, shallowness, dysfunction, narckly sparkles. Once you detect those things, back away. For good. If you’re not sure if someone lacks integrity or just made a mistake, they only get one more chance. The second best mechanism for fixing the picker is veto power. Some people just can’t stay in your life.

    • Awesome advice about needing to live it!
      I feel like when Im ready to date, im going to want it to be for a long time just an experiment in socializing and testing my instincts.

  • I made very mistake CL lists when I met and married Cheaterturd. What a difference almost 20years makes. While I’m not ready to date, may never be, I have run into a few guys that wanted to date me. One was thru mutual friends, we spoke for maybe ten minutes at a party and then he texted me later to ask me out. It was so over the top, “I just want to stare at your beauty, I’ll take anything breakfast lunch or dinner, blah blah blah”. This was a really nice looking guy but the over the top way he came at me just send red flags flying everywhere. Old me (pre-cheater me) would have been flattered but New wiser me just felt like this type of adoration was undeserved and a bad sign. Then when I said “no thank you” he just kept at me, another red flag when someone’s ignores your wish’s. The only good that has come out of my nightmare is I will never be fooled again and if I do decide to date I know how to pay attention to actions and not words.

    • Relentlessness and bashing through another’s stated boundaries…no bueno

  • I think in my case it was ex that wanted to be the rescuer and the care giver. He started out by rescuing me from the dating pool of evil men. Then he was always doing things for me whether I was capable of doing it myself or not. I tried to reciprocate but it was hard to keep up. It turns out that he didn’t really want reciprocity, he wanted me to worship him and give him more blow jobs to show my appreciation. He wanted me to not be able to get along without him and tell him so every day. He squashed my independence, and then after DDay complained that he had to do everything for me like I was too incompetent to do it myself or something. No, I just let him do things for me because he seemed to want to do them. I guess I just didn’t show enough gratitude for him doing things I could have done myself. Meanwhile he complained that all of the things I did to reciprocate were “mothering” him. He didn’t need a mother he needed a wife. Hey I did those things too, but I wasn’t loud enough so I must not have been enjoying it. He didn’t want me to take care of him, he wanted me to need taking care of and be eternally grateful for it.

    He also wanted to be seen as the breadwinner who takes care of his family. My career got in the way of that. Of course he made sure to constantly remind me that he made much more than I did and that all of my income was going to the nanny so it was just a waste of time anyway. Never mind that I was keeping my place in the industry so that eventually I would make money and that could have paid for college. I think his daydream was to be the grand patriarch who would look after everybody and be revered by his wife and perfect children who would be seen and not heard except when winning academic and sports competitions. Instead he got a real family where each member has his/her own ambitions and quirks that don’t always align with his fantasies.

    Oh yes, and he wanted me to wear expensive clothes, carry expensive purses and get expensive haircuts so that I could show the world what a successful husband I had who took such good care of me by letting me buy expensive stuff (as long as it was expensive stuff he wanted me to have and not something I actually wanted that didn’t necessarily make him look good). He wanted a trophy wife and I was never that.

    Schmoopie, on the other hand, is the kind of woman who is always in need of rescue. She comes off as assertive and confident, but she hasn’t really done much with her life (well, ok, she is raising five children which is no small feat, but she is perfectly willing to neglect them in favor of her own needs). She was quite good at manufacturing crisis requiring ex’s immediate rescue while he was still living at home and I was trying to prevent him for seeing her. She managed to fall off her bike and get hurt on a Sunday evening when he was supposed to come have dinner with the kids, making him two hours late. She needed help with her resume because she doesn’t know how to write one (never worked despite a degree from a well known university). She would probably also be happy to let him buy her expensive clothes and purses so he can go into debt pretending he is wealthier than he is. She is perfectly happy to let him “take care” of her and all she has to do is shower him with false praise and keep the blow jobs coming. He must be in heaven. What a stupid shallow existence for them both.

    • My cheater had the same exact style, being the breadwinner who takes care of me, not needing anything ever from me.
      Except he didn’t let me know he wanted adoration, he just went get himself some secretly outside the home.
      He did throw my needs in my face when ddays came around, blaming them for making me a buzzkill.

  • NowIC, your cheater and mine could have been twins. The same traits, no ambition, constantly needed propping up, resented that I was the responsible one but couldn’t or wouldn’t bring himself to step up. He wouldn’t have been able to retire at 53 if I hadn’t orchestrated it. All our mutual friends were because of me. He didn’t have one close friend just too much effort for him. But I too could see the potential and if I could just get him to see things properly mhe’d be a great guy. He was looking for a Mommy and I stepped right up!

    After a lot of self analysis, I realize I played the “fixer” all my life in my job, with family and friends. I was the go to gal if you had an issue. It was very addictive and it brought me a lot of validation. I also realize it kept me from dealing with my own”shit”. I was brought up in the generation that your husband came first, then your kids and you came last. In fact I remember my mother actually telling me this, ugh! If the marriage wasn’t happy well it was the wife to blame. So I took on the role of Mrs. fix-it. I spent so much time and energy on this useless idiot trying to make him into a decent husband I never really considered what I wanted or needed to be happy. A lessen learned late in life but as they say, your never too old to learn!

    I doubt I’ll ever have another partner mostly because I’m tired of putting someone else’s agenda before mine. My life is good I just need to get on with the busineess of living it. I’m trying to look at life now as an adventure and the things I want to do. Some days I know exactly, others, not so much. But I’m trying all kinds of different things seeing what works and what dosen’t. If I accept my life is over , well it is! I refuse to do that, I’m healthy and fit 72 year old woman, attractive, smart and engaging. I have lots of things I want to try on my bucket list and I’m going to do them. I hope you find a good partner one day if that’s what you want. But remember to get on with living your life right now, it’s a good life and it’s not a dress rehearsal, Hugs ????

    • Yes! I have followed your posts because our fuckwits do seem to have so much in common.

      Just today I was feeling very sad and kind of angry thinking about two couples I encountered over the last few months while travelling. One wife was a complete troll. She was rude and even went so far as to tattle on the passenger in front of her for not putting his seat back upright for landing. Snarky and rude, and yet her hubby was right there along side.

      The other couple had a nagging harpy as the wife, couldn’t go 5 seconds without some crappy comment about a passerby at the gate, or to whine about how she was hungry or tired or that the hubby needed to do this or that for her. And yet her hubby was right there along side.

      I ~never~ acted that way. I was kind. I did everything for him and accomodated his every wish. I was faithful and I took him back the first time he cheated and lied. Whores and trolls and nags should be the ones who get abandoned, decent and kind supportive wives should be kept close like a treasure and not thrown over the side for a chick our daughters’ age.

      I am very sad today even though I bought my own house now and will move in this holiday week. My daughters will be home with me and I will hug them tight and we will cry and hopefully find some laughter. I will be thankful that I get a do-over, do-better opportunity to not be voluntarily enslaved to a man who doesn’t give a damn about anyone but himself.

      Stay strong Lyndaloo! Hugs to you, too.

        • I know it does seem backwards. I can’t even count the times I’ve encountered wives being complete bitches to their husband’s, and the husband completely tolerates it. I have guy friends whose wives haven’t had sex with them in YEARS and they still stay. I don’t get it. SMH.

          • Yes I’ve definitely seen that too. Whereas if you’re considerate you are treated like sh*t, it seems.
            Maybe these men are awful and there is something we don’t know. Or maybe they have very low self-esteem.

          • My covert narc mom treats my doormat dad like shit, down to the constant negativity, loud sighing, and rejecting him sexually for years. He stays because he thinks he’s been with her too long (married 44 years, together for 48 years) and he’s succumbed to the Sunk Costs Fallacy. He is abused.

            I look around and see similar dynamics. How do these hot messes of people hang on to great spouses? Abuse, plain and simple. It is hard to leave an abuser. It’s hard to leave a disordered person.

            “Why Men Marry Bitches” is an instructive read. The punchline? People who are sparkly and make everything all about them and their passionate interests have a definite appeal to a lot of the people, a lot of the time.

          • I’m not sure why we are surprised–this is the dynamic we see here every day. A decent person married to a disordered one. A kind person married to a user. A cheater married to a faithful person. The common denominator? A person who take and abusers with a chump who puts up with that taking and abuse. It’s not just cheaters who need to fix their pickers. It’s not just about dating! It’s about what you accept in any relationship.

          • I didn’t have sex with my ex for eons (it seems) because the DUI’s and condoms in his wallet kinda put a damper on my sexual interest. Honestly, I started to feel like I was having sex with my son. He was an infantile self-absorbed idiot. So, was I a bitch for that? If that’s how he wants to remember me, fine. But I think I had my reasons for abstaining.

            • Piano Mom, I also started to feel like I was with my son, due to his unwillingness to find work and the patchy employment history I discovered. And my sex drive vanished.
              Maybe it will return if I can be with someone I respect.

          • I would watch out for guy “friends” who are complaining to you (or any woman) how their wives never have sex with them. This was one of Cheese Fries’ main come-ons to his other women, and the truth was the dynamic was the other way around.

      • Now IC,
        When I moved into my new house my daughter from England came over and it was the best time. Bitter sweet but she was so supportive we stayed at a very dodgy motel that was close by and we had lots of laughs and years. It was cathartic and made me realize how lucky I am to have such great kids. I know you’ll have great support too! All the best with the move! It’s a new beginning. ????????????

  • but what do you do with the people who trick you? My cheater wife 17 years ago seemed like a dream come true. She pretended to like hiking, reading, and hanging out with me. She wrote me love notes and did kind things. AND PROCLAIMED SHE HATED CHEATERS! I was in Heaven. Four years later I couldn’t even recognize her. She didn’t want our life once we were married and had a baby. Six years later was the first time I CAUGHT her trying to cheat on me.

    Any advice? How can you spot these people?

    • Zell, it would be so much easier if narcs and cheaters had blue noses, right?

      For me, picker fixing took:

      1. Practice
      2. Time

      I don’t believe there is a full-proof method. The trick is to take your time with someone for each step of intimacy. And the secret sauce is to walk away when you realize you’ve been duped.

      For example, people who enjoy hiking actually hike. They’ve hiked before they met you and have a few war stories (the time they got: lost, blisters, dehydrated, saw a bear, etc.).

      There is a difference between the non-hiker who claims to love hiking and the non-hiker who has never tried it but is open.

      Hope that makes sense.

      • We’re smart, good people, and try to do the right thing. We find a guy or girl who fits into our world and feels great. We’re on cloud 9. We’re not even thinking that they’re cheating, lying, fake, phony, etc…how in the hell would we even imagine this person in our lives would be like that? We shouldn’t have to think that way or be looking for these traits. Ofcourse we didn’t see it. We weren’t looking for it.

        • ^^THIS^^ Thanks ImAPhool. To me it seems wrong to look for red flags, but I know I have to, to protect myself.

    • None of these are foolproof. Sometimes they are way too good at lying and Jedi mindfucking. So you can’t blame yourself.

      Be extra demanding early on to suss out narcissistic injury. Like don’t just go along with whatever they want to do. Sheryl Sandburg recommends cancelling a date at the last minute to see if it makes them rage— her point was this will show you how supportive of your career they are actually going to be.

      Ask lots and lots of questions about their childhood. A dysfunctional one is a red flag. If they irrationally hate on therapy in general that’s another red flag. That being said, many of us Chumps had dysfunctional childhoods, too. Understand how a child is raised to become a narc, with a False Self. Understand how you were raised to become a Caretaker. There are extremely subtle signs if you think back on it. Once you know the patterns, it is easier to spot. For example, my mom was a covert narc, and my dad a Caretaker. So my covert narc exhubby had such a traumatic childhood that he cannot remember a lot of it. Because he has blocked it out. Yet his shitty childhood would be something he would bring up all the time at dinner parties, it would make people uncomfortable. It was like he was after those kibbles, showing how great he turned out despite his family of origin; but then would refuse to go to therapy. He would make fun of people who go to therapy. Both of his parents have personality disorders that are obvious upon meeting them. His mother cheated, his parents divorced, his dad is an alcoholic who was fired from his last job for raging at a female colleague, and his younger brother is a drug addict. Yet my exhubby became a doctor, so he looked the part of normal but is arguably even more fucked up than the rest of his family. See what I’m getting at here?

      Any history of cheating or fraud is grounds for an automatic dumping. Mine, like his dear old mom, has cheated in every relationship.

      Triangulation is also another big warning sign. Really look for subtle examples of triangulation. The friend they pit against you, how they never seem to have your back, how they do exactly what they want to do despite their words. The words vs action mismatch is huge.

  • I’m with you, on no more pick me dancing, Jessmom and Brit. Having been raised by two narcissists, it was so ingrained that it took me a long time to even realize that was something I did instinctively. That and the Pollyanna attitude.

    It was finding Chump Lady that gave me the insight that helped me to start evaluating all of my relationships. I had to do a lot of work on myself. I had to recognize these narc installed traits, own them, and then change them. They were based on the central idea that I was less than everyone. Everyone else mattered more in life, and if I stood any chance of even noticed, let alone loved, I had better produce those yummy kibbles for everyone. Narc magnet much?

    Also the attitude that everyone wanted to be good if just given the chance, had to be ruthlessly eradicated. As I found out the hard way, nope. There are folks out there who absolutely revel in their ability to do evil. They love it. It’s my job to avoid, and if that’s not possible, protect me and mine from them.

    It’s taken a long time to shake off that early brainwashing and to finally begin to treat myself as an equally valuable person. It is hard to venture into uncomfortable places, as Nomar said, but very necessary. Learning to graciously receive is just as important as giving.

    A lot of lopsided relationships have gone by the wayside in the last few years, including just recently, a thirty five year friendship. When I stopped spackling long enough to realize it was all about what I could do for her, with no reciprocation, well……done, Bye. No reciprocity, no friendship, no relationship. I am worth more than that. I am enough.

    Personally, my tip is recognize our own worth, behave as if (for me) until our hearts and minds catch up, and never, ever pick me dance again. (I think that is why I just can’t bring myself to even think about dating. It feels too much like pick me dancing.)

    It is also my responsibility to protect my self and those I love from the bad folks out there. Seeing red flags, sidestepping with a no thanks, and moving on with this one happy life is what is on the agenda from now on.

    • I agree with every word, Tessie. If we know our worth and understand we have to protect ourselves and those who are vulnerable from bad folks, we make better choices.

  • This is a great topic, thanks CL!

    My Road Trip to Meh has done its job well, and recently I began dating a Chump I met along the way. Neither of us was looking for romance, but hey, that’s how things happen when you aren’t looking, right? Because of our shared experience and vocabulary, we are able to discuss all of these “picker” issues openly — a huge help! After being badly hurt by our horrifically disordered cheaters, we are both seeking trust, honesty, integrity, and commitment in a partner, plus, yes, an ability to reciprocate. This last is harder than one might think for two people used to giving cake and taking crumbs. When each wants to please the other more than themselves, it’s very difficult to decide what to do for dinner, among other things.

    Besides looking closely for all the red flags CL pointed out (and the tiny clear plastic flags my Mr. Nice Guy covert narcissist X flew at half mast when we met), I have learned also to look for every little sign of good character in New Guy. I see it in how he interacts with his family and friends, especially, but also in every detail of how he chooses to spend his time, which reflects his true values and provides confirmation that what he does matches what he says. It also helps to hear the impressions my family and friends have of him as they get to know him.

    Perhaps most importantly, though, I’ve learned not to shy away from challenging conversations but rather to tease out any differences in opinion or tastes early on, and see how he reacts to conflict. This will help me understand whether there’s underlying narcissistic injury that will eventually lead him to feel invalidated by disagreement and then on to the whole list of stonewalling, gaslighting, blameshifting, gunnysacking, etc. etc. on the path to devaluation and discard. Been there, done that, and got a tee shirt that I never want to wear again.

    • Exactly this. I’ve been long-distance dating a fellow Chump for almost 3 years and it has been eye-opening (to both of us) to discover that we can have difficult conversations, express our wants and needs, and feel closer to one another as a result. Being in a wonderful relationship has shown me how truly horrible my marriage was on so many levels.

      Dating long distance isn’t ideal, but we both have the kids, pets, and marital homes to care for. That he also puts those priorities first right now speaks volumes to the kind of man he is, and we both know that we need this time to get our own shit together before taking the next step. We get together when we can, and we both make sacrifices for that to happen. It’s reciprocal. We have a weekly phone date when the kids are with the other parent, and we have our little rituals of “Good Morning” text messages and flirty banter. We make it work because we’d rather see one another sometimes than someone else all the time.

      Another thing that I’d throw out there is that by now we both love and care deeply for one another, so “the future” is open. There is no pressure to commit to anything beyond whatever happens, whatever will make each person happy. We’d like to end up together, but if our paths go in different directions, neither of us would want to stand in the way of the other’s opportunities. I want him to be happy, as he does me. As contradictory as that may seem, this makes me feel safer, more trusting, and more comfortable in this relationship. (CheaterEx pressured me to get married way too soon, promised me the world, and… well, we all know how that ended.) Whatever happens, I know I will be okay.

      (Sorry, I rambled a bit there…)

      • So… I just re-read this and realized it sounds like a bunch of CheaterSpeak!

        A couple things: 1) This is an exclusive and committed relationship. We’ve talked about whether or not we “should” consider dating other people (because we met one another really, really early in the process of Chumpdom) and both agree that we have no interest in anyone else. 2) “Whatever happens” doesn’t mean a lack of commitment. It means we choose to continue a relationship that we both cherish. It means we both willingly choose one another and choose to bring our best selves to the relationship.

        Also, an interesting book to read if you are interested is “The Soul Mate Experience” by Dunn & Apple. It’s New Agey, but it doesn’t use “soul mate” in the way our cheaters use the term. It’s about bringing your best self to a relationship and expecting the best in return, but being open to letting go of what isn’t right, and letting go of the illusion of control. That was huge for me. CheaterEx “promised” me all the right things, but he broke that promise. The relationship I am in now is one that we have allowed to grow organically, and while we do envision a future together someday, we both acknowledge that the future is un-knowable. So we enjoy the now.

        • It’s a good sign that you are holding on to your home and prioritizing the kids. That way, no matter what happens, the foundation of your life is solid.

      • Kaycan, your relationship sounds awesome. I want something like that someday. These are also called “Living Apart Together” (LAT) relationships. Your kids are all so lucky you two aren’t trying to force a step-parent or a cohabitant on them. Because we all know the sky high failure rates of subsequent marriages. I applaud you!!!!

        • If memory serves me correctly,the female therapist that coined this term stated she and her husband live apart because he doesn’t like her cats and she can only take so much of his listening to jazz. It works for them

  • I’m 34, started dating again after almost 5 years alone, getting financially stable, my own place, ect. I can see it now, the flattery, faux interest, negging. In the 2 years I’ve been actively looking, 95% of the dates were a waste of my time. So, now, I am really filtering anyone who even comes into my zone. Less dates, but more time for kitty cuddles! Online is a battlefield, let me tell ya. More unwanted dick pics and cropped bod shots than I ever wanted to see.

    But I have a life, good job, real friends, loving family, a band, and I get to be the cool aunt! I get to wake up everyday free of mindfuckery. These are gifts I can truly appreciate because I tasted cheateraide.

    Sometimes my picker needs a tune up. Sonetimes I get wowed and fooled, and disappointed out there. Having your guard up 24/7 in every situation looking for narcs is exhausting, so I slip. But the difference now is I see bullshit faster, disengage, and choose me over fantasy quicker.

  • I am engaged to my ex-husband’s OW’s ex-husband. YEP! You read that right. His ex-wife was my ex-husband’s affair partner for five years. He did the same thing I did…….major pick-me dancing at it’s finest. Until…..I had enough and ended my marriage. I called her husband to tell him everything I knew and we shared hours of stories by phone until we figured out the sorted years of lies. Eight months later, many phone calls and text messages to check on each other, and he asked me out to dinner. We really hit it off. He is charming, handsome, funny, smart and genuine! He loves to do things for me! Something my former ex didn’t have time for. Last week, my ex mother-on-law passed away suddenly and he drove five hours (ONE WAY) to check on me and my daughters and headed back home the next morning! Simply blessed to have found him and he feels the same way about me. We are both in our 50’s and get a second shot at happiness. It can happen. Look for someone with empathy, kindness, honesty and true decency. Trust your gut. Don’t rush and wait until you are ready.

    • I am so happy to read this! Sounds like a dream to me. Best wishes for continued Chump bonding.

    • Haha! This used to happen pretty frequently when I was doing divorces….the chumps would talk in the beginning trying to figure out the truth and figure out that they were bonded in a way that worked.

    • Congratulations, Kimmy! You were a strong voice when I first found CL 3 years ago, and your story has been very compelling. I love a happy ending (and yes, I know we are all supposed to be at meh, but it is a great FU to the cheaters that you & OW’s husband ended up together!)

      • Thank you Tempest! So sad that so many of us are here but thankfully this community is wise and loyal and so supportive.

        Yes…..the cheaters HATE that we are together and we know it’s because they must deep down realize that they down graded! At least that’s what we like to tell each other!

        • Kimmy, I love your love story! It blows my mind that these cheaters can be such colossal idiots. They give up wonderful people like you and your fiance along with their own integrity. But, their loss is our gain! I’d like to send thank you cards to New Guy’s X and my STBX for giving us the chance to discover how unhappy we really were with them, and how happy we can be with another Chump!

          • Yeah, Kimmy and her New Guy took a lot of the fun out of cheating. We all know that some of the rush is the deception and keeping their spouses in the dark, that delicious unlevel playing field of “I know something you don’t know.” And I’ve always suspected that at the heart of having a true affair partner (as opposed to Craig’s List hookups, etc.) is the bonding that comes between Cheater and AP as the expense of the other people. There is something sick and powerful about listening to someone trash the one person they swore to love and honor. How heady to be listening to that betrayed spouse’s deepest secrets, revealed by the one person trusted to keep those secrets.

            And then–Kimmy and New Guy not only take that away, the turn the tables. Sweet.

        • Kimmy, that is pretty sweet I must say. I would love to hear some of the shit your exes say to y’all letting you know how much they dislike the two of you together, but only because I am selfish and am curious to know what the sounds of a mewling cheater ex sound like.

    • Hey Kimmy… congratulations.

      I have become friends with my ex-wife’s affair partner’s ex-wife. We get together for dinner every 2-3 months to catch up. It has been such a great connection for me, NO ONE understands some of the specifics of the situation more then her, and comparing notes on both of our cheatin’ ex’s lies is pretty entertaining.

      Good for you, best to you and lots of happiness.

  • Not one – NOT ONE of the relationships – I’ve let myself be involved in has been healthy. This last one – 21 years as my screen name portrays has been the worst. All of the flags (love bombing, rescuing, etc) were harbingers of the doom that awaited me.

    So almost four years out, I am fine. Alone and 55. But fine. More than fine. I do what I want. I hunt (love that), I fix up small projects on my house, I lost 40 pounds and am losing more with the help of a fantastic personal trainer, and Thunderpaws (who was finally relinquished to me in a terrible state and needs special expensive medical care monthly) has a new brother, Pooper.

    I’m not sure I can or should fix my picker. There’s much to do. My family needs me. There is need all over – I volunteer in my community. I’d like to make a bigger difference in the world. So fitting a man into all of this? Nah.

    Online dating? You have to be joking. Even in the religious sites like Catholic Match, I get the creep vibe. The bottom line is I don’t wanna. So there’s the boundary.

    If Prince Charming did show up, I am afraid I wouldn’t answer the door. I’m having too much fun. Not sorry.

    • Chumpfor21, your story sounds like mine. My picker is heaps better now for friendships and family relationships, but it still goes to pieces when romance enters the picture. Red flags just wave right in my face but I seem to be paralysed to do anything about them.

      So I fixed my picker enough to choose me, and I am thrilled at the results. I had never chosen me before in my life. I have actually gotten to know me really well now, and as a result I am more comfortable in my own skin than I have been for years. And yes, NO to Catholic Match; I’d rather be single! (hint: stay away from Ave Maria Singles as well – weirdo central).

      I’m working on friendship, which I’ve discovered is a much-neglected type of relationship in our society. If we had better understanding of friendship and what it can deliver, there might be fewer unhappy marriages.

  • Good morning, CN.

    CL says, ‘Don’t be afraid to “next” someone, because I promise you there is always a next.’ I would LOVE to believe this, but believing something sadly doesn’t make it true. (If that were the case, most of my ex-boyfriends would have turned out to be unicorns, crawling back to me after discarding me, professing their true undying love for me! I virtually always agree with CL, but in this instance, I do not see the evidence upon which she makes this claim–especially for those of us women who are over 50 and have dependent children. My research (done for my job and done on my own just to understand my life) shows that women over this (my) age have many fewer prospects (not even accounting for quality and compatibility) than young women (under 35) and men our age or older. Another thing to consider is most men want to and can date and marry significantly younger. Virtually nobody looks askance at a man who dates/marries a woman 10 years younger, but most people look at a woman who wants to date/marry someone even 10 or maybe even just 5 years younger as if she had three heads!

    I have zero offers from anyone close to compatible in terms of dating, although I try really hard to be wonderful to everyone. Thus, I am trying to cope with the fact that I will very likely never find a good, healthy man with whom I can form a mutually beneficial, loving, committed intimate relationship. Trying hard to embrace the celibate life from which I have run from my whole life.

    • Hey RSW, don’t despair. I know it looks bleak, but it’s not, really.

      If it helps, I have hard days sometimes too, as a single person. But they’re easily outweighed by the good days. I had to learn to let go of some baggage, though:

      – self-pity;
      – comparing myself to other women all the time;
      – anger (this took therapy, and it’s an ongoing process);
      – my inability to think outside the romantic box in terms of relationships;
      – my inner monologue about ‘I am not going end up like her’ when I met older single women (I am so ashamed of myself now, because they were good decent women having fun and getting on with their productive and happy lives, but I still thought I would be somehow better than them if I could just jag myself a bloke);
      – caring quite so much about what I thought other people were thinking.

      The last one is the hardest. The cure for me was realising that other people weren’t actually thinking about me at all, let alone feeling sorry for me because I was single.

      You can be as happy as you want to be. Just takes a bit of rearranging the mental furniture.

  • This came at just the right time for me. I’m in a relationship and he says he loves me and wants marriage but won’t spend any money on our relationship or our future and I don’t feel like I’m a priority( by the way he is relatively well off and spends LOTS of money on his grown daughter including a brand new SUV). Everything else in his life comes first it seems—daughter, daughters dog, church, car repairs, even garbage( he cancelled a night planned with me because the garbage had to be put out the next morning( his grown daughter lives with him). It’s time to sat next but I really enjoy his company. It’s just not good enough for me..

    • If he is picking garbage over you it is definitely time to take him out of your life. How can you enjoy his company when he already isn’t there?

    • Newlady15, that sounds horrible! A normal human would feel bad having to cancel any plan (even for a valid reason). How does a normal person even say, “Have to cancel because… garbage”? They wouldn’t.

      Something is going on – and it isn’t pretty


    • Oh yeah, time to chuck him out. He is clearly telling you how much he doesn’t care about you…..Bye Filipe… And don’t let the screen door……

    • Honey, trust your gut. It’s screaming at you. You need to be out of this relationship, and fast.

      Age is just a number. Stop letting your age keep you trapped in a bad situation.

  • I don’t know if I have fixed my picker or not as I haven’t started dating yet. I am still working on making new friends. We’ll see how that goes first. I do know, however, that I don’t want a project. I fixed that notion a long time ago before ex came along. I also don’t want to be anybody else’s project. I was ex’s project. He thought he could mold me into what he wanted me to be, but I am not moldable so he finally gave up. I guess that’s best for me as I have no desire to be the kind of woman who is evidently attractive to him. If I date again I will stick with the men who like me for who I am and I will look for signs as to whether or not that is really true (I thought it was when I married ex). As soon as he tries to tell me I need to be someone different, then it’s time to move on to “next”.

    • I will say that shortly after DDay I did write myself a dating profile. I don’t know how it would actually fit into an actual on-line dating site as I have never been on one, but that’s not why I wrote it. I just wanted something I could look at now and again to remind myself how awesome I am. It’s kind of like looking at your resume and going “I’m all of that? Wow!”

  • I’ve decided to take a break from online dating for a while. Reading the profiles was making me snarky.

    – Looking for his soul mate? Looking for a Stepford wife that has *exactly* the same interests, exactly the same libido, and never disagrees. Ever. (Hopes his soul mate has big tits.)
    – Easy going and laid back? That laundry and those bills just magically take care of themselves, so why should I worry?
    – Likes to hike, bike, and surf, hits the gym every day. Can’t imagine why he never sees his kids.
    – Doesn’t like drama? Who does? The fact that he stated it in his profile suggests he is either going to be a source of drama or he is going to withdraw any time there is something unpleasant to discuss or decide. So nothing will ever be decided together and I will always be the bad guy.
    – “Ask me.” The empty profile drives me up the wall. It says, “I am a blank slate and will be whatever it takes to get into your pants.”

    In the mean time, I am content with hobbies and cats. I’d like to meet someone again, but we all know that being alone is not the worst thing.

    • I love these 2nd Gen Chump!! I’m a very very cautious online dater and really I only go on one site. Reading the profiles is always interesting. I too pass on anyone with ‘soul mate’ ‘no drama’ or empty profiles. Also those that have one picture and it’s only of their head, or it’s a bathroom selfie, or with their car or in the gym…nope…next!

      I was warned that when I first registered on an online dating website that I would be considered “fresh meat” and that a lot of these guys are on other websites as well and they will pounce as soon as they see a new profile. I was told to have some healthy boundaries on who I would or would not respond to. I was inundated with Likes and Messages the first week I almost quit, but I stuck through and just largely blocked or ignored anyone who contacted me right off the bat that I knew wouldn’t be what I was looking for.

      I put a lot of effort into my profile and it’s a very good representation of me, I’m not hiding anything. If someone messages me with something generic like “Hi Beautiful, how’s your day going?” I pass, it’s the same thing they write to everyone. In order for me to respond they must: reference something in my profile when they message me, have at least an 80% compatibility rating on the site, not want kids (I choose the child-free lifestyle) and list an appropriate dating age that they are interested in. So far I’ve been really lucky to meet some decent guys by sticking to this criteria.

      • OKCupid profile: I like doing laundry and being punctual to appointments. I dislike road rage, and camping.

  • Time. Over time, much will be revealed. Don’t rush into anything: I love you s, bed, marriage. There’s no hurry…

  • I agree with every word CL says but would like to add:

    You have to learn to be alone. Unless you face your fear of being alone, going to a party alone, eating out alone, going to the movies alone, and waking up on Christmas alone, you’ll still be vulnerable to shifty people who sense your need for a partner. Now, I started dating at 15 and got chumped at 62. That’s 47 years of settling for men who were fixer-uppers because I was afraid of being alone. Meanwhile–I was STILL ALONE because disordered people or people with crappy life skills aren’t real partners.

    Take a break from dating and get comfortable with the idea of living alone and liking it. Have in the back of your mind dating again, if you choose, once you are not desperate and willing to settle for someone who will snore on the couch while you do his or her laundry or work overtime to pay Sleepy’s car payment. Ideally, we would go through this stage from our teen years onward and be ready to choose a healthy party who is kind and capable of love and reciprocity. For those of us who missed that boat, it’s a great idea to take up the project of learning about yourself and developing the confidence it takes to be really single. This is the one thing I am grateful to Jackass for; I’d still be pulling my codependent dogsled with 200 pounds of random inert male on it if he hadn’t discarded me.

    • 200 PLUS pounds of ugly inert male. You said a big mouthful there!


      Alone is certainly preferable to that. Also – not one offer of date in four years kinda sets it out for you.. I’m older. Not willing to settle. Probably not ideal for most male ego out there.

      And on my own is finally a lot of fun.

  • My Ex found many of his soulmates online, through Reading the profiles he wrote reminds me that I need to be wary of anyone who uses “I” a lot or has any other narcissistic “tells.” My Ex’s profile was rather clever in that he stated, “My friends tell me that I am… [smart, wonderful, a great catch]” He went on to list his many amazing attributes, but he let the reader know that this is what his friends think, he’s not bragging. Listen, he doesn’t have any friends, and this is the perfect him he wanted to be, not the reality.
    I’m going to get busier leading my life and working on my own bucket list and see who shows up. I will also listen carefully when others tell me what went wrong with their last relationship. The seeds of discontent and doubt are there but I don’t want to pick/water them.

  • My tip: dump, liberally.

    Buy that, I do NOT mean dump indiscriminately. I mean, be prepared to dump someone cleanly and quickly when your gut tells you that something is off. Bring up any issues to them, and if their reaction isn’t similar to how you would handle that relationship issue, then get out, then and there.

    I am 45. I was absolutely worried about not being attractive to women, primarily because of how much emotional abuse I sustained in my marriage to my cheating ex. I was absolutely wrong.

    Since separation and divorce, I have dated – and, much more importantly, *dumped* – women who are so attractive, they literally were former models, and/or people actually stopped us when we were out on dates to remark about how attractive my date was. The “average” guy – or me, in my pre-chump days – would likely just put up with questionable behavior from these women, on the basis of the I’ll-never-find-any-better fallacy.

    Not me, and not anymore. I’ve dumped them all. If this sounds like I am bragging, it’s because I am; this is, in fact, a great accomplishment for a chump, to red the red flags correctly, and early, and not let the sparkles distract you from them to the future detriment of your (and possibly your kids’!) emotional health.

    • Great point, NP. I have also taken note of this lately: if the way a date responds to a situation or says something that makes me scratch my head (because I wouldn’t do it/say it) I step back and evaluate. For example, talking badly about people close to them, bringing up something that would obviously make someone uncomfortable, or saying something that is hurtful/ touching on an (obvious) sore spot. I know not everyone is the same, and sometimes we all say things that hurt or offend someone, but there’s definitely a difference between accidentally hurting someone vs. straight missing the empathy chip.

      Thanks for a great topic today, CL, all good points and reminders. Like many have already pointed out, the power of trusting your gut can’t be emphasized enough. Sometimes I worry that maybe I’m being too picky or too hasty, but it’s just that second guessing of myself that landed me here in the first place. No more!

      • Thanks, NC.

        I think being too picky described things such as dumping someone because they leave the toothpaste cap off, or because you don’t like their favorite pair of shoes. When it comes to character, not being discerning and selective shouldn’t be an option for chumps.

  • Two horrible relationships. I never thought I could have a worse relationship than my first marriage and my second husband proved me wrong. I literally wished I was dead and really felt like it. I am 50. This is the first time I have ever lived alone. I am raising two children, 10 and 12, on my own. I am afraid. Out of my element. Financially insecure.

    I have never been happier. 🙂

    I am not even thinking about dating. I am focusing on myself and on my children. I am doing the things we want to do. I am working hard and trying to make up for lost time in building my retirement. I am helping my kids get through this. I am helping myself too.

    I don’t think we can even begin to contemplate having another relationship until we are okay inside. I also think that we are never going to find the right person by not getting out and doing the things we enjoy. If I want to find a partner that enjoys what I enjoy, my best chance is finding him while doing it.

    I used to worry about being alone, until I was alone. It is the best thing that ever happened to me. If I never find a partner, I am so okay with that. I never want to be with the wrong person again.

    • GraceInMotion, I totally get what you are saying and i’m so sorry this happened twice. I cannot imagine the type of pain you must feel at this happening twice to you. But, I do know what you mean about loving being alone and enjoying your life. I have learned that I love coming home to my house and having tranquility. I listen to music while enjoying a glass of wine, read (My husband used to hide my books because it annoyed him), cook, garden and go out with my girfriends who are a huge support system. So, I too agree, that if I don’t find the right type of man for me, I’m ok with being alone, I’m at peace for the most part.

      But, I would like in time, to share my life and love with someone worthy one day…. a girl can dream.

    • “I never want to be with the wrong person again” really resonates with me. I can’t say that I’m happy, but I’m no longer sad all the damn time, and someone I love is no longer actively, knowingly hurting me, so I am in a better place.

  • CL is absolutely right about not taking on a “Project boyfriend” or someone who is needy. I tried rescuing a guy who turned out to be the classic ‘guy down on his luck’ and he turned into a nightmare.

    I thought I had good judgment and plenty of radar for losers. Turns out I didn’t.

    Here’s what I think after about 6 years of online dating: don’t do it. Why? Because out there….you are isolated from third party opinions & observations. You have no mutual friends to help mitigate your decisions. You are at risk of the other party playing all kinds of dupe tricks on you – and in the course of a developing relationship, little red flags pop up. You are so determined to ‘make this work’ that you don’t value yourself enough to cut & run.

    I now live daily with a Plan B. This means I have boundaries which I can set any time. No relationship means so much to me that I cannot walk away from it. I can still love and feel emotion, but my left brain now rules my decisions.

    Alternatives to online dating – join real life groups. Meet people in person who have mutual friends. Check them out three ways from Friday. Keep checking, keep vigilant. And always be prepared to dump them when you know something is amiss. And make ‘being single’ a true possibility for yourself.

    • I never dated anyone who wasn’t a project. Ever. And the great irony is that I was afraid of being alone! Yet, I was the mighty one, buying the houses and managing the money and figuring out how to stretch a budget and planning and cleaning and….


  • This is something that I’ve been trying to work out as well. At 53 I’ve only had three serious relationships and since I was hooked up with Mme at 25 I am certainly a bit out of practice.

    I did go out on a date with a very nice lady recently who I’ve known for about 20 years. We were intellectually compatible, enjoyed having dinner but there was no “warmth”. She is also a chump from about 16 years ago. This was the first date that I’ve had since Mme left in July of last year and the second lady that I’ve asked out. As difficult as it was I let her know that “it didn’t feel right” in an email responding to her asking me if there was something wrong after a second non-date encounter. It was very difficult to do. I got a rather terse response back where she said that she didn’t think that we had been “dating”. I fully agree with CL that part of fixing our pickers is to know that fishing can be a “catch and release” program as well.

    It’s perhaps different for us guy chumps, or perhaps just for me. First off, it’s difficult to identify who might be available to date outside of the online stuff. It’s pretty much impossible to know for sure if a woman from the age of 35 to 65 is actually single. Add on to that my complete inability to guess a woman’s age between 30 and 50 and it gets more complex. The one other woman I asked out I chatted with for 3 months before I was sure she was single and asked her. She told me that I was a nice guy but …. You know the drill.

    On the other side of this is the fact that I think I have a hard time reading any sort of signals. Especially since I’ve been separated I have had a number of women who suddenly appear to be more friendly and even flirtatious. Was that always happening and I just didn’t notice? Are they actually being flirtatious or are they just being friendly? Some of these women are also quite young – as in still at home with their parents who are probably younger than me young. Since I have a business relationship with a number of these people I don’t want to be inappropriately forward. I do joke about being single and having a poor online dating profile hoping that one of them will ask “me” :-$ I did have one woman run up to me in a store, blurt out “I really like your bow tie” and then run off like a shy teenager (she was within 10 years of me and rather cute too).

    I was also warned by a number of people very early on that as a middle-aged guy with a certain income who is lost and hurt that I could be vulnerable. And yes – there was one person who I met online who ran me through the classic narc stages before doing the discard before we were to meet in person. It was a good and safe learning experience but has made me paranoid perhaps.

    So – yes – I’m very worried about my picker. I’ve reached out to friends and family as that is perhaps a safe way to “vet” people that you don’t know personally. But most importantly I’ve realized that I’m doing OK by myself and that I don’t “need” someone else. But if there’s anyone in the Toronto area (I noticed some other Chumps mention that – I live to the north-west of the GTA) that see a middle-aged guy with a mustache and bow tie without a wedding ring looking lost and confused, feel free to dash up, tell me you like my tie and then “don’t” run away. I don’t bite.


    • BT I hope a she-chump in Toronto reads this and gets in touch with you. I started dating a he-chump recently and it’s really nice to be on the same wavelength!

      : )

    • BowTie – I think I have some weird form of Tourette’s where I blurt out compliments like a drunk woman in line for the bathroom. “Your eyeliner looks amazing!” “Beautiful eyebrows!” “I really like your bow tie.” And then I realize I said verbalized my internal monologue, sound like a lunatic, and Run Away! I am happy to hear I am not the only one.

  • I’ll say my experience. You decide if it is relevant to you.

    I was in a number if emotionally abusive relationships, but I didn’t know it. It messed up my picker (ability to identify healthy people). I have heard it said that the more people handle real money, the better able they are to id counterfit. They know what right looks like. My relationship were counterfit. I didn’t know it. I didn’t know what right looked like.

    I went to counseling. I read. Most notably, I read “the body keeps score” and “why does he do that?”. I understood that abuse, even non-physical, can cause incredible damage.

    I learned to label behavior. Minimizing, blameshifting, obvuscation, etc. I learned to rely on what they do and not what they say they intended.

    Looking back on my life, I see that I gave too much to the wrong people and failed to appreciate the right ones. Picker fixed. Took a major reality jolt…things weren’t as I thought they were.

  • -You’ll have more success finding a quality person when you’ve reached meh. If you are trying to fill a void or looking for someone to validate you…history will repeat itself.
    No more drama!

    – The more you give others the benefit of the doubt, the bigger of a chump you become. Transparency and accountability are mandatory and nonnegotiable.
    No more free passes!

    – If your instincts are telling you something isn’t quite right, pay attention! There’s a reason why your warning system has detected a problem. If you start second guessing things, you’re putting more faith and trust in the other person than yourself.
    No more ‘what if?’ or ‘maybe?’ excuses allowed!

    – Trust is not something you just give to someone and hope for the best. It’s kinda like a pay check. In order to receive it, you have to continuously earn it.
    No more free handouts!

  • Ok, I take issue with the “fix your picker” thing. While I think there are some of us the repeatedly demonstrated poor choices regarding partners, I also think there’s a fair amount of us that really never even suspected scumbags like this existed and had never met them in the past. I think rather than fix our pickers, those in the latter group, are really fine tuning our pickers. Now we know what red flags are and what they represent. Now we know the danger people that ignore boundaries can represent. Fixing implies we were broken. I wasn’t. The fact I didn’t know that garbage like my stbx existed is not my fault. That said, I will not (to the best of my ability) ever allow myself to be treated this way again.

    • I’m not saying it’s your fault. But getting out of a chump/cheater relationship is traumatic and can make you wobbly at first, especially in the dating world. It doesn’t hurt to shore up your boundaries. You might be one of the rare people who immediately dumped their cheater, never reconciled, and put up with zero bullshit. If so, terrific. It still hurts, and it’s still good to know your worth and have boundaries in relationships.

      • Almost 2 decades of abuse. I used to believe people could change. Now I believe they suck. I filed. I’m indebted to you.

      • Eh, I don’t think WE were or are broken. But if you don’t know about narcissists and psychopaths, at the very least your ability to discern danger in other people is undeveloped.

        One interesting point in Gavin de Becker’s “The Gift of Fear” (or perhaps the sequel) is that parents have to TEACH kids to discern who is kind, who is trustworthy, how to choose companions. A broken picker (or one that has never been used) is not a broken person, but it still needs to be developed in a healthy way. Hey, I didn’t even know I HAD a picker. I just thought love struck like a lightning bolt and that was it. Seriously.

        • “parents have to TEACH kids to discern who is kind, who is trustworthy, how to choose companions”

          I’m reading this book now, but haven’t gotten to this part yet.

          I think back to my childhood and no one ever taught me anything about relationships.There was just my abusive male parent laughing at me from a distance for letting all the other kids go first down the slide and being very confused as to why no one was reciprocating. I have told this anecdote so many times in my life, but I feel only recently it all makes sense.

          • This is a thing for me right now. She probably has until after thanksgiving before she’s served. Doesn’t know. The kids, at least the oldest, should be told why I’m doing this and by me. I think it’s very important but i don’t know how. She’s still a minor but just only by a few months. She adores her mom. Any ideas?

            • Dun, have you tried the forums up at the top of the page? The forums were a way for me early on to drill down deeply and chat with others about my individual issues. And they tend to get a lot more traffic than the main page on the weekend.

              Don’t spend Thanksgiving with your stbxw.

    • Recognizing the red flags you missed is what has fine tuned your picker. It’s not our fault for the way they treated us during the relationship, but it was our choice to enter a relationship with them. You chose to find out what signs you had overlooked and now you’re aware of what to look out for. By so doing so, you were able to adjust, fix, modify, decorate, remodel, refurbish or whatever the hell you want to call it, your picker to be what it is today. That makes you a smart cookie. Thinking your picker is now fail proof and unbreakable, well….. Our ability to gain knowledge only ceases when we die. Until that time, we all have more to learn.

      ChumpLady refers to pickers as being broken because that’s exactly what they were at the time. If our pickers were perfect, not I, nor you, or ChumpLady would be having this conversation.

      In no way was she implying we’re broken individuals…she asked for us to share tips and help one another. So maybe instead of looking down your nose at a word, you can help someone else by telling them what you’ve learned from your experience.

  • Can I ask my fellow chumps a sensitive and frankly embarrassing question… Let’s say I’ve only been with one man in my life…married 33 years, now on my own for 5 months, divorce is in process (he decided a 43 year old married woman of 2 was going to make him feel better about himself…yadayadayada…and I’ll never find out..oops!)I’m 53 now… ok, i prefer “curvy”..i do have 50 extra pounds on me, but still have the right curves in the right places…. anyway… when I’m ready…i have to say that it completely terrifies me to think of being intimate with anyone else and in today’s society do men expect sex to occur quickly? I hope not, because it’s just not who I am… I believe in getting to know someone and waiting for however long it takes until we are both ready…am I wrong? What is expected today in the dating world… of folks in my age bracket? Oh lord… it’s terrifying…to not be that “barbie” or imperfect… I’m hoping that men can see much more than physical since there is so much more to give and share than just a perfect body. right? ugh!

    • Ah, I worry about that too. (Cheater was my first boyfriend, now I’m 45.) It’s going to take some time for me to be mentally comfortable even if my hormones of attraction are going crazy. I am the opposite of curvy – more of the 12 year old boy, barely an A cup style body. I feel like our society expects curves. (A friend jokingly teased me saying I better get implants now that I’m single… ugh.) And I have no “dating” experience which is expected and okay at 20, not so much now… It’s just scary.

      • beenChumped, I’m sure you are a beautiful woman, and all of us are different which is also what makes us great. I’m sure that in your shape, you can fit into anything and rock it!! Trust me, someone like me is envious of your type of shape. We’ll weather the scary storm together via CL!! 🙂

      • Hopeful and Been,
        Please stop worrying about how you look, what you weigh and most of all what the sex expectations of anyone you might date. Good grief, if we have learned anything from being chumped let it be that we are “GOOD ENOUGH JUST AS WE ARE”.
        Take the time to find out what YOU want/expect! please, please be careful out there! Be brave!

    • If you don’t come together in joy and laughter, you shouldn’t come together at all. If you’re worried about those things, it means you’re not ready for sex. And that is okay. If he ghosts because you’re not putting out right away, is he a keeper?

    • Get to know someone and wait however long it takes, yes absolutely! It’s ok not to have sex for the first 3 months, or however long it takes until you feel genuine intimacy, reciprocity, and you are the one who wants to go to bed with the person. Well worth the wait. Have high standards and never settle.

    • HopefulChump – I am going to echo your feelings and add a bit to them – Like Lyndaloo said, you must be who you are. This is from only one male chump’s perspective – physical attractiveness only goes so far. Its all well and good that the packaging is nice, but that is not the real thing. My STBXW was and is very attractive, but that is just the package, the snake underneath bit me. Yes, she is beautiful. That is just an image and a facade, it really does only go so far. The real attraction, from my perspective, is a confidence to be who and what you are. A solid footing that states: “I am who I am and maybe I am interested in you”. That is a much better aphrodisiac than the physical package and is a huge compliment. That to me can outweigh any physical factors. I’ll add this in as well – weight was not a major factor in my relationship with my STBXW, I didn’t care. I wanted to see her as her, not as an object that must meet certain criteria. She at times struggled with her weight, well as long as it isn’t a major health concern I thought that it wasn’t for me to comment on and frankly it didn’t bother me anyway. When she chose to lose weight earlier in our marriage, I was proud of it. When she did much later, well, that was because of feldman’s attention and her feeding in to it. I wanted her weight loss to be for and about her and when I get off my ass and do it, it will be for and about me.

      Here is where I will echo you and give in to the reality of the superficial nature of our world, we do get stuck in the outward projection. Someday, when I am ready to think of dating again, this is going to be a scary hurdle. I have to let go of the same things and @srfrgrl can punch me the next time she talks to me, I usually say I am tall, fat and funny looking and I have zero perception of whether I am attractive or not. With the help of others, I am starting to devalue the perception of what I SHOULD be. I am 6’3″ and round about 275 right now, I am not thin. Whatever the books say about what my weight should be, I’ll never be that, so I have to let those things go. My weight will be what it is, probably never under 250 and I can’t do a damn thing about the hairline (Norwegian genes), so I am what I am. Nervous that I will never be seen as attractive? Oh hell yes – scared actually. But if I do not develop that confidence for myself and in myself, then the journey will take much, much longer. Are there things for yourself that you want to challenge? That is where growth truly is.

      • @BSOD
        Consider yourself punched. Now you can add an imaginary black eye along with the other imaginary flaws you seem to think exist.

  • I need to fix my picker dating someone but im not happy based on some of his actions.he is not keen on finding a job even though i know getting a