Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Dear Chump Lady, Better the Cheater I know, right?

Dear Chump Lady,

I’ve been binging on Reconciliation Industrial Complex material for the last 3+ months, partially coming to my senses about my reality. My wife has still not ended it with the affair partner after 3 months. She still claims she wants this marriage and misses me so much but keeps “screwing it up”. Thank God we don’t have kids.

CL and CN have given me some fresh perspective that I have other options.

But there’s two things I can’t shake after my hopium and RIC binging:

1. That cheating is all but guaranteed in a marriage according to RIC statistics — (the lowest claims that 25% of marriages experience infidelity, with the highest claiming 75%. Holy Shnikeys!)

2. That if so many people cheat (let’s go with 30% of marriages), does that really mean 30% of people have a personality disorder?

So here I am, feeling a bit defeated thinking, “Well, the next person is going to just cheat eventually according to the numbers, so why not stick it through this since I have so much invested in her already?”

Cheers,

Sketchguy

Dear Sketchguy,

Instead of miring yourself in imponderables like “How many cheaters can dance on the head of a pin?” or “How many marriages experience infidelity?” — why not ask if this singular relationship that YOU Sketchguy are in is acceptable to you? She’s still cheating. How’s that working out for you?

The odds that your wife is a cheater are 100 percent. The odds someone else is a cheater? NOT 100 percent. As I’ve said here many times, you could swing a cat and hit someone better than your wife, just by virtue of the fact that person hasn’t cheated on you. (Although it might be hard to get a date after you just hit someone with a cat.)

Anyway, my point is — your investment sucks. I’m sorry about your sunk costs, but the way to win isn’t to keep toking on the hopium pipe and investing more, but to cut your losses and learn how to pick better stocks. (Around here we call that “fix your picker.”)

So let’s reframe this — You’re not going to stay with someone who deceives you, and makes unilateral decisions about your health and welfare, because the world out there is scary. NO. You’re going to learn to face the UNKNOWN. The unknown can be navigated with boundaries.

Let’s practice some boundaries now!

Mrs. Sketchguy: Hey, I’m just going out to get my nails done… and keep screwing up! LOL! Back tomorrow at 3 a.m. Don’t mind me! 

Sketchguy says nothing. He DOES something. He gets a divorce summons.

That’s a boundary!

“Oh please don’t go! Haven’t we been over this before? I’m sick of this shit! Read this Affair Proof Your Marriage book with me instead! We have HOMEWORK!”

That’s the Pick Me Dance.

Sketchguy it all comes down on who you want to be. A guy who will dance to keep a shitty investment (her), or a guy who will walk if you treat him like shit.

I’m rooting for you to be the latter. And if you frame it that way, it doesn’t matter how many cheaters are out there in Scary World. What matters is YOU and your integrity. Maybe you cannot tolerate 75 percent of the world. (I have those days… don’t we all?) Don’t accept crap. Hell, don’t accept mediocrity. You are a stock that trades high! You’re a man who loves with his whole heart and is faithful! There are a hundred faithful chumps lining up here today for your number.

The RIC traffics in fear, in settling for crap outcomes, because all that dancing PAYS. You trying to control the uncontrollable means more fear-based book and DVD purchases. Here? We just traffic in pep-talks. YOU CAN DO THIS. Walk away.

Odds of a better life on the other side of a cheater? 100 percent. Guaran-fucking-teed.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
      • Yes, a very lame Esther Perel excuse. I was always told in school, ask questions and without fear because someone else in the room probably has the same question and will thank you for asking.

        Point is Nobody is that original. I don’t cheat. From what I read on this site, there are plenty like me. The ric has an agenda.

    • Do you remember the advice not to get dates in bars because drunks hang out there? I’m starting to think people shouldn’t get dates from dating apps. It seems a lot of the serial cheaters end up there.

      • Omg, @2nd, just yesterday, I was lamenting to a friend that I was concerned about 24 yo daughter getting dates off an app. Her reply, “you probably dated someone you met at a bar all those years ago, it is the same”. My reply, yeah, married one and look where I am today.

        How do we stop history from repeating?

        • My sister found the love of her life in a bar. 5 years after she passed away he runs a 501c in her honor and treats my mom and I as family. It’s less likely but not impossible!

        • I found my ex in a bar . . . but we had gone to the same high school (he was younger, I didn’t remember him) and one of his friends had tried to set us up (his friends wife knew me and worked with my mom), but he wasn’t interested in a blind date so it didn’t happen. We ended up running into each other on our own, it was complete KISMET!! Never mind that he was shit faced drunk and his opening line was absolutely pathetic. I only gave him my phone number because of a story he told me that I wanted to relay to my Grandfather. The more we talked over the weeks to come, I thought it was MEANT TO BE because of all the commonalities and people trying to get us together. Which now makes me think of two magnets when you flip them over. I think there were forces trying to keep us AWAY from each other, not push us together. However, all of it was meant to be . . . so that I could have my children. I feel horribly that they have a pathetic loser of a deadbeat father, but it was all totally worth it and I would do everything over again 1000% just to get them. They are amazing : )

          • I met my boyfriend at a bar. My friend told me not to date guys who hang out at bars. The funny thing is – my boyfriends’ friends told HIM the same thing. My Xhole was and still is an alcoholic who cracked a beer the second he got home from work. My boyfriend and I go to the local bar every Saturday night. (Boyfriend plays drums and knows all the bands who come to town – so we go see his friends) 9:00 Saturday night is when we are cracking our first beer of the week. Just cuz I met him at a bar doesn’t mean he’s a drunk. And vice versa – just because he met me at a bar doesn’t make me a drunk either.

          • I felt the same way about STBX because of all the common acquaintances, places, and things. I like your idea of the magnets.

      • A good friend of mine met her wonderful husband of twenty years in a bar. Folks, we have to meet people somewhere. It’s not about the bar or the dating app, it’s about character and taking the time to assess the person’s character by observing their actions over time. Just my two cents

        • My parents met in a bar at 18 yrs old and have been married for 40 years. I think they love each other more with every year that goes by.

          They respect each other. They know how to apologize and they do it quickly if they have a disagreement. There’s no silent treatments or revenge or rage. That’s the one thing that stands out to me after being married to a narc… my parents are normal and I hate how I’m shocked by normal now.

          • Spot on, WROHIT, I met dead ex-cheater in a bar. And I met my 2nd STBXH cheater at work! It’s definitely not the place you meet, but the person. A bar does not make you a drunk, and the workplace does not make you a nice person. For me it will always be, “how”, not “why”. We know why, because they are completely selfish abusers who don’t give a flying fuck about you or your marriage. It’s all about them and their “happiness”. I will always wonder how a human being can literally treat another person like absolute trash. With complete disregard for their spouse’s health and welfare. How they justify this shit in their brain? I am not that type of person, so it’s inconceivable to me. My STBXH can fuck off, I am so much better then this.

          • Yes! Exactly!
            I think one of the scariest things is how they justify it to themselves. I got a text the other day out of the blue telling me that i forced him to BECOME a horrible person and that he used to be a perfect angel. I’m the bad person that made him become a bad person and do bad things to me. Guess he solved the mystery!

            He can fuck all the way off and take my husband with him.

            • That text is PRICELESS 😂 I can’t believe anyone would send something that makes them look so ridiculous!! 😂😂

      • My experience with the men on dating sites has been poor. I have found them to be either serial cheaters who are happy with a new date every werk or that they are homosexual.
        I’ve been on Match only.
        Alot of deception out there.
        Be weary.

    • Just for the record, while I have no idea how many times the DOCTOR x hubby cheated, I know I didn’t. Yep, I was truly tempted ONCE.

      But I did the “moral math” and I refrained from doing something that was so at odds with my values. (Of course x hubby narc was in his residency and was either exhausted or angry ALL the time, when we saw him, that is. NOW of course, I have to wonder what that was all about).

      ANYHOW, I was a military officer, and I was flirted with and pursued. But I was faithful and loyal to my husband for 35 years.

      There are many of us out here. In my circles, with about 20 working women and stay at home moms, I can count on one hand how many have had affairs. ONE left her husband for the other man and that relationship ended after 4 years. None of my 3 sisters have had an affair.

      So that’s my statistic. We are out here.

      • My experience with the men on dating sites has been poor. I have found them to be either serial cheaters who are happy with a new date every werk or that they are homosexual.
        I’ve been on Match only.
        Alot of deception out there.
        Be weary.

    • And… good, faithful men exist out there. I found one, too.

      “Odds of a better life on the other side of a cheater? 100 percent. Guaran-fucking-teed.”

      And, Tracy, per the “Kitty Cat Council,” don’t swing any cats! They don’t like it! 🙂

      • Dear Starting,
        I hope that is true, that males are capable of fidelity. I’ve always been cynical about that one, I guess—not because of RIC but because (I have a biology background) of all the studies in animals showing that males are wired to “spread their sperm as far and wide as possible” rather than invest in a single mate, for the vast majority of species out there. So with all the male cheaters throughout history, that seems to include humans too. That’s actually why I tolerated cheater for years (can’t expect someone to defy biology), back before he started doing other (non sex-related) bad stuff.

        On the other hand, my own father was a sweetheart and not a cheater.

        Guys, I’m just curious: what about all that biology stuff? Gotta admit I’m still cynical about ever having a partner again, in the face of that.

        • Sure – us guys get urges and now that I’m single I can actually look at women and think about it without guilt. I don’t follow through even now for a large number of reasons but maybe someday I will. But I’ll be pretty particular about who I engage with.

          Did I think about it when I was married? Heck yeah! I presume women do to. BUT – I never crossed that line.

          Our society has structured itself around the concept of “family” which also requires fidelity – even in families where there are multiple partners. So while head #2 may be thinking “woo-hoo!”, head #1 is in charge and realizes that there are things far far more important than momentary satisfaction. With any sort of relationship – sexual or non – there are obligations and expectations. When married there was an expectation for example that I would earn an income and cut the grass. Sex had nothing to do with that.

          For me as well there is an emotional connection that is required, not just the physical. And once that physical bond is made and the flood of hormones start surging in my brain, I will be “bonded”. In fact Mme YogaPants knew this to be true which is why she actually put out from time to time knowing that I would get grumpy and be less compliant to her if there was more than a few weeks without.

          So – if you are still feeling scientific, you may want to look at the impact of those “happy chemicals” (don’t remember the name) have on the brain and in the creation of pair-bonding. It certainly had an impact on me.

          BT

            • With you on the chemical pair bonding. Maybe cheaters are like bonobos, but chumps are more like red hawks, wolves, beavers, and loons. When I was married to Woody I never had any desire for anyone but him. Severing the pair bond was painful physically and mentally, just like a chemical addiction.

              • Yes – me too. Never was I attracted to anyone else but my husband. Never looked, never thought about it. Although I was accused of it….

              • Its interesting because there are studies that show that some people(sociopaths,psychopaths) do not produce ocytocin like neurotypicals so even though you might be bonded to them they are not bonded to you.

        • Males may be predispositioned to do so, but the distinction is they are NOT animals. They can control themselves in 100 other areas, but not this? Use a different analogy. Males are the ones that are biologically predisposed to go out and hunt/provide. Well, they’ve somehow learned not to walk up and steal someone’s wallet to buy food to eat. They’ve learned not to grab a burrito off someone’s plate even though their biology tells them to just take it and survive. They overcame their biology because humans were gifted with reasoning skills and, if you lean the way I do, souls. This is a character issue as Tracy says, pure and simple. Overcoming an urge to go out and do something animalistic is the hallmark of humanity. These jokers just don’t feel like controlling it, then blame biology. Horseshit.

          • “They’ve learned not to grab a burrito off someone’s plate even though their biology tells them to just take it and survive. They overcame their biology because humans were gifted with reasoning skills and, if you lean the way I do, souls. This is a character issue as Tracy says, pure and simple. Overcoming an urge to go out and do something animalistic is the hallmark of humanity. These jokers just don’t feel like controlling it, then blame biology. Horseshit.”

            Hear hear @honeyandthehonewrecker!!
            I loved the analogy of not stealing other people’s food when you’re hungry, and it makes so much sense! Of course cheaters will say if the burrito started talking to them and they had growing feelings towards the burrito then theirs is a Love That Cannot Be Denied.

        • The female equivalent of the “spread the seed ” deal is hypergamy, where the female looks to upgrade while keeping the current male as a backup.
          Just like not all men are controlled by the alleged biological urge to spread the seed, not all females are ruled by hypergamy.

          • ^^ This! I’m so glad you brought that up.

            My general view of evolutionary behavioral psychology is that it’s junk. It’s easy to come up with theories, impossible to prove them.

          • Weak argument

            Women…
            Biologically programmed to pick the best sperm donor.

            I didn’t cheat in my marriage. Best sperm donor – he was not.

            • I don’t think cheating is basically biological. I think these are people who don’t bond. Period.

        • Chickynot
          Maybe it would help to think of it as biology AND psychology – physical imperatives and behavior. Both have the same goal (survival and reproduction). We are still here as a species because both contributed to our evolution. For lower forms of animal life just spreading sperm or offering eggs may be enough to ensure that your genes survive you. In humans, the best way to go is to have both parents stick around to support and protect their progeny. The ones who screw and run are less evolved than the rest of us. Just saying.

          • Yes that’s true — but couldn’t it also explain why some many of us women get cheated on and left once we pass our reproductive prime and the kids are grown? X didn’t start being truly outrageous in his behavior till the kids were teens and big enough to fend for themselves (and challenge his narc ass) in a biological sense. Before that, he seemed to like and accept the family man role.

            • The issue is honesty, and character, not biology. Fine you want to fuck other people, then be honest and say so. Don’t lie to and manipulate your partner. Period.

              • Yes, I agree with that. If X now declared himself polyamorous (I don’t think that was an option 25 yrs ago), I understand there are still rules involved. I know he thinks rules don’t apply to him in general, so he’d probably still lie and cheat; he really is a narcopath. It’s good to hear that other guys out there are able to control their urges just fine.

            • Chickynot, of course this is speculation. But, the vast majority of affairs go undetected, forever. Pretty decent odds that your husband cheated many times throughout the marriage and that you just happened to find out about the most recent stuff.

            • My theory on why some parents (male and female) leave the nest when the kiddos are teenagers: They’ve gotten all the kudos for being a “family man/woman” and now they can leave with only a few years of child support to pay. Then, cue the sad sausage “can’t help with college” whining.

              I’ve said it before: my grandfather abandoned 3 wives, 7 bio kids and 2 step kids when they hit adolescence. He was a seed-spreader, all right. He just didn’t want to be a parent once kids were old enough to get a paper route.

              • Do you think there’s also an element of narc cheaters being threatened when their kids are old enough to “rebel” and protest that parent’s chronic selfish behavior? I think that was the case with my X, anyway.

              • For me, parenting teenagers was MUCH more difficult than the earlier years. Narcs don’t like difficult.

        • Chickynot,

          As sentient beings, humans can and do override their base animal instincts on a daily basis.
          All men and women feel desire but they can control themselves. If your adult daughter brought home a cut gorgeous male model, of course you would be attracted to him physically but your mind would shut that down in a nanosecond because… daughter’s boyfriend, he’s too young, you’re in a committed relationship, etc.
          Ditto for men.

          Guys saying that they can’t control their animal urges regarding women are full of s***.
          Males also have the urge to fight and even kill if challenged yet the vast majority of men (even cheaters) can quickly override that instinct because of laws, consequences, etc.

          There are many men who are not cheaters, I’m one of them. I had tons of opportunities to cheat in the 16 years that I was married to my Ex and I never did. In fact I did not date until a week after the divorce was final. I did this to get my head straight but also my Ex cheated and broke her marriage vow but I can say that I never did and honored my vows.

          As CL says, cheating is a character issue not an instinct.

          • Well said, Laughing Gator, about the urge to kill. The urge to kill, however, is not entirely limited to males.
            I have the urge to kill the Whore, I imagine her face in place of every single thistle I grub. But I don’t act on it, and the farm is almost thistle free. Self-control, strong laws and modern forensics have conspired to keep that ghoul alive.
            But this morning I was thinking I would marry the first man who brought me her head on a spike…

            • I’ve been there, soon after the divorce my Ex (who is a serious Jesus Cheater) was going on and on about Jesus and God and how it was his will that she and the OM were brought together.
              All that I said was “You should thank Jesus every day since if I wasn’t a believer of his and follower of his teachings, you and the OM would be 6 feet under and pushing up daisies” !!

              I should NOT have said that because that got twisted into “I threatened her and the OM” but still it was the 100% truth. Still anger is a stage of grief and your feelings will pass and you will actually be glad that they are together making each other miserable and you are free of them.

        • Biology is not destiny. We live in houses and use knives and forks though our canine teeth and fast twitch muscle fibers indicate that we should be running down that prey and ripping its meat from its bones. I hate seeing anyone use the biology excuse. We have evolved. we have societies and laws and governments and schools and oh yeah, this concept called “marriage.”. Any guy who uses the biology excuse is just looking for an excuse to cheat. And I am not sure I believe this “scientific” numbers–how do they define cheating? (I will admit to having some pretty lewd thoughts about George Clooney but do not consider that cheating!) How are they not double counting the same horn dogs. My CHeater’s current OW has had quite a few affairs with married men during her many marriages. Does she county as “1” cheater or “4” for calculating the statistics? How about the guys she cheated with? Look, you are a faithful person, I am a faithful person, everyone posting on here is faithful. We are not unicorns. We exist. Don’t believe everything you read just because it is labeled “science.”

          • Sociopaths do have different brain. They have, for whatever reason, evolved differently. I think it is one reason that the first thing all of us ask when this happens is how could they do this to me? We just had sex? They seemed to be just as in love as always.
            In fact, they may be. With no bonding chemicals in the brain and dopamine being released for things like lying and duping others it starts to shed a little light on “how they could do this” they never felt things in the way we did. I am not saying its an excuse. Or something to work with. If anything it is a clear indicator that you are dealing with someone who is dramatically different than you neurologically and if you couple that with a foo issues it is the perfect storm.

        • If men are cheaters, they need someone to cheat with. Do the math. Unless there a few women doing all the cheating for the rest of women, the numbers for both sexes have to be pretty close to even. It is not about biology. It is about morality and character. Focus on that.

        • Not all men are cheaters. Cheating is a decision, not biology.

          The only aspect that a male cannot control is that we fart 100% of the time. But give us a break….we’re doing the best we can do. You can help by pulling our finger ASAP, thus reducing the suffering.

          • LOL! BTW — here’s a little secret, we women fart too, it’s biologically necessary! (We just hide it better)

            • I blame it on my chubby Lab.

              The best part is – she is adorably good natured, and I say:
              Fatty Patty tooted!

              She then rolls on her back and does that Lab smile…. thus looking guilty. Even though she is being her easy going self.

              She is a honeybun.

        • Biology background here too. Just to start off, yes, we humans are perfectly capable of choosing fidelity. That being said, I’m going to launch into some more biological type rationale. The sole reason for our existence is to reproduce, so BOTH sexes are actually wired to “spread their seed”. The sexes just do it in different ways. For males, it benefits their genetic legacy most to reproduce in situations where they don’t have to invest in raising the child to adulthood – in other words, women who are already married/part of another male’s tribe. Women, on the other hand, have much more inherent investment in offspring (pregnancy, child rearing), so it benefits their genetic legacy to reproduce with males who are genetically superior which they can then raise in a stable environment that supports the needs of child rearing. The genetically superior sperm donor may not be the same as the male who provides the stable environment. There are some studies to support this. Modern women in general are more attracted to manly, square jawed men for one night stands, but more feminine/softer featured men for long term partners. Tying that to early human ancestors, the more manly men were probably more physically capable of defending the family (good), but also more likely to die because of roles that fit their physicality like being a warrior (bad). The opposite is true of the more feminine type males who were probably more likely to fill safer roles near the tribal home. This is not uncommon in the animal world either where genetic monogamy is not a prerequisite for social monogamy. So, if both sexes are ‘hardwired’ to engage in genetic polygamy, why are so many humans still faithful to their spouse? I think that’s where the very human ideas of integrity and bonding have formed the foundation of our social structures. In other words, what we THINK overrides these biological ‘urges’. It just comes down to an individual’s character.

        • About the male biology thing – As a graduate student I worked on a field research project involving bluebirds that was asking this question. What does it take for a mated pair to cheat? The hypothesis was as you stated, males have lots of sperm and therefore are mandated by biology to maximize their paternity, i.e, fool around as much as possible. The female, conversely was thought to have a big investment in her few costly eggs, and therefore, wouldn’t cheat. We then thought those that cheated would only have the opportunity to do so when they had a good quality mate that helped at the nest significantly. What we found was that EVERYBODY cheated every chance they got, good quality help or not.

          Now, I don’t know what that says about human behavior except that perhaps its those who have mentally evolved enough to overcome their basic biological needs who are able to see the long term benefits to NOT cheating.

          Animal behavior studies are so cool, confusing and mystifying, but cool.

    • Dear Sketchguy,

      I used to be you. I heard the “I am just weak” bullshit. I finally wised up and filed for divorce.

      Consider this scenario: Yesterday, I had a rare day off on a weekday. I have been dating a woman for a year who happens to be a VEGAN.

      I spent my day off mowing her huge lawn while she was at work. At 11:30, a Jimmy John’s pizza guy pulled up, handed me a pizza, and said “Thank you. It and the tip have already been paid for.” I tipped him $5.00 anyway.

      I had a VEGAN send me a large Meat Lovers with extra cheese….with a sweet message on the receipt.

      You just keep reading those RIC statistics….I like things just the way they are.

        • So happy for you! You took your day off to work to make someone else happy. And she appreciates it. Who could ask for a better way to spend your time. This kind of commitment is what makes life worth living. Good for you!

          • And the shit sandwich of being with someone that I treated like Gold and he
            Did
            Not
            Care

            I remember picking him up after a painful dental visit. I had a bottle of ice water and a cup of ice with a clean tea towel for a compress for his jaw and a little box of Orajel ready for him, as well as painkillers.

            I often wonder if he thinks back on those hundreds acts of small kindness that I did for him and ever misses me.

      • SuperDuper, thank you very much for this message. I have been with a serial cheater who also threatened me constantly with divorce each time I confronted him about his cheating. I did not have evidence except suspicions and the fact that each time he threatened me with divorce he packed a bag and was gone for days. He would then come back and say he was at his male friend’s. He knew I did not want a divorce and was happy to have him back. He took a job overseas, and I followed him, as planned 6 months later but once I got there the divorce threats continued and I got fed up. Needless to say, I came back States side after 7 months after telling him that I will see the divorce through and I am tired of the threat and will not be taking him back. We have been apart for almost 9 months. 3 wks ago he asked if I can go back overseas where he is so that we can work on the marriage. He told to take time and decide but a day later he told me that he does not have time to wait. He never had time for how I feel so I told him NO I am not going back because nothing has changed. He us coming back today so that we can file for divorce and I was starting to reconsider the decision but your message gave me hope. I want someone who cares enough about me to be considerate about how I feel and not cheat. Thank you.

        • Just to clarify, he cheated with multiple women when we were dating and DD 1 was one month after we got married. He was not remorse and the only thing he told me after I showed him the evidence was that he was sorry he hurt me but not sorry for what he did. During our marriage he did suspicious things but he gaslighted me. I also found emails between him a woman he dated while in high school over 30 years ago. He made me think I was just insecure and had problems. I am tired of playing marriage police and detective. I just need the strength to get over the next few weeks while he is here. He wanted us to be friends even after divorce but I do not want that. My life is easier without him lurking in the background and I will keep it that way.

  • Amen

    Fix your picker, though….

    I went straight from cheater ex-wife to cheater ex-gf to not spending anymore time with person who ticked all the boxes of being a cheater to (finally) finding a great person who reciprocates and doesn’t consider everything to be about them….

    My brief experience of MC sessions included talks on how there is no guarantee the next person won’t cheat. Then the current person cheated again and reality hit me like a 2×4.

    Reality setting in sucks, RIC sucks, staying with someone who has already cheated sucks, Being cheated on again sucks – leaving the cheater and/or finding someone authentic does not suck.

    Wish you all the best in this incredibly difficult time.

    • “Reality setting in sucks, RIC sucks, staying with someone who has already cheated sucks, Being cheated on again sucks – leaving the cheater and/or finding someone authentic does not suck.”

      This is true but it doesn’t mean it is easy.

      • Staying is harder, in the medium and long term, often even in the short term.

        Unfortunately, there are no easy solutions. Chumps don’t create these situations, but we have to deal with them anyway.

    • Yes, my picker needed fixing. I knew that both of my XWs had occupied the position of being an OW with at least one married man before we met. But, I had the hubris to believe that they would not cheat on me. I .,also, saw signs that I now recognize as indicative of NPD. I did not know much about the actual disorder but I knew I was dealing with someone that was very self centered, attached to me too quickly, and that had boundary issues with men.
      Once again, my own hubris and my liking the flattery were what caused me to overlook the signs.

      • Yes. All cheating is narcissistic behavior, but not all narcissistic behavior is an NPD. Cheaters are good at manipulating people to love their sparkly exteriors, and one way to get people to admire you is to compliment them. It’s hard to separate genuine appreciation (which is a GOOD thing) from the manipulative flattery, and both make US feel good and feel good about being around the other person.

        I think though, that once we get beyond the words, it’s how they behave that makes the difference. If someone tells you nice stuff, that’s nice, but the proof is in how they treat you and the rest of the world.

        • In many of these NPD situations, the mask comes of.i.e. the behavior changes, once enmeshment is solidified.So, watching how they act during courtship takes a practiced eye.
          I recommend a couple of things.
          First, really trust your gut. if something is just not adding up and you get a faint sense that something is off, look into it, discretely.
          Second, bring these folks around your friends and family and let the others know that you want their honest impressions and will not be offended by their opinion.
          Third, educate yourself as to what to look for, subtle stuff. Lots of material out there with the warning signs,

          • Arnold, “the behavior changes, once enmeshment is solidified. So, watching how they act during courtship takes a practiced eye.” This is so important.

            For at least 6 months after DD5 I used to wake up in the middle of the night for a good 2 hours and lay there, in what I call, “shame and regretland”, replaying my relationship over and over in my head listing all the red flags and gut instincts and wondering why I didn’t just end it.

            1) I did not trust my gut. And it was screaming. I was a master at spackling.

            2) Friends and family knew IMMEDIATELY that this guy and his kids were bad news. But the hormones and his charm were hooking me in, and what did I do? Defend him. Why I didn’t listen to the people who love me, I’ll always regret. They could see it clearly.

            3) I have educated myself – read everything, but still….and worried I can’t trust going forward. I’m worried I have become bitter and closed off. I had 2 narc exes, one after the other but both different types. One was just a plain asshole from day one and never apologized for it and never pretended to be anything different. My most recent ex, and the one whom I feel the most damaged from, was a covert narc. He’s such a “good guy”, but behind closed doors a total monster.

            Reading CL and everyone’s thoughts have really helped me…thanks for taking the time to write!

          • Good points. The NPD types can hide the crazy for a long time, but the mask does slip. This is when Chumps start to spackle. Your point that we need to trust our gut is spot-on. If something fails the sniff test, investigate further.

            And it’s good to remember that once the NPD thinks they have you truly hooked, there’s no reason for them to keep that mask up any longer.

            My CheaterX was more on the BPD spectrum than the NPD (and one of the sad sausage post-divorce messages he sent me affirmed this). Schmoopie was definitely NPD, but she was clearly NPD a mile off, AND she led him around by the short hairs.

  • That is the narrative these days. But of course, that is somebody else’s opinion.

    I did not cheat. I have friends whose marriage went down in flames with cheating, stealing narcs – who did not cheat. My Sister has not cheated on her very long term marriage. So…my narrative is different. Not everyone cheats.

    Dissordered, entitled, selfish people cheat. And who really wants to hang out with somebody like that ?!?

    • “Dissordered, entitled, selfish people cheat.” Yep! Learn to identify these traits in someone and when you’ve found them, run!!!!! I might add to look for a person who is disciplined. I’m happily remarried and one of the things that stood out to me when I was dating 2nd H, was his discipline. There were things he wanted to do, but wouldn’t because either it wasn’t “right” or it was something he knew he “shouldn’t” do. I’m not just talking about relationships here. I’m talking about ALL of the other decisions we make in our lives as well.

      • One caveat to this — my lying, cheating, disordered narcopath husband was also HIGHLY disciplined. You can’t semi-successfully manage a double life without carefully controlling everything around you.

    • I have never agreed with a couple of the “experts” whose stuff I read that “everyone is wired to cheat”.
      Peggy Vaughn and Willard Harley have come out with this theory, and I think others, like Esther Perel promote it , as well.
      First, what makes these folks so :expert”? I bet many , many of us, having been through this and having become obsessed with finding out about infidelity, the people who cheat, the prevalence of affairs etc. etc. are, actually, more knowledgeable than these authors.
      I can spot a cheater’s behavior a mile away, now. I have friends describe some odd behavior about their spouse and I am , virtually, certain that it is a sign of cheating. I am almost always proven right, eventually.
      Here is the latest from a friend;
      His mom died and his father called the siblings in to discuss funeral arrangements etc. The father ( who is in his 90’s) requested that the decisions be made , strictly buy his kids and that their spouses not participate in the decisions about arrangements. No big deal, right? Why would a spouse give a rat’s ass if she was involved.
      Yet, my buddy’s wife went ballistic ( think of what an asshole she must be to go nuts when he is grieving the loss of his mom). She just up and left the house for three days and he had no idea where she went. Not a peep.
      She came back three days later claiming she stayed with a friend,
      Now , I hear she was at a party with some guy ( this from another guy who knows both of them). And my friend is telling me she has started a business wit a man and she spends shitloads of time with the guy). I am certain she is cheating. Before all this happened to me and before I read all this stuff, I would have bought that she just was upset and stayed with a friend.
      These NPD assholes are all over the place. An extremely high % of the women I dated post divorce disclosed, at some point during the dating, that they had either cheated on their XH or that they had had affairs with married men. It was amazing.
      I know one of my sisters cheated on her XBF.

    • It is difficult to trust again.
      For me, the sign my Sweet Guy was a keeper was the night I tried to cancel a date. I’d had a very rough week with kids and work (but wanted to see him). I said “I’ve had a bad week and I probably will not be good company, but if you want you can bring your dog and we can just walk around the neighborhood.” And he did. That and he did not push things along– though partially that was because I apparently I kept sending off cautious vibes (in my defense, I had never dated in my life; with ex we were high school sweethearts and went straight from a group of friends to being exclusive.) First kiss was 5 months in (only saw each other 1-2x per week).

      So, for me, it was respecting boundaries, and demonstrating patience and caring for ME.
      Also, this was all 4-5 years post DDay/Divorce.

      • I wish your signals were universal, but walking with you plus “That and he did not push things along” do not mean much in my book. Exasshole was very sweet, quiet and there for me in so many ways for a long time. In the beginning he never pushed for more than I was interested in giving, but he was always there, patient. For years he was a good partner most of the time. It was a boundary thing, a very slow erosion of boundaries, so slow I didn’t realize until years had gone by. It would take a book to explain it, one I doubt I’ll ever write. There are people capable of hiding who they are and manipulating that is horrific. I often spot it now because I listen better. I *really* hear what they are saying. I *really* see their actions. I’ve learned about boundaries, I am stronger on that than ever. It makes it difficult to make friends because I brook no bullshit.

        • Datdamwuf,

          Yup the disordered are very good at putting on a “good guy” or “good girl” mask on and can wear it for a few years and then after the wedding, the mask slowly comes off. I have a good friend who dated someone for 3 years, lived together for a year and she was great but I spotted a few signs that I mentioned to him but he spackled over. Now 2 years after the wedding her mask is slipping he’s like “where is the woman I dated and married” ??

          My wife was chumped herself and she had some conditions before she would agree to marry me and one of them was she needed to get me really drunk (that’s all she said) and then planned to start really pushing my buttons. She did it while we were visiting with her sister and brother in law and was shocked when I was my same old self drunk and just said “why are you trying to piss me off and laughed” (her Ex was a very mean drunk).

          It’s good advice though to get them pissed off, push their buttons, start a fight just once, have them not get their way and the disordered can’t usually keep the mask all of the way on and you’ll see who they really are.

        • Dishonest Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is extremely popular and widely known as a Mr. Nice Guy. (I thought so, too, for decades, until the masked slip behind closed doors.) Offering to go for a walk and not pushing partners into things are nice, but not a complete screen for real Nice Guy/Gal. By the way, my ex-boyfriend took me for a walk hand-in-hand five minutes before he discarded me the last time.

    • I think that the first things that I explained away were big indicators of a bad person. Think back to those first red flags. Be aware of those signs that you could possibly ignore again. For me it would be objectification. He would ask me out and then tell me to wear something really sexy so he can make his friends jealous. Back then I remember it made me pause but I didn’t know how to apply that comment to a personality type or deeper meaning. And worse, when people got to know me and I started to make friendships in the group I felt a creepy gut feeling that he didnt like it. It seemed like he kept needing me to up my shock value in order for him to treat me well. After a few years I realized if I wore something that was not provocative he would punish me when we went out.
      It’s stressful to admit all the red flags to yourself but I think that it has given me better knowledge on how to protect myself in the future. I hope, at least. 💜

      • You are so right. 2. Monthsfrom D day out, I am struggling to find the courage to be honest with myself about what was wrong and not ok tx of me. Bleah. Thank you.

        • It’s really hard. Hang in there. 💜 They are masters of deception and illusion and it’s so difficult to see what’s going on. It starts getting clearer once you’re not in so much pain.

      • Meeting my ex’s best male friend, for the first time, when we were dating was a big red flag.

        Worked an evening shift and was off at 10pm. Ex had gone to up his friends house earlier in the afternoon while I was at work and they had been drinking all day. I arrived around their house around 11pm, having gotten lost with their drunk-assed directions and ex, his friend and friends wife were wasted.

        His friends wife said “hi” asked a few, barely coherent questions, told me I was “prettier than the last one”, and went in the house and passed out. We stayed out back in the gazebo drinking, while his friend was hitting on me the whole time. I kept giving ex the side-eye, trying to figure out why we wasn’t shutting his friend down… but he just kept on drinking and joking till we went to bed at 3am.

        Next morning, ex and I are upstairs on couch, I am rubbing his feet and offer to get him a water, ex’s friend freaks out at his wife demanding to know why she doesn’t rub HIS feet and fetch HIM water. At first, I thought it was a joke. But he was dead serious and it became awkward very fast.

        We left together to go to a couples brunch and now that we are all sober, I am asking questions to his friends, trying to get to know them. “How long have you been married?”, “How did you meet?” Then I make the mistake of asking them if they have kids. The wife is wistful, “no,” she said, I asked if they planned on having any because she obviously desires some. Ex’s friend answers “we don’t have kids because *wife* swallows too much”. Ex and his friend laughed like it was the funniest statement ever, wife was mortified and I didn’t speak the rest of the car ride.

        We eat brunch, where it was like ex’s friend flipped a switch from his derogatory, woman hating talk, to Mr. Nice Guy and was engaging in intelligent conversation.

        We drive back to friends house to gather our belongings and leave, and I, being the hugger that I am and considering they let up spend the night, hug wife good-bye and thank-you-for-having-us. Go in for a hug on ex’s friend, he grabs my ass and tries to kiss my neck. I shove him off me and tell him never to fucking touch me like that again. I look at ex, he is laughing. I look at wife, she is embarrassed but smiling.

        We leave in ex’s truck and I am livid. I cannot believe ex did not defend me or tell friend off. He laughed and laughed, told me to lighten up. It was no big deal. That’s just how his friend “was”. Then tells me stories about when ex and his friend went out west and the friend would get a girlfriend, use her for sex, treat her poorly, and then the woman would go crying to my ex to talk sense into the friend. What did ex do? Use those moments of vulnerability to sleep with these women!!!! I was horrified.

        Can anyone say BIG RED FLAG?

        • I absolutely had experiences like this. I recall going to bed crying after my husband had been monster like. It was like some people brought out a horrible side of him. Now i realize that was just him.

          • After DD5 I was disparate and contact the exes ex wife. She was the only one who knew what he was really like.

            We became friends and one day she brought up ex’s friend, the one I described above. She talked about how he would always try to grab her breasts (she was large chested) and how upset it would make her and how ex used to just laugh it off. She said it was humiliating.

            Or, she asked, were you ever driving somewhere and ex would point to a spot and tell you he had sex there with so and so? Sadly he had done this with me too, it was sick.

            Common theme: humiliation = RED FLAG

            • Chumpedincanada you are so right. When i saw that evil side of him he had humiliated me in front of someone who was “like” him. He enjoyed it too. I remember the way he smiled. They really enjoy humiliating others. I’m so sorry you ever had to deal with someone like him!

    • Once you truly trust yourself, that you’ve got your own back, that you have boundaries and will gently but firmly enforce them, that you know your own self worth and behave accordingly without fail, in short when you are the best partner TO YOURSELF, and question red flags as you would for a caretaker of a precious infant, willing to settle for nothing less than the best, that’s when your picker is ready to go out into the world and find a partner whose integrity matches yours. Until you can trust yourself to act on your own behalf you have no business analyzing others’ trustworthiness imo that’s putting the cart before the horse.

      • “… when you are the best partner TO YOURSELF, and question red flags as you would for a caretaker of a precious infant, willing to settle for nothing less than the best, that’s when your picker is ready to go out into the world and find a partner whose integrity matches yours.”

        Thanks, NoMo! I’m going to print this out and paste it to my bathroom mirror. Then I’m going to repeat these words over and over to myself until they become part of my fiber. Very well said.

      • “you would for a caretaker of a precious infant”

        I can’t remember if I have posted this before, but a few weeks ago when I was struggling with shame over staying so long in such an obviously messed up relationship, I had this image pop into my head of our last DD5.

        Knowing everything I know now, about how absolutely horribly that ex was playing me in that DD5, I have this image about NOW-me going back in time to DD5-me, walking up to DD5-me, holding out my hand and slowly shaking my head “no”. Just no.
        DD5-me would look at me all wide-eyed, take my hand and let me lead her away from the shit-show that was going down.

        I wish I could go back and protect myself. But then, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

        So now, when I have bad days, which are thankfully fewer, I just remind myself: “you have been here before and you survived. Just sit in the sad, feel it, remember and now turn away. Change the channel. You can’t change it. It’s in the past. MOVE ON!”

  • She sucks. You just don’t trust that she does. And given time and no contact, you’ll see she sucks in more ways than being a cheater. It takes time to see these types as takers in life. And you are a giver. It seems like a good balance at first. But the more you give, the more she will take. Could you just sit back and wait for her to see if this works out for her? Her fuckbuddy sure is a lot of fun for her, why she just can’t help herself for going back for 2nds, 3rds, 28th’s. But if you dump her, who will do the adulting for her?

    Could you just be a good lil chump and sit over there, in the corner, QUIETLY please, so she can see where all this is going? You are definitely Plan B material. As time goes on, you may actually fall further to Plan C or D. It’s not that you’re not worthy. Even if you pick up your game and hang upside down from the hallway chandelier, you’re never going to have that new, shiny, sparkly glow of fresh cheater. And there’s always another schmoopie around the corner waiting to take over the reins and drive the ho bus.

    There are plenty of good partners out there! The trick is to take your time, fix your picker!! Don’t rush it. And figure out what about her was attractive to you? Her super duper sparkles at first? Those fade pretty quickly….

  • Run don’t walk to the nearest exit! Like CL says leave a cheater gain a life! There are plenty of decent people out there. One thing I don’t think was addressed is “are all cheaters mentally ill?”. I don’t know the answer but if someone can step all over another, can rip out another’s heart, with no remorse and a deadpan stare, then there is something wrong with that person. How far on the disordered spectrum they fall may depend on the individual, but for sure something is wrong with them.

    • I don’t argue that all cheaters are personality disorders. And RIC who paint me with that brush piss me off.

      What I argue is all over this blog — that cheating is a narcissistic act. You can’t do it without suppressing empathy for your partner. Lack of empathy is the hallmark of narcissists. If you can conduct a double life for a sustained period (months, years, decades)? I think you’ve got a lot of screws loose. At that point, double life as lifestyle — yep, I’d hazard a guess you are a personality disorder Cluster B.

      But who the CHEATER is, is NOT my question. My blog is for CHUMPS. Who are YOU and WHAT WILL YOU TOLERATE?

      Everything else is untangling the skein.

      • Agree 100%! Thank you Chump Lady. Wish I would have seen your blog 5 years ago. Would have saved me so much time. I wouldn’t have taken him back a second time, for extra helpings of shit sandwich!

      • Tracy – shocking as it may be I disagree with you slightly. Not in terms of what you are saying, but the words you used.

        If we label our cheaters as “narcissists” you have google-chumps like me that then try to analyze and untangle based on that diagnosis. There is a lot of literature out there that could give the impression that they can be “fixed” or medicated back to normality. I’ve read a bunch where people have their Cluster-B types on meds.

        I prefer to use the term “selfish asshole” to describe cheaters like my own Mme YogaPants. There’s no untangling required then. In fact either word could be used separately for brevity (something I’m not good at 😀 )

        From what I’ve read and I’m sure you’ve got orders of magnitude more info than I will ever want to, there is a very broad spectrum of selfish assholes out there from the very personality disordered to the ones that think that their own happiness is worth the destruction of everything that once seemed dear to them.

        BT

        • The vast majority of authoritative sites on narcissism will say that it is virtually untreatable, largely due to unwillingness either to begin or to stick with therapy of any sort. I don’t think I have seen any sources that suggest that medication is helpful.

          But totally onboard with the term “selfish asshole.” Accurate!

          • Also narcissists don’t think anything is wrong with themselves, so why would they get treatment? They don’t…..

            • My X loved therapy. I think it was kibbles for him and impression management -he’s new a new man now! He also learned to meditate so could use his “gift of presence” to encourage us to get over the past and our suffering – he did!
              I’m so grateful his mindfuckery doesn’t work on me or the kids.

              • Eh, we shouldn’t diagnose. Going down that rabbit hole is a waste of time. Do they do what narcissistic types do? The websites are useful for educating us on behavior that is manipulative and abusive, for helping us spot someone who isn’t capable of a deep bond, who can just love-bomb and then when the kibble high wears off, devalue us in one of the many ways they find to do that.

              • My ex also suggested we go to therapy. When I was burning-out from raising his wild children, my children, the house, the pets, the laundry, etc and he was not willing to participate because HIS JOB WAS MORE IMPORTANT than *you know* our FAMILY LIFE, I was justifiably angry.

                His solution? Therapy. He looked like the good guy trying to help “us” but really we saw a horrible therapist who gave us no actual applicable actions to take. And ex kept this perfectly serene, innocent mask on the whole time we were there.

                When I finally decided I had enough (sadly this was only DD2) and had arrange to move my kids and I out of his house, he realized I meant business and schedule an emergency therapy session.

                The therapist asked why we were there, and I listed the 20 reasons why I was leaving, and ex just kept saying that “he loved me soooo much,” and that we need to just “improve our communication” and “work together as a team” and we would make it.

                The therapist kept trying to explain to ex that I was burned-out, exhausted, depleted and had nothing left to give. He finally, exasperated, asked ex why ex would think it’s okay to ask me to stay, invest more in our relationship when my tank is empty?

                Ex: “Because I loooooove her.”

                Me: Snort and eye roll.

                Ex: “Because, if she leaves, then you know, I wouldn’t cheat on her, but it would be hard to be faithful.”

                Me: “So you are saying you would be with someone else.”

                Ex: “You are putting words in my mouth.”

                Me: “No. That is was you just said 1 minute ago.”

                Me: Dramatically sweeping out of therapists office yelling that we are so totally over and “never getting back together” (sorry, Taylor Swift).

                Sadly, we did get back together 3 more times. And how did each time end? With other woman he was involved with. But they “didn’t count”. Because he “looooved me”, and if I hadn’t broken up with him in the first place, and he hadn’t been lonely and wanting to talk to someone, then he would never have had to make a new “friend”….. Barf.

        • BowTie
          I understand the need to be careful with diagnosis. The DSM5 lays good clinical groundwork on understanding mental illness, diagnosing and treating. Rule of thumb is mental illness is treatable. Personality Disorders are a different beast all together. What is clear in the clinical world and as part of the diagnosis process is that all mental illness and personality disorders present on a spectrum. People can be low, moderate, or severe and life events can effect the presesentation. Sometimes medication helps with mental illness, not so with personality disorders. A good clinician does not diagnos people they have not met. Tracy does a beautiful job of highlighting the characteristics of personality disorders (cluster B) and just lays it out. We, chumps, then set out course. Trust me, I know as a chump Therapist who has the credentials to diagnose.

        • The point I’ve always taken from CL is that labels, definitions, and diagnoses are 100% irrelevant. What matters is getting the hell away from being treated like shit regardless of who/what/where/when/how.

          If you eat something that’s been in the back of the fridge for 2 months and it makes you run to the bathroom, who really cares what particular variety of fuzz is growing on it? Just throw it the hell away and stop eating questionable leftovers.

          • “If you eat something that’s been in the back of the fridge for 2 months and it makes you run to the bathroom, who really cares what particular variety of fuzz is growing on it? Just throw it the hell away and stop eating questionable leftovers.”
            That’s an awesome analogy. I can see someone with a color coded test bottle checking for varying shades of grey fuzz. Unfortunately we waited too long and the grey turned to rot, as those types of things usually do.

          • Free Vix, thank you!! I have learned so much from this very thing, what matters what variety of asshole he/she is? Why waste precious time and energy determining the flavor of disorder they may or may not be? CN has helped me tremendously, in particular, to gain the understanding I need but not attempt to further untangle that barbed-wire skein… just get the hell away and reclaim me! With my first chump experience, I wallowed in the “needing to know” everything, every detail and reason, and it bound me up for over two years. After the big reveal in my second experience, I realized I had the evidence needed to get out and spent only a short time processing, choosing to devote my time to gaining a life. I don’t need to know every jot and tittle of why he did what he did, not the intricacies of how he maintained the facade for so long, nor do I care which of our friends is rushing to comfort him since I left his sorry ass, or what they think of me. Not my concern. I found out who my friends are and, although my circle is small, they are true.
            Yea, it’s been growth through pain, and I indulge in some self-flagellation at times, kicking myself as I take a two steps forward and one back to only gain proof he really does suck… In a moment of weakness I unblocked his number. After over 24 hrs of peace and no messages, RRR tested the waters with a fake emergency text that he injured and in the hospital. Easily verifiable and not true, just a sad attempt to gain attention. My phone then blew up with screenshots from a concerned mutual acquaintance of his Facebook posts recounting his accident and the extent of his pain… oh the drama! He hadn’t received the kibble from me, so moved on to more gullible and kibble-rich pastures.
            Chump Nation, 100x thank you!

            • It’s “Gadfly69,” ha ha… I must have the most challenged autocorrect imaginable. Either that or fat thumbs!
              Apologies.

            • Well done!! Way to be mighty. And faking hospitalization for attention? That’s a skein no one wants to get to the middle of. Glad you’re away from the crazy.

        • If you read George Simon, he calls it “character disordered”…not a mental illness…but selfish asshole works for me. I use conman a lot, because before axis II and then cluster b, it was just conman. Or woman;)

      • Yeah, exactly this:
        1) Who am I? I am a woman who does her best to live without harming other people, to serve to best of her abilities, to always act in a way that she should deserve to be trusted by her family, friends, colleagues and fellow citizens.
        2) What will I tolerate? Any kind of well-intentioned, sincere human being, not matter what weaknesses they may struggle with.
        And that is why mastering the UBT is so important: it draws a line, which must not be crossed, between good intentions and sincerity and cynical, narc, entitled selfishness and just plain evil.

      • I was having a hard time thinking of my ex as a narcissist because he doesn’t check every box on the description list. My therapist was able to help me with that by saying “he has narcissistic tenancies”, so perhaps not a diagnosable narc, but he sometimes behaves the way a narc would behave. In any case he is definitely on the selfish asshole who lacks empathy unless it suits him spectrum.

        • Eventually I came to realize that my ex’s defining characteristic was this: if a situation arose, big or small, that required him to choose his needs or another’s, he would always choose his own. Always.

          No impact on his needs? He could appear to be a nice guy. Nice is not kind, though.

      • Exactly. I argue that these folks who can lead a double life for so long and who lie so effortlessly while showing no ill effects, are , by definition, personality disordered.
        And, when I take this position, a fair % of people think that I am judgmental, or bitter, or just intolerant of normal human foibles.
        They think good people, like Meryl Streep was supposed to be in that gagfest “Bridges of Madison Blowjobs County” just do this shit , but are kind and empathetic in all other aspects of their lives.
        It is bullshit. If you can really get a look at how these folks operate in life, they lie and cheat and hurt others in many other areas of their relationships.
        I have never known a cheater who is not entitled and that spills over into other areas, not just entitlement to sexual dalliance.

        • Ug! I saw that moving 20 years ago when I was happily and still relatively newly married and I found it highly disturbing as did my grandfather who was married 50+ years until my grandmother died and refused to touch another woman even after her death.

  • What everybody above says.

    I would also add it’s better to be single with self respect than be with someone who treats you like shit. My ex is one of life’s takers. Had the life of Reilly, but it was never enough.

    Run like hell Sketchguy, anything is better than what you have now.

    • This is analagous to my thought.

      It’s easy to assume that my desire to be in a partnership means I must be focused on being in a partnership. However, that assumption makes it more likely for me to choose, or remain trapped in, an unhealthy relationship.

      This thing our Chump Lady is talking about — the deciding what YOU are willing to accept and enforcing boundaries around that, which means leaving a person who harms you — that is critically important to your well being. However, it is only possible if you are ready and willing to be single if being partnered means being harmed.

      So, if you aren’t already doing it, I say, get thee to a solid, mature (not brand new), strong therapist — one who is all about you and your well being and wouldn’t ask you to try to accommodate a person who willingly harms you (it’s all about fit) — and work on your willingness to be independent and unpartnered unless a specific partner is worth having.

      It’s tough and scary, but you can do it.

  • Statistics have to be interpreted correctly. Most people read the stats and think 30% of people are cheaters. No!

    Let’s use your 30%.

    The 30% number isn’t 30% of people. It’s 30% of marriages. The serial married cheaters skew the numbers. They marry 2-3 times and cheat each time. So, if on average, cheaters marry twice and non-cheaters marry once, the percent of cheaters would be a lot less.

    This is exactly the same logical,issue as ¼ or women are sexually assaulted by age 25 (or whatever it actually is). People reject this because “I don’t believe ¼ of men are rapists.” They aren’t, the number of victims is not 1:1 the number of perps. Most perps are serial offenders.

    Most women have been cheated on in some form in their lives, but most of the men they are with are not cheaters. It’s jusr cheaters cheat. Again and again.

    Assholes rack up body counts.

    • Good thinking, there, Aveline. To add to what you said, the fact that the numbers vary so wildly — anywhere from 25-75%? — should be the clue that these people are just making a guess and don’t really know. I would bet the problem is that the source of these numbers is marriage counselors themselves. They spend all day listening to couples deal with cheating. Because that’s a big part of their business, it’s natural for them to assume that cheating is more common than it really is. After all, they don’t hear from all the couples who DON’T cheat. (There is a name for this phenomenon, but I can’t remember what it is).
      A survey I saw said up to 15% of marriages have cheating, which still seems high, but a heckuva lot less than 30%.

      • Thank you Tempest.

        I’m curious as to the size and source(s) of these datasets that the information was gathered from.
        (Source: Statistic Brain Research Institute (Online / Direct Response Mail))
        1) Was it based on answers from 10 random people sitting in a bar ?
        2) Based on a questionnaire from Tinder ?
        3) Maybe a girly magazine website ?

        Static Brain conveniently leave out the total count of responses to their online enquiry (100, 500, 10,000 responses ??) we don’t know how many people responded, AND if they answered truthfully.

        There is an old saying about statistics and damned lies

        • OK – a bit of research into their site:
          “HOW DO WE COLLECT OUR OWN INTERNAL DATA
          We collect data using 4 main methods; Online surveys, Phone surveys, In-Person Interviews, and Direct Mail Questionnaires.

          Our minimum test size is above 4,000 respondents, with no more than 50% coming from online responses.

          We store our raw paper documents from surveys that can be accessed by major publications for verification.”

          What is the population of the USA ?
          How many people are married in the USA ? (and other parts of the world)

          A minimum of 4000 respondents hardly makes the grade to say 40 – 50 % of marriages have infidelity issues.

    • Whoa…. I am in awe of this post. Numbers and statistics are not my thing but you laid this out so logically even I could get it. Thank you!

    • Aveline, you said what I was thinking, even if their srats ARE accurate, which is debatable. 100% of people who use RIC are in unfaithful relationships…totally skewed subset of subjects. Also, many (most?) RIC peddlers are “recovered” cheaters, so of course “everybody” cheats! Everybody they cheat with cheats. And if everybody does it, how can it be wrong? CKEARLY the problem is…wait for it… chumps! How dare we have a separate value set that abhors cake? Dance, chump, dance! Don’t you want your very own cheater?

    • What a great post! And it is so helpful to clear up this misinformation or wrong thought process. So I went to a divorce recovery work shop this winter (almost 2 years out from Dday #2 with 2nd known schmoopie in our 20 years together). The main speaker was peddling the own your part in the breakdown of the marriage then we broke off into small groups. One of the two small group leaders is in his mid 50’s, on his 5th marriage, and was sad sausagey when he told the group he had been both the cheater and cheated upon in his previous marriages. He harbored a lot of guilt in being the cheater and breaking up his family and kids home. The was taken for every cent he had left by another wife.

      That’s some fucked up crap right there. He went on to state he didn’t think anyone would ever consider marrying him again. Just goes to show there are many out there that are gluttons for punishment. I did take the book and read it cover to cover within one week, but I never went back to the weekly sessions. One week only and realized this site has helped me so much more than anything else out there ever could!!

      And 2 years in, to read this post, just goes to show there’s always more to learn and to help us chumps recover! Thanks Aveline.

      • And he feel sorry for himself that nobody wants to marry him again?
        Oh vey…and here I am feeling relieved that I didn’t have to get married again.Did it once.

    • I knew a gal who was an Emergency Room nurse. She never had kids if her own, but thought she knew a lot about child rearing because every day she dealt with the bad things that happened when parents were careless, or neglectful, or abusive. Or when kids just did stupid kid stuff outside of their parents’ sight.

      We were all at a family reunion picnic. The boys were playing, like boys do, one of them climbed up an old tree, and the branch broke. He didn’t fall, but getting him down was tricky and required help from a couple of the fathers.

      Well, Ms. ER Nurse, the child-accident expert, went ballistic on the boy’s Mom! How could she be so neglectful as to let him do that? Didn’t she care? Why wasn’t she watching? Why, she’d treated a kid in the ER for fall injuries just a few weeks ago, and that kid will be in a body cast all summer! Now here’s little cousin Jimmy and he almost became the next one.!

      Ms. ER Nurse apparently had no idea that kids have this amazing tendency to fall and get right back up, unharmed. Ms ER Nurse had just spent so much time with the few who did get injured that she thought all kids were going to have near-death experiences when they fell out of a tree.

      Same thing with these RIC therapists. They spend so much time with pick me dancing chumps that they see everyone that way.

      Only for the therapists there’s an added bonus. The longer you dance the longer they get paid by you. Fixing your problem is likely to cut off their meal ticket

  • Don’t focus on the other party’s fidelity. Focus on your boundaries. That’s the best way to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

    So much of Western Jude’s-Christian culture teaches us to not enforce boundaries. To “Tuen the other cheek” and to be self-sacrificial. That keeping ones promises trumps being victimized by an abuser.

    This isn’t just about marital fidelity, it’s about our culture as a whole.

    You have a lot to unlearn.

    Start now.

    • “So much of Western Judeo-Christian culture teaches us to not enforce boundaries. To ‘Turn the other cheek’ and to be self-sacrificial. That keeping one’s promises trumps being victimized by an abuser.”

      YES! This is precisely why I stayed with my XH for 40 years… As I saw it, I was keeping my promise of “for better or worse”, and I was honoring the covenant I made before God. I was “The Good Wife”. I sacrificed and sacrificed until I virtually disappeared. I sunk lower and lower on his menu of options. He “tried on” 14 APs for size before he found one that fit better for me, and #14 is the one he finally left me for (I guess that makes me Plan O).

      It’s been 5 1/2 years since DDay, and 2 1/2 since our divorce was finalized. I’ve had all that time to UNlearn the endless brainwashing, gaslighting, projection, condescension, and backhanded criticism which very slowly erased my boundaries and morphed me into a 1-dimensional, colorless cardboard cutout of my former self, confirmed I was a waste of skin, and guaranteed I not nearly good enough to be with someone as excellent and fabulous as him.

      The good news is, I’ve also had all that time to RElearn that I am more than good enough… I am smart, capable, funny, generous, can see the joy in every new day, and waaaaay more fabulous than he ever was! Today, I am back to being the sassy, energetic, independent, “take no shit” woman I was at age 19 when I met him in college. Today, at age 63, I know my worth. Today, I am only willing to be Plan A. I hope that someday, I am as fortunate as some of you in this community who, after going 12 blistering rounds with Darth Vader, you found someone who loves and treasures you.

      • Sorry for the typo… I meant, “He “tried on” 14 APs for size before he found one that fit better THAN me…”

        • Red! You inspire me! You wrote nearly my same circumstances and knowing that someone else can return to Mighty (pre cheater era) gives me hope, real hope (not that crack-pipe-hopium) that I will lose all the above shame and ” 1-dimensional, colorless cardboard cutout of my former self” and Unlearn then Relearn who I really am meant to be!

          • Kibble-less,

            The one thing that turned the tide for me was drastically altering my way of thinking. Initially, I was in shock and so consumed with being abandoned, dumped, chumped and rejected, all I felt was complete humiliation, self-loathing and raw shame. What on earth was so very wrong with me? Wasn’t I lovable/beautiful/sexy/intelligent/kind/funny/interesting enough to keep this man? I examined every word I’d spoken and action I’d taken with a fine-toothed comb, fruitlessly searching for the ever-elusive answer to “Why is this happening? What did I do to deserve this treatment”? When he left, I truly believed my life was over and I had nothing to look forward to. I had no hope to sustain me (which is a very embarrassing thing to admit, considering I’m a Christian and my hope should have been firmly planted in Jesus, regardless of my horrific – albeit temporary – circumstances).

            But after a while, I realized that the only thing that was “over” was my life with HIM! Though this might have seemed blatantly obvious to other people, it was a radical revelation for me, considering just how brainwashed I’d been for 4 decades.

            Today, life without him, his unspoken expectations and his toxic energy is pretty darn great… I am happy. I am at peace. I am strong. I feel safe. I am resilient. I get to create and enforce my own boundaries, and can change them whenever I want. I am open and receptive to new opportunities. I spend my time on things and with people that are important to me; if I don’t love it, I don’t do it! I state what I see, what I feel and what I want to, not just bow my head and blindly agree.

            And, I still believe in love!

            Now, in contrast to that 1-dimensional, colorless cardboard cutout of my former self, I am back to being someone with many colorful layers, all interesting and deserving of being explored. I know the value that I bring to the table.

            And Kibble-less, you can reclaim your own version of MIGHTY! I believe in you!

              • Red, you’re my chump heroine today! After 30 cheater years, in my mid 50s, i worried that I was yesterday’s news. For a minute. I quickly saw that who I was post Dday was a creation of that disordered union and my buy-in to his negativity. I had started to join his sad dark world instead of shining in mine. I am recovering this ChumpDiva one boundary at a time. You are inspiring!

      • Dr Henry Cloud and John Townsend do some good Christian work on ‘boundaries’ – they can give you about a million Biblical reasons for having good boundaries!

  • “Assholes rack up body counts”.

    So true! My ex told me he cheated on everyone he had ever been with. Of course I was diffrent……

    Of course I wasn’t. Silly rabbit!

  • I concluded that everything I feared and everything I tried to avoid in my life was right under my roof and in my bed. I leave for work and I’m cautious on the road so I don’t get injured, I stay alert to danger and men that could rob me, I am careful with which coworkers I share information with, I work hard and seek praise from my bosses, and when i get home I lock my doors to be safe. But yet there’s a man in my house that is hurting my body, insulting my hard work and putting me down, stealing my money, collecting power from my fear, and using my secrets against me. What the fuck am I doing? I’m sleeping with the enemy. I’m trying to love the evil out of him. All my fears in life are inside my own house. Im handing my paycheck to a theif willingly in my house but I’m locking my car and not walking in parking garages after dark. I would rather bet on the fact that I’m in less danger financially, mentally, and physically if I eliminated the actual threat I can identify by name. I realized that more time and effort wasn’t going to make a fuck of a difference. He has no respect for me or women in general. His random epiphanies only last for a few days and he’s right back to his evil deceptive vengeful ways. Time and effort isn’t guaranteed to give a return on investment when you’re investing in an empty pit.

    • You are spot on. I have learned the hard way that my panic attacks are my body saving me from my mind’s ability to spackle. When I have one now, I know it’s because I have abandoned myself. It is my job to figure out what/who is harming me and then prove to my body that I will protect me and my boundaries, no matter what. Only then does the panic abate. If I don’t take the necessary steps, the anxiety becomes so severe it will send me to the hospital. I used to be ashamed for being so broken, but now I am grateful for this gift. It rarely happens now because I pay attention to what my body is telling me before the situation gets out of control.

  • Even if 30% of married partners cheat (which I doubt is that high) that means 70% DO NOT! Your odds in finding a faithful, loving, honest person, therefore, are pretty damn good – and as CL says, the odds of your wife cheating is already 100%. Read all the postings by CN over the years… see how many of these people were in awful marriages with cheaters and liars for 20, 30 years and DID NOT CHEAT themselves. Good people who would be thrilled and grateful to find a faithful, mature, solid partner are definitely out there. Adults who can’t help themselves and keep “screwing it up” are not faithful, mature or solid. Throw all that fear-based RIC stuff in the toilet!

        • Tempest’s stats link (above) add to the debunking…

          It states 22% of men and 14% of women admitted engaging in infidelity at some point during marriage. Given slightly more women than men in this country, that means the overall percentage of adulterers is 17%-18% of all those who are or have ever been married.

          So, 83% of all those who have ever been married did NOT cheat.

          And Sketchguy, that also means 6 out of 7 women who married have NEVER cheated.

          • Yeah, but this is self reporting. So, take it with a grain of salt. Sems a much hiogher % cheat than 17-18%, but, of course, I am sensitized to picking up on things, now.

  • I never cheated. Not once in a 25 year marriage, despite being unhappy, starved of love etc. After I got rid of cheater I went out with someone else who also cheated on me. I then decided I had to fix my picker. The people who had cheated on me were glamorous, life and soul of the party types. Alpha males who had had miserable childhoods with neglectful parents who sent them to boarding school. I chose just a regular guy the next time. Kind, gentle, ordinary background, not sparkly. He has never cheated on me. If we go to dances he will never even dance with another woman. Only me. My grownup kids are both married. Neither of them have ever cheated, they were so horrified by their dad’s behaviour. Are we all statistical anomalies? I don’t think so. Loads of decent people out there.

    • I’m another who remained faithful during a long marriage–nearly thirty years, now–to a cheater. A lot of rough and lonely years standing around waiting for him to get home, then knowing he would not come home, then hoping he would not. Rough stuff, but no cheating for me, and nothing even close.

      Cheating truly is a character issue, not a relationship issue.

    • Yeah, the RIC lists of reasons blaming chumps for cheating – ‘you let yourself go’ and ‘you weren’t fun in the bedroom’ and ‘you didn’t respect your spouse’, so many other reasons like that.

      I look at those lists and realize that is the fuckwit, 100%.

      And yet for 30 years I didn’t cheat.

  • She just keeps “screwing up” as if it is a complete accident. She did not burn the toast. She willingly deceived and lied to you. I love the passive voice cheaters use as if they have no control. My vagina just opens up and penises fall in. OOPS!! My bad!
    My ex did the same by always saying he made a mistake. His “mistake” lasted 2 years and I had 4 d-days. That is not a “mistake” that is a habit.
    Leave her and try to find someone that doesn’t just screw up but really cares for you. They are out there!!

    • Amen on the “mistake” excuse.

      This “mistake” involved four affairs that I know of, hotel room trysts in the guise of business travel, buying a house for and moving in with the latest AP, and who knows what all else.

      Think of the zillions of individual decisions and lies it took just for the house part: get a real estate agent, shop, make an offer, do a closing, furnish and decorate, move in, etc.

      Mind blowing. But he made a “mistake” because he is a “flawed guy” but “not a bad person.”

      It takes way more than a few narcissistic qualities to think and act that way.

      • Oh gosh Cashmere, waiting for the day your divorce is final. Your grace and kind words are always so encouraging to me. You deserve so much better.

        I sometimes think of all the lies and manipulations too – I can’t ever imagine being like that ever. Grateful to be me.

  • My divorce was final in February and things get better every day. I’m 15 months from D-day. I wonder if it was her first time or first time being caught. I don’t wonder if I made the right choice, I did. I still morn the lost of the life I thought I had, the marriage I thought I had and the connection with her I thought I had. But as you can see, I realize that none of it was real. I loved with all my heart. She fucked at least one other person maybe more and never even said sorry. I’m better off, the future is bright. It was hard, it hurt, it sucked. But I did the right thing, it’s time to walk away. Not easy, hurts like hell, you will question everything but in the end you will be better off.

    • Man, a lot of them never apologize. These folks are really bad people. Simple as that: disordered,abused, FOO issues- whatever. just rotten lying assholes.

  • I never cheated. My sisters have never cheated. As far as I can tell, my post divorce significant other has never cheated.
    There are plenty of honest partners out there.

    As has been mentioned, this is about YOU and what you are willing to take. I was alone for 5 years post DDay/divorce. Focused on me and the kids. Dated some guys, but never made it past a fourth date until my Sweet Guy; he was worth the wait.

  • My x didnt have the long list of lovers. He seemed to check out. But within his family there was a swirling vortex of super fuckedupness. Im not saying that you should run away from someone who seems otherwise normal because they have a fucked up family but you should at least really take it into consideration.

    • Agree it should be taken into consideration. His family is a red flag disaster zone of epic proportions. I don’t really even know how I survived all these years with them. They tortured me before during and after the wedding. My husband kept moving them in our house. I never knew people could be so evil until I got stuck in this family. I list Narc family as a red flag for me now even if its not a red flag in life.

      • I truly had never met people like his family. I had no reference point. I just knew they said and did crazy things. But i never suspected my husband who i loved and trusted and who appeared to love me was in cahoots with them torturing me. He happily pretended like they were the bad guys. But it was always him behind all the horrible things they did to me. He encouraged it. He is a rotten bastard. Once o saw who he really is and always has been it all made sense. Although can any of it ever really make sense…

    • Will say this–the Very Kind Man’s family is on the odd side, but they are the kindest people ever. So look for how they treat each other.

  • It’s true, I don’t know what other men are capable of. But I do know what x is capable of. I’ll take my chances on the unknown.

  • And i think the ric uses very subtle language that is meant to be ambiguous. Yes, everyone could cheat just like everyone could fall down a well or get sucked up in a tornado. But having the free will to do something and actually doing said things are not the same thing.

  • Sketchguy forgive me but you are not ready for a healthy relationship right now. You have to become a good partner to YOURSELF first. Where are your boundaries, your self respect? There is such a thing as a healthy level of self love and someone who has it wouldn’t be asking the question you asked or accepting such treatment. Fear is driving your bus and what’s worse you are sitting in the back seat. I am sorry if this sounds harsh but fix yourself and the picker will naturally follow. I’ve been where you are and my own personal skein was tangled af. You might have to go pretty far back to get it untangled and truly understand and undo what made you accept less than in life but once you do you will be like a brand new person ready to live the life you were always meant to.

  • “You are a stock that trades high”

    I like that.

    It’s easy to pick the lesser of the evils by justifying to stay with a cheater. But even if you never find someone else to be with, you’re still better off. The relationship you’re in now might make you happy here and there, but it won’t keep you happy. If that’s ok then stay. For most of us here would rather take our chances and get the hell outta there.

    And yes. There are some good, faithful women out there 😊

  • “She still claims she wants this marriage and misses me so much but keeps “screwing it up”. ”

    This is her way of portraying herself as a victim. She’s in need of “rescuing”. This is where you have to become conscious of yourself and likely tendency to try to be the white knight that rescues her from herself.

    In the end she will help you to destroy yourself with anguish. Walk away to save yourself.

    • Their default position is pity. When all else fails they will pretend to feel bad, beat themselves up etc. It’s a way they have learned to string people along.

      Affairs don’t just befall people like the flu. There is a lot of planning, and they enjoy the intrigue and collusion with the AP. They continue to seek out that high once they have a taste of the adulation from some creep.

      She will get a big suprise if one day you realize she is not worth the pain and living with suspicion. I feel no one is worth that.

      She is no prize.

    • Wow, this really is spot on. I’ve been rescuing for a long time.

      Holy cow is it hard to resist the “white knight” response. That’s been my response through other aspects of her life as a supportive husband. Now I’m the offended party and it seems the natural reaction.

      • Sketchguy i think men just naturally want to rescue others just like women just want to make everything ok. Its something that i still struggle with. But ive had to just let him go. They are no longer our responsibility. That is hard to accept but its true. They lost our care and love when they decided to abuse us.

  • The old saying is true: a leopard doesn’t change it’s spots. Learn how to not pick a leopard.
    I know, easier than it sounds. Ask me how i know.
    I’ve done it for years. Hoping that it’ll get better. In his words “we can continue moving forward”. Of course, every halt in progress was my fault. I was too far (long distance relationship) so he went looking for companionship (i didn’t).
    His porn/pussy obsession – i made him feel guilty about his need for sex and it’s my fault of course, that the months of sexless marriage and knowing he’s getting his jollies to virtual lovers made me feel worthless as a woman. Most recent was about a month of sexless times, no intimacy, not a nice word…walked home after work to find him mid-stroke to yogapantspussy video on his phone.
    I supported him through about 9 job changes in 4 years because his expected workplace nirvana never materialized “they don’t appreciate me!!!”. He carried on all that shit either behind my back or in the open, my feelings be damned of course.
    When it finally looked like he found a good paying, steady job near home and no need to travel more than 20 min either way…i get the bomb dropped “there’s this female, but no need to be concerned, she’s usually gone by time i get there”. Funny, cause he started leaving for his 8:30 clock-in at 6:30-7… wanna do some mental math on why he left earlier, how much extra time he’s spending there “just in case they have my workload ready early” and he dropped tidbits that evidence he knows a bit too much about someone “i don’t even talk to!”.
    Went through his phone and a new name showed up. Spydialer.com says it belongs to xy he has the name as z. Yupp. Ask me about leopards and their spots.

  • My cheating ex narc also said “a lot of people go out with married people “. Yes, the low class whore you’ve been sleeping with!

    After a very long marriage & family life, I was discarded cruelly for a widow who didn’t care what
    she was doing. She passed away months ago & he latched on to another only weeks after the burial.
    Ha… she thought it was tru wuv!

    But I still believe that there are decent men/woman who
    will be faithful to their spouses.

  • Sketchguy……….

    You deserve so much more than she is willing to give. And don’t think for a minute that you are better off with the “monster you know” rather than the “monster you don’t know”. There are PLENTY of non-cheaters out there who want the same thing you want in a relationship. You know what you are dealing with here and it is a soul sucking way to live. I did it for too long. I thought what you thought. But after five years of this mental abuse I couldn’t even look at myself in a mirror. All I saw was a weak, sad, worthless woman who was no longer loved. THAT image pushed me to get out. And I am so very glad I did.

    Don’t waste your life with this woman who will reduce you to the shell of a man you once were!!! RUN!!!!!!! You will be far happier……..I promise!

  • In regards to the cheating percentages, suffice to say they are higher than most people realize. Is it everyone? Absolutely not, but neither is it an insignificant number of the population. Nearly forty million people have registered profiles on Ashley Madison. Forty. Million. These are the people that are paying to find partners, and making a concerted effort to find them. This doesn’t include people on business trips every night of the week, taking advantage of opportunity in hotel bars across the country or opposite sex co workers traveling with them. It is necessary to be aware and prudent. Not all subsequent partners will be trustworthy. Don’t assume this to be the case. Trust those that have earned it. Talk is cheap, and lying is an acquired skill. Work on your picker and don’t repeat bad decision making skills. Most of all, SLOW down. Though we all aspire to move on, rushing is a mistake. Without exception, if you find yourself engaged to someone a year post DD, you are asking for trouble and heartache. Those who do not learn from their history are doomed to repeat it. Make good, unhurried decisions.

  • Sketchguy,

    Your story sounds almost identical to mine – my ex-wife used almost exactly the same words. I put up with that crap for two years, desperately trying to hang on to be near my young kids full-time.

    I’m sorry to say that the question of whether you follow Chumplady’s advice or the RIC’s is irrelevant; your marriage is already over. Move on as soon as possible, if for no other reason than to get out of the mindfuck that your manipulative cheater is exerting on you.

    Peace to you.

    • Thanks, Scuffy. Did your wife admit what she’s doing is horrible but kept doing it, claiming she doesn’t know what’s wrong with herself, like mine?

      I’ve been out of the house for over a month now. The next step is always the hardest until you take it.

      • Sketchguy, I just wanted to chime in that my STBXH knows what he does is horrible, but keeps meeting the AP for lunch/dinner because he says he doesn’t know what’s wrong with herself, and is attempting to figure himself out by talking to her to find out why he acted the way he did. I told him to stop using both the AP and I as an emotional crutch, but he says that it helps. For what it’s worth he seems to be fully lucid and thinks that this will help him get to the matter of why he cheated. HA! I don’t want to inform him of what I’ve learned about narcissists, or his lack of empathy etc because I don’t want to arm him with information that he can use on his next victim.

        As for me? I want nothing to do with the whole thing any further. The marriage is over. Divorce is in the works after we talk settlement, and D-Day was 4 months ago.

  • That is the bargaining stage of grief talking, my friend, not your rational brain. But since your grief is speaking in statistics, I’ll respond in kind. Let’s take my marriage and JC’s marriage for example. (It’s a small sample, but stick with me.) In our marriage, JC and I were faithful, and our spouses were cheaters. There was 100% rate of cheating in our marriages, but that was only distributed across 50% of the population. So now switch us around. Our exes are together at present, both of whom have a 100% history of cheating, so I think it’s safe to say that there’s a 100% chance of cheating in their relationship at some point. But hypothetically put JC and I together, and there’s a 0% chance. Same people, rematched, produce completely different results.

    If you pull a straw and a random woman is assigned to you, then sure, you run a risk of winding up with a cheater. But you now have the benefit of an educated and informed choice. You can choose someone who is unlikely to cheat. Hypothetically, let’s say that even in the very worst case scenario, 75% of the population cheats. That doesn’t mean you have a 75% chance of being cheated on in your next relationship, it means that you have 25% of the population to choose from. See how statistics don’t really mean a thing when it comes to you and the one other person you would potentially marry next?

    Moving forward with new relationships after an affair means that you look at people differently and learn to choose them differently. If you’re here and reading what CL has to say about fixing your picker, then I’d say you’re already way ahead of the game and far more likely to choose a faithful spouse or significant other next time around. The hardest part is rebuilding trust in your own judgment. I’ve sent several men packing since I started dating again when they crossed boundaries. This proved to me that my boundaries are strong, my discernment is on point, and I’ve finally earned my “good judgment” stripes. I have a high level of confidence that even in a world full of cheaters, my next relationship won’t be with one because I can smell that shit a mile away. Keep coming here and you’ll develop a good sniffer, too.

    Also, fuck your wife and her continued “screwing up.” She’s not screwing up, she’s playing you. Raise your personal standards, forge on through the pain (it will be there no matter which direction you turn), and divorce her pathetic ass yesterday.

    • FreeVix is right on, here.

      This is the same as the “50% of all marriages end in divorce stat” (which is outdated, BTW; the average couple getting married today has a 75% chance of staying married).

      Even assuming the 50% figure was still accurate, consider ALL marriages. A tiny portion of them are not even serious, but instead undertaken on a whim after a night out in Vegas. A larger portion are people who shouldn’t get married, but do out of cultural or societal obligation. Another set are people who are clearly not loving and committed partners. And the list goes on.

      Some of these people get married and divorced multiple times. But a marriage that endures only happens once. In other words, by sheer numerical fact, multiple divorces by one person (a cheater, for example) outweighs the single success by another person (a lifelong committed spouse) when calculating a percentage.

      AND, this is ALL marriages in the aggregate, not particular marriages in any given year. The timescale doesn’t work. You can’t compare a newlywed couple to a couple that’s been together for 20 years, or 40 years, or 60 years, and state that they ALL have a 50 percent chance of divorce in their remaining lifetimes.

      Watch out for those lies, damned lies, and statistics.

      • You can make statistics say pretty much what you want to believe. Interestingly enough, the divorce rate for married people fifty and older has nearly doubled, just since the 1990s. That is a very interesting change in our culture.

      • Statistics are the only kind of math I ever liked because it’s the only time you can get math to do what YOU want it to do instead of being prisoner to calculations that always end in the same place. That’s not to say that I look for opportunities to lie with statistics (lying isn’t my thing), but it’s like a polygon of answers and you can keep turning it and turning it to find something new in the data. If you try, you can ask statistics to tell you anything, and it will. (This is not to be confused with a cheater, who behaves similarly but can be better compared to a Magic 8 Ball than a statistical calculation.)

  • Before ex I was in a very emotionally abusive relationship (that guy makes my ex look like a saint in comparison). When I finally had the strength of will to stand up to the previous guy and rebuff his continued advances he told me “all guys are assholes” and I was living in fantasy land if I thought I could ever be in a healthy, happy relationship. I thought I had proved him wrong with ex. I thought I had the fantasy. Twenty-five years later my ex proved him right and it breaks my heart. Ex even said he wished he had treated me more like the previous guy because in his little pea brain he imagined that previous asshole got better from me (not true). Still, I have known men who in fact are not assholes and if there are no non assholes out there for me, well, then I am better off living alone than living with an asshole just because I think I don’t have a choice.

  • I had cheater parents. I love them both. My dad dies when I was a teen and I found out about the cheating while cleaning his apartment. He had been following my mom and recording her movements which lead to their divorce a few years before he tragically died in an accident. It’s too long a story to go into, but I know they had a bad marriage full of lies. Every person that I dated long term and X were cheaters. I was shocked every time.
    I have had a wonderful experience as an adult going through therapy every week since starting my divorce process (now divorced for 14 months. Yeeesss!) I can honestly say that MY part in all of it is that I always ignored red flags, put my own values on to others, and always tried to untangle the skein instead of judging the behavior. In my marriage the sunken costs was a biggie too. Now that I recognize this and know I will never be in a relationship like his again. I do think that there are good people out there but I have chosen to put my energy into something other than looking for a partnership.

  • Sketchguy, I don’t blame you for thinking the next person is likely to cheat, too. I have those same thoughts. But let me assure you there are MANY faithful ones out there! While I was dating Creeper, I immediately stopped doing lunches with male coworkers, I refused to respond to occasional texts from male friends, and one time one of them gave me a gift, and I threw it out for the sake of demonstrating my devotion to one man. I didn’t want to be receiving gifts from other men. One man’s attention is all I need. All of my current female friends are equally as faithful to their husbands. It’s not hard to be this way–it’s just who we are.

    Please set boundaries in place so that she doesn’t conceive your child or hoard finances, and consider running for your life!

      • We shouldn’t have to ask. Maybe that’s the problem. If we find ourselves having to ask for common sense singular devotion, the relationship is already screwed.

  • Sketchguy,

    Once you get out from under the mindfuckery of your CheaterWife, you will start to see that there are different types of people in the world, once you pay attention to what people DO and not what they SAY.

    There are people who lie, manipulate, cheat and use other people. They don’t have reciprocity in relationships. They like the attention and the good stuff going one way. They aren’t big on taking responsibility for what they do, so they blame shift their shitty choices onto their victims and their bad parents and the supermarket that doesn’t stock their favorite cookies. They can be sparkly and glamorous on the surface but they are capable of sustained intimacy and the effort required of marriage partners. They can be selfish. Often you feel like they look down on you because once you are in a relationship with them, they devalue you.

    Then there are people who are trustworthy, who do their share or maybe 60%. They go a little further. They are givers. They understand sacrifice and compromise and expect you to understand that too. You might be attracted to their outsides at first, but over time, what warms your heart is the person’s character. The honest, the kindness, the patience, the sense of humor about themselves. They don’t do things for show. They do kind things because they are genuinely kind–to family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, strangers who drop their grocery bag on the street, to animals. To you. They are kind to you. They know their own worth and value other peoples’ live in the same way: they “love their neighbor as they love themselves”–and not as a random sex partner. And they don’t devalue you. They see your worth too.

    • Thanks, Loved. Yeah, it’s hard to forget those people are out there when you’ve been on the inside of it for a while…

    • My father quotes his own father’s advice on marriage: “If both sides are giving 60%, the marriage will always be in surplus”.

      Givers. Takers. That’s about it. Find another giver Sketch Guy!!!

    • One of the biggest things I’ll look out for in a new relationship (if and when I’m ready) is to find someone kind. I just realised that I had to appeal to my STBX to be kinder to me a few times throughout the years. I spackled so hard over the red flags, and if he didn’t cheat I wouldn’t have come to my senses.

  • And for what it’s worth, you’ll need some time without a relationship to fix your picker, which is currently set on “entitled female jackass.”

  • Nejla, I’ve been going through therapy, too, and feel whiplash sometimes when I confront the red flags I dismissed in my 18-year marriage and then in my first post-divorce relationship. I remember lamenting to ex-boyfriend, “I don’t seem to know many marriages where one of the partners hasn’t cheated.” Ex-boyfriend vaingloriously thrust his hand up in the air and declared: “Not me! I never did!”

    I remember thinking that was a bit over the top but then figured, hey, maybe he really is just a super-honest guy! That was three months after he’d already cheated on me – I just didn’t know about it until a couple years later. I do fully believe honest, faithful people exist. But, my new mantra – and I don’t know if it’s a healthy one or not – is, “Trust, but verify.”

  • I tried to post earlier, hopefully the second time is the charm. In my estimation, there are indeed plenty of people who cheat, nearly forty million on Ashley Madison alone!! Those are people who have paid for profiles and are making a concerted effort to find a partner. FORTY.MILLION. This doesn’t even touch the many people who travel regularly for business and hang out in the hotel bar…or sleep with their co workers who are traveling with them. Does everyone cheat? Absolutely not, but the numbers are much more significant than many believe. Give your trust only to those who earn it. Don’t assume because someone says they are truthful that they actually are. Lying is an acquired skill. SLOW down. Make prudent well thought out decisions. Without exception, if you are engaged a year after DDay, you have not taken the time to reflect and heal.

    • Yes! I forgot the “slow down” part. X had discussed when the wedding would be and was moved in to my apartment within 6 weeks after meeting me. He had gotten himself on my phone plan within 7 and had me “helping” him fix his credit within 8.
      I really am a smart and discerning person;) BUT, I spent my 30’s dating and looking for “the one”. When this guy came around he really swept me off my feet. If I would have known to put on the brakes, I would have caught the red flags and thought twice. After a year of living with him I already knew that he was…different. I was already married and trying to have a baby by then. Way too fast.

      • Are you sure we didn’t marry the same man? Almost exact same story. They love bomb intensely in the beginning, so your on a love high and can’t see what is happening, then rush to trap you. Once “trapped” the mask falls off, some sooner than later. Fortunately for us, we realized we were not trapped!

      • “I spent my 30’s dating and looking for “the one”.”

        That’s your problem right there, Ma’am.

        If we can do more to help men AND women stop looking for ‘The One’, they might be less likely to fall into the maw of the sociopaths.

        • I know your trying to be real but it’s hurtful. Women are conditioned to find the one. Our clock is ticking ….better hurry up is all we hear before your eggs dry up……..i know this is a place for truth but let’s be kind in the delivery. Everyone here is trying to navigate their way through the pain and disappointment of what we thought was tangible.

        • For me it was the opposite. While I thought the NX was right one, we had so much in common, and we would work out any differences. I had been told for years that I shouldn’t expect the perfect man. That I was being too picky. I wouldn’t say I settled, per se, but I definitely overlooked some red flags thinking that my expectations might be unrealistic and my time was running out having a family. Now I know, (20 yrs later), that I’m not going to settle for less than ever again. And since I have no real confidence that I will find that person, I will be happy loving and trusting myself in peace and kindness.

    • Most of the Ashley Madison profiles are fake, or hookers. Don’t believe the advertising.

      Having said that, the repellant Josh Duggar was one of the real ones.

      Say no more.

      • A girlfriend and I were curious about what kind of freaks are on Ashley Madison so created a free, fake profile so we could check out the site. What we found during our 15 minutes of exploring made us want to take multiple showers! Today, We Already know, thanks to the hacking scandal, that about 90% of the female accounts on that site were fake bots created by the Ashley Madison team to make the male customers believe that there were many women ready to have affairs with them. I’d guess that many of the remaining 10% were, in fact, chump wives like me and my friend, trying better to gain insight into the minds of cheaters. I do not for a second believe that all the (supposed) 40 million Ashley Madison customers were real people, looking to cheat.

  • Sketchguy,

    In poker we analyze sunk costs all the time. There’s a pot out there, and you’ve put some money in. If at some point you assess the situation and you realize that the cost to continue to play is higher than the probable return on that cost, you fold. Doesn’t matter if you’re in the pot for three cents or thirty thousand dollars, the choice is about saving the money you own now, or risking it to get more.

    In the analogy above, the money at the poker table is like your life, your time, and your emotional involvement. The stuff in the past is already spent, it’s not yours anymore. The question is where are you going to put your ‘life money’ in the future. She’s made it clear that she’s a cheater – and if you stay with her, that’s what your life is going to be. Is that good enough for you? Is that what you envision your marriage as?

    And in terms of spent costs, you don’t have kids, which is HUGE. You can walk away, and have a shot at a real, faithful and loving relationship with a woman who feels the same way, and raise kids with her as a family. If you stay with your current wife, you could have kids, and wonder if they are yours, or not, wonder where she is when she’s out, and be stuck taking care of her kids while she strays.

    Finally, even if 90% of the women you meet might have affairs, that just means that you need to date, on average, 10 women to find one who won’t stray. And it only takes one to make you happy.

    Love her as much as you want. You know you can’t trust her. And if you’re like me, you want love with AND trust in your partner. If you leave her, eventually the love will fade. And you can always cherish the fond memories of good times with her, aside from the knowledge that you couldn’t trust her and had to move on.

    Go see a lawyer. Get started on the rest of your awesome life without her. Ten years from now, however things shake out, you’ll be happy that you stood up for yourself, your integrity, and your happiness.

    Hugs. Strength. Peace.
    aeronaut

    • This is great, thank you Aeronaut. I never really was that good at poker (can you tell?), but I love the analogy. “Saving the money you own now” is a really great takeaway from this.

  • Wow, thank you all from the bottom of my heart! And thank you Tracy for taking this on.

    I left the house weeks ago, so maybe I’m ahead of the curve. Life looks okay being single. But as my letter suggests, the hopium withdrawal is strong and the proverbial RIC bat has beaten me to a pulp.

    I’ve found incredible support through my in-laws of all people. I’m extremely close with them, and I’ve been blown away at how honest they’ve been with her and how supportive they’ve been with me. They’ve effectively said they think I should pack up my shit and leave her in her own mess at this point. I couldn’t believe the response. I think toiling over “losing” them as family is a difficult part of the process.

    The flipped statistics is so refreshing. I can’t believe how much better I feel after reading through these comments and CL’s response already.

    The real work comes down to fixing ol’ picker, I suppose, and that just doesn’t sound so easy. But it’s gotta be better than this.

    • Somebody told me that even if divoorced you can still claim your inlaws as your inlaws (although some may prefer not too). In any case I still have a relationship with my inlaws. My SIL says I am the only sister she has and she doesn’t want to lose me. If you and they are both willing, you don’t have to lose them as family. I would just caution that you might want to avoid discussing your hopefully STBX with them as things progress.

      • That’s really encouraging, thank you. 🙂 I shared what was necessary, where I think she’s at and where I’m at and I want to keep it about there for now. The simple act of them finding out the whole story was enough for them to really come around and just show they’re the great people I’ve known all along.

      • I still have regular contact with XH’s sister and my nieces. XH doesn’t use FB so that helps.

  • Was emailing with seemingly honest candidate for online introduction. He said he’d been married “a few” times.

    Red flag waving in the air.

    Upon asking, I found “a few” means FOUR divorces, kids all over America.
    As if that was not enough, he is one of ‘dem “true conservatives”. Yup. One of them self proclaimed CHRISITAN men. He’s just looking for a good friend!

    Today he’s wondering why I quit responding. I can’t reply because I don’t know which is worse.

  • Sketchguy

    Your marriage is already over. You just need to accept that fact. She’s disrespected you enough to fuck another guy but is straining you along in case the affair with Mr Sparkly Pants doesn’t work out. Do you really want to live such an undignified life? To always wonder if you are still good enough for her?

    Remember she’s the one who is acting like a cunt. Well fuck her. Take your balls out of her handbag and hand her what she deserves. A divorce.

    Reconciliation is rare. But even those couples that do reconcile what happens to the betrayed spouse thinking Mr Sparkles 2.0 is going to walk into her life? You really want to play the pick me dance forever?

    Nah mate. Walk away. It’ll hurt like a bitch for a long time and that’s no lie.

    But it’s still better than the alternative.

    Peace

  • Sketchguy:

    I’ve never even met you and I care more about you than that hooker you’re married to does. Get out before she gets knocked up.

    Life alone is scary, but you can do it.

    • Thanks for the frankess, Paigeup 🙂 I left the house 6 weeks ago, so I hope I’m ahead of the curve. The next step (until you take it) always seems to be the hardest.

  • I actually had a friend (at the time, ex friend and team cheater now) ask me if I was willing to take the risk of ending up with someone else who might be a cheater as well. I said, “well if they cheat, I’ll end that relationship as well, because I deserve better.”

    I think once you make the leap of trading in a lifetime built with a cheater, in favor of self-respect, there will not be another situation where you will even contemplate sunken cost. You cheat, we’re done! I will never again pick me dance again! If my partner doesn’t understand reciprocal respect, I’m not wasting my breath explaining it!

  • What I’ve learned in the year since D-Day, (with a late-night phone call informing me of cheating for the last half of the 22-year marriage with hundreds of women and men), and having had many friends abandon and betray me (awesome smear job and narrative-control by cheater, who obviously carefully prepared the ground for a long time before revealing his “inner truth):

    All the people with broken moral compasses can go and play in Fucked-Up Corner together. I don’t hang there any more, and I don’t hang with people who do.

    Turns out my picker was bad for friends as well as husband. Upside, now getting very good at sorting wheat from chaff. There may be a lot of rubbish around, but once you learn to pick the quality, you will spot a cheater/narc at twenty paces, and spend the rest of your life with all the best people in Cheater-free Corner.

    • Thankyou Thankyou.
      I’m so sorry for your horrible experiences.
      I’m also grateful you discovered what IS.
      We all might as well live life in n it’s reality.
      I’m so glad you have studied so hard and done all your work and learned these things.
      I am two months out, studying and learning hard. Thank you for your words.

  • Your wife continuing her betrayal is evil, disrespectful and horribly mean. Despite the fact that you know she continues, she knows it is hurting you but she doesn’t stop. You have nothing to work with here, no kids then you should find a new mate.

  • Let’s say you stay… let’s say she gets pregnant to “prove” her love for you… will you have 100% confidence in believing that child is yours?

    Cheaters only change if they undergo significant personal work with a professional counselor to understand the reasons they lack moral character AND then decide to do something with that knowledge. Do you know how hard it is to make a lasting behavioral change like that?

    Just some things to think about, but I already know – you deserve better.

    • “Cheaters only change if they undergo significant personal work….” Thanks for this, and I think it’s fair. That’s the unicorn, really.

  • Cheaters don’t consider they are wrong so there is almost zero likelihood they will even TRY to change.
    We don’t want to become them, so why should they want to become us?
    They are very happy with their approach to life. They have lots of cake, and they eat it.
    I divorced my ex 3 years ago. He seems very happy hardly seeing his kids, and spending all his money on himself and his tart.
    He has lied and lied and lied.
    No morals at all. None.
    He is quite happy with that. What is disappointing is that fact that actually many of our ” mutual friends” simply don’t care.

  • >