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Dear Chump Lady, Is she a cheater because of her dad?

Dear Chump Lady,

I’ve been chumped for the second time.

My soon-to-be-ex Michelle and I first met in high school. At the time I had a huge crush on her, but she was involved with someone. Fast forward to after high school, I had just broken up with my girlfriend of two years. When lo and behold who should contact me out of the blue? Michelle. We started hanging out and from then on we were inseparable. I was warned by mutual friends at the time that she had quite the history of sleeping around, but like any chump I ignored the warning signs that were screaming at me. Surely, I’m what she’s been missing all these years!

Two years into the relationship, I popped the question. Things were moving along quite nicely. We were in love. We were engaged. I purchased our first home and we moved in together. This is when the first sign of trouble hit. We had been in our new home not quite a year, when one day she dropped a bomb on me. She’d never had much of a relationship with her scumbag father. Her mom and dad divorced when she was just 5 years old. The stories I had heard about him over the years proved to me what a scumbag he truly was. He cheated on my her mom quite a bit.

When they divorced he was even worse. He never paid child support. And he neglected his daughter. She told me stories about how she would beg him to pick her up and spend time with her. He would promise. And then never show. The only time he DID pay attention to her was when he had a new girlfriend. He would bring Michelle around. Parade her around for his new girlfriend, “Look at how beautiful my daughter is!” and then go back to not paying attention to her. She told me that she needed to be with her dad. He had come into her life and she wanted a relationship with him. Surely, it wasn’t possible to be married AND have a relationship with her dad! After much begging and pleading, true to my perfect chump form, she relented and stayed.

A year later we were married and she was pregnant with our first child. When our son was born, he had complications that required he stay in NICU for the first three months. Because of the struggle of my hours at my job being cut during the downturn and the piling up of medical debt, we filed for bankruptcy. We lost our house and had to move in with my parents. During this time came the second threat to leave. She didn’t love me anymore. I was always depressed etc… Again, after much pleading she stayed and we worked on it.

Now, the worst was yet to come. In 2014 she was 3 months pregnant with our second child. I was at work on a midnight shift when I got an alert on my phone that at 1 a.m. Michelle had “arrived home”. (Thank you find-my-phone for the alert!) I confronted her the next morning when I got home and she confessed to everything. She slept with an old ex-boyfriend she reconnected with on Facebook. She moved out two days later. I filed for divorce. Of course after after a month, she did the whole “I’m so sorry! I miss you! Let’s work on this! I wanna come home!” song and dance. And I took the bait.

The last 4 years have been hard work and lately everything had seemed to be going so well. We were closer than ever. Or so I thought.

One month ago she messages me while I’m at work. She’s been depressed. She doesn’t know who she is. She loves me, but, get this, she isn’t in love with me anymore! She wants to try and live life on her own. Figure out who she is. She doesn’t want to be with anyone. Doesn’t want a relationship. Which was all lying cheater speak for I want to fuck around. I found out she had been talking to a guy at her work for over a month. D-day was February 3rd. A week later she started dating a police officer who works security at her bank. She’s 31. He’s 50. He’s divorced with grown kids. The reason he’s divorced? He cheated on his wife. I know this because funny enough we have a mutual friend in common. She gave me a whole sob story about how her whole life she’s been chasing the love of her father and how she associates love with pain. I once again have filed for divorce. She and her father still don’t have much of a relationship. So, my question is this — Did the way her dad treated her when she was young truly fuck her up? Or is she using it as an excuse to be a scumbag cheater?

Looking for answers,


Dear HoosierChump,

You’ve got a classic case of Untangling the Skein of Fuckupedness. It’s the coping mechanism chumps employ to understand How The Cheater Got This Way. I tell people not to untangle the skein because a) it keeps you from moving on with your own life; and b) it doesn’t matter. The simple answer is they cheat because they can. Because they did the cost-benefit analysis and fucking around (kibbles!) won out over your health and welfare. The choice to cheat is a matter of character.

But! But! FOO issues!

Cue Phillip Larkin… “They fuck you up, your mum and dad…” Whose parents didn’t fuck them up? Loads of people have far more dysfunctional childhoods and they don’t cheat, or grow up to be abusers. In fact, despite horrific life experiences many people wind up resilient and pretty solid citizens.

People carry scars. It’s what you choose to do with them. Heal them, or inflict injury on others and scar them?

Is she using it as an excuse to be a scumbag cheater?

Probably. But the bigger problem with untangling the skein is that YOU are using it as an excuse. If her Dad fucked her up, then at some level she couldn’t help hurting you. She didn’t have a fighting chance. She is absolved of a bit of responsibility. Maybe all responsibility? After all Dad was really an asshole.

You can spend a lot of time winding down that rabbit hole. Parsing out how this factor and that factor may have influenced her shitty behavior. Weighing her guilt, but also feeling empathy for her suffering — that poor little girl whose Daddy never showed up for her.

As a chump, that feels like a much better place for our feelings than rage at being betrayed. Hurt people HURT people, Tracy! 

And it’s a gateway to codependency and further chumpdom. I can love all her hurt away! She will learn to trust me! By making myself vulnerable to her, she will be vulnerable to me!

Yeah. How many D-Days have you had? How’s that working for you?

Here’s the other problem with untangling the skein — untying those knots is hard (impossible) work. Great, now you have some place to throw all your attention — an unsolvable problem. Which very conveniently takes the focus off YOU. Which question do you think is more pressing: “How did Michelle become a cheater?” or “What is Hoosier going to do next with his life?”

Looking backwards is pointless. She did what she did without regard to you and your children. WHAT NEXT? You’re divorcing — good. Focus on being the sane parent, on rebuilding your life, and untangling your own skein — why you put so much value on this woman who didn’t value you.

Because that painful reckoning is really at the core of skein untangling — if we find the Magic Reason then we matter. Deep down she really loved you, but She Just Couldn’t Help Doing This Bad Thing Because…

Truth is she didn’t love you. Or not enough to prevent her from behaving unilaterally and selfishly. You just didn’t factor into her choices at all. And that’s devastating, because you invested so much of yourself, and because YOU loved deeply. We untangle precisely so we don’t have to feel the pain of that dissonance. She didn’t care. I don’t matter.

Hoosier, you MATTER. Your kids MATTER. You just invested in a lousy person. We’ve all been there. I’m sorry her dad was a cheating asshole. The lesson she needed to take from that was Don’t Be A Cheating Asshole. NOT Become A Cheating Asshole!

Maybe she does associate love with pain. Doesn’t mean you have to. Best wishes on that new life.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Bad upbringings do not ‘create’ cheaters. I have a suicidal chronically depressed selfish mother, an absent father and no family to speak of whatsoever.

    I am a chump. I’m the epitome of codependant. I’ve never cheated.

    Abusers find excuses. Healthy people make changes.

    • Just to say that you are amazingly strong and I hope you have found / made a family or friends-who-are-family to support you through life’s ups and downs.

    • Your last sentence is one chumps should memorize!

      Healthy, empathetic and honest people look back on past pain and work on becoming someone different.

      I also come from a family with many problems and I used that history to become the best parent possible.

      That skein of fuckedupness will trip you up every time. Do Not Go There!

    • IDC, I had the same pre-marriage life. My divorced, single mother was chronically depressed for as long as I can remember and refused to seek help. My dad was mostly absent, especially as my brother and I got older; failed to provide child support; and would habitually disappoint us by making promises he NEVER kept.

      And I am a chump, too! I never cheated, either, but my ex was a serial cheater for the entirety of our 26-year marriage, unbeknownst to me until the very end of our marriage. I never suspected a thing!

      Like you said, abusers find excuses; healthy people make changes. Regardless of my childhood issues, I KNEW that I wanted something better, and I thought I was getting that. I honored my marriage vows to the letter, and I believed that my ex was also doing the same. Instead, he proved to be a very effective liar, manipulator, and sociopath, essentially living a double life during the entire marriage.

    • I hate to disagree (in part) with Chump Lady, but I do.

      Here’s why. First, we don’t have time machines & we are not mind readers, so the commenting with certainty that the cheater “NEVER loved” their wife & kids, is skating on damn thin ice in my opinion. The cheaters and wives and lives are not all alike. Yes there are common threads here, and a universality in heartbreak exists. But there are also unique aspects to each of us and our marriages. It’s a paradox, I know.

      Second, the attempt to understand WHY our cheaters were/are such shits, is Not always b/c we want to hang on or reconcile or ruminate. It’s sometimes just to see if there’s something that explains (NOT excuses) any of their choices or events, AND more importantly, it helps us to watch out for similar FOO crap in the future!!!! That’s a big deal.

      My wasband swept me off my feet and for the first 10+ years, he was an attentive father who enjoyed coming home and playing with the kids and was nurtured by familial interactions. I saw it, I felt it, I know it. Others did too. They are the “witnesses” who tell me that “yes he changed.” I’m glad for them so I know I wasn’t insane to have loved him.
      But I have to figure out how to avoid this kind of crap in the future. So asking FOO questions is legitimate and I don’t think we all should just STFU and stop it.

      Becoming a narcissist does not mean that my EX Husband (aka “wasband”) was not smart, witty or well built; he was all 3. We laughed a hell of a lot & we achieved a lot.

      Probably the single biggest thing I miss about the DOCTOR, after 35 years of marriage, is the laughter we shared b/c he really got my humor (I do stand up comedy so yes, it’s a big damn deal to me).

      I know we have shared history and 3 kids and a ton of schooling we put ourselves through, but in terms of day to day things, it’s the laughing I miss.

      It’s impossible to negate all of the good in our marriage or family story.

      I can say he had or has lots of good qualities AND ALSO, he’s a horrible husband and absentee father who abandoned me and our youngest at my most vulnerable time (I had suddenly become very ill while out of town & was cognitively impaired).

      That^^ is shitty enough. I don’t need anything to add to it.

      But sometimes I do need to ask the “WTF was wrong with his family??” at least as an exercise. As long as I know that regardless of what I discover or come to believe about what happened to him as a child, I know he’s bad news for me now. I know he’s not changing in this life time. I know my divorce is turning out to be a gift from the universe to me.

      I just don’t want to negate my 35 years of marriage and 3 children as if it was all a ruse by a sociopath.

      ^^^^ That’s too simple, and it lets me off the hook too much.

      I chose not to see certain things for a long time, and FEAR was a factor in there, that I’m not proud of. So was projecting my values onto him when he (at least eventually) did not share those values. (I did not get the memo).

      I played a part in delaying the divorce, and that’s NOT an excuse for the DOCTOR, it’s a warning to myself that I want to heed.

      So, as long as we don’t obsess or hold onto someone undeserving, what’s wrong with trying to see patterns in others?

      It’s not quite the same as trying to untangle skeins of fuckedupness, though I understand the concern.

      • Hello Doctor’s First Wife and Hello to Chump Lady,

        This is Sarah P. from emotionalaffair,org. I too am a former chump, but when it was over, it was over. Thankfully we did not have kids. I blog about that horrific experience and it was the major thing that influenced me to get a Master’s in Psychology.

        I am currently a doctor’s wife and have been for many years. I have seen situations where “nurse of the day or coworker of the day” enters the picture, the (male) doctor actually changes at every level. So, I do not believe the good years were your imagination or a farce or a manipulation.

        I saw one guy who was the picture of the happy family man, upstanding Christian, and husband. And it was REAL for many, many years and many people saw that it was REAL. That was until nurse of the day announced to other nurses that she was going to poach him. (Nurse of the day was actually married with several children and the doctor was also married with several children). Nurse of the day stopped wearing scrubs and came to work in club wear. I still have no idea why HR did not get involved. Nurse of the promised never-ending sex with her hot body and that was that. By the way, the doctor’s wife was also a doctor and from a neutral perspective, she was more beautiful, classy, generous, and intelligent than nurse of the day. I have no explanation for why he fell for this. But he did. And he and nurse of the day hurt many people. They got married and are very proud of themselves. Not an ounce of remorse or guilt. Nurse of the day claim she saved doctor from a horribly abusive family. (This would be like saying Alice in Wonderland was abusive. It was that far-fetched and everyone knew it.) I just wanted to say that what you had was real and not your imagination. I needed to affirm that for you.

        Chump Lady, thank you for letting me post. I am not trying to hold court here. You are the picture of AWESOMENESS and I LOVE, love, LOVE your blog. Frankly, I wish I had the courage to speak as frankly as you do because you are a truth-teller and don’t hold back. Plus, you are hilarious.

        Thank you,

        Sarah P.

        • I disagree. He sucked, he always did. He was his best self with me because he wanted to be the person that I was in love with. That everyone loved. Sure, he enjoyed our life together and loved me to the depth he was capable. He mirrored my values and my devotion, and I believe he was the happiest he will ever be in his life. But keeping that level of engagement and accountability up was exhausting and ultimately unsatisfying. There was his “authentic self” that he had neglected or suppressed for so long, and it needed more, of everything. It needed to screw as many people as possible in as many ways as possible to prove he was alive. It needed, in his words “all the things.”To be fair, he did offer me an open marriage because he still loved me and he still wanted to have sex with me and still loved having our beautiful nuclear family and lifestyle. When I asked what I would get out of the arrangement, he couldn’t think of an answer. Because he had never once considered it. When I refused that shit sandwich, he moved on. He now loves a lovely young girl with a PhD in biochemical engineering and is fluent in several languages. She is also into ropes, knife play and possibly polyamory. She is the 7th woman I know of that he has loved since he left me. He introduces every one of them to our kids. There are two others he loves right now, in addition to the PhD girl. He is trying to get them all to agree to love each other, but it’s not working out for him. One of them is into being gang banged and slapped around by strangers, according to his Fetlife site, but they are currently broken up because she wants to have a baby and live together. He has no problem with the baby, he’s just not sure he is ready to move in with her. After all, right now his mom is his landlord, and like me, she pays all the bills and keeps the home cozy and clean for him. The PhD girl was willing to love gangbang girl and live with her so they could be a triad, but alas, gangbang girl didn’t want to share a lover and an address. The third love will have to go because she is showing no inclination to be humiliated or to humiliate him sexually, and she would not be happy at all to learn about his other lovers. Too bad, because his Mom really liked that one, and would probably have helped him out with a down payment for a house if they married. Like the monkey with his hand stuck in jar of grapes, he is finding it near impossible to have all the things at all the times. While exhilarating, it is all so exhausting and ultimately unsatisfying, again. Do I think he loved me? Do I think what we had was genuine? Yes. But I can guarantee you when he left, he shed that old inconvenient self that loved me and tried so hard to deserve me, to search for the unicorn he thinks he deserves. He will never find it, and if he does, good for him. Just stay the fuck away from me.

          • And just to be clear here, when I say he loved me, I am not talking about the love that ‘normal’ human beings share. One that is capable of great sacrifice and depth of feeling. It is more like the love that a cat has for its owner.

      • I’ve got to pipe in here. My own story is giving my husband chance after chance. Bottom line is that he brought his own baggage to the marriage with a lot of blind spots – mostly involving his FOO. What I have gleaned is that he loved me the best he could but, due to his own baggage, chose to not fully commit and trust and act out.

        The last 26 years were fully real for me. I love him, I accepted him. His secrets came out. He’s a fantastic dad and I pray our hildren never find out what he is done. It would traumatize them, although I am sure they have inklings about some things. He’s a good man most of the time. But the deciding factors for me are 1) what is acceptable to me – in order to do what he’s been doing, he is good at keeping secrets, a liar, and has bad boundaries. 2) accepting my place in his FOO issues. Besides being strapped with his mother’s bad behavior (which I’m not guilty of – just transference), there is nothing I can do to help him through his issues it’s his journey, not mine. 3) What we have been doing for the past 26 years isn’t working.

        I love the man. I am past feelings of blame, anger, and vindictiveness. I pray he figures it out and truly wish the best for him. But first, I am obligated to me and my children. I’ll miss him. But I’m excited to find me again.

    • Hoosier Chump

      I relate to the questions you are asking. Just realize that there are no “Good answers” there. You might find some pieces that explain his outlook on a few behaviors but at some level your ex knows he has wronged you.

      Two things that helped me in this struggle b/c I asked “why” and “how”possibly 2000 times over the last decade. Seriously.

      First, there’s no good reason that exists that will satisfy YOU – so don’t imagine there’s an element you can control there.

      Second, as Caroline Myss wrote:

      “Let me give up the need to know why. I will NEVER KNOW WHY…and endless questioning is endless suffering.”

      Lately, this^^^ is my prayer.

      • I agree with your thinking. And it will be good for me to work through much of the mess and (hopefully) benefit the partner who comes next. Maybe my STBXw has legit issues with my tendencies to {insert} and I should work on those. I certainly can work on all the lies I told myself through-out the years.

        I too can certainly point to the FOO and my MIL in particular, and follow the pattern. Its just that I now have to work on stopping that with my kids.

        I do appreciate TL’s lazer-focus on those who are JUST having a D-Day. And in those moments all this does not matter; just get the f* out and go!

    • “Abusers find excuses. Healthy people make changes.”
      I need to print that and hang it all over the house thanks that was awesome!

  • HC, she is a screwed up individual. From now the only thing you worry about is that your children are protected and safe from men she is bringing in and out of her life. She isn’t in love with any of them so please be sure your kids are safe.

  • I think everyone who goes through this looks for the WHY it happened. We think if we know WHY we could we have prevented this happening to us. Thus, everything in the relationship becomes suspect, every bad decision, or argument, or even the happy stuff becomes suspect, because once the infidelity happened, it was inevitable that it would happen.

    We look for the WHY so we can maybe FIX IT, but, you can’t fix it. The only thing in your control is your reaction to what is happening. Understanding the other person’s motivation or reasons or justifications doesn’t matter. You cannot reason a person into behaving the way you think they should. You can feel that you have God and all the angels in heaven on your side of being right, doesn’t matter. That means nothing to the cheater. They may feel guilt, they may not, but you arguing with them about it is not going to change a thing. Get out and work on you. Live your life, make it great, and stop expecting anything from the cheater.

    I spent a good bit of my life trying to tell my ex that he should come home because what he was doing was bad for the kids, bad for the life we had built, just bad. I may have been correct in those arguments, but it didn’t matter, he was done.

    I recommend figuring out how you’re gonna rebuild a good life, and not worry about the WHY except in how it helps you build a healthier new relationship.

    And also, HUGS, because this is hard, but it’s not the end. You will be fine. Even better than fine.

    • Yup. Sometimes the WHY does not change the WHAT. What did she do? Repeatedly cheated and also repeatedly made clear that she is not committed to this relationship and will bail when she feels like it. Why does she do this? Who knows? Mu. 42.

      It doesn’t matter why – you probably will never know, because life’s not a fictional story with exposition to clear up characters’ motivations. It just matters that she does it, and that’s enough to call this off.

    • I, for one, absolutely do not care WHY he did what he did. Just dealing with the “WHAT” he did to me (his wife of 35 years) and to our two sons is appalling enough. I just trust that he sucks!

      • And when you get 30 reasons why and they range from – “I had a mean girlfriend in high school that yelled at me” to “you’re too pale for me to stay hard… you didn’t even try to get a tan all summer” – you kinda realize given the opportunity they will give any excuse on Earth as to why none of their disgusting behavior is their fault. Who cares what the reason is. This one got HoosierChump stuck because it actually seems like it could be valid. But it’s not. I could be wrong, but issues with daddy dont make you schedule sex with an ex bf while your husband is at work.

        Cheating on your husband who’s on a midnight freaking shift while you’re 3 months pregnant with his child is not a fixable issue anyway. And there’s no excuse/reason on Earth that’s valid for that behavior. Tell her to take her reason and shove it. And who was watching the other kid. Did she get a babysitter? So she could take her pregnant cheating dumb ass out for a hook up? wtf!

        A friend told me the other day that i need to invest in a fuck-it bucket. She’s like please find a bucket big enough to throw out the whole 200lb man and his mountain of rotting excuses. ???? And why? Because I’ve been driving myself crazy picking through a bunch of bullshit looking for scraps of truth to make sense of all this. None of it makes sense. She’s like tell him to go fake a life with someone else and to kiss your blindingly white boner destroying ass and leave you alone. lol.

        • “Cheating on your husband who’s on a midnight freaking shift while you’re 3 months pregnant with his child is not a fixable issue anyway. And there’s no excuse/reason on Earth that’s valid for that behavior. Tell her to take her reason and shove it. And who was watching the other kid. Did she get a babysitter? So she could take her pregnant cheating dumb ass out for a hook up? wtf!”

          That’s exactly what she did. Before I left for work that night she told me, “my mom wants him to stay the night tonight.” Which was completely normal. Turns out SHE asked her mom if he could stay the night that night. And when I left for my shift around 10pm she kissed me goodbye. Told me she loved me and told me, “I really wish you didn’t have to go to work tonight.” As soon as I was out the door she was getting ready to go meet her ex bf.

          • Wow. A babysitter to cheat. Thats nauseating. She’s a wreck.

            I think it’s the planning and the lengths they go to deceive that is the worst part. So many lies. So much planning. I had the same situation. The final incident before I filed was him hugging/kissing me, telling me he loved me, and saying he wished he could just stay home with me instead of going on his “business trip”. Turns out 3 hours after he arrived he was already collecting phone numbers at clubs, met local women on Tinder, joined Bumble, and by the end of the week had at least 2 women and a prostitute. Told me he wanted to come home early because he’s not having fun. The reason turned out to be that his date got canceled that night. She wrote sorry you stayed and I’m not even there.

            If it was possible for her to change she would have been working on it already. Whatever she says now is just excuses.
            Hang in there. We are all on your team.

        • “And when you get 30 reasons why and they range from – “I had a mean girlfriend in high school that yelled at me” to “you’re too pale for me to stay hard… you didn’t even try to get a tan all summer” – you kinda realize given the opportunity they will give any excuse on Earth as to why none of their disgusting behavior is their fault.”

          So true. I am glad the excuse I got at the discard weren’t about my body but they still made no sense:
          “I just don’t like this city.”
          “I can’t get anything done in this house, I just watch videos on my phone.”

          Even as a chumpy idiot I still managed to tell him those things have nothing to do with me!

          • Umm yeah him watching videos and scrolling through memes is not your problem. Is he 10 years old? They have the mental maturity of children or something.

            And I did get tan by August. And guess what. He didn’t like it and couldn’t “enjoy it” because I was 3 months late on the tan I was supposed to have. I would meet his expectations and he still wouldn’t be happy.
            I’m gonna bet he’d find a reason to hate every city and every house.
            Everything is a double bind.

            • “Umm yeah him watching videos and scrolling through memes is not your problem. Is he 10 years old? They have the mental maturity of children or something.”

              Oh my gosh thanks for the laugh! Yes he fell down a meme hole when he got home everyday. You must be reading my mind because I journaled yesterday that it was like raising a child. I paid for everything and told him when to go to the doctor!

              I can’t believe he was petty enough to open his mouth about your skin. He didn’t like it when you got the tan either because then you “won.” He had to keep having the power to keep you on your toes.

        • Wait just a minute…you’re suddenly too close to your natural skin color, and it’s ruining his lust for you? That’s one of the silliest excuses we’ve heard around here. But also deeply sad and messed up. You should be ashamed of your color? I’m sure your complexion is lovely, as well as the inside you.
          Him, not so much. Anyone calling out random cruelties when you are most vulnerable?
          Pond scum.

          • Rebecca – ‘Anyone calling out random cruelties when you are most vulnerable?
            Pond scum.’

            I totally agree with you. Pond Scum!
            (personally I love the porcelein-fine skin of people who don’t tan. Not a wrinkle!)
            Karma can often take the road of hitting him with a mild melanoma that makes sun exposure impossible. Can we say immature ass!

            • Plus, the minute you lose your mind and invest time and money in obtaining whatever color skin he deems acceptable, he will move on to the fact that your height is incompatible with his libido.


    • It’s completely natural to want to understand the “whys” because our lives were being unilaterally destroyed by the actions of somebody else. We never had a choice in the matter. If we were doing stupid things to destroy our own lives, then maybe we could accept it somehow because we’d know why. But there’s never any justice in what’s going on in these situations since it’s so one-sided, so we’re left with having to figure out what we did to warrant bearing the brunt of somebody else’s poor decisions.

      Sooner or later though (the sooner, the better), we finally figure out that there is no logical reason for what went on – because there never was any real reason to begin with. That’s why we got all the ridiculous excuses from our spouses once we found out. Mine didn’t get the kitchen sink she always wanted, so apparently the proper response in her mind was to have an affair. Simply mind-boggling.

      They’ll say anything, no matter how absurd to try and deflect you from focusing on their behavior. Kind of like a child would.

      But in the end it just boils down to the fact that we married foolish people that have enormous opinions of themselves and that lack maturity and respect for others.

    • ‘ You cannot reason a person into behaving the way you think he should.’ I need to repeat this a thousand times to accept the idea that I cannot make my ex-boyfriend honest. He’/s been lyimg. Gaslighting, projecting, stonewalling. evading over decades.


        so true dishonesty,untrustworthiness ,and lack of integrity , goes to the bone , i have looked to the beginning of our relationship ,and indeed there are a thousand ways where he revealed that he had no character , but i was21 and didn’t know that those virtures really really mattered . i have expressed to him ,honesty and respect are vital to our marriage . so he did pretend .to this day he lies about everything ,if not lying about his behavior ,then lying so as to deflect from his secret life . of course i know he does not love me , you just don’t disrespect by lying to the one you love .

    • Blindside, this is a great answer.

      “But there’s never any justice in what’s going on in these situations since it’s so one-sided, so we’re left with having to figure out what we did to warrant bearing the brunt of somebody else’s poor decisions.”

      I think, at least for me, I thought that my love alone would get us through these “situations” that he kept causing. I know that my love and feelings and loyalty were offered to him, and although he “said” he loved me, it took a long time for me to accept that his actions just did not match his words.

      A loving partner does not shit on the love another person offers them, over and over and over again. They just don’t.

      I knew I stewed for many, many months after my final DD5 at the injustice of it all. Boy, was I one pissed off woman. Sometimes the anger still hits me. That I was left with this dark cloud of betrayal and lies and broken trust, while I watched him hop, skip and jump in to a new future with a new victim. This new victim was my twin, just without all the expectations. Cause she didn’t KNOW him yet.

      I just recently found out, after 7 months of NC with ex, that the AP that I left him because of: was just a decoy.
      That the woman he ended up being with 1 week after DD5, not the AP, was who he had REALLY been grooming during our final DD5.
      So a double betrayal. And his family knew and didn’t tell me as I sat there and cried to them on DD5 and they promised they could see our “love” and it would “overcome”. The liars.

      Information like this comes at the right time. As painful as it is, it would have been too much for me, in any of the earlier months after DD5. I can now truly appreciate that he sucks and it’s leading me down the path to acceptance that THIS IS WHO HE IS.

      What gets me, is how sorry I feel for the girl that I was, back in August on DD5. Knowing what I know now, I wish I could take that crying, but hopeful girl who was still offering her love to that asshole, by the hand and lead her away from the shit show.
      Hold her, tell her it’s going to be okay and we will get through this together.

      Maybe this is chumpy me finally meeting my inner CL.

      • To clarify, the new victim is not my literal twin. She just has the same personality, family situation, etc.

  • Bottom line is, who cares if her Dad fucked her up, she’s harming you so just get away. She is fucked up, and she’s going to fuck you up if you stick around her. Maybe you love her and want to ‘save her’. But this is what getting involved with someone like this means going through, and you have a choice to make over whether you want to spend the rest of your life trying to redeem someone who needs to do it for themselves.

    Some people have an inclination to try and save other people from themselves, whether it’s redeeming drug addicts, alcoholics, or people with fucked up ideas of love . I suspect people with this inclination make great chumps,since (sorry for the cynicism) we set ourselves on course to be disappointed. By and large (and I say this as someone with experience of both being cheated on by someone with ‘FOO’ issues, and of having a close family member go through horrific drug addiction), all you do when you try to save someone from themselves by interacting with them, is enable them.

    The best thing you can do is walk away and leave them to it. This is pretty base, but sometimes finding emotionless ways to abstract our situation is a useful de-chumping tool; just think of it like training a dog – you don’t reward bad behaviour. No matter how painful it is (& in the case of the drug addict family member, that was very painful to not be in contact for 10 years while they were passed out in doorways), you have to make them face the consequences of their actions & take personal responsibility, even if that means sitting back and watching them fail over and over. You’re not going to reward their bad behaviour with attention. Because it’s often not until someone finds themselves alone, broken, having lost everything etc that they truly realise that they even need to change. If you stay with her out of ‘daddy issues’ you’ll be sending her the message that what she did is OK on some level, because it’s excused by what she’s been through. So she’ll keep doing it, and then she’ll come to you tearfully saying “I know what I did was wrong, but you know why I keep doing it”.

    Protect yourself. Get away. Don’t become an enabler.

    Good luck! It will get easier (10 months out here, am over it).


    • Completely agree with your post Chris. My ex was a binge drinking alcoholic who would dissappear with his band mates for days, spend our money and ignore my calls. This while I worked full time and had two kids in childcare, one with chronic exzcema. He did this in a three to six month cycle, Then come crying to me about how he was a fuck up when the party was over and he was just about vomiting blood. I put up with this shit for 5 years and was too forgiving, should have bailed but he would pull the old councilling routine or AA until I was off his back, which was never more than 3 sessions of either. Anyways he finally got sober and I felt hopefully for our family, however the attitude and stinking thinking prevailed and I think what happened in the next year is he turned that abuse that he took out on himself with his destructive drinking on me. This dawned on me recently he went from hating himself to loving himself and hating on me. I became the scapegoat and his projective surface. All pretty fucked up. He is alone now and has been hoovering hard. I have been NC solid for about 4 months and he is spinning out. It hasn’t sunk in that I’m not his anymore. He came to pick son up on the weekend and started ranting bullshit about how I need to tell him if I’m seeing anyone and there is no chance of him coming back. I asked him to leave many times and he kept knocking then finally tried to come in. I stopped this by shoving him and removing his foot that was wedged in the door. ( his favourite trick and then says I hurt his foot!) I’m feisty as fuck when pushed to my limits. Had to peel his fucking hands from the door frame, what a fucking prick.
      I rang the cops, he was royally pissed but whatever, next time it will be a restraining order. I’m getting stronger and he takes up less and less of my daily thoughts.
      Will never date anyone with addiction issues in the past or present again as imo they all overflow into other areas, it’s a self control issue.

    • “just think of it like training a dog – you don’t reward bad behaviour”… loved this line. Was walking this evening after dinner and I kept thinking about this.

  • I sent Tracey an email, asking if my husband taking a big fall at work could have ‘caused’ his behaviour. Maybe he had a brain injury. Chumplady responded: It doesn’t matter. He is putting you at risk. He lied, he stole by spending money on dating sites, he cheated. He is no good for you, get away.

    I give you that sage advice back. It doesn’t matter, she hurt you and is still hurting you, get away.

    I bet you are a great dad. You may wish to obtain DNA testing on your children, or you may just choose to continue to love them. You definitely need to get tested for STD’s. Cancel any joint credit cards and shut down any joint accounts. Go through your finances with a fine tooth comb. If you have access to a shared computer, check the history, see if you can find the email address you didn’t know about. Consult with lawyers. Get the custody agreement in place ASAP. Document everything. Learn from this experience. We’ve all been there. Find a great counsellor. Give yourself time and space. Live a life for you and your children. Don’t bend over backwards for the first, or second, person you date. Make sure whomever you do date has a job, friends and hobbies. Most importantly, now you are a good, kind, decent person who can do this. Good luck.

    • My ex had his psychiatrist so fooled that he ordered a cat scan to see if his erratic behavior had been caused by a head injury. Nope. He had my therapist and our marriage counselor fooled too. My mother had a traumatic brain injury herself and her personality changed: she became more responsible, better with money, and a better driver. 3 years later and she was back to her normal bad-driving, addict self. Go figure.

  • Which question do you think is more pressing: “How did Michelle become a cheater?” or “What is Hoosier going to do next with his life?” OMG this!!! The longer I dwell on my ex, the longer I postpone facing my life alone. The occasional astute person will say to me, “ok we’ve talked enough about whatshisname. What’s going on with you? What are you going to do with your life?” And I put my fingers in my ears and sing and avoid the question. Who wants to talk about the scary unknown future, when there’s a past to obsess about?

    The more mental real estate I give my fuck-wit ex, the less mental real-estate I’m giving to myself and my new fuck-wit-free life.

    Turn off that “thinking about her” channel. I know, easier said than done!

    • This reply! Everything you said hit home and you are absolutely correct. Thank you!

    • I think the thought obsession diminishes naturally with N or low C, has for me a year out. My brother won’t hear anything about as he calls him ‘knob jockey’ only about my plans!

    • “Turn off that “thinking about her” channel. I know, easier said than done!”. Well said, Struggling (but doing a lot better).

      I have a quote that I posted in my bathroom, so that when I’m having a nice soak in the tub and my thoughts drift off to the Asshole, I can redirect.
      It goes like this:

      ‘When the defeat, the mistake, the hurt comes back up on the movie screen of your mind,
      do yourself a favour, change the channel.
      Have the attitude, “I’m not going backward, I’m not living in regret, I’m not rehearsing failures,
      I’m moving forward. I may have had some bad breaks, but I know better is the end.”
      If you’ll get your mind going forward, your life will go forward.” – Joel Osteen

      • I have a short mantra I use to interrupt my thought process. Sometimes I have to repeat it 59 times before I get back on track.

  • I am learning so much from this website and the comments and support are great. After 37 years of marriage, I too felt obligated to unravel the skein to figure out the “why” of it and agree that it is a total waste of time and frankly, my cheater just enjoyed it way too much. Listen to him talk about his pain for hours? Spotlight on him! He loved it! Only a major self-centered jerk could turn this fact set into a scenario where he was the victim. Face it–they cheat because they are self-centered jerks who don’t care about you. The “why” of why they are self-centered jerks who do this is irrelevant. Maybe they will get therapy and turn into better people but you can’t fix them. Who among us hasn’t had a day (or week or month or year) where they felt awful and could have used some ego kibbles ourselves BUT we didn’t cheat to make ourself feel better. Why? Because no matter how crappy you feel, cheating on a spouse isn’t the solution and it causes the other person pain. It is wrong. People of integrity find other ways to deal with their problems. So, move on from the cheater’s problems and focus on your own. It hurts. We all know that and send you our best wishes that you get through the pain as quickly as possible. What gives me hope is the posters who share the story of how they moved on and built a better life for themselves cheater-free. Good luck.

    • Well said springfield 528! Every bit of it! And this website has been such an enormous help! I honestly didn’t know so many people are going through what i am going through. It feels so good to know your not the only one

  • Yo Yo knickers parents have been married for 50+ years. Kind, loving people, she has two brothers who have been married for over 25 years.

    Who knows why she cheats, lies and done all the shitty things she’s fine in her life. I’m sure a phycologist could have a field day working her out. All I know is that at the end of the day she gave herself permission to do what she did.

    • Exactly! My cheater ex’s parents have been married about 60 years. His brother has been married over 30. They have some issues, but cheating was not on the list until he started it. I have strong data that he’s now cheating on wife #2. Fortunately, he’s no longer my problem.

      • Elizabeth, (shocked look!) He is cheating on his new wife??? Bwwwaaaahhhhh!

    • That’s exactly it. They give themselves permission to cheat. Who does that? Someone who is selfish and self centered and doesn’t care one whit for their primary partners or their kids if they have any (even if they decide they still care about the kids later, they don’t at the moment they decide to cheat).

    • On the other hand my chump girlfriends mother In law cheated and tore the family apart. I guess her son thought if my mum can do it then so can I.

  • Ah, the old “it’s the parents’ fault” argument.

    Whenever I hear this, I’m reminded of my own upbringing. My parents modeled responsible choices and behavior. But we’re they perfect? Heck, no! No one is perfect.

    My parents were non-confrontational to a fault, which means they raised three timid children who were too patient and quiet in their personal and professional interactions, and they raised one chump (me).

    But ya know what?!? As an adult I learned to speak up for myself. I forced myself to engage with others. I made myself a better, more well-rounded person.

    And although I was a chump, I learned QUICKLY that my patience was being abused, so I first left my wife after a “mere” 3 months of her affair, and I filed for divorce after a total of 6 months…all with NO concrete evidence that her affair was even physical. (The concrete evidence didn’t arrive until 6 months after the divorce was final.)

    That was hardly the quiet, patient guy my wife was used to, and it certainly wasn’t the timid son my parents had raised.

    Our parents mold us, yes. But their influence is not absolute. Any adult worth their salt will openly and honestly admit their parents’ faults, and their own, and make decisions to better themselves.

    • You rock JC. I love this.

      I am working hard to fix my FOO issues but I also work everyday to be a better me until I become the best me. My parents made mistakes, but they do not define me! I love them and respect them but also acknowledge the mistakes made ( a huge no no in their home) so I can learn and grow.

    • Great post JC! My parents were assholes, both Narcissists and my mom was a Malignant Narc out to destroy me. That caused a lot of damage for me and my brother in our childhood, but as an adult, I took responsibility for my actions and my development. I got help to heal all the trauma my parents caused and I don’t go around hurting other people, like my parents still do. I’m an adult with choices and free will. I choose to exercise that choice and freedom. We all have a choice, every day, at every moment as adults.

  • I am thinking part of your question may have to do with the fear of history repeating — your poor kids are her kids too.

    They will need help dealing with all this, and I suggest doing a bit of research about therapy for them, and separately, for you. It is likely to do you all good to have impartial third parties in your corner. Their mother is highly manipulative, and there will be much going on that they won’t feel they can tell you. They will need somewhere to turn.

    They may not stay with the same therapists all their loves, but they should have someone as they grow helping them cope and catching risks that develop over time. And you are likely to need the outlet as you co-parent with this cruel and calculating woman. And you need someone, a professional, in their court who knows you are good for them.

    Side note: How do you even get to know the “police officer” who works security at your bank? This is a person who should be impossible to distract. How does that conversation even get started?

    By a manipulative person who likes a challenge, that’s who. And that makes two of them. And one of the two at least fancies himself to be a police officer — or, worse yet, if the person really is one, that spells trouble in your situation.

    Get away and get help with the fallout, says me.

    • Good point about HC’s kids. They have agency too, so model good things and be the sane parent.

  • Sounds like she’s got a lot of things to work out and living along would probably be a good thing for her – not that she will do it and not that it helps you at all.

    What I have found in my post-Chump life is that it matters how “ready” both parties are. If not mature enough, not settled down enough, not independent enough…it’s never going to work. Finding someone who is in the same spot as you and desires the same things as you is the recipe for avoiding all of this bullshit. I’m sorry she wasn’t that person, take the advice and focus on you and your kids and what you want out of a partner and wish her good luck in finding out who she is – she’s got a long way to go and you don’t want to go through that.

  • She’s 31. 31 is too old to say “I’m like this because my daddy didn’t love me.” 31 says “I’m a grown-up and what I do is *my choice* and *my responsibility*.”

  • No.

    I know for a fact that being the child of a cheater doesn’t make you a cheater. How do I know? I AM an affair baby. And guess what – I was not the one who cheated. Cheating is absolutely disgusting to me in every single way. I was very clear with my dirtbag cheater-pants from the beginning of our relationship that I hated cheating and would much rather end the relationship and walk away rather than cheating. I was clear from the beginning that ending the relationship based on truth is what I would always want. I was very clear about how much being cheated on would hurt me and damage me. Didn’t stop him for picking up a ‘porn habit’ and getting a blow job from a prostitute.

    So, no – having a parent that is a cheater doesn’t make you a cheater. I doesn’t make cheating more acceptable. Being a terrible, horrible, dreadful person makes one a cheater.

    • That gives me hope. My oldest child is an affair child (cheater lied for over 14 years about her paternity to me). She takes after her mother. Worries me so much.

  • Thanks for these words. I filed for and now have my divorce (Feb. 26!). I am moving on but the “why” questions linger. You don’t want to think you could be with such a monster but I was. I put up with her bad behavior and one day she decided to have an affair, maybe more than one. It doesn’t matter why. It matters tomrealize that they just didn’t care about you and did it.

    • Good for you and your kids for filing for divorce. As for “why” it will linger but don’t dwell on it. I’m just about 2 years out from my divorce and the why is slowly fading away. He cheated because he wanted to just as your soon to be ex did. They can make up their story to rationalize why they cheated but in the end they just did it because they could. Nothing earth shattering or an “Aha” moment, they are who they are cheaters with no consideration for us.

  • I know it feels like kicking a puppy who has already been kicked. No chump wants to be that person! No chump could possibly do that.

    You have to understand that abusers are not helpless puppies. They are humans with the capacity and willingness to hurt you.

    The only viable response is to take yourself out of their reach.

  • When I was 22 I graduated from college, got a full time job, and got my own apartment. I also formally took responsibility for my own life and the consequences of my decisions.

    Until I graduated I was under my parents’ rule. They were paying from my schooling and supporting my, so I had to live by their rules. In a lot of ways, at 19, 20, and 21 I felt that I was being treated like I was 15. My dad in particular was very authoritarian, and if I didn’t do things his way there was hell to pay. Needless to say, I didn’t have much of a social life, I was incredibly foolish around other people, and whenever something went horribly wrong (it happened all too often) I blamed my overbearing parents.

    But at 22 and supporting myself I said, aloud, “From now on I take responsibility for my decisions. If something goes wrong I will not place the blame on others; I will do what’s proper to fix it. But if something goes right I will give credit to the people who taught me right, starting with my parents who still did a lot of things right despite the problems that resulted.

    Where am I going with this? Just here: Anyone past high school age who is no longer living with his or her parents needs to BE the adult that he or she looks like. Screwing around and blaming your parents, at age 30, means your body has gotten older but your brain hasn’t grown up. The only one responsible for fixing the problem is the one acting like the kid.

    • This is simply false. You don’t know what anyone else’s situation is, and blaming their inability to “be the adult they look like” purely on their own lack of character is fallacious. In this particular instance, using parents as an excuse to cheat makes no sense. In other contexts, the shit that happens in life IS, IN FACT, OTHER PEOPLE’S FAULT and “working on yourself” and “taking responsibility” only makes things worse and allows people who’ve been badly hurt to take the blame for their own victimization.

      Is this hard? Yes. Does it make what this particular woman did any less awful? No. But “take personal responsibility because that’s how things get solved” is BS.

      • Whoa. Slow down. I am NOT preaching falsehood. I’m sorry, but you’re just overreacting to what you think I said.

        I said I take responsibility for MY decisions and their consequences. I’m not taking responsibility for the incubus’ lying, abusive behavior. He tried to make me take the blame but I had to stop taking responsibility for what he did.

        What you’re not seeing is that yes, shit happens to us which other people cause. But how we respond to that shit is what’s really important.

        Before I married the incubus there were little nagging things that just didn’t make sense. But I chose to be optimistic and ignore them. That was my choice and my mistake. No one could fix it but me.

        Once we were married he played me for a while, making promises, telling me that I needed to be more respectful of him, be a better wife. But I finally realized that the harder I tried, the uglier he got. And that’s when I stood up and said this ends now.

        You seem to believe that “taking responsibility for your decisions” means beating yourself to a pulp over things you didn’t cause. That’s so wrong. Taking responsibility means deciding to respect yourself and take action to get out of the mess you’re in.

        You can’t fix the cheater. You have to focus on fixing you.

        • MLM Radar, thanks for such a compassionate reply. You’re right, I did have a knee-jerk reaction to what I thought you said–I thought you were expanding “this 30-year-old is blaming her parents when she need to work on herself” into “…because working on yourself is always the solution when something in your life goes wrong.” (This was what I thought for a long time, especially before finding CN, and as you can imagine it led to a whole lot of “fixing myself” into a giant hellhole of fuckuppedness.) But of course, that doesn’t make sense in this community: everyone here is about NOT blaming yourself for what other people did, because refusing to do that allows you to be MORE responsible in your choices going forward.

          In fact, after I posted, I found out there’s actually research on this. Abuse victims who self-blame for their past abuse tend to feel less empowered in the present…whereas those who are able to blame the abusers not only become more empowered in their own choices, but are less likely to perpetuate the cycle of abuse. Chump Nation is obviously a good example of that principle in action. Maybe it even gives hope to the letter writer’s wife–if she can blame her father not for her choices, but for his own, it will help her recovery and make her less likely to follow his example.

          • On behalf of the Universe, a giant shout-out to MLM Radar and DC who in the space of two posts each just modeled the absolute pinnacle of grace and humility.

            We learn from each other. It is an enduring delight.

  • “She doesn’t know who she is. She loves me, but, get this, she isn’t in love with me anymore! She wants to try and live life on her own. Figure out who she is. She doesn’t want to be with anyone. Doesn’t want a relationship. Which was all lying cheater speak for I want to fuck around”

    Hoosier- Dude! This must be ‘THE’ go-to, fundamentalist Mindfuck line from the chapter, “What to tell your spouse When Caught”!!!!! STBXWW went through this VERBATIM.

    I’m So working towards the Indifferent Meh theses first 20 folks are advising. I see it in their words. Heed the advice,…” that if you stay with Her, SHE WILL FUCK YOU UP!”

    Get away, Implement NC and go 180. The sooner the better

  • The argument about nature vs nurture has been going on since someone invented the word “psychology”. It does not matter. You have kids who have a screwed up mother. Focus on them. Nothing you do is going to change her. She found “daddy” in a 50 year old cop. Stop asking the “what, why, when, how” questions. Her brain really is different than yours. She can’t answer you because she can’t.

    • I really like what chump lady said the other day, any interaction with these people is like beating a dead horse. And it really is! Even thinking about wtf is like beating a dead horse. How did an otherwise healthy horse just drop dead? Who knows?! But its dead alright.

  • Not that it matters, but upbringing is no predictor of whether or not someone will cheat. People cheat because they have bad character, which can come from any background.
    In my case, I had a rough childhood, and was at one point abandoned by my parents when I was a teenager. My own father was not faithful to at least one of his wives. I did not cheat. I chose not to.
    My ex grew up in a loving middle-class home with 2 parents, plenty of love, and a supportive extended family. She was a serial cheater.

    As the CL says, though, none of it matters. It really is best not to figure them out.

  • My STBX came from a upper middle class home. Parents still married, go to church every Sunday, pay their taxes, etc. By all “appearances” they are the model American family, but as we know appearance can be deceiving. If you ask my STBX, he would tell you he had the perfect childhood.

    I on the other hand came from a divorced family, spent age 5-7 in foster care (taken away from my mothers abusive 2nd husband). My dad was an alcoholic and was ordered to stop drinking to get my sister and I back. He did, I’ve never so much as seen him take a sip of alcohol in my life.

    My STBX is a serial cheater, uses prositutes, rages and belittles our children. Has a high paying job and by “appearances” seems successful. My 19 year old daughter just told me last night she ended up in tears at lunch with him this weekend, because he doesn’t understand the word “no” or what respecting boundaries looks like.

    I made a lot of mistakes as a teen. Got involved with the wrong crowd, went through hard core rebellion. Raised by a single dad who was just making ends meet. I finally got my shit together as I approached adulthood. I looked at my behavior and my life and made a conscious choice about the kind of person I wanted to be.

    The irony of all of this is that I played into the societal stereotypes that say “bad childhoods equal unhealthy adults.” STBX used these stereotypes as evidence that his abusive behavior was a result of “my problems from childhood.” Which of course is what abusers do (took lots of therapy to undertand that).

    I firmly believe people choose who they want to be without making excuses. Undertanding our own issues can only help us undertand, but it is not some magic potion for reliance on who you become – that is ultimately a choice!

    Playing into societal stereotypes can become a self fulfilling prophecy and put you at a disadvantage “she must cheat because of what her father did” is a bunch of bullshit. I do understand why you want to believe that, because if her actions are about something that’s beyond her conscious control, then you can feel bad for her and lessen the anger at the wrong you’ve suffered. There MUST be a reason right? Yes, and that reason is because that’s who she chose to be.

    I don’t discount that children who’ve witnessed a cheating parent, are forced to reconcile in their minds some sort of compartmentalized view of cheating, but their fate to become a cheater isn’t written by that.

    Why do we all love the underdog story? It’s because it shows the power choice. Que “Rudy, “The Blind Side,” etc. There are so many things we don’t control, but what we do control is who we chose to be, cheaters and chumps are no different.

  • You are a chump and it probably has something to do with your parents. Does it matter? No. What matters is you are trying to do the right thing now. You are seeking answers and trying to change.

    Hold her to that same standard. She is stuck in blame mode. She doesn’t care.

    Time to work on yourself, move on and set a better example for your kids. You can stop the cycle but you can’t change her.

  • Hoosier, I’m glad you are rid of your cheater and I hope your young children are doing well in spite of their narcissistic, entitled, selfish mother.

    Your story reminds me of two things about my story:
    1) My mother cheated on my dad using the same excuse “ …the way her dad treated her when she was young truly fucked her up” and she sure “used it as an excuse to be a scumbag cheater”.

    She always has to be the center of attention. She was lucky (from her point of view, that is, because my dad gave her a very comfortable life) that my dad was very religious and marriage had to be respected at all costs. The result of this choice is that he died a very, very lonely, sad man, who in his 80s realized that his life had lost its meaning because he really could not love my mother. I cry for him every day.

    By the way, he raised a daughter who was not his. In your place I would get a DNA test for my kids.

    2) My ex-H’s father was a scumbag, he cheated on my mother-in-law for decades, gave her STDs. He was “a family man” so he did his cheating during business hours. Or he would take three of his kids to a “club” to “play soccer” for an entire weekend.

    My MIL spackled her way along life. She was an excellent accountant and could have found a job, but I think she didn’t have the guts to give up an upper middle class lifestyle.

    But then scumbag FIL ran into to a very sly schmoopie. My FIL bullied my MIL, who was then in her 60s, into signing papers, funneled family resources to this AP and in the process ruined his successful business and died depending on the incomes of some of his sons and daughters-in-law (like this chump’s) to survive. Always proud and imperious.

    At the time this sly flatter fuck came around I was living with my MIL on weekends. On Fridays I would invariably find her with notices for unpaid bills and actually hungry! for lack of financial support. I would report this to my cheater husband and BILs and they would ignore me or even call me crazy and hysterical (an early red flag that I ignored).

    My MIL died idealizing this scumbag husband: “He would take me to such-and-such a spa”, “he would hold my hand at the movies”, “but this woman came along and turned his head”.

    None of my BILs or ex-H ever reflected about their father’s character and entitlement. In one way or the other, ALL of my seven BILs and my ex-H are entitled bastards who have cheated on wives, relatives, friends, employees and/or employers in one way or another.

    So I make sure my sons understand and reflect about this.

    • How did he know the daughter wasn’t his? I suspected right away, but was lied to and gas lighted. But I am into genealogy and wanted to an Ancestry DNA test on my kids. Then the truth came out. I am at that crossroads. I have been raising another mans child. I love her like my own, but after this came out my “daughter” has been treating me mean like her mother. I don’t want to end up like your father. I did a DNA test on my son, he is my biological child. My heart breaks for your father.

      • Sir,
        My Dad was the hors concours chump of Chump Nation: besides cheating on him with another man, my mom tricked him into marrying her stating she was pregnant. For fear of God and his family he married her.

        My dad was an engineer, synchronized generators with substations using a slide ruler in the pre-computer days, but he could not (or would not) count to nine: I was born 11 months after they married.

        If my dad asked me once, he asked me a million times if I thought my mother loved him. And now I get to your questions: every now and then dad would tell me he was sure this daughter was not his because he and my mother were not having sex when said daughter was conceived. In addition, a good friend who was always at our house suddenly disappeared. And this sister looks just like him and nothing at all like my dad. NOTHING. She is too tall, too blonde, eyes are too blue, hair is too curly. She sticks out like popped corn in a pile of coffee grains. My other sisters and I are so alike and also so alike our paternal cousins that people stop us on the street to ask if we are related or start talking to us as if we were the other.

        My mother is furious with me (talk about blameshifting), she says she had a DNA test made and it proves that this sister is my father’s daughter. But she has never shown it to me (if I were her I would rub it in my face) and I would not be surprised if she forged something, she is a master manipulator and image manager and can charm anyone. She arrives late to every single commitment just to see anxious people celebrating her finally showing up. Just like Hoosier’s Michele becoming friends with the bank police officer, she has tricks for everyone… So if you have a DNA test, please be sure all samples are taken with a chain of custody or at least without cheater’s interference at any level.

        I feel sorry for this sister (who, BTW did the same thing to her ex-husband, they are divorced), but as CL says, people have agency and they don’t need to cheat and abuse to right the wrongs in their lives.

        If you met my mother, you would love her and like her. She was beautiful too. I half-jokingly say I’m lucky she was trying to be a good woman when she was raising me.

        One last thing: doubt causes psychosis, disorganises ones ideas. Doubt always lingers in the air and it was bad for this sister (chronically unemployed, jumps from one project and boyfriend to another, etc., etc.) and bad for her son (37 and has never worked a day in his life, owes $, steals, has been in and out of straight shirts an drugs since he was a teenager).

        I swear certain gene products can be smelled; baboons are promiscuous and female offspring only take care of siblings that share the same father and they can tell by the smell associated with certain genes; I could never stand to be near this sister when I was pregnant and nursing, her smell would make me puke. I used to feel so guilty until I understood this.

        Good luck and a hug for your daughter.

  • Just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for their replies. I know what I need to do. I need to be the best parent I can be for my two boys. They need me now more than ever to be the one that they can depend on.

    My biggest fear, like so many others, is my kids being exposed to the countless men that I know are soon to come into and out of their lives. I know from reading and rereading the stories on this blog over the past month that there isn’t much I can do about it except eat that shit sandwich.

    CL and CN has helped me grow a pair. Reading others responses on stories has showed me I’m not alone in what happened to me. And seeing that other people have not only come out the other side of their ordeal fine, but in most cases even better than they were before.

    The unfortunate part of my situation is that until the divorce is final, and it’s moving along quickly, I’m stuck living with her. She REFUSES to leave. Telling me she’s not going anywhere until court ordered. We live separately in the same house. Her upstairs and I downstairs. If one of us is home the other tries not to be.

    To add a bit to her story, she’s taken up the habit of drinking a bit. She’s gone from being an absolute lightweight, and by that I mean two beers used to be enough to get her drunk, to now going out with her new boyfriend and drinking. She’s come home some mornings from spending the night with him and I can tell she’s hung over. And she looks rough. There’s even a bottle of vodka and a bottle of cranberry juice that sit on the counter slowly disappearing. I keep telling myself I don’t know who this woman is. And I don’t. This is the real her now. This is not the woman that I made a family with. That I made a life with. I feel as though for the last 10 years she played good housewife for as long as she could. The real her is here now. The mask has come off and I’m finally seeing her for who she really is.

    • “I’m stuck living with her. She REFUSES to leave. Telling me she’s not going anywhere until court ordered. We live separately in the same house. ”
      Hoosier, ugh, this was my situation as well. It was nearly five months before I was able to move out of the marital home. It was the most awful time of my life; no way to start healing while you are living with the cheater. I kept as busy as possible: took tennis lessons, spent time with friends, went to DivorceCare, looked for a job. Staying busy helps.

      You are correct. The wife you are seeing now is the real her. She managed to pretend for ten years — my ex pretended for 20 — but eventually, the disordered are unable to keep up the mask and the real person inside is revealed.

      Her father did not make her cheat. She chose to do that all on her own. And it’s almost guaranteed she’ll eventually cry and try to get you back once again, just as soon as she temporarily runs out of boyfriends. PLEASE PLEASE do not give her another chance. She’s not going to change, no matter how much she tries to convince you she will.

    • I strongly encourage you to document her drinking and her behavior. Make a positive of the shared living situation… if she comes home drunk get a video of her with her car keys in her hand coming in the door… if she’s passed out drunk photo document… document, document, document. If she’s drunk and verbally abusing you, video it. One could argue child endangerment in light of her new behavior. You might have been handed the golden ticket to limit her visitation to SUPERVISED visits only… talk to your lawyer!

    • Document everything she does! Save emails and text. It may come in handy in court. Prepare for the worst. People like this do not like to lose and will do all sorts of crazy. Good luck!

    • Hugs to you, I know it sucks. I still live with my Cheater (separate lives) only because he would get joint custody and unsupervised visitation. While I doubt he would touch the children, his family has turned a blind eye to child molestation (both he and his sister were molested, his mother knew and still actively talks to one of the people who molested him). First time I kicked him out, he went straight to his parents and would absolutely move in with them and have my kids over there, even after his mother tried to take them out of town to go to a ‘family reunion’ that included the molester. Cheater thought I was over reacting by not allowing my children to go and not allowing my mother-in-law to be alone with the children. I’m now just to buying time until I am sure the kids’ wishes will be taken into consideration for custody and they won’t be forced to ‘obey daddy’ and hang out with grandma the molester apologist.

      So, I know what it like to be living in purgatory. The good thing – your time is almost up! Hang in there!

    • I’m so sorry. I lived in the same house for a year and 1 week with the Ass. It was HELL! Worse than learning that my life had been a lie for 25 years with serial cheaters double life. Worse than anything in my life; and I had a crazy childhood. He refused to leave and I couldn’t afford to. I was cut off financially, but eventually was allowed to buy things for the kids if I turned in the receipts to him. I was forbidden to speak to a lawyer, was tracked on my phone. (He of course had consulted with 3 lawyers I learned later.) He started drinking like crazy, stopped hiding his porn habit (literally twice jerkng off completely naked in front of me with a cold stare of hatred displaying his ipad porn. (Our daughter home in her room) drunk threatened me physically, demanded sex and damn near raped me once when drunk, punched things, then would be sticky-sweet and want to talk about my feelings, next day verbally accosting me saying I’d never see my kids again IN FRONT OF THEM! I want to go back in time and do what I should have done, which is call the police and get an attorney. I was frozen with fear. Intimately this is why I walked away from the things and the money.

      I worry that her drinking will get worse and worse because it is such a tense situation living in the same house; even for the cheater. Ass was drinking and driving like crazy too. She may very well start that up also.

      I’m so sorry! Stay strong. It is so amazing when you are away from that… during the hell you’re just in survival mode. It’s like holding your breath and the finally, you can take a breath. May your divorce go quickly–

    • Hoosier —

      I lived with my 43-year old “regressing back to a teenager” ex-wife for 10 full months after throwing the hammer down, because she refused to leave. She wasted no time — she started “going out with friends” several times a week, often saying “good night and I’ll see you in the morning” to our pre-teen daughters as the three of us were eating dinner. She “visited relatives” overnight while I stayed home and was the present parent. She went away on a long weekend to NYC and ended up hospitalized for excessive alcohol consumption.

      You’re right — it IS the shit sandwich that we must eat. It’s also them demonstrating who they are to your children and to the rest of the world. You must continue on, as if the eyes of the court are on you at all times, being the safe and sane parent. And you MUST MUST MUST document everything she’s doing in as much excruciating detail as you can.

      Yes, it may never see the light of day, or not count for much in practical terms, once it gets to the courtroom stage. But you MUST do this — your attorney will thank you, and you will thank yourself if you ever find yourself wanting to untangle the skein and figure out just WTF went wrong with her. It will serve as a vivid reminder of the toxicity you’re leaving behind.

      (And . . . I was a Hoosier for 9 years, mid-80s to mid-90s. )

  • I never cheated either.
    However, I got involved with the narc after the split up and that whole psychological abuse led me to finding out about what the heck is going on with these kind of people.

    For years and years now I’ve made excuses about STBXH who has cheated on me our entire 38 year marriage the last four of which we have not been living together.

    I spent a lifetime – a partial lifetime -talking explaining working with trying to help him see that there is a better way than what he was choosing.

    But now I am starting to come to terms with actually what happened with my serial cheating soon to be ex covert narc who I was married to for such a long time.

    Here’s how chumpy I am – I thought that OK we’re going to split up and we’re going to have an amicable situation and be reasonable with each other because we’ve been in this relationship for so long.

    I forgot that the selfish bastard who he is isn’t going to change magically just because were getting a divorce.

    Now he’s guilt tripping and manipulating the adult kids probably because he’s afraid there’s not gonna be anybody to take care of him when he gets old.

    God knows what he told them about me. They of course are not wanting to engage in any discussion and it’s not fair to them for me to engage. They have been harmed also by the cheater covert narc.

    Now I know I have to put my divorce plan together and its somewhat complicated because now I see that I have to use all the leverage I have to make a situation that is going to work out well for me. But now I’m ready to do it.

    Still some of the humiliation of what happened to me during our marriage is surfacing and it sure doesn’t feel very good. Like a constant gas lighting having affairs with “our” friends and then both pretending that they’re not when all the time they know it but I don’t. What a chump I was.

    But that will give me fuel for holding my ground during the divorce when he’s going to play poor poor victim.

    So appreciate the straight talk here.

    • Langele your story is so similar to mine. I also have to eat the shit sandwich with our kids and unfortunately they both show some of his lying and cheating behaviours. It’s not how I raised them but their dad’s influence shows. My ex cheated with a friend( maybe many who knows) but then begged to stay, to steal our life savings. Please protect yourself financially. I didn’t and lost my life savings. Luckily there was money in real estate he couldn’t get his greedy mitts on. Starting over at 57 is tough…

  • My dad was a lying, cheating, raging alcoholic. I remember the day when I was holding/rocking my beautiful,infant son and I started crying to myself. I was thinking about how horrible it will be when he grows up and hates me because I am a lying, cheating, raging alcoholic like my father (cause children of messed up parents follow in their footsteps etc…). And then I was like….but wait…I don’t have to be that person. It sounds stupid to say it now but it was really a lightening bolt moment back then.

    25 years later I can tell you I was true to that and am not a liar, a cheater, and I rarely drink alcohol. Unfortunately I switched one trauma bond for another and ended up with a (sigh) lying, cheating, raging alcoholic. Thank God I am free now and finally living the peaceful life I always craved.

    Please move on – there is a better life waiting for you and your kids and all of you deserve it.

  • My dad was a cheating scumbag who eventually left my mom for one of his OW. He wasn’t much interested in me or my brothers as we grew up, and his OWife resented us tremendously.

    I have never cheated; not on my first cheater husband, not on my current NONcheater husband. Nor have either of my brothers cheated, as far as I know. Happy, solid marriages for both of them.

    Unless the wife in the letter had a gun held to her head as she balled other guys, she was entirely in charge of her actions. She did what she did because she wanted to do it. There is really no other reason, no matter how much chumps try to invent one.

  • “Why do you put so much value on people who don’t value you?”


    I have done that all my life.

    I just felt a shift in my whole perspective.

    • Here’s for shifts in perspective! I am the daughter of a bipolar paranoid suicidal man who would threaten us with his death and drive off to kill himself several times a year (he finally did kill himself, at 72). I used to wake up in the morning and say to myself, “am I ok, or should I kill myself today?” I so clearly remember the moment in therapy when I realized the most people don’t assess themselves every day with “live” or “kill myself” as the two poles of the spectrum. It was a freeing moment, when I realized I could take “kill myself” off the table.
      Like WhoAmINow and Sunflower 36, we don’t have to be those people.

  • Very important lesson learned, on this topic, from first marriage, to smart, sexy, loving, ALCOHOLIC;

    – you can, and must, leave people who consistently hurt you, even when you love them, and you know they love you, and you have a great deal of compassion for why they’re so messed up.

    Very important lessons learned, on this topic, from second marriage, to smart, sexy, not so loving CHEATER NARC;

    – sounding like they share your values does not mean they actually share your values.
    – saying they love you and the kids doesn’t actually mean they do, or even that they are capable of anything you would call love.
    – you can’t love people out of their misery and unhappiness, nor love them into being better people.
    – you can, and must, leave people who consistently hurt you, even when you love them, and you have a great deal of compassion for why they’re so messed up.

    Too soon old, too late smart.

  • I have come to the sad realization that some people are unable to change because they have a personality disorder that was caused by an abusive, dysfunctioal childhood. My stbx is one of those people. His thinking is so distorted that he truly has a distorted sense of right and wrong and cannot see himself with even a hint of objectivity. The only time he is acted like a decent, loving person was during the first 15 years of our marriage, and it was an act, not who he really is. It is true that at some point we have to stop trying to figure out why they behave they way they do and put the focus back on our own needs and life. Who cares why they do it! It hurts others, and it isn’t acceptable in my life! Ypu can’t fix broken people.

    • This exactly for my ex too, and I can almost confirm it as he is the only fruit of a single parent who exhibits narcopathic dysfunctional abusive distorted sense of entitlement, projection deflection, gas-lighting and just full on deceitful mother. Her MO was medicate him to keep him quiet (10 years) then move him away (8 years) when he wont stay medicated. Damage done. I really thought I could have helped my ex and maybe even his mom, but FOO. Moral character is definitely a choice, I am adopted, the unwanted product of a bad decision, my adopted dad was a raging alcoholic (and cheater) and my adopted mom (2 time chump) was in complete denial. Surprisingly I didn’t make any of these bad decisions….some moral character choices are less fun and more work then others.

  • Hoosier, I hope you are done with her now. Get that divorce. Fight for custody, because otherwise your kiddos will have a tough time growing up healthy.

    Turn your eyes toward your cheater-free future.

  • I’ve said this about a lot of people in my life before I was chumped, and it has never rung truer than in being cheated upon.

    “Everyone has a backstory.”

    Seriously, everyone does. You can find a thread to follow to psychoanalytically explain why anyone is the way they are, be it their mom’s homemade bread which embarassed you at lunch, they were always the smart one and running into failure was too much for them, or the school where they felt like an imposter. You have one. I have one. Your ex has one.

    Everyone has a backstory. But there comes a point where I don’t care about your backstory. I am just taking your behavior at face value and judging you on that. And if your behavior is shitty, then I think you’re shitty. You had a bad childhood? I don’t care. You made a choice to behave in this way, and I am basing my view of you on your behavior.

    Being chumped brought this home so hard. I don’t care that his mother died a few years ago. I don’t care that he didn’t feel like his needs were being met. I don’t care that he felt inadequate because I made more money. He cheated. He treated me like shit. And that’s not okay with me.

    So think of it like that. Everyone has a backstory. And there comes a point where you don’t give a shit about their backstory. They are behaving like an asshole and that’s just not okay.

    • Swear to God, I know someone whose backstory reason for consistent, terrible, injurious decision-making was he was embarrassed about his UNIBROW.

      Cannot make this shit up.

  • While reading these posts I was reminded of something my Dad would tell us when we would bring someone home that seemed to be a “fixer upper”. He would say, “You can’t raise someone up, they will only drag YOU down.” In other words, you will end up pretzeling yourself and bending your own set of standards till you are just like them! You cannot “fix” people. They must fix themselves. And looking back at some of the choices my siblings made I can attest to the fact that my Dad was right. I have one sibling who married her fixer upper and she has had nothing but misery from him. She stays now because of “sunk costs!” I have another sibling who canned her spouse for cheating, but it ruined her financially. My Ex was considered one of the “good guys” and even he ended up a loser, cheater. Bottom line is, I guess, decide what you are willing to live with and put up with for the duration of your life and decide if it’s something YOU can live with. Personally I believe that cheating is the ultimate deal breaker and your life will NOT improve. In most cases it only gets worse. I say kick them to the curb immediately and run for the hills! Save yourself!

  • Also, my cheater’s dad was a cheater who took my stbx on his dates with his girlfriends sometimes when stbx was a boy. It really isn’t surprising that my stbx involvedour kids in his affair and asked them to keep secrets from me. Role modeling is powerful stuff. But yes, it is possible to choose differently, but very difficult for broken, messed-up, mentally ill people with personality disorders.

  • Bottom line Hoosier:
    Is this cheater mom going to take full responsibility for fucking up BOTH of her own sons the way she says her dad did to her? I mean really…if THAT is her excuse for her bad character, then it only stands to reason that she will, and you must, by extension, excuse these children if they also grow up and become just as screwed up.

    At some point, we have to stop playing the “pin the tail on the donkey” game and make our own decisions regarding our own moral choices. No excuses by using our parents failures once we are grown adults. At least you can use your wife as a visual example to your sons of what a donkey’s ass looks like.

  • She equates love with pain? Bullshit, she doesn’t know what love is, but she gets off on strange dick and fucking you over. That is the truth and she will never change. Sorry man. I’m 4 months into the divorce and the attempts to still fuck me over just for the thrill of it would be shocking if I didn’t know what subhuman trash she is. Good luck.

  • I don’t believe we should spend our time trying to figure out the “why” when we we are well aware of “what” they have done. I spent far too much time trying to analyze my cheater and it was a big waste of time. He cheated because he wanted to! Period, end of story! His justifications were weak and made no sense at all! I admit that it is something we all probably do, but in hindsight it would be of more benefit to get on with a divorce and leave the cheater behind. I know it’s easier said than done, but you cannot fix them. Better to work on yourself and a healthy future than to try to help a loser that doesn’t really want you or your help. If they honestly feel that they have found their “soul mate” then let them have at it. It won’t be long before they have a whole harem of “soul mates”, but you will be free and better for it! Now, hand me my popcorn! Their shit show is about to begin and I love a good comedy.

    • I love your comment Roberta. I feel mean saying it but I am so looking forward to the shit show. My Cheater explained that his OW has “only” had a few other affairs with married men and has “only” been divorced twice–yet somehow he believes it is the wonderfulness of him that she is attracted to and not, as I think, his wallet. Pass the popcorn my way.

      • Springfield 528, I’ll buy the big box! The shitstorm in their lives inevitably happens whether it’s obvious to us Chumps or not. My Ex returned after his fantasy life crumbled before his eyes. Then you hear them say even more ridiculous crap. I sat and laughed my butt off while he whined about how “everything went to shit!” What do these morons think will happen? It’s all just a matter of time.

  • Now I would give my kids the advice before they marry never to marry someone from an abusive or dysfunctional family. (This includes cheater parents.) Never. Only marry those from strong, loving, healthy, respectful families who share similiar values. My stbx hated his dysfunctional, abusive family, especially his narc, wife-beating, alcoholic, cheater father and told me never wanted to be like him. Still, as stbx aged and the marriage progressed, he became in many ways just like his dad. The way people are raised is very powerful, and abuse and dysfunction is passed down through the generations.

    • Gosh – hate to burst the bubble here but my ex seemed to come from a great family while I came from the bad family. Turns out his mom is probably a bit of a narc but two out of three kids are okay and mom and dad never cheated or hurt each other (their marriage is over 60 plus years strong and the younger two kids have been married for decades too).

      Anyone can turn into a selfish, entitled piece of poo and God only knows how it happens. But it’s not our job to figure it out and instead we need to learn how to build impenetrable boundaries for when we meet these pod people (so we can run far, far away lol) and live our lives the best way we can.


      • I think it is a bit of a roll of the dice. My angry, alcoholic, cheater father was important to me as a little girl, I really wanted his love, and I grew up to be completely faithful to my mate. I knew I didn’t want his bad traits, and consciously worked to be better than that!
        My X had this father that loved a good con, disrespected women, and thought he was better than everyone (and I’m convinced he cheated too). Over time, he started behaving like his father. It took decades, but the influence gave X the OK to behave in horrible ways. He wasn’t like that in the beginning, but he got there.
        Hoosier, the thing I wanted to say to you is- it wasn’t something you did. I hope you’re not examining your life to see if you caused her to spin out and start abusing you (cheating and lying = abuse). She did it because she has big internal problems, and is really selfish. You did not cause that, and you couldn’t fix it.
        You’re the good guy here.
        Bless you, and the kids! Be strong!

    • Alas, if everyone followed that advice then our own dear children would be shunned because they come from dysfunctional families with a cheater parent. I hope and pray that my little ones turn out to be adults of fine character, but having a Cheating Dad does statistically place them at higher risk of being a cheater, chump or Other Man/Woman and it keeps me awake at night. No easy answers or solutions, alas…

  • My ex spent the last half of our marriage screwing around with a guy at work and hiding a bunch of money.

    I wasted time trying to untangle the skein as well. I looked at her family history too. And I got every ridiculous excuse in the book until it finally came to “I’m not happy” “Don’t you want to be happy?” and ridiculous gibberish like that.

    I finally reached the conclusion that there is no logical reason or something that would make sense. A rational reason simply doesn’t exist and it’s hard to come to peace with anything until you realize that. I know – it’s much easier said than done – I took forever myself. But once you figure this out, it helps you immensely on reaching a conclusion – it’s all just sheer idiocy.

  • I had people try to make excuses for him because of his family.

    My mother was a cheater. My father was a cheater. She has a host of untreated mental illnesses and is a narc and a Hoarder. He had a host of untreated mental illnesses and was an emotionally and physically absent parent.

    I’ve never cheated on a partner. Never. The family screwed you up BS is exactly that BS.

  • Hoosier………the less time you spend trying to understand why this happened to you the better! It really is the biggest waste of time ever. Not one reason will make sense. Not one reason will bring clarity. Not one reason will stop it from happening again. Not one reason will make it ok. I spent far too much time on this myself and I never got clarification or felt better after obsessing.

    Instead, focus your time on thoughts of your new cheater-free life. Picture what it will look like. Think about your children and what they will need to thrive in a split family. Write down what you consider to be stable family life rules and let that guide you when things get rough co-parenting with your cheater ex. Leave your ex out of the equation. She will have her own life and her own house rules and she is not a good decision maker (clearly) and shouldn’t be expected to think logically and make good decisions regarding your children. Make decisions without her when possible. Stick to your guidelines, it’s less stressful.

    Most importantly, move on from trying to figure her out. It will NEVER happen.

  • The “I love you, but I’m not in-love w/you” line just cracks me up. When I first heard that line after she finally confessed about the affair (after denying it for weeks), I almost wanted to ask, “yeah, you love me, but you love him between your legs more than me, right?”

    And do our exes who cheat on us w/other people who themselves have cheated never bother to think that the OM/OW will one day cheat on them? Wow, whatever “reality” drug you’re on, I’m glad I’m not on it, cause I live in the real world where people are accountable for their actions.

  • Timely. My son said to me that he thinks that he will become like his father. I said he is not his father and has choices.
    My son is torn between his desire to admire / hero-worship his father and his absolute disgust and fury at what he sees his father doing. He is also disgusted by the women that are involved.
    I can’t say that we are not influenced by our parents…of course we are. It takes a very self aware person to reflect on themselves and make the improvements. I find the people who do best when confronted with messed up parents are the ones who see them as individuals and divorce their identity from their parents.

  • CheatedOn, I agree! That tired line of BS is just that…..BS! My Ex told me that almost immediately after first sleeping with Schmoopie. I was made to feel like I was a “maintenance issue!” Like some old spinster aunt who needs rides to the dr, and grocery store or needs an allowance to survive. I think it’s just a mindfuck and a play on words. Sounds good, but doesn’t really mean shit! Just another shitty justification!

    • Yes
      The stbxh
      made me feel unlovely too. It’s not true but bought the lie for years.

      He who is an unintelligent bore and not a good lover either- not very handsome or skilled. But good at being sick for 3-4 days whever there’s a golf tournament on the tv. And what a complainer to boot.

      Not missing that action.

      I would have but now, no. Makes me feel happy.

  • I believe that the influence your FOO has on you is very real, but you have the choice to do something about that influence. If you think they did things right, you can emulate them. Wrong? Change it, try something different. Most of my family members had both good and bad traits and characteristics. I had to decide who I wanted to be. The hardest thing I had to overcome was determining what “normal” was — there were some really awful things that seemed “normal” or maybe “familiar” to me. I had to actively reject those things, because I came to believe they were not good for me. That took work, but I feel much better now. Change is work.
    Being an observant soul, you can look at another person’s FOO issues if you know the family and their circumstances. You cannot trust the “stories” they tell, because they may be spinning the story, and acting like they were completely without blame. But even if you can see the bad influence in their FOO, it is still THEIR responsibility to change it. Don’t get stuck in a game of “Yes, But” with them. Yes, daddy was an alcoholic, and statistically they have a greater chance of being alcoholic, too (my understanding, anyway, I haven’t conducted tests!), BUT they can choose not to drink, or seek counsel if they see “stinking thinking” in their own attitudes. They are not doomed to replicate. So don’t accept the YES, daddy was alcoholic, and I could change, BUT I am genetically weak. That is the problem they must come to terms with. It is not your place to fix it. Don’t try to convince someone about how to clean up their mess by cleaning it up for them. If they have a hangover, they need to endure it. If they get sick, they need to clean it up. If they don’t have clean laundry, they need to go to the laundry. If they lose their job, they won’t have money. Disengage from the fix-it game. That is not healthy for you.
    My dad is a “secret” drinker — I didn’t know for years. My mother was a trained enabler. I finally figured it out. I might have a drink every now and again, and enjoy it. I am not an alcoholic. I had to learn NOT to enable other people’s behavior’s, though. My FOO’s ways of dealing with things were a powerful influence, but I chose my own destiny. I learned about alcoholism, I learned about enabling behavior, I learned that my initial social programming was “off” base. I worked hard to change myself in ways that were acceptable to me. It was much easier when I gave up trying to fix others. Some people are broken beyond repair. If they won’t make the effort — why should you? No one is fixed if you allow yourself to be overburdened by someone else’s problem. Hard Lesson — but very healthy to learn.

  • An alcoholic father had two sons. One son looked at his father and decided to become an alcoholic too. The other son looked at his father and said ‘I’ll never touch alcohol.’

  • A professor was caught cheating with his student. We were discussing the situation over lunch. A colleague said ‘but how could he be so stupid?’ Second colleague shrugs. ‘People in love are stupid. Don’t you remember when you fell in love? Do you remember being stupid?’ First colleague: ‘No… yeah, I guess, but I chose wisely.’ Second colleague: ‘No you didn’t. You got lucky.’

  • I believe that circumstances you endure as a child do form your moral and ethical codes when you become an adult. I also CHOSE to move out of my childhood home and formed my own “rules” that I would live by based on what I had lived and learned as a child. My parents drank excessively on evenings and weekends and fought. It was miserable so i didn’t drink most of my adult life. They were very poor money managers so I set about sticking to a budget and prioritizing family needs rather than squandering funds. I did embrace some family traditions that I thought were important and let some go by the wayside. I did not blame my parents for my failures as an adult! I owned those myself and set out to correct them and do better. I knew right from wrong and I realized I had the power to choose. Blaming a bad upbringing is a cop out I feel. You are labeling yourself incapable of doing better and using good common sense to accomplish a better life! There are no strings attached to anyone as if they are a marionette doll! The whole idea that your parents made you do something once you reach the age of majority is ludicrous to me. Just another way to justify shitty behavior by claiming it is beyond your control and somehow intrinsic in your psyche. It’s BS! By all accounts I should have been a disaster and my Ex should have had the advantage, but it turned out totally opposite!

    • “My parents drank excessively on evenings and weekends and fought”. Mine, too.

      My ex had the “normal” looking family. From the outside. Two parents together for over 30 years, they spent all their free time together, at first glance seemed really “put together”. But they are the typical narc parents that created their own mini-narc. Over involved, all about the family image, and both of their children are very, very dysfunctional.

      My family, was the screwed up family. Parents divorced when I was 17 after my mother had an affair with my teen ex bf. My brother and I had evidence and had witnessed inappropriate moments between them as dad worked midnights. Teen ex bf lived with us for 2 years because his parents were horribly abusive to him. Our family was falling apart and my brother and I begged to have him leave and go home or to relatives, but my mother refused. Then came the affair. Then came the agonizing decision for my brother and I to tell my Dad. I was there when he confronted my mom, and she lied through her teeth. Said brother and I were liars, not true, etc. Dad decided to leave, for some reason he abandoned us WITH cheating mom and teen ex bf. Situation at home deteriorating, my brother was getting in fights at high school as classmates teased that teen ex bf was his new ‘daddy’. Brother and I ganged up on mom and told her she had to choose between him or us. He left. But a year later friends are report my mothers car at the university visiting teen ex bf. Ironically, she never visited us at college. She still lies about affair to this day. Needless to say has vastly impacted my brother’s and mine romantic relationships going forward. I’ve been divorced x 1 and in 2 subsequent narc relationships. My brother doesn’t trust women and ruins all his relationships due to mistrust and jealousy.

      I have looked at both my parents lives and the decisions they have made and consciously made a choice to BE BETTER and DO DIFFERENT.
      They fucked up big time and blew up our family. Both of them emotionally abandoned my brother and I during our formative years. I look at my children and cannot fathom EVER doing that to them.

      Obviously, I have FOO issues because of them (because I keep finding narc assholes), but my inner CL is starting to dominate the old brain stem and she’s not putting up with shit anymore.

      Funny enough, once you had enough with the narcs in your life, you look around and are shocked that you are surrounded by so many of them.

  • Mine doesn’t bother making excuses because he doesn’t think he did anything wrong. He might admit that he might have not picked the best way to end his marriage, but it isn’t because there is anything fundamentally wrong with him, he just made an oops. He is perfect. His cheating had nothing to do with ending the marriage because it was a lousy marriage anyway. He just got the order of events a bit mixed up. It happens.

  • Hey, Hoosier–

    My CheaterX also came from a family loaded with FOO (Family of Origin) issues. His dad was a cheater. The father got transferred to another city. The mom followed but thought that the house they lived in was haunted, so she took her sons back to the city they’d lived in. The dad commuted back and forth each weekend. No wonder that in a few years of being home for a grand total of 48 hours per week, he met someone else!

    And she was married, too! Instead of doing the honorable thing and divorcing their spouses, they CHOSE to continue their affair.

    Both CheaterX and his brother cheated on their wives. I am sure that both have personality disorders. I am sure that FOO issues contributed to these.

    But I also know that at the end of the day, both CheaterX and his brother are adults and free to make their own choices. I trust that they suck because they do, and because they choose to do so.

  • Oh, the FOO issues. My cheater has a pile of ’em, including his mom moving out of his step-dad’s house to move in with her lover, and taking her teenaged sons with her. I’m sure that had NO impact on the boys.

    But you know what? I have FOO issues, too. I had an emotionally abusive mom. ’nuff said.

    An adult recognizes the FOO issues, and attempts to do better, not to use FOO as a convenient excuse. The urge to “parent” or “adult” exactly like our parents is strong, though, and can take a conscious effort to overcome. Take the good modeling, throw out the bad.

    My cheater idolized his mom, who cheated regularly on all three of her husbands.

    Thank you CL and CN for helping me understand that this is HIS skein, not mine.

  • My husband’s parents were mean. My husband tried to excuse them, saying that they were so traumatized by what had happened with his sister, who was mentally ill and who had died of a heroin overdose about three years before I met him.

    I told him that just because your life has been hard (and theirs was hard), it does not give you an excuse not to be kind.

    They told him not to marry me, threatened to boycott our wedding, and later told him that one of the (many) reasons they didn’t like me was because of the way I eat bacon.

    That’s when I stopped trying with them. I was never mean to them, but – I no longer bent myself into a circles trying to earn their approval.

  • I’m a tad curious. As I set here reading this site the last few weeks, and reading and reading all I can find on narcissism, I’m more curious to know if anyone but me thinks they turned out to be the chump they are due to the fact that they were raised by a narcissist? My mother was their Queen. And now I find that Blow-up-Boy (still hubby, but working on getting my plans together), is a big ole’ one too. Between them both I’ve had quite possibly the worst three years of my life. (Not near as harrowing as some of you), but mind-dropping to me none the less. I have to wonder just how I allowed myself to become so “chumpy”, and at least knowing as was raised to be a chump would at least give me a little feeling of relief.

    • When I compare my issues with my Mom and Dad to issues I had with ex narc, they are similar.

      My Dad emotionally and physically abandoned my brother and I, once we revealed to him that Mom was having an affair with my ex teen bf.
      He quickly remarried and my Step mom was very, very insecure about my mother. She banned us from ever mentioning my mother in their presence. I remember I was in my early 20s and had just gotten married to 1st husband. I was really mourning my parents divorce and had a conversation with my dad where I asked him if he ever missed my brother and I. He went off the deep end. Started screaming at me, called me my mothers name, and told me to “get a life”.

      Later, after Dad and SM had a kid together (ironically SM and I were pregnant at the same time, but I miscarried and she had her baby), I asked my Dad if it would be okay for us to “sometimes” have coffee alone (considering all the rules my SM had about what we could discuss in their house). He freaked over that one, too. Told my brother and I that we could ONLY ever spend time with “him and his new family”. Or he would never see us.

      Another time, Dad said we weren’t really like his kids any more. We were adults. He was done parenting us. We were just like his friends, now.

      And the final zinger: Just because he was retiring doesn’t mean he is our babysitter. Told my brother and I that he will never babysit his grandkids because we didn’t babysit our step-sister when she was a baby. Wow.

      So do emotionally unavailable men seem familiar to me? Yup. Because of my Dad? Probably.
      Am I in therapy, now? Yup. Recognizing the pattern and wanting to change? Definitely.

      As for my mother cheating on my Dad with my teen ex bf: one of my friends asked me recently if I think that all the cheating stuff that went down with ex covert narc bf was an identical parallel to what my mother did to my dad. I agreed. I put this thought out to a few close friends and they all emphatically agreed. Maybe this is why I was so wrecked over this ex bf. This breakup was supremely devastating. I’ve broken up with men before and yes, I was sad. But not anything to this level.

      I know that I was raised to be a chump. But my inner CL is taking over and we are rising up in the world. Pulling up those panties and those standards….And I HAVE to model something better for my children. Sure, I’m a single mom, but we are rocking our little family and they are thriving.

  • Though there are indeed similarities among our cheaters, every one has their own unique circumstances. Some are seriously disturbed, mentally impaired individuals that won’t ever see the error of their ways, and will continue to repeat their behavior. Some are merely garden variety selfish assholes, who will also continue to repeat their behavior until they tire of it. Finally, others made mistakes choosing partners, and for a multitude of reasons, chose to be cowards and stay (and cheat) instead of being honest, and leaving. I would venture to say most will not have a long term monogamous relationship, but again, I also know two women who are now close to collecting social security who married very young (teens), chose very poorly for their first partners, and eventually cheated on and left them. Both have been married now well over thirty years, and happily. So, it happens. I think the point that CL raises is spot on….it matters not why. If you are cheated on, and disrespected, figure out how it affected you, figure out how to fix your picker and most importantly MOVE on. The man (or woman) who mistreated you may, at some point, be an appropriate partner for someone else, but the point is, they are NOT for you. Perhaps an over simplification, but it is so true.

  • My ex’s father was a serial cheater. When I met my ex, he disliked his father because of this. In fact, 20 years ago, my ex didn’t speak to his father for a whole year because his father dumped his beloved stepmother.

    Yep, you guessed it, he did it anyway. Honestly I think there is some cheater gene. Ugh. Glad to be finished with that tiresome, disloyal family.

  • There is a certain type of personality that is not survivable. The people who are constantly scanning their environment looking for new stimulation.

    Of course for a while, I wanted to research issues related to my ex because he admitted to me that he huffed gasoline when he was five years old. I was then told by his brother and he verified that an aunt had sex with him when he was 12. Are these things sad? Yes.

    But he is still not survivable. No one can be in a relationship with him and not emerge with mental physical and emotional devastation.

    This helps me. If a category five cyclone was barreling toward our home, we would not sit and analyze where it started: the Gulf Stream? Storms off The Cape? Let’s check the Doppler! I’m going to second-guess the weather Channel. I think they’re wrong. Let’s analyze the storm!

    Nope. We get the hell out of Dodge and run for our lives. And this is the best way I’ve found to deal with the emotional poison ivy that I sometimes want to scratch and ask why. It doesn’t matter why.

    That’s the key. These people are not survivable. Run.

    If you have a few good memories with this person, just let them be. Maybe in that moment in their maggot brain they did love you in their own sick stupid way.

    Take those good memories and gallop with purpose to a life that does not involve begging someone to be kind to you.

    • “But he is still not survivable. No one can be in a relationship with him and not emerge with mental physical and emotional devastation.”

      This. After DD5, I was so wrecked. Contacted his ex wife and discovered everything he did to me, he did to her first. Almost word-for-word. She had info about his GF that he had dated between her and I. Same situation. And watching him start in on his new GF – EXACT. SAME. PATTERN.

      We all emerge emotionally devastated. Takes a long time to heal. None of us are dating, and for the two women prior to me, they have been away from him for YEARS. We are all in therapy.

      What gets me, now that I am seeing things more clearly, is that it was never us. It’s him. It’s all him. We are just pawns in his play. And his play is really, really convincing. We all thought we could save him and he would love us the most. He was a “good guy”. Yes, we accepted sub-par shitty treatment, but ex wife agreed in retrospect, very insidious emotional abuse. Hard to figure out till you are NC. He is the monster that will never change.

      But we are the beautiful people that will evolve and grow and learn and never accept such crap treatment again.

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