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Dear Chump Lady, I can’t give up

Dear Chump Lady,

Help. Help. Help. What is wrong with me? I simply cannot give up. The corner must turn? I haven’t done anything to provoke this wrath. One day will he understand how selfish and immature he is!?

I need to not care if he’s great for someone else. He’s not great for me.

Seeking connectivity,


Dear Katie,

Quit looking at this as an insight problem — wherefore art thou, cheater conscience? — and start looking at this as an ACT NOW problem.

He’s hurting you. Get away NOW. Understand later.

Really, shelf the introspection and skein untangling. As you ACT in self-protection and go no contact, you can work on healing yourself and forget what the hell motivates him. (Satan? Sea monkeys? Ham sandwiches? Doesn’t matter.)

What is wrong with me?

You’ve invested in someone wholly unworthy of you. It’s curable.

I simply cannot give up.

Yes you can, you just don’t want to.

It’s really a sort of addiction and you have to tough this out and un-bond. You can stick around for another kick in the teeth, or you can wise up and leave. You’re addicted to hopium — the idea of him, his potential to Be Different, to fix what he broke. Hopium feels better than your current reality, so you take another toke.

But you absolutely can put down the pipe. Yes, it hurts like a motherfucker — for awhile. The pain is finite. (I really should tattoo that, or embroider it on a tea cosy, I say it so often here…) The way you’re living now is infinitely more painful.

The corner must turn?

Yes, unless you want to keep investing your one precious life in fuckwit stock.

I haven’t done anything to provoke this wrath.

Here’s an idea — don’t stick around for wrath. Let him wrath at his mother, assorted shrubbery, the wall. Don’t. Let. It. Be. YOU.

Instead of pondering “Did I do something to incur this?” — chump move — think “Wrath is not a grown-up way to handle frustration and upset. I am one of God’s children. I deserve to be treated with respect.”

Then exit.

One day will he understand how selfish and immature he is!?

Doubtful. Doesn’t matter. You matter. Do you want a selfish and immature partner?

I need to not care if he’s great for someone else.

Katie, darling, slap yourself. He’s “selfish,” “immature,” and he rages at you.

That’s who HE IS. This isn’t a profile in greatness.

He’s not great for me.

No, he’s not. And that’s where the buck stops. On the infinitesimal chance he’s “great” for someone else — you don’t control that. Fact is, he’s a raging baby-man for YOU. That’s either acceptable to you, or it isn’t.

Please say it isn’t.

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.
  • You want connectivity? Katie, consult your internet service provider.

    You want a better future, a better life, and a better relationship? You need to make some changes.

    Staying stuck in the rut will get you nowhere. You haven’t said much about your situation, though, which makes it hard to know where to go.

    • It takes awhile to figure out that you’ll get burned (badly) if you continue to stay in your house while it’s on fire. But once you do, and you get out, you get to breathe fresh air instead of toxic fumes!

      There is better ahead – keep moving and you will get there.

      • Right…like the (few) people in the California wildfire areas who spray with their garden hose when firefighters and neighbors are screaming ‘Get out NOW!!!!!!’

      • I can confirm that!

        I managed 2 months of NC this summer (1 month with the kids) away from our shared house and it helped immensely and I did feel I was moving on.

        However circumstances mean we have to continue living together (in-house separation) and it already feels like an utter nightmare again and it’s not even been a week.

        The message? If you can, get out, get out quickly and don’t go back.

        • I am sorry you and yr kids are in this horrendous situation – I hope there’s an end in sight! In the meantime hoping things somehow improve for you, Shadows x

        • I’m in the same situation. I completely understand and am sending you massive amounts of positive vibes. xoxo

          • I had the “live in” separation in 2013 – for 12 months. My ex had our finances in ruins. Get this. I was working full-time (as was he) but his wh*re was not. Um….what I learned was that I was paying her car payment each month. What I sucker I was!! Anyway, I had to eat sh*t for 12 months to save money to cover unexpected issues. When I reached my savings goal, I told the ex he had to move out of the house before Christmas. Yes, for those 12 months I was a financial whore…living under the same roof for the sake of financial security. Truth be told, I’d do it again, only because I (and my children) in the end did not suffer financially due to the separation. But for those initial twelve months, I had to live in a situation that almost crushed my soul. As parents, you do what you have to do to survive. Just trust that cheater suck, and that you will be stronger and happier once the cheaters are no longer in your house.

    • I would love someone to talk to on the phone.

      Some days are harder than others.

      Is there anyone interested in the same?

  • This is such an important message for new Chumps.

    Act Now!

    Don’t waste time trying to figure it out, fix it, understand it or any other move towards keeping a Cheater in your life.

    Chump Lady named her book Leave A Cheater, Gain A Life. There was a reason leaving a Cheater is before gaining a life. Because that is the only way to survive the pain of infidelity and coming out the other side.

    • Yes and I have read this message so succinctly put twice in the last couple days and yet as simple and direct as it is, it is hard to just follow this advice.

      The bottom line is, he cheated and that is enough in itself to justify the relationship is over. Betrayal is more than enough yet we chumps insist on: oh, it was just a mistake and he doesn’t understand, he will come around.

      No, the cheating is the meat and stands alone, everything else is gravy and doesn’t matter.

      Need to repeat, he cheated, caused me to hurt like hell, get out, run, do not look back; he cheated, caused me to hurt like hell, get out, run, do not look back!…

      • YES! A friend of mine who is an alcoholic in recovery used to say about alcohol, “Poison, poison, poison!” I now say that about my husband, out loud, because it takes a while for it to sink in. KEEP IT SIMPLE….JUST FOR TODAY…..POISON POISON POISON!

        • “We must be willing to get rid of the life we have planned to have the life that is waiting for us.”
          -Joseph Campbell

          “We only know someone as much as they allow us to know them.”
          -a detective from InvestigationDiscovery channel program

          There is nothing wrong with you in this situation. The reveal is that there is plenty wrong with your “spouse”…..

      • I’ve always liked the “house is on fire–get out!!” analogy that CL uses. You are in a relationship that endangers you emotionally, spiritually, physically, and financially. It models dysfunction to your kids. The cheater broke the contract you made when you got married. You didn’t sign up for infidelity and abuse. So move. Get out.

        If the Cheaters at some point in the future have some massive epiphany and stop lying, gaslighting, cheating and manipulating, if they show they can do reciprocity, if they stop devaluing you and the marriage, then you can always let them you again. But by the time people are in their 3s, 40s, and 50s, character is well established. In my long life, I’ve never found a liar who stopped lying. That’s a power orientation to other people. They lie to avoid consequences and lie to maintain advantage. And how would you know you could ever trust that person again? I know I would never want to lay my head down and sleep beside someone who had betrayed me.

      • Ok, from personal experience I will tell you once a cheater always a cheater. My soon to be EX had an affair with someone he worked with 25 years ago. He’s just asked me for a divorce at the beginning of August as he had a “job offer” (no offer letter, and sometimes he tells me he needs to get a job yet) in the town she lives in, with the company she works at. Oh, and the address he gave me happens to be hers…apparently she has an apartment on the side of her house. Oh, and for the last three months they’ve talked two to three times a day for two to three hours a day (not including text messages)…..and he thinks I’m stupid. Well, I was 25 years ago, don’t you be. Love yourself a little my friend!

  • I have to admit many years later I am still trying to understand it, even though I can’t stand the slob and haven’t missed him for a day. I did wonder if he might be better for this Schmoopie but who cares. In a strange twist of karma, even if he IS better for her, turns out she’s a raging nag! But it is still hard trying not to figure it out.

    • I quit trying to understand it ~ but must admit that if I see him drive by, old thoughts sneak in and I wonder why he did what he did. Mostly, I wonder how he can act like 30 years of friendship and married 17 years of those 30 didn’t happen. They did. They just don’t matter to him. I guess it is easier for him to act like they didn’t ~ easier to move on to his next victim.

      Yes, I have now moved on to … can’t stand the slob, but he isn’t a slob now … he is the new and improved skinny old man version of what he was. LOL I used to miss him terribly but now, I rejoice in all the things I found that I had lost. Things that make me ~ me. I had given up so much of me and didn’t even know it.

      I don’t wonder if he is better for the Circus Clown as I call her. It doesn’t matter.

      • “I had given up so much of me and didn’t even know it”

        Jodi, Your handle is also the famous “Jodi” every GI learns about BTW- I’d forgotten that until today. A nickname for the AP, gender neutral.

        Any Road, I’m discovering the “so much of me I’d lost” at 12 months out. And it’s healing to meet up with the real ML. SO YEH,…That’s the real reward.

      • I don’t know who my husband is with, but if he’s still with her he IS better with her because cheaters and liars belong together. They’re both cool with cheating so they are “sole” mates after all…
        If he were a stranger I’d be calling him a con artist. I think the hopium phase is likely the normal processing of being conned. I thought I married Mr. Rogers and the curtains parted and there was my actual husband, Bernie Madoff, fucking a Craigslist casual sex hookup. SO difficult to reconcile
        because for the longest time I wasn’t paying attention to his ACTIONS as much as I thought I was. Otherwise called DENIAL.
        Not to mention a world-class liar. Lots of serial killers have had wives and families. Maybe it’s not that something was wrong with ME (another classic chump move) but that HE is an EXPERT LIAR!

        WHY is not a spiritual question nor should it be a question for chumps. It’s enough that THEY DID.

        • “Cheaters and liars belong together”…. Hell yes!
          Water seeks it’s own level.
          I hear quite often that Pookie and The Worm fight all the time.
          He used to blame me for causing all of the fights and arguments.
          Guess what? Since I left I met the man of my dreams and we have not had a fight or argument the entire year and a half we’ve been living together.
          I thank my lucky stars everyday that Pookie took him off my hands.
          You will get there too Katie! Time and distance…..????

      • Wow! You hit the nail in the head.

        I’m in the midst of rediscovering me. Not the wife. Not the mother. Me.

        It’s scary to realize how small I got trying to fit into his box.

        Some days I feel free. Other days I feel hopeless. More free days than hopeless days though. And either are better than living in the faux relationship that was my marriage.

        I’m not ready for a relationship and won’t be until I feel whole again.

    • Centrality to a cheater increases so Long as we smoke that Hopium.

      We envision a future; damn if we didn’t invest our all.

      ACT NOW! Yes!

      Staying with a lying cheating raging asshole limits you from YOUR potential. I’m so impressed with the changes we see as chumps put their energies into themselves. Strive for that, you deserve MUCH better.

      • Agreed I have been out of D DAY 18 months now and have finally met a wonderful man, he’s older and so loving and mature. I cannot believe I invested 24 years into a cheater!

        • So happy for you Carol. It’s like night and day.

          Many here have taken ckssses, earned degrees, started up their own businesses since leaving the cheater. Those missed opportunities often times present themselves when we chose ourselves.

          A friend of mine began another masters program at 60 after being chipped.

          So many, many things we can achieve by facing our fears.

  • I have some reading that helps with kicking the hopium habit.

    Lundy Bancroft, ‘Why Does He Do That?’ – available on Kindle.

    Lundy Bandcroft, ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go?’, co-authored with J Patrissi – excellent for assessing the overall quality of your relationship OBJECTIVELY, which might help right now.

    Rhonda Findling, ‘Don’t Call That Man!’ – for when you burn with the urge to make contact when you should be No Contact.

    Deborah Philips, ‘How to Fall Out of Love’ – very helpful once you get the bastard out of your life.

    • I agree 100% with the books she listed! I would also add ‘Women Who Love Too Much’ by Robin Norwood.

  • Katie,
    He has you brainwashed into thinking he’s something special and you’ll be losing out if you let him go. He’s not and you won’t. Once you go no contact you’ll begin to see exactly how he’s controlling you in order to keep you in this loop. You’re pick me dancing hard right now. We’ve all been there :). Btw, he will be the same person with the next one and the one after that. He can’t run away from himself but you can leave him, regain your sanity and live a better life. It’s a long road but a worthwhile one. ((Hugs))

  • You can’t ‘fix’ a cheater. You can’t save a cheater. You need to save yourself.

  • The rage and crazy making is supposed to drive you away. These men are cowards and nothing can be their fault!

    The problem with trying to “win” in this situation is that eventually the rage and projection becomes dangerous.

    Many women have stories about physical abuse and even murder on this site. Mine told me that he prayed for my death.

    Don’t stick around to find out what he is capable of. Especially if you have children.

    He is not sorry – he is doing this on purpose!!!
    Get yourself a lawyer and set some boundaries.
    He is not worth saving, fixing or winning back.

    • Mine told me he prayed for my death too. I am so grateful to be rid of him. Not to MEH yet but not pining for what I thought he was any more.

      Hugs to all here. My tribe.

  • Intermittent reinforcement is as psychologically powerful as any drug.

    Once you stop focusing on how you can keep him and start the process of recognizing his tactics, you’ll come to realize your feelings have little to do with who he is, it’s the messed up programming!

    Manipulators are like a virus, once you have one it infects all your programming. Sure, you can purchase anti-virus software … How to save your computer in 10 easy steps, but good luck finding one that comes with a guarantee. The only sure fire way to know you are unifected, trash your sunken cost and start over. You can gamble (Reinforcing intermittent reinforcement) but the odds aren’t stacked in your favor.

  • Katie –

    Ignore the past. Look at him and his behavior, his entitlement RIGHT NOW.

    Would you pick him up? Or is it more likely that you would be more likely to pick him out of a line-up?

  • I know that for a number of us chumps, one of the things that makes it so hard to leave is that we’re afraid that the asshole might change soon and if we leave now, we’ll miss out on the great guy we want them to be.

    “Oh, if we just go to counseling, he’ll see how much it’s hurting and how much I love him and he’ll suddenly stop screwing around! But if I leave now, I’ll miss all that.”

    The problem there is that they don’t change. And even if he does, it won’t be with any woman he’s ever cheated with because once they know that you’re aware of their cheating and still decide to stay, you set a precedent as a woman who will put up with cheating, abuse or whatever it is. Men do not respect women in that context. If you allow him once, he’ll do it over and over. Not only that, but even IF, after raking you over the coals for however long, he finally decides that he’s had his fill of fun (at your expense) and now he’s ready to, ya know, settle down and be a husband, the only thing you’ll really have is a bunch of other women’s leftovers and a huge pile of resentment.

    Fuck ’em. Fuck any guy who simply cannot leave high school behind. And vice versa for women. They wanna act like a perpetual 12th grade idiot with a constant hard-on? Let them! But let them do it with someone else. You’re worth more than that

    • Last and Got A Brain, this is exactly what puts zillions of dollars into the coffers of casinos (while they part with paltry offerings to the patron to keep them hooked). My aunt was a change girl
      on the casino floors in the 1960’s. She told a story I will never forget. She witnessed people going to the bathroom where they sat because they were afraid to leave a slot machine in case it paid off. This is the neuroscience behind hopium!
      I am also interestingly not a gambler…it feels to me like throwing money away. I have been to Vegas a million times, rock climbing in Red Rock Canyon and visiting friends there. In all those times I put a quarter in a slot machine at the airport. I need to transfer this analogy to my marriage…I am afraid to let go because it might pay off! And it DID pay off for a while…but instead of the jackpot I got royally punked. Time to leave the casino….

    • Thank you again for this…..and the reminder that sure they have no respect for the cheating partner either….if they knew what “respect” and “love” meant, they wouldn’t be cheating….

  • Katie, since we’re all chumps here we’ve all smoked the pipe and done the dance for various lengths of time, so we understand. But I’ve been following Chump Lady pretty much since the beginning, and I can’t recall ONE SINGLE TIME that a chump said – I wish I had given it more time. Hoping you get the strength and courage to make the move sooner rather than later.

    • I second McJJ’s sentiment. And can personally verify it for myself. I lived with my ex husband across the country, because he was Army. When the affair and ILYBINILWY happened, a job in my hometown kind of fell into my lap.

      As the deadline to put my boxes in the car and finally leave drew close, I panicked about whether to go. I knew that if I left, that would be it. But here’s what I couldn’t acknowledge until much later: I knew that leaving would be the end because my ex was so freaking excited about getting to move his OW into our home without me around. It had NOTHING to do with the effort I was putting in to save my marriage. Ex wasn’t focused on that anymore. AT ALL. At the time I was just so sure that if I stayed, I could make him see the light.

      Leaving was so scary and painful! I even called our marriage counselor hours before I drove away, panicked that I was deserting my only chance of reconciliation–staying and waiting it out. Bless her, without telling me what to do, she very clearly said GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE AND GAIN A LIFE. And even though I didn’t want to, I did. Ex acted wishy washy for a couple weeks after I left, then finally admitted–on my birthday–that he was done and OW was there to stay. I didn’t deserve that. I didn’t deserve that creep wasting my 20s. THANK GOD I LEFT, even though at the time it was terrifying.

  • Katie
    You don’t go into detail if your age or your years married but it really doesn’t matter. If your seeing him
    destroying your marriage & he doesn’t seem to care –
    this is when you have to let the coward go. Here at
    CN have similar stories & know how painful the road is ahead but CL is right! Save yourself any future humiliation & turn your self esteem ON!

    It’s better to find out sooner than later that he’s a cheating liar & leave than to find out decades later
    (Like me) & waste your life on someone who doesn’t
    love you. Be strong & stand up for yourself!

    Hugs to you ???? ❤️

  • You didn’t even say he was trying. You didn’t say things are great. You know they’re terrible. These comments under your letter will probably be just as helpful as CL’s actual response- because you are looking to borrow gumption. You know the end game (he’s a turd) but you are stuck in the classics- in love with potential, hating the idea of losing, being caught in the pick me dance…

    So… what is your currency? What in life makes you feel empowered? Because you need to collect some of that shit and focus on the CL articles that target that pile of chump armour- and she has covered all these things.

    Are you a mom/aunt/person who wants to be seen as strong? How are you teaching your kids to be mighty with this soggy ‘let him continue to walk on you’ attitude?

    Are you a feminist/proud strong woman? Why does this mans broken promises matter more to you than what you commit and owe yourself? Why do you allow his terrible actions to freeze you? You’re a woman! You deserve great- now and later, and currently you definitely don’t have great, and his past history of bullshit shows there’s not a good chance of change. He’s bad stock. Sell sell sell before you lose your shirt in addition to the hat and the ugly clogs they already took. (It’s ok they were crocs anyways, no one should wear those) Throw this baby out with the bath water. It’s not a baby. It’s a weird bag of rotting mulch.

    Are you a great friend? Well… you? Meet you. Be a good friend. How would you react to your best friend living in this limbo hell where she was always waiting for the other shoe to drop and she seemed to be ok with allowing this man to walk all over her self esteem and crush her again and again? How would you react If it was physical abuse? Need flash: abuse is abuse. This asshole is a pit of bad. You wouldn’t let a friend sit in this situation. And you are your own best friend.

    You know what you are? Mighty.
    While Dan Savage is a big turd when it comes to encouraging cheating, he does have a great saying about some things.
    Dump the mother fucking asshole already.

  • Katie
    You will never be able to figure out why he cheated. I am sorry to say you will never get a straight answer
    from him. Cheaters go by their own rules. They are cowards who hide behind playing the victim. When he made the choice to cheat he and only him ruined the marriage. Get out know. I too was bit by the hopium bug. If only I would have did this and that better. Hell, I could have been wonder women and he still would have cheated.
    It is better to get out now. I danced the dance and it ate me alive. You have one life to live. Live it free from a cheating lying POS. Only then will you be able to see that you are a beautiful person. CHeaters will only suck what ever joy and happiness you have left.

  • “I simply cannot give up”.

    On what? A raging, cheating man-baby? You need that in your life. NO, you do not. None of us do.

    Another way to think about this- no, you cannot give up. ON YOURSELF. For yourself. You don’t need connectivity with this man. You need to detach him like the parasite that he is. Drop him like he’s hot. Find your way back to YOU.

    Lot’s of great advice here for you. Please start with trusting that he sucks.

    And, much love from a fellow Katie. You can do this. <3

  • Katie,

    Definition time…

    Hopium- (n) “Ho-pee-um”

    The belief that your spouse will change back to the ‘comfortable illusion’ you have of them, and that they will ‘switch on’, to come back chastened and remorseful with an intense desire to make amends to save your marriage.

    First off, sit down and review the real meaning of 2 words …’wants’ versus ‘needs’. You NEED Air, Water, Food, Sleep and shelter to live. That’s it. Everything else is a Want.

    Write this down if you want to live… No Contact (NC) is the Narcan for Hopium overdose…AND SISTER! You are overdosing!!

    Now, If YOU are like US you will not take this advice to heart until YOU HURT BAD ENOUGH. For you, does that mean ending up in a hospital bed lacerated and bruised, or worse- comatose and at the edge of death from assault? Adultery KILLs some chumps (us), APs (affair partners) and OM/OW (‘other’ man/woman). Ask any cop about what they’ve seen in domestic violence calls.

    Not to mention what my counselor warns of and calls having “Issues IN the Tissues” and I don’t mean Kleenex and crying. I’m talking about the physical manifestation of disease in your body caused by long term stress. You can get sick. So Please. PLEASE, learn what self-care is first.

    I think we all hold onto some smidgen of human goodness intrinsic in most people. Tracy calls that “focusing and projecting (insert positive character trait here) through the lens of our morality” . What a pointless exercise BTW. MY character defect of not being able to recognize these Fuckwits is what I WANT to resolve and get practiced on. (<– See what I did there!? Wants/Needs?)

    I think lesson 1 in that sequence of our re-programming is to learn Judicious giving NOT ubiquitous giving- which we're also cursed with (HAHAHAHAH). Thank YA LAWD for that gift!! ;O)

    I pray that your period of distress and suffering is less than mine and others before me, That you have your 'moment of clarity' which will propel you forward while your heart rips you apart. The PAIN IS FINITE. Welcome our club, Our Nation, Our Love, Our Support. We know you didn't want to be here, but HERE WE ARE. Your healing begins HERE.

  • The reason chumps understand smoking the hopium pipe and doing the pick me dance, is that most of us have done just that. We understand wanting to fix things, and wanting to go back to that time when we believed in the dream we had been sold. But the key to recovery is to force yourself to take the advice YOU would give to anyone you loved and found in a similar situation. Get out. Put your heart in the isolation ward and restrict visitors until you have healed enough to survive them. Your immune system is screwed right now. You have to save yourself. It really is that simple.
    As an aside, when I was on the marriage police force, detecting like a professional, I acquired a great deal of information. I did not know what to do with much of it at the time. It was horrendous and nauseating. Later, after I had started the healing process and my logical mind had started to return to my normal state (the hopium was out of my system) my organizational skills kicked in. The information helped me know I had to run for my life. It also helped me see patterns of behavior that recurred throughout the wandering spouse’s life. I could not see this until I became healthy. They are disordered. They lack components of a caring personality, They really do not change. They pretend to, start a new cycle, and then show who they really are. They cannot be someone you desire them to be, because they are missing parts. You have to have faith in something, and believe in something. Believe in yourself and chump nation. Why would we mislead you? That is not what chumps do,

  • Oh, Katie, I feel ya. Here a few things that I’ve learned.

    1. You want answers to questions. You will either never get them or they won’t be to your satisfaction. You have to accept it and move on. Let them go.

    2. Your husband is gone and has replaced with a complete stranger. This man isn’t trying to protect you, he’s not looking out for you and he really doesn’t care how much you are hurting or in pain. I know this difficult, it’s numbing in a bad way. I’m 4 months post D-Day and I’m still pained by this memory.

    3. Don’t let him lay his cheating or his problems at your feet. He had choices and he chose the path that made him happy. He didn’t care what you would think or how you would feel if you know about his cheating. This is on him 100%.

    4. Block him, any known OWs, family and friends on social media. Pain shopping is not good and will only hurt you. You don’t need to see his crap. Consider going No Contact or gray rock is possible. Even if you are living in the same house, give short answers and try to keep emotions out. This will not be easy (believe me, I fell off that wagon more than once). Once you or him is out of the house, this will become easier.

    5. Don’t try to unwind the skein of fuckupedness whatever that is for you. Don’t try to figure out if he meant every words that he ever said or wrote to you. Don’t try to figure out if he loved you at this point or that point. You will drive yourself insane! I have accepted that parts of marriage were happy and I have lots of good memories. I will be damned if I let him fuck those up!

    6. Be good to yourself. We all make mistakes and there are always things that we could have done better. But, that doesn’t mean that your marriage was bad or doomed. Maybe he is a coward, maybe he is just a dick, maybe he chose the wrong path and realized that he fucked up royally. Whatever the reason – he is not good for you now or in the future. There’s not going back.

    7. Let your family and friends support you – you will need them in the months to come.

    8. Trust that he sucks. He really does and you will start to realize, with time, just how much your needs and wants never really mattered him. You deserve better!

    • MissBailey – very well written. All of this is 100% spot on. I am 7 months out, well sense he left after the 3rd DD with lots of pick me dancing included. Awesomely written…

    • Very well written, and just what I needed. My husband asked me for a divorce 8/10….I confirmed the OW 8/7 and pretended I didn’t know for weeks. Thought it might give me an advantage….which it did not in NY State. I spend so much time thinking back over our 35 year history together and trying to understand if he ever loved me…or if he just loved me taking care of him. I’ve been a great provider, he got to be the stay at home dad…not what I wanted, but I made more money and received benefits. I actually will snip your post and send it to myself….I need to read it everyday. He’s still here for the moment, needs to go through the house and pick out everything he plans to take to his new life.

      He has no idea how crushing this has been, I’ve been a loyal wife. I’ve not been in work since I figured it out….didn’t even tell him the doctor took me out of work. I was just too messed up, didn’t want a performance issue to add to my pain.

      Thanks again, I really just want to know when does it stop hurting? I feel I can’t even begin to heal until he’s gone.

      Silver Anniversary (he cheated 25 years ago with the same woman he’s leaving me and our 14 year old son to move 1,000 miles away…but they are just friends and she has an apartment attached to her house)

      • Hi Silver, it would have been our – or rather, my!!! – Silver Anniversary this year and instead I’m filing for divorce. I have a similar story, I’m doing alright with the WTF happened?? thing – I hope you’re getting lots of sanity fixers here and am doing ok, hugs to you x

  • After years of him being a selfish, cruel shit he (after Dday and learning he had an AP) said to me

    “For years I have wanted someone to steal you away from me”

    He wanted the marriage to end without any of the trouble or work. He wanted to be the left-behind good-guy. He was ass-bastard mean trying to get me to pull the trigger…and I never would. Know what it got me? Years more abuse.

    I really thought (for years) thatvif he understood, he would get better. It was such an in-grained thought that I never even questioned it. I now realize that he knew exactly how awful he was, he chose it and would never stop. He never did. He dropped dead being just as mean to me as he always was.

    People tell me I’m lucky that my mean cheater died. I would have preferred if he had instead watched me leave and build a better life without him.

    • Mine said something similar. He said for years he hoped I would meet someone and not be his problem anymore. And yet, until he met the AP, and I forced the issue, he never would have left. It’s interesting that he stayed and stayed while apparently feeling like that. The cruelty of that comment, however, hits me deeply whenever I remember that conversation.

      • Ego bust.
        Keeping you dancing, unhappy and alone ( cause he was withholding everything that a good partner should be giving you) while fucking around and thinking what a chump you are….

        Is there anything more humiliating or degrading?
        Yes, I’m sure it is- but this way is pretty low on a respect ladder.

        *you- meaning all the lovely open hearted chumps here

      • IAm, the ex did that too – last August he professed his love and wanted to be with me again, I was ‘so worth fighting for’, but it was obviously over – for Valentine’s this year I made him a hand-made card and some origami craft that he had really admired, not big showy gifts, but made by me with thought and care. I got nothing. He didn’t think he needed to woo me or fight for me at all. He’d got his feet back under the table (although he wanted to be in a separate bedroom…) but nothing had changed. I told him when he came back I wanted him to give up porn (separate bedroom…. hmm) and to DANCE with me – we had never danced in 23 years of married life. Nothing. I could not understand it. He was still there like a hungry ghost in the house. No romance, nothing changed. We always nick-named him ‘The King of Procrastination’ but I never realized the extent of his inertia! He was waiting for ‘things to get better’ I think, which I could UBT to ‘when you let me do what I want again and don’t make a fuss’. I told him he had to leave when the children started getting emotional abuse. That was the second time; the first was when I told him ‘It’s me or her’. Crazy-making. Literally!

      • My ex said, during the midst of unravelling his deceits, that he would “watch the kids whilst I go out on dates” …. At the time I thought WTF!!? It was only days into me discovering what an actual devious liar he’d been for 20 years. I instantly realised he’d long ago ‘moved on’ and now I was catching up with everything he’d been up to whilst simultaneously realising he’d been feeding me the pretend happy family line. He doesn’t give a shit. Image management? Family man? Scout leader? 2 concurrent affairs? Setting up a business using my money with one of his bitches who rented our old home? Going abroad with each of them – telling us he was working?
        He was a fantastic juggler and plate spinner! Not seen his kids for 17 months! That’s probably my fault too as his mother is posting tweets about ‘parental alienation’! Yes, self inflicted parental alienation. His priorities have always been himself….. He now lives in a caravan in his sluts’ parents garden!!!
        You reap what you sow. Dud seeds were planted and no fertiliser will ever make him grow into a man.

        • Haha ex said if a guy came to the door and told him he (guy) was desperately in love with me, he (ex) wouldn’t stand in his way. Because ex wants me to be happy. Ex is also living in a caravan, in his case in the garden of the EA OW’s substitute Mum. Must be Appendix 2.3 of the Playbook!

    • I guess the only good thing about this scenario UNM is you never had to wonder “what if”. Maybe he had to die so you could live. Hugs*

    • Wow! I am shocked every time I read this page and the stories are so similar to mine. I thought for so many years I was the only one in a bizarre, painful, weirdo marriage.

      THIS: “For years I have wanted someone to steal you away from me”… mine used to say “I wish someone would come and sweep you off your feet.”

      Who says this stuff to their wife?!

  • It’s not easy to give up when we also live in a culture that tells us all that time that we need to be coupled in order to be happy. And, on top of that, as women that we are worthless if a man doesn’t love us.

    So when we aren’t only up against the “pick me dance” and the “hope” and fear of the unknown or change, we’re also faced with all that other bullshit. And it is bullshit. Being a couple can be great and so can being single. And “couples” don’t always have to be romantic. And women are enough on our own. We don’t need a man to complete us or to make us worthy.

    • Auntie Mame…I went on vacation to Mexico last winter to visit a married couple and the man folded his arms and said ‘So, Chumptopia….WHY aren’t YOU married??’ He didn’t say it in a nice way either. It was said in a way that something must be wrong with me. I can’t even count how many times people have asked me ‘if there was a new man in my life.’ It’s soooo insulting. It’s as if I can’t possibly have a nice life if there isn’t a man in it. Hahaha The Truth: When it was bad with a man, those were the very worst times of my life.

      • I get that sometimes too. It wasn’t a week out from when I kicked out Asshole and someone said “don’t worry, you’ll meet someone else!” I was worried about a lot of things, but not that!!

      • “It’s as if I can’t possibly have a nice life if there isn’t a man in it. Hahaha The Truth: When it was bad with a man, those were the very worst times of my life.”

        Amen to that!

  • Cheaters do not respect a.n.y.o.n.e., not even themselves. Because if they did, they could not cheat, lie, stick their privates into other people’s privates (see the disease rate in the US?) . I’m going to take a wild gamut, and say that men who cheat do not even respect their mother or their daughter. they actually loathe women, all women. They use women to get what they want, kibbles. They lie to their spouse, and to the AP. When the AP becomes wife, they cheat on her too.

    They tear you down to make you crazy, to give them more a.m.m.u.n.i.t.i.o.n. to JUSTIFY their acting on their lack of character and self-respect.

    When you start to see him as small, mentally sick, and then treat him as insignificant . . . . and treat yourself better as worthy . . . then you can put down the hopium pipe.

    What helped is my brother’s and mother-in-law’s insight. So, I will give it to you. Society doesn’t agree with the cheater or abuser . . and they think that any woman who puts up with a cheater or abuser is crazy herself. I know you don’t see yourself as crazy, but if you stick around to fix the unfixable . . . your friends and family are going to think you are crazy . . . . or you will become crazy yourself trying to fix him and pick me dance. You will become a neurotic mess and your self-esteem will plummet. You will be dancing for someone who only wants a ‘front hole’ (new word for vagina, I am told) to put his penis inside, and a mouth that licks his balls (ego).

    Be alone, find yourself, build your self respect, do something NICE for you, and look for a partner who likes people, respects women, and has a good relationship with his mom.

    • MeowMix, you have a point.

      IC said there is a lot of misogyny in cheating, lying and using people.

      • True. I dont think he liked women…I used to joke that it was a shame he wasnt gay because if he was, he could live in an all male conclave and be happy. He only wanted and to have children in existence (somewhere other than where he was).

  • Tracy, pardon my inquiry but file this bug in your ear. Maybe it’s worthy of CN reply from the ‘other-siders’.
    Why do old-timer chumps keep coming back to CL/CN after they’ve reached MEH Tuesday? After they’ve found their new course of sanity. I’m sure if you were issuing degrees in Chum(PhD)om, a requirement would be expertise in MIGHTY and NEW life. So by extension, you would be delighted to boot the baby birds out of the nest yelling, “Don’t forget to spread your wings on the way down, gravity works”!

    • Marcus, it’s because the newly chumped need to hear our stories. I just joined Reddit out of curiosity and am already directing new chumps to CL. The old-timers not only have the experience and skills to pass on to new chumps, but the empathy and compassion to want to reach out to them and to offer advice. For me (2 years since D-Day, 3 months since final split) I’m still not at Meh yet and still need support. I doubt the Chump Nation citizens of Meh come here to pain-shop; I think they are here to help.

      • AFKAC

        I too have to have my daily dose of CL. I think I do it to remain in a continual state of awareness and preparedness to deal with my boomerang x. She still shows up on my doorstep trying out her mindfuck control out on me to see if it still works. I’m getting pretty good at gray rocking her.

        There’s also the help I can sometimes give to others. It definitely takes the edge off of the whole mess. But in the back of my mind I look at it like Kwai Chain Kang with Master PO…”When you can snatch the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to go”.

        • Oh no, please don’t go! Us newbies–and it sucks balls but there will always be newbies–Need to hear from people who have crawled through the disgust and filth and pain and have come out the other side. And we need it from all different stages no matter how long a chump has been in Meh.

          I should say I as a newbie, I shouldn’t speak for all newbies. But I truly value each and every perspective here from the newb to the former chumps who’ve been living in Tuesday for years.

        • Marcus Lazarus, my reason for coming back long after meh is probably similar to the reason old soldiers hold reunions: because what happened to us and what happened after were such profound life experiences they must not only be never forgotten, but we must share our experience and insight in the hopes that others never again have to endure what we went through.

          Also, Chumplady’s advice and UBTs are hilarious.

    • I’m eight years out and doing well, but still need my CL fix everyday. Reading these comments today….geez, I know what happened, but I still can’t wrap my mind around it. It threw me into a tailspin and I’m still trying to deal with it everyday. It fractured my children in weird ways – my 33 y/o son hasn’t spoken to me in 4 years, my 27 y/o daughter has issues with forming romantic relationships, and romantic relationships are still the farthest thing from my mind.
      He blew up our family. Our bedrock. He’s remarried but not happy. I’m surviving and making a good go of it, but shit, this was a nuclear bomb. And FYI, I would NEVER, in a million years, consider talking to him, much less taking him back. I got scammed big time.

      • I wrapped my mind around it after 12 years of abuse/ cheating/lying/gaslighting and “ two years post DDays” reconciliation ( basically passing time was supposed to cure me so I don’t bother him with comments about the past”)

        I know. It’s simple.

        They don’t care.
        They now exactly what is being done to us.
        They now exactly the effects of constant mindfuckery.
        They know and see the heartbreak and desperation.
        They just simply don’t care.
        They want to fuck, chat and date other women in secrecy and we are the obstacles there.

      • Marcus – we are the Vets down at the Legion talking about the war. Sure – it was a while ago, but it still happened to US and we remember.

        If we can save others through our experiences we are here to help. Only a chump understands the process of being chumped and all the pain, fear and confusion attached to being cheated on.

  • Katie,

    I’m sure you’ve heard the fable about the frog in boiling water? If you read this particular rendition (, I believe the key to your situation is found at the very end, in the moral:

    “Moral: The frog couldn’t make it due to its own inability to decide when it had to jump out. We all need to adjust according to the situations but there are times when we need to face the situation and take the appropriate action when we have the strength to do so before it’s too late. Walk out before you need to jump.”

    Sweetheart, it’s time to ACT! You should JUMP out of the pot of boiling water before your strength is gone, your one precious life has been wasted and your opportunity to push the reset button has vanished.

    Please be kind to yourself – LEAVE!

    Don’t be like me, a chump who wasted 40 years of her life loving, trusting, and believing in the wrong man. If only someone had told me the ugly truth about my disordered XH, had shown me all of the red flags I wasn’t able to see, and had encouraged me to get out early on, I would have done so. Please don’t make this your story, too!

  • Katie, it hurts like hell now. CL is right, the pain really is finite. Only 4 months of no contact here, and what happens when we get away long enough to see this whole picture, it’s life changing.
    CN is a link in the support line that you will build for yourself-because you are so strong. The time it takes to heal- I’m sorry, it can’t be hurried. I believe that my worst day without him is still so much better than those “good” days with him.

  • God, I needed this today (been reading for a while, but first time commenting). Six months post d-day, five days after telling him I want a divorce. I pick me danced, spent thousands on counseling, read every book, begged, pleaded, marriage policed. It did no good. He just raged and resisted and pouted. And once I asked for a divorce, he was in contact with OW 12 hours later, telling me he didn’t owe me anything anymore. Then I found out the affair had been seriously minimized, the contact had been ongoing even while he was sobbing in marriage counseling. “I can finally come clean with you!” he declared. Even post “final disclosure, I swear!!” I found his secret phone last night. There is no end to the lies and deception coming out of his, but I need to hear the pain is finite.

    • Hugs to you Adaira sweetie. Yes, it can be a long road – tho you are clearly Mighty – but it is finite! Love x

  • Katie I cannot tell you how much BETTER life is without this immaturity in your life.

    I hung on for 7 years where you are now ….

    I had a happy weekend full of people who like me, who don’t treat me like sh*, who have lunch and happy conversations with me.

    ONE exchange with him even after months and months? All the wrath, contempt, disdain, self doubt comes back.

    I am back on even keel now, no contact is the best contact. I stayed in your life, and then eventually I was forced to do what Chump Lady says (the hurt and insult just got too big) ….

    TRUST, getting away is so much better. So much more peaceful, kinder, calmer.

    PS: and no, despite 1 soul mate (his real true love!) and 3 casuals since, he hasn’t been great for someone else. Meh for me but I am enjoying being single and discovering myself.

  • Hi Katie:

    Here’s the deal. You know you can’t stay married to someone who’s cheating on you. That’s clear in your message. If you two were working on it, the rest of us here at Chump Nation would nod our heads and say that we’ve been there, done that, and there ain’t no such things as unicorns. And even if there were, once a cheater, always a cheater–at least as far as the Chump goes. No matter what happen, the cheater can’t go back and uncheat. The Chump will always know that the Cheater is capable of cheating.

    So your real question is how do you take the steps toward divorce. The answer is simple. You take the first step.

    For me, this involved talking to lawyers. You don’t tell your Cheater you’re doing this. In your case, it looks as if your cheater has anger issues, so you really don’t want to tip your hand. Think of it as keeping your options open. Learn the process in your state and what you can expect. Start to take steps to safeguard your finances.

    The next step is to disengage emotionally. Here you will need to fake it before you make it. Seeing the legal issues helps. But read Chump Lady’s book, or at least the post on untangling the skein of fuckedupness.

    Cheating is an act of narcissistic entitlement. All your cheater is thinking about focuses on them. They’re entitled to an affair because they’re unhappy/you spend too much time looking after the kids/they feel connected to this person they see at work/they really like sex with hookers/whatever justification flits into their brain.

    None of these are the real reasons for cheating. Cheaters cheat because they can. At some level, they feel entitled to cheat. They can ALWAYS find an excuse.

    You might labor under the assumption that your cheater has been seduced by the AP. Yeah, well, about that. Even though I knew I had to divorce my cheater, I kept thinking that he’d cheated in a moment of weakness. He had a lot of work pressure. His father had died the previous year. I was convinced he was suffering from depression. Then Schmoopie showed up as someone who was weak and vulnerable. She had a terrible track record with men and he was the first nice guy she’d met. Of course she fell for him! He was the knight in shining armor.

    You see? I invented an entire story about why he cheated!!!

    It was only when I was interviewing Lawyer #2 and asking about how I could safeguard myself from CheaterX’s spending on Schmoopie that I realized that I was dead wrong.

    It wasn’t that Schmoopie had this track record of dating awful men (she’d had at least one affair previously) and that CheaterX was this nice but really weak guy. Nope. Her radar was still set for awful men. She hooked up with CheaterX because CheaterX is the kind of guy she hooks up with.

    Once I saw this, the scales fell from my eyes and I could see CheaterX for who he was, not what I wanted him to be or the man that he had the potential to be.

    Katie, he’s shown you who he is. His mask has slipped. Yes, it hurts to realize that you were conned, but you know what? That’s on him.

    You deserve someone who can return your love.

  • He already realizes what he did. He just doesn’t care. If he ever comes to you stating that he finally realized how much he hurt you, this will be quickly followed by something he wants from you. Any empathy he shows will only be for show and to manipulate you. If he actually had empathy, he wouldn’t have had an affair.

  • When I first found the love letter from my Ex to his co worker just the day after he started a job in a new city 2 hours away. He convinced me it was just an EA because she made him feel ok about changing jobs and I was too stressed about the moved.

    Well I danced for 7 months, but I also set myself up with lawyers and divorce papers on the side without letting him know. I took the house off the market and stalled my moving. My gut knew it was over but my heart still “HOPED”. I let him say horrible things to me while dancing, He got physically more abusive but I still danced.

    So one day while visiting and house hunting in the new city, I find the text message (marriage police for 7 months) that confirms it was a long term PA and I yelled and fought for an hour than ran to get into my car to go home, and hit the brick wall of truth about him and how little the marriage and family meant to him. How little I mattered.

    I had the divorce attorney’s card and papers instructing him what to do to pick up the divorce papers sitting in my glove compartment so I made myself get out of the car with them, and hand them to him. It still shocks me how much I wanted to drive away without pulling that trigger on the divorce. I think pushing myself past that fear of how will I make it (SAHM with cancer) and how will the kids feel and just taking care of me FIRST was the hardest thing I have ever done.

    I was so afraid, I mourned and I have cried for days, and financially it hurt but I have never once regretted my choice in pushing for the divorce and moving forward with my life.

  • “Research tells us that Hurt Partners have a harder time recovering from the PTSD-like symptoms of affair discovery or disclosure if their partner has an inclination toward narcissism (Joseph, 2017).

    And it usually is discovery. The very technology that facilitates infidelity often betrays as Involved Partner as well.

    Conducting a successful undetected ongoing affair take more than just narcissism. It takes work. It demands strategic thinking (Machiavellian Intelligence) and the capacity to dodge, defend, deflect, and deny with skill (psychopathy).

    Personality psychologists now believe that Machiavellian Intelligence, psychopathy, and narcissism are distinct personality traits that have a correlation to one another. Researchers Paulhus & Williams (2002) named these three traits the Dark Triad.

    In other words, this same Dark Triad is often found in Involved Partners, as well as Mate Poachers.

    Researchers discovered that subjects who score high on the Dark Triad employ an opportunistic mating strategy which is inherently unfaithful and strategic. Narcissists in therapy are keenly sensitive to micro-expressions that might betray the frustration many therapists feel when dealing with their client’s narcissistic impenetrability and moral labyrinths.

    narcissism and Infidelity

    Narcissistic Men might be under siege in today’s headlines, but they are remarkably resilient.

    Haslam & Montrose (2015) found that women are more attracted to narcissistic men because of the resources and status they may bestow.

    This is despite the fact that these same men will lack commitment and will stray. This research may not be PC, but it is solid.

    Men who score highly on narcissism are in turn, highly attracted to potential mates who are attracted to them, soothe their egos, and have a caring and connected stance. Then they do whatever the hell they want.”

    Even the therapists find them hard! Just run.

    • “employ an opportunistic mating strategy which is inherently unfaithful and strategic”

      My Cheaters mating strategy was very strategic. He knew I was good wife material but Im now sure he continued auditioning new ones all the time. I set a boundary and called his bluff “marry me now or lose me” and he was annoyed that his auditioning for the star spot was over but he continued to date apparently.

      I know he chose me for my hair color, height, job…etc.

  • “In this groundbreaking book, Lawrence Josephs argues for a new understanding of the psychological foundations of “cheating.”

    Relationships are complicated. And as many therapists know, infidelity is a distressingly common issue for romantic couples. Unfortunately, most psychotherapy approaches tend to see infidelity as a manifestation of broader underlying problems and rarely offer insights or interventions to specifically address unfaithfulness and the impulses behind it.

    Drawing on research in social, personality, and evolutionary psychology that examines the crucial roles of attachment theory and “dark” personality traits such as narcissism and low empathy, Josephs offers a complex but intuitive model that explains how and when intimate relationships work, and don’t work.”

  • Katie, I had 5 ddays with ex narcopath because I simply could not let go.

    He would commit a relationship crime, I would leave and go no contact, he would figure out some inane way of getting around the no contact and hoover me, every time for 2 weeks. And then he would go silent. The silence would kill me. The trauma bonds were so intense that I mistakenly believed that the pain, instead of growing less over time, would grow worse. I believed it was because of “true love”.

    No. It was because of trauma bonds. And the mindfuck.

    After 5th and final dday I was crushed, done and it was over. I was beyond humiliated that I attempted yet another reconciliation and was embarrassed to even tell friends and family. Luckily, that reconciliation attempt only lasted 3 days before he fucked that up. When you can’t hold your head up proudly anymore, THAT is when you know you’re done.

    The first few months were rock bottom, dark. I barely remember how I functioned. I cried. I raged. I was depressed. The urge to contact him was so strong. But i would call my mom and she would remind me of all the shit he did and that kept me strong.

    Now, it’s been a year. It’s been a hard year. But now? I can go half the day without thinking about him! And when i do? It’s fleeting. I’ve stopped trying to analyze it to death. It’s over. I can’t change it. My feelings for him were real, and his weren’t. I’m free now. My kids and I are safe.

    At my lowest moment, I cried to God and begged for peace in my life.

    This spring, I bought a kayak.

    Today was the first day I’ve been alone on the water in a few weeks, and with every dip of my paddle, i let go of all that shit I was holding on to.

    Usually, I stew about him during my whole paddle. But today, I was halfway through my paddle before I realized I hadn’t thought about him yet. And all the paddling I have done over the summer has been almost like therapy, helping me release it all.

    Being on the water is my peace. I am so grateful for it and sometimes the beauty of the sunset or the wildlife moves me to tears. I am free!

    One day, Katie, this will be you. You just have to take that first step. Dip your paddle and release it all……

  • Katie,

    Your brief note was all about him.

    I hope you can see how eyeballs deep you are in co-dependency. Why are YOU are seeking your worth from someone so unconcerned for you. Reciprocity, it’s a thing.

    You do not accept abuse in the name of LOVE. You leave. You value you. I don’t even know you and I value you more than your fuckwit does because I won’t intentionally hurt you – ever.

    As for the “what if he changes for someone else”… don’t go down that rabbit hole. He isn’t good for you. Who cares if he’s good for the next one? (And, for what it is worth, I think the statistics from the many here in CN would prove out that he won’t change for anyone.) I know my fuckwit STILL places personal ads even though he just co-signed a mortgage with his newest “tru luv”.

    In the words of Mr. Sparkles from his personal ad: “I’m not looking to change my situation or anyone elses. I just want to feel alive again and flirt and fill in the piece that is missing.” He has been with this newest woman for only 18 months. THEY. DO. NOT. CHANGE.

    Act now. You can do this.

  • Katie, it isn’t easy. It sucks. I was you last year and the year before that and the year before that, thank God I read ChumpLady’s book. I am now working full time taking care of 5 kids pretty much by myself, I was so scared at first but now but I’m thriving! It’s a decision you will make when you’re ready. Filing for divorce is the bravest thing I’ve ever done.

  • Here’s another angle that might join the others to help with the initial release of this cheater.

    It isn’t really the cheater you are struggling to let go. It’s the *wish* of what would have been, should have been, could have been, the dream of what the person was, that is so hard to give up on. It’s so painful to grieve a huge portion of your life that you can’t get back. It isn’t insurmountable, but it sure does feel insurmountable from the uphill side.

    Here’s the hope, though — given that the cheater has made it obvious that s/he isn’t that dream, isn’t offering the good things you wished for, isn’t even a small part of any of the dream… The cheater is irrelevant, actually. Letting the cheater go doesn’t increase the grief because the cheater isn’t even really the point. The point is that you’ve lost the dream, not the being. You’re already living the worst of it. Letting go of painful things and cruel people that don’t serve your healing can only be good for your tired heart.

    My heart breaks for the dreams we all grieved. It also sings a song of joy for the healing we help each other through as we release the mannequins that are these cheaters and embrace real life and real joy and make new real dreams.

    You can do this, even though it is super hard. We are living proof.

    Let go of the mannequin cheater that isn’t the person your heart has actually lost, and embrace the painful but empowering freedom of the reality of you — that you are the same great person you always were and no idiot can take that away from you. No ugliness in someone else can make your beautiful soul ugly. No cruelty can make you a bad person. No liar can say things about you that are true – don’t believe more of their lies. You know your true heart.

    We know you can do it because we have been there. We are real, and supportive, and asking for nothing in return. Lean here, let go of the mannequins, and embrace the real future. ????

  • ‘Raging Baby Man’ …totally describes X to a tee! I am so glad to be away from his firing range, physically, mentally, emotionally. Katie what finally got me to turn was feeling the hot seething rage of ‘how dare you!’ flowing through me. I was in the office when I felt this and I could feel my whole body violently spazz with anger. This actually scared me and I had to Google some tapping exercises to try and dissipate my emotions. But I had no idea how much pain and suffering was underneath my need to control and not give up the unhealthy relationship.

    TLDR; feeling my anger in its entirety was the thing that made me take action and shield up through No Contact. CL is right, you have to flee now Katie; you can better nurse your wounds later when you are in a safer place.

  • I wrote in the forums the other day about what it means to be “discarded.” The question we were pondering was about cheaters who just leave and “ghost” the chump and the family. My point is that the “discard” and the devaluation overlap. No one can cheat on you without devaluing you first. The cheater has to believe it’s OK to betray you. To devastate you. To risk the happiness of the kids. To break public vows. To lie to you, directly. To lie by omission. To lie, over and over. The cheater has to believe it’s OK to gaslight you, to make you doubt your senses and sanity, to undermine your very sense of reality. The cheater thinks it’s fine to talk family money & marital assets and spend it on their side piece, the AP. The cheater thinks it’s fine to have pillow talk about you, the spouse, where your deep secrets, hopes, fear, and vulnerabilities are laid bare to someone who is clearly an enemy. That’s what devaluation involves. After you’ve been lovebombed and told you are the greatest thing since sliced bread, then the cheater starts to devalue you and YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW IT’S HAPPENING. You think the Cheater is sad or depressed or unhappy at work–or you think you need to work harder at the marriage. But the cheater’s moods and choices are not about you. They’re about the belief that they are entitled to do what they want. But the time you hit D-Day and start to figure out what’s going on, the foundational discard has already happened. Your well-being, health and happiness are not longer of interest to the Cheater, who might still be willing to live with you as a second income, as a childcare provider, as the person who cleans the toilets or cuts the grass.

    Katie writes, “I simply cannot give up.” But that’s not a helpful framing. This situation is not about “giving up.” It’s about saving yourself and your kids, because your kids will grow up thinking that cheating, lying, gaslighting and abuse are normal. And meanwhile, the clock is running on your own “one wild and precious life.”

    • LJ, looking back, this all happened to me. 2 months before he said divorce (3 months before D-Day) he stopped texting me, stopped calling me, stopped asking anything about me and was a little cold and definitely indifferent. He’s off on Fridays and I would ask him what he did today. He lied for 2 months about going to hookers. He gaslighted me and put all our problems on me. It was awful watching this transformation that then lead to a complete discard. Once he said divorce, he was done with me and cast me aside. It was a very cold time for me watching my husband who I know loved me at some time become this very ugly man. I still get teary thinking about it. I once told him that he could have done this honorably and just gotten a divorce but I don’t think he was willing to discard until he found the OW that he left me for.

    • This is excellent, LovedaJackass. By the time you figure out what’s going on, “the foundational discard has already happened.”
      Katie, I hope you can find the strength to get out sooner rather than later.
      He’s already gone.

  • My two cheater ex’s both went on to embark on very public displays of their supposedly perfect new relationships. I recall it making me feel strangely jealous, despite the fact that I had no desire to have them back.

    What time does is prove that most people repeat the same patterns in relationships unless they apply a lot of work to change their behaviours. So, why would a cheater suddenly become faithful….that’s no fun for them. Both of my arswipes have chumped their OWs.

    I would say don’t waste another precious moment of your freedom thinking about your cheater. Make your own life events the centre stage show in your mind.

    Time will bring you snippets of schadenfreude and karma laughs. I just read the other day that one of mine declared bankruptcy four years ago…I never knew until now, but it did give me a warm fuzzy feeling to know things aren’t perfect in luvved-up land.

  • Katie Katie Katie. You can’t give up… right now. But there comes a day in the life of every abusive relationship where someone goes enough. When there is a rebellion. And people like us who see cheating as something wrong are most likely to make a break…sooner or later. So I’m not worried about you and you need not worry so much cause one day you will leave. The only thing you will wonder is what took you so long.

  • Oh yes! ‘Putting down the pipe’ can be so difficult. My hands are almost itching for a hit. I can almost taste the hit. It’s an urge so strong that it almost takes on a physical form.

    I can get lost for an hour at a time stalking him on social media. I tell myself that I want to be able to ‘see The enemy coming’ and do my recon for our divorce proceedings and so on. I’m also hoping to see that he does indeed suck.

    Sadly, what I see is their ‘sweetness’ and ‘conjoined’ life. Inseparable. Absorbed. Forsaking all others. Forgetting me and our brood.

    I haven’t seen the karma bus and still I look for it.

    I have to believe that it doesn’t matter if karma hits him on a Tuesday or in a bus. I tell myself it doesn’t matter if he sucks or not. Nor should I care that they probably can’t pee without having to go together.

    And still that urge to take a puff!

    It’s been 10 days since I last looked him up online. Tonight I almost did. I’ve spent many moments thinking about doing it. And why? Because I want to feel connected to him. Or at least I think that’s why. He’s been in my life for 30 years. That’s a chunk of time! Being connected to him is a habit and there were lots of lovely moments, experiences and so on in the 30 year span. He was never properly connected to me though. Even early on he was cheating (which I didn’t know about).

    So honestly, Congratulations to you incredible Chumps who have broken free of the pipe and had the strength not to turn around and look at the pile of poop you left behind/or got left behind by. It takes such will power. No contact/grey rock/put the pipe down/walk away from the steaming pile of poop!

    I’m trying.

    Katie, keep walking toward the light. He won’t change. They don’t. Not for real. They just pretend for a while. You don’t need to untangle him. You don’t need to stay connected with him. Let him go. Let the false image younhave of him float away. When he shows himself as a cheater, believe that that is the real him.

    My young son said in reference to his father, “it’s not that he is a nice guy who made a few bad choices. He is a horrible person who made a few good choices and fooled us.”

    My son is so bang on. They cheaters mascarade as nice people. They aren’t. We need to understand that. I spent years and years feeling sorry for him for his poor chooses. WTF?!

    Katie, please believe him when he behaves horribly. He is horrible.

    • You’ll make it, Crickets. Kudos for your hard work so far and happy you have a clear-headed insightful son by your side. Love x

  • Retrospect makes it easier for me to say “GET OUT, you’ll be immensely better soon!!!” But I’ve been where you’re at–in prolonged hope, pain, and indecision. So here’s this–hope is a tricky thing and it’s hard to kill it, and there’s no need to that at the moment. Just take the next logical step of separation. This is a common step taken by millions of couples for millions of reasons. Nothing overly radical is happening here. Physically separate from him–one of you move out. Consult an attorney about this or some other professional to ensure you’re doing it right. This doesn’t have to be “the end”…if that’s what you’re afraid of, but it will provide you with the space required to get clarity. Whether or not he can change, or if you even care, will be made more obvious with time and space. Your heart doesn’t have to be in it–just let your body lead on this one. It’s amazing how emotional abuse becomes so clear once you’re away from it.

    I like CLs burning building metaphor that she uses sometimes. When you’re house is burning down (as yours is currently), you don’t stand around hoping the flames stop. You get out and save yourself. You can do this while hoping in your heart that it doesn’t burn to the ground, but you must at least leave to ensure you stay alive. You can leave and put a hose on it to see if that helps. You can watch it burn then try and rebuild it, you can move, etc. BUT YOU ALWAYS GET OUT FIRST. So, get out, then decide your method of reconstruction. Cause right now, you’re burning alive.

    • “…–in prolonged hope, pain, and indecision.”

      This speaks perfectly to me, I’ve been in this back and forth for 22 years…

      …and this.

      “Your heart doesn’t have to be in it–just let your body lead on this one.”

      I keep telling myself to ignore my heart and just go with the facts. I like the way you said it though, to just let your body lead. I’m trying to turn off the hope and indecision and just move forward with leaving. And when it hurts like hell, I tell myself; “it’s supposed to hurt and that doesn’t mean it’s the wrong decision.”

      Reading all of the stories and comments here really helps me to clear the fog in my head and know whats real. It’s so hard to know what’s real when you’ve been deceived and lied to for so many years.

      • It IS hard to know what’s real. But you’re asking a much broader question than needs to be asked at your stage. For this step, you don’t need to know what’s real, except that what you’re doing isn’t working…so do something else. And the logical “something else” is to get away from a potential source of pain (e.g., your ex). Nor do you need to turn off hope right now. Believe it or not, with separation hope will dwindle naturally if that’s what’s warranted.

        If you separate and get some good time and space (definition varies depending on your brand of ex–that meant no contact for me) and you still have the same hope OR you’re still in the exact same type and amount of pain, then reevaluate. Who knows, maybe you did make the wrong choice?! A separation can be undone–it’s not the end of the world. Maybe your cheater is a unicorn. But you’ll never know without trying…and since you’ve probably tried everything else, try this.

        This isn’t revolutionary–this is what a doctor would do if you came down with an illness. They take the most obvious cause of your pain and try to eliminate it to see if that’s it. If not, try the next thing. I suspect by the time the average chump actually walks out that door (or kicks our their cheater) they have already tried about 100 little and big things to no avail.

        Look, it’s useful to get on this site and commiserate, especially from hindsight. Everyone wants to be validated. But you don’t have to demonize someone to separate from them. For some of us, our exes looked and acted like demons so that part came easy. For others, it’s not so clear. But you are miserable, are you not? So do the next logical thing.

        What really helped me what describing in detail the facts to some trusted people in my life. I did my best to not embellish and tried to lay it our like a court case or something. By the 3rd person who told me I had to get out, shit got pretty clear. I STILL didn’t end it just yet, but I at least I knew that it had to end, which was monumental. Best of luck–do the next logical thing and you’ll find yourself unstuck right quick.

        • NotANiceChump,

          Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post.

          Your post sounds so firm and encouraging and I think you’re right that: “Believe it or not, with separation hope will dwindle naturally if that’s what’s warranted”. That is my NEW hope right there.

          The last time we separated (he acted like he wanted me back) but he slept with 3 more women. I blamed myself because if I hadn’t asked for a separation he wouldn’t have now slept with a total of 7 women since we got married.
          Last year I told him I wanted a divorce (he’d been drinking daily for a couple years and losing his temper) and the next day he was “friending” women on social media.
          There is certainly something wrong with me for allowing myself to be disrespected in so many ways for so long.
          I know the minute I leave the house he will be looking for my temporary replacement and confidently trying manipulate me to come back. So when I get the guts to leave I can not look back with any hope.

          Yes, I am miserable and I will do the next logical thing 🙂

          • Yes do that thing, So Many, logic is our friend in the relationship fog!
            But just let me say – there’s not so much ‘wrong’ with you as you think. It is VERY hard, when you love, to recognise how your self-esteem is slowly eroded by what they do, day by day, week by week, year by year. Your self-esteem will come flooding back once you make a stand for yourself. There will be setbacks, but it’s what you’ve suffered that’s damaged your self-respect and I’ll bet there’s no lack of it truly, or you wouldn’t be here. Mighty and hugs to you today, sweetie x

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