Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Dear Chump Lady, Why do people assume cheating is the chump’s fault?

faultDear Chump Lady,

I’ve recently been pondering something that irks me, and would really appreciate your opinion.

In various conversations with some friends over the last couple of years, if a case of infidelity is ever discussed, usually the first thing people comment on, is their opinion of the chump.

For example:
A dear friend whose brother was cheated on by his wife several years ago, was telling me, that the man her ex sister-in-law had cheated with, was well known for serial cheating on his wife (a unicorn). My friend went on to comment that his (unicorn) wife was stunning! My friend had a look of confusion on her face. A moment later, she realised her own flawed thinking, and hastily added ‘not that anyone deserves to be cheated on’.

Last week, I had two friends over for the evening. They have a friend in common, who several years ago, cheated on her husband not long after having their third child. Think online hook up sites several times a week.

They both spoke of their confusion because her husband (now ex), had been a good-looking, really nice guy who adored his children. They decided the birth of the third child must have done something to her mind because before that, she and her husband were very happy together.

According to my friends, after he found out, and she became a single parent to three children, she sorted her head out, stopped the hook up sites, and worked every hour she could. They seemed to think this was an indication of good character. I saw it as an indication of a cheater who didn’t have a husband at home to leave her kids with while she went out screwing around. Plus financial struggles from being a single parent. But maybe I’ve grown cynical.

The only comment I made throughout the discussion, was that when an affair is brought to light, the first thing people seem to do, is scrutinise the person who was cheated on, when they should be looking at the cheater. I was met with blank stares.

But then, I think I too am guilty of this bizarre behaviour. Three years ago, I was married with a 6 month old, when I discovered my ex had been cheating on me with prostitutes since before we were married. Turned out he’d cheated on all his ex girlfriends too. When I first began to tell friends and family, I always told the bit about ‘since before we were married’ and how he’d been cheating all his adult life. To… what? Take the scrutiny off me? To let people know in an instant that it wasn’t my fault, and thus stopping them checking out my waistline/hair/face/attitude?
I know it wouldn’t have mattered/was not my fault, if it had only been the once and after we were married. Yet I still felt like I needed to defend myself in the telling of the horror story I’d found myself living in.

So what is it? Why does society first look to the victim of infidelity when trying to understand the cheater’s actions?

Yours sincerely,

LucyInTheSky

Dear Lucy,

So many reasons, but the first is that betrayal scares the bejeezus out of people. It’s hard to imagine what could make you feel more vulnerable than realizing that those closest to you were conspiring against you.

Don’t want to feel vulnerable? Can’t imagine yourself powerless? Suppress your empathy. Assign blame.

Well, surely there is something you did that compelled this person to abuse you.

But hang on, we can’t call it abuse. We have to minimize it first. It’s “an act of exuberant defiance” (thanks Esther Perel!), it’s just messing around, it’s What Men Do (so put up and shut up), it’s What Women Do (why didn’t you treat her special?), it’s No Big Deal, it’s monogam-ish, it’s the subject of farce and rom-coms and wink, wink, nudge, nudge, naughty, naughty!

It’s never feet in stirrups for STD check after years of presumed monogamy. It’s never paternity checking your children. It’s never Junior opening the laptop and seeing Dad’s multimedia sexting. It’s never the vomiting and raw grief. It’s never the discovery of stolen monies spent on affairs.

What it is? Your fault.

Look, on your last point — I did the same thing. My cheater, turns out, was a serial cheater going back his whole life. Through two other marriages. Throughout our ENTIRE relationship, he maintained a double life.

So, what did I do to make this man cheat on me? I have no idea. Apparently it wasn’t so awful that he didn’t pursue me and ask me to marry him. (Excuse me, Esther, “mate in captivity.”)

But it’s no excuse! You’re supposed to have KNOWN he was a serial cheater. You were supposed to have SUSSED OUT that he was a player. How could you be so stupid, Lucy?

Why do people believe this shit is all our fault? Why do WE believe it?

1.) Chumps assume the blame because it gives us a sense of control. If this is our fault, then we can FIX ourselves and stop these bad things from happening. Control is a very seductive commodity when you’ve been chumped. False hope sells. The RIC is predicated on it.

The truth is that we cannot compel other people to act. We only control OURSELVES.

2.) There is a therapy tradition that believes all problems are 50/50. On the face of it, it seems like the grown-up approach. Own your shit! We all contributed to the unhappiness. We all brought issues to the marriage. But it flies in the face of what we know about addiction, mental illness, and personality disorders. No, some people can behave utterly self-destructively and manipulatively. People lie to therapists, their spouses, and themselves. And whatever issues both sides contributed to the general dysfunction are eclipsed when there is abuse. Infidelity is abuse.

For more on personality disorders and therapy traditions — check out blog friend Dr. George Simon.

3.) Some people suck. Not everyone can walk into another person’s cracked open heart. Not everyone can be present when you’re in pain. That’s okay. It’s scary stuff. But it takes an asshole to blameshift. Were you frigid? Did you get fat? Can’t get it up anymore? Work too late? Neglect him for the children? 

And I would argue it also says something about another person’s values when they think looks should protect you from cheating. But, but! She was PRETTY! She got cheated on? (So what, is okay to cheat on the ugly? They deserve it?) He was a good father and she checked out on him? I wonder what he’s REALLY like? (Maybe he IS a good guy and she sucks.)

Sucky people do this to feel safe. So they can check the boxes and know it Won’t Happen to Them. I’m not frigid! Check! I’m nice to my wife! Check! Ergo I’m SAFE.

Lucy, I’m glad you’re speaking up when you see chump bias in action. Chump Nation must follow your example. Let’s change the narrative, folks!

This one is a rerun. The UBT is recovering, and I had to mop its fevered brow.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Also, apologies for all the comments in moderation yesterday. WTF spam filter? On the one day I couldn’t get to the queue. I’ll be more vigilant. Akismet needs a kick in the Akis.

  • 2 and 3 really apply to me. Yes, the Dickhead sucked as a person and as a husband. As for 2), I’ve realized that my marriage was doomed from the moment I laid eyes on the Dickhead. He never truly cared about me as a wife or a friend. He never made me a priority. When the wife appliance got too emotionally tired and the kibble source ran out, I was kicked to the curb. Hell, he met his OW 3 weeks before he filed and they are still together. He needed a new source and he found one, not including the cheating beforehand. All he needs is kibble and cake, the source is not important.

    • ” I’ve realized that my marriage was doomed from the moment I laid eyes on the Dickhead.”

      Patsy (a poster here) and I had a slumber party in Africa once and this is one of the things we talked about sitting on the bed in the hotel…our fates were sealed the moment our eyes fell on them…nothing any of us could have ever done would have changed any of it. Any woman who married my nowdeadcheater would have become the Enemy Wife Appliance Blame Receptacle.

      • And I had a professional warning!

        “Do not marry him, he will make you very unhappy” . That Jungian therapist stuck her neck out and passed an opinion to try and save me.

        But he was very good looking, had money [truth hurts] and overwhelming love bombing feels like nothing else on earth. Well, I paid for my stubbornness for refusing to listen to someone who did care about me, in Consequences.

        My marriage ended exactly as it was always going to end, when I couldn’t forget my needs any more and angrily tried to make him meet them. When that didn’t work, I gave up and withdrew.

        Cue OW ‘I don’t love my wife any more, she doesn’t care about me”.

        It all panned out exactly as it was always going to. I just hope that I have grown from the experience, fixed myself, and become a better, more authentic human being. I think I have …

        • Funnily enough, the people who cut him NO slack, are other men.

          ‘He sounds like a bit of an asshole” I have heard a few times.

        • Exactly this – “My marriage ended exactly as it was always going to end, when I couldn’t forget my needs any more and angrily tried to make him meet them. When that didn’t work, I gave up and withdrew.”

          It was then that I really looked at him and knew that he never had my back. In the 19 years we were together when I finally needed my husband to help prop me up and to offer emotional support, he was turned around and walked away.

          • SAME ^^ SAME ^^ SAME ^^

            – I was never loved to begin with (I was so determined to show her she was “lovable”).
            – I kinda always knew it wasn’t going to end well (2×4 to my head)
            – I had to attend to my own self, her kibbles dried up, and off she went.

            I really bought into blaming myself for a while. My Switzerland-friends want me to own some of it. And as I sat across from SF#1, she exclaimed “…(X) had a really hard year too.”

            I simply replied, “f-u”.

            I SHOULD HAVE SAID, “You mean she had to break up her family, break up w/ me her husband, AND break up w/ her boyfriend? That is hard. And really fucked up”

            I literally walked away from a 25+ year friendship. Hard to do. But I took a huge step toward believing in myself.

            • Yeah
              I relate
              Years ago, a long time close Sw. Man friend said to me something to the effect of implicating my supposed sexual inadequacy
              when another of STBX’s serial cheatings came to light front and center.

              I’ve put up with a lot from this long time close close friend over the years and this year when he did some other stupid bullshit I remembered what he said to me in that vulnerable moment of mine and I decided I don’t want to have anything to do with him.
              No explanation. No contact. Bye.
              Thanks to CN.

    • I too now understand my relationship with the ex was doomed from the get go. I was never loved by him either, and like you said, when I got emotionally tired and drained of kibble, I too was replaced (many months before I knew I had been replaced, by the way).

      I now know my ex had another affair 4.5 years ago. I’m almost certain he cheated on me the entire 9 years we were together with numerous woman, including hookers. In May, he came home from a business trip and told me all the bad things his boss did while there. I’d be willing to bet it was actually my ex, not his boss, who was bringing hookers into the room and losing a boat load of money gambling. It sure would explain why my ex didn’t have money to pay his share of the bills for over three years!

      Loved this statement, “All he needs is kibble and cake, the source is not important”. I’m much better off without him and am glad I’m no longer supplying kibble or cake!

    • I started to feel better when I realized that not only was there nothing I could have done to prevent my marriage from ending the way it did, I could have been a whole different person and it still likely would have ended the same way unless she cheated on him first or left him as soon as he started acting like a jerk. The only thing that would have been different were the excuses he came up with for why she wasn’t good enough. He would have found something that bothered him that he needed to complain about and cheat over.

      • I had the funniest moment a while ago…I was getting all dressed up to go out somewhere and when I was ready and looked as good as I could, I looked in the mirror and the oddest but truest thought (about nowdeadcheater) snapped into my head: “If you had put him in a room with 100 women, I would have been his favorite” I really was everything he liked…my problem is that being the favorite eventually made me the Wife Appliance Blame Receptacle…NOT something anyone wants to be !!

  • Because women are there own worst enemy everything is a competition. Whose the slimmest, most expensive wedding, house, salary whatever. My ex unfortunately choose drugs, alcohol prostitutes and people still stick up for him. He has changed but should have been decent in the first place. You don’t really know someone else’s marriage. People may think affairs are contagious, or you should have forgiven him, but there not the ones with sti’s or Hiv are they. Even they say if you loved him you would take him back. No contact or the grey stone method helps. My ex says prostitutes are always happy, I say, bet their kids aren’t. Shame the ones he picked had sti”s.

  • I never took the blame for my Ex Husbands affair with Skankella. Even when he made all kinds if excuses, He blamed me for his choice ti cheat. I realized that even if I would have been a Stepford wife he would have cheated anyway. He verbally abused me most of our marriage. And his cheating was just another form of abuse.

    I often hear people say “if the wife would have given what the man wanted. He would have never cheated.” That statement makes me angry. Just another blame the victim crap. I refuse to take the blame for my EX cheating.

  • I will never take on the shame and guilt that belongs to the cheater. If anyone tries to come at me to blame me for having been cheated on and lied to, they will be sorry. Cheating is abuse. That’s the new narrative. And then there will be a lot of work still to be done when you see how we treat victims of physical abuse…

  • A lot of Hollywood actresses and top models get cheated on. In the pick me dance, know women who get plastic surgery. Has nothing to do with looks. Its lack of character and opportunity.

    To be honest. I understand bitchy or meanness as making the other spouse unhappy and their ears look for understanding. The pants dropping follows. It’s the WRONG approach. The couple should talk it out, communicate , fix it or divorce. Again, lack of character and opportunity.

    • Ironically it seems like those people who are bitchy and mean stay in relationships. Most likely because their spouse is trans bonded but it seems so twisted that the mean stay married while it seems the nicer people get fucked over.

      Just something I have noticed for years now

      • MrsVain,
        I was thinking the same thing. I was a super easy wife. I see bitchy women keep husbands. I see sweet, cool, understanding women get chumped. I don’t get it.

        • I don’t get that either. All I ever wanted to do was take care of those I loved – I enjoyed it, and then I see women who treat their men like shit (and vice versa) and they are still married. Although I do wonder if they are happy marriages. I doubt it somehow for the person who is being treated badly!

          • Valid point. Abusers don’t pick people they can’t abuse. Confident mates who aren’t susceptible to their mindfuck aren’t liked. Now that I’m a graduate of Chumplady University, my friend’s unicorn avoids me and I have to go grey rock around both of them if they are on their wreckconciliation and hopium high.

      • Yes. I am so glad you pointed this out. I notice this dynamic as well. I see horrible and demanding wives with great husbands. And i wonder, what the hell was wrong with me? In all honesty, i have a lot more going for me too.

        My ex painted me out as this verbally abusive and lazy wife. My coworkers, my friends, my family all knew from the beginning that i was not like that. I just didnt see that.
        It took a long time and i still struggle with trying to proove i am not abusive…even though i was not.

      • I’ve noticed this too. I think it’s because serial cheating fuckwits deliberately partner with nice, easy, sweet, kind, understanding Chumps because Chumps are so trusting. On the other hand, I think people who are married to mean partners tend to be so beaten down emotionally that they don’t have the self esteem that allows them to see they are worthy of someone better.

      • I have written about this earlier, too. I was on a trip not too long after abandonment and noticed 3 stereotypically “harpy wives” at the airport. One was bitching out her hubby over food choices in the airport, huffing off to get her selections. One was making snarky rude comments about every person who walked by and whining about being huuuunnnnggggry which prompted her man-puppet to jump up and fetch her a sandwich. The 3rd was on the plane next to me, tattling on the person in front of her for accidentally not bringing their seat back to an upright position (she flagged down a steward to point out the passenger’s seat– they were not arguing over knee space, it was clearly just a lack of realizing their seat was back for landing). This and other rude, rude, rude behaviors; she was an absolute troll. And in every case the hubby just sat there and took it.

        My feeling during that trip was just exasperation. I was NEVER like any of those women. I was not a nag. I kept my needs to a minimum and served his needs (just like all mommies do). And yet I was not good enough for my X asshat. I realize he didn’t know he had it good with me and was always looking for something else, something different, something younger. I couldn’t compete because I was just me.

        I hope he gets saddled with nagging, harpy, whiny, beeyatches for the rest of his days. And I hope they cheat on him.

        Even though I know he will still hate me and not come to any recognition of what he had with me it would serve him right to live with some snarky twit.

        • Now IC – now you mention it, I share an office with a woman just like this. I get to listen to her EVERY DAY chewing her husband out over something or other. She is just one constant whinge machine. Not bad looking but good looks soon get forgotten when the bitching is constant. She told my other colleague and me she was upset because they hadn’t had sex in about 18 moths (she’s 46) so when she was in full throttle berating her poor husband on the phone one day my Irish colleague (sitting 3 feet away from me) sent me an email saying “and she wonders why he hasn’t shagged her in 18 months”! I had to leave the office for giggling!

        • Now L.C. I feel the same way. I work with families and see this all the time. I had my faults but nothing compared to how I’ve seen other spouses treat each other! The good news is the OW is a complete high maintenance bitch who requires jewelry, flowers, etc. Have fun with that asshole!

      • I have noticed that too. When my marriage blew up ex remarked “I wish I hadn’t been so nice to you, maybe I would have gotten better out of you”. Really, I think the opposite is true. If I hadn’t been so nice to him maybe he would have been too busy trying to please me to think about cheating on me. It would have kept him occupied and given him a challenge to work on. Maybe that’s why he likes Schmoopie so much. She is way more work than I ever was. I guess he figures that anything worth having is something you have to fight for. I figure the opposite. He was way to much work and definitely not worth it.

        • CIR,

          I also wonder if I had been harder to please he would have stuck around too. I was so easy to get along with and quick to support him that maybe he needed something where he had to try harder. But then I think about the ex wife before me who was obviously a different person and he did the same bullshit to her. And in addition, he was so crappy at apologizing, and talking things out, that if I did stick up for myself and demand things I would get his passive aggressiveness/silent treatment so it became not worth it to me to make demands for silly shit. Thus my slow and steady decline into Doormat Mode.

          • “Doormat Mode” – I love it!!! Finally, I can see my slow descent into Chump Hades where I became a doormat. Thank you CN, you’ve cleared my vision. I’m swimming across the river Styx now and I WILL GET TO THE OTHER SIDE.

    • We talked it out. We went to counseling. It was a waste of time. When the marriage finally ended, the OW he left for dumped him after a year of bliss because, unbeknownst to him, he was hitting on one of her girlfriends at a bar (the girlfriend told the OW). Since that time he’s gone through 2-3 more women, aided in breaking up a marriage, etc. He’s toxic poison. No wonder he’ll do anything to maintain his good guy image. No one would sleep with him otherwise. Sick fuck.

      I too have fallen into the trap of examining the chump. No idea why. Collectively the narrative needs to be changed.

    • I don’t think they are bitchy. They just kept their power from the beginning. That is so hard to do when you truly love your spouse and want them happy.
      I think every child needs a class in learning how to say “No”.

  • It’s easier to blame the chump because: he is sooo charming, he is sooo handsome, he dresses sooo well, etc., etc. Well, if I did not know I was married to a Sociopath for 36 years, then, how was anyone else supposed to know?

    • ^^^this
      and the Chumpy Wife of this Wonderful Cheater can seem unpleasant and embittered…because she is being abused

      • A friend of mine was talking about a cheating male friend who seemed A WHOLE AMAZING NEW PERSON now that he was having an affair. “I’ve met the wife,” she said. “She has no personality. There’s no life to her at all.”

        I said, “Maybe it’s because she’s been beaten down by a husband who’s been cheating on her and emotionally abusing her.”

        Friend said, “I hadn’t thought of that.”

        Also, I used to buy into the idea that cheating was about being with someone more attractive. When my ex-boyfriend cheated on me, with his old college girlfriend, I immediately assumed she must be beautiful and super-fit. I didn’t look up a photo of her until after we broke up. Wish I’d done that sooner. I wouldn’t have pick-me-danced. I would have said, have at it, bro.

        • Same here. The person I was cheated on for – was an obese hag. It was then, that I realised it was nothing I had done (or hadn’t done).

  • Cheaters are messed up zombies. I really don’t get it when people try to make chumps understand why did it happen. I once watched a TEDx video where a woman (it was long ago so I don’t know her name) tried to do exactly the same. I do not want to be harsh but it is the same as someone tries to explain to a rape victim why did it happen. BE CAREFUL NEXT TIME AND DO NOT GO OUT ALONE WHEN IT IS DARK.
    Cheaters are pathetic and they SUCK! The only thing that saddens me is that these remarks from chumps like they SUCK is just an echo. They move on, and some people like me carry the pain. I hope the pain will vanish ONE DAY. PEACE!

  • I’m fat. Always have been. Weighed the same when STBX and I hooked up. When they found out about his AP, the first thing that nearly every “well meaning” person (including a psychiatrist friend of his) said was, “Well, maybe you could lose some weight.” I guess as long as she’s fat…it’s O.K.

    Thing is, with all of his many faults, my weight had never been an issue with STBX. He even said on multiple occasions (even after being found out), that “I ruined him for skinny girls”, etc. He wasn’t looking for a big woman, but fell in love with one.

    But I guess it makes people feel safer…. as long as I’m thin, s/he won’t cheat. Not true. But tell yourself that as I go ask for extra-whip on my hot chocolate.

    • “It makes them feel safer” I think this is it. If people can find some flaw in a Chump, they can assure themselves it will never happen to them because they don’t have that flaw. In reality seeing a marriage that they viewed as good fall apart because of cheating scares the hell out of them. They latch onto anything to makes themselves feel safe.

    • FlabulousMoi (love your moniker) I have struggled with my weight since puberty and have heard my whole life since then what a great body I would have if I just dropped a few pounds. Gee thanks…

      I can’t count how many times I’ve heard a female chump (sadly even here in Chump Nation) say that they couldn’t understand why their WS chose their AP because the AP was overweight or just generally unattractive.

      I’ve read the sentence (and many variations of) “I can’t believe he cheated on me with that fat pig” and others responding, saying things like “he’s such an idiot, you are so beautiful! I would never cheat on someone as good looking as you are.”
      It’s really insulting and downright appalling when even people who have been chumped themselves perpetuate the absurd notion that a person’s physical appearance determines who they are and how they deserve to be treated. Chumps, of all people should know that beauty on the outside can easily hide ugliness on the inside.

      • Yep, it’s one of the reasons I don’t post often here. The body-shaming around here is crazy. Furthermore, i am ugly. I have a disabled child too. By all their measures, I deserved the abuse I got apparently.

      • Agreed. I noticed too with some comments. I understand that for chumps itnis a way to feel better. To think otherwise is to think something is wrong. It’s a form of magic think. The only thing that for sure is ugly about these cheaters et al is their character.

      • Now-I-know – I see the insults somewhat differently. I think when a chump (or certainly in my case) lashes out and name calls it really is just a way of “lashing out” – releasing that energy. In all honesty I never cared what people looked like – skinny, fat, ugly or beautiful – the only thing I was interested in was a smile that went up to the eyes. Believe me I’m no Greek goddess (well I do have both my arms so I am proving my point here). My ex (as I say below) weighed 112lbs and had cystic acne so definitely not George Clooney, but I didn’t care. Therefore I wouldn’t expect him to care if I put on a bit of weight. Calling the skank a fat-ankled cow is just my way of lashing out. A man could look like Marty Feldman for all I care but if he was intelligent and could make me laugh I would be eating out of his hand!

        • Attie both you and Now-I-Know-What-Hell-Looks-Like raise good points. I agree with you that posters are not intentionally trying to body shame anyone but just express their frustration and anger.

          At the same time, a side effect is connoting that certain bodily or physical traits are somehow less attractive or worse than others.

          I’m guessing there are also bald male chumps with beer-bellies and hairy backs who have to grin and bear it now and then, especially those with streaky underwear 🙂 .

          But I think we all agree that cheating and being chumped is independent of physical characteristics. And we can all agree that most cheaters are in no way “trading up” but in reality are just entitled pricks who don’t give a fuck.

          • Eh, I think people say this as some sort of comfort. Truth is, sometimes it is a trade up. The world isn’t just. Sometimes people don’t get what they deserve. In my case, my ex will find some woman to pay his Bill’s and pop out normal children for him. I’ll remain alone and have to keep fending for myself. Such is life. People want easy lives. When shit gets hard, people tend to default to the easier path. So yes, in my case, the ex did trade up. It doesn’t mean I’m a horrid person, but that’s what it was ????‍♀️

            • Whether or not they traded up really depends on one’s values. It could be viewed either way in most cases. If looks are important maybe (you may be harder on yourself than others would be), if character is important, then no. From a character perspective any woman who fucks another person’s husband and tears families apart for personal gain is not a trade up over a loyal and faithful spouse. Some people don’t see character as a priority, however. That tells you something about their character as well.

              • Oh she’s not better looking than me, but her life is easier. That’s the main point. People chase what’s easy. Character isn’t something that counts for most people. It’s comfort for those who cherish it, but I think it’s foolish to assume it will pay any rewards. It’s gotten me nowhere frankly. Doing the right thing has gotten me one long gray day, still trudging on.

              • Cheaters never trade up. Ever.

                It makes me mad when Chumps say this about themselves – that their ex went and got themselves a trade up.

                My contribution to changing the narrative is to convince Chumps that actually this isn’t the case – that cheaters never trade up; all they do is find an equally shitty character to pair off with.

                However, losing a partner with shitty character IS a trade up, especially if you gain a life.

              • Lola,

                I’d love to be convinced that mine didn’t trade up. He ran off with ten years younger, ten pounds thinner blondie with big boobs and a Bible. Oh, and she has a college degree and no kids or stretch marks.

                It sounds like he won. He got younger, prettier, thinner and The College Degree.

                The only thing I have going for me is that I’m a tough cookie and he didn’t destroy me like he wanted to. I guess I also make enough money that I can buy boobs too if I choose and if I diet hard enough I can loose the 10 lbs. I’ll out earn that slutty homewrecker because I’m damn good at what I do so despite not having The Coveted College Degree that was so damning to my marriage, I’ll make twice what she did this year. But somehow I still feel inadequate, broken, sad, overworked, underpaid, bitter, stupid, embarrassed, a failure and dumpy and frumpy single divorced mom. She is fresh, fun and funny with her cute little apartment, dog and free time.

                And then, after her, he can go get a better Wife Appliance because I helped him get a huge promotion so he makes more money and has more status in the work world so now he is even a more sparkly turd. Not even just sparkly but like thousands of twinkly shiny lights in a dark sky. That’s the part that gets me most, some other young fresh undeserving woman will take my spot. I loved that asshole and hate the idea of seeing him marry someone else. We had a great marriage, and he cheated as a selfish exit affair. It’s hard to be not good enough.

                I don’t know why but these past few days have been hard, I’ve been missing him like crazy for the past few days and me and the kids have had numerous crying spells. Forgive my sad rant, I’m leaning heavily on CN right now.

              • Oh Unexpected Chumpiness – TIS THE SEASON. I think a lot of us are struggling right now.

                “But somehow I still feel inadequate, broken, sad, overworked, underpaid, bitter, stupid, embarrassed, a failure and dumpy and frumpy single divorced mom.”

                Yes. This is not uncommon. But let’s try pulling it apart. You’re comparing yourself to someone who is largely a figment of the worst bits of your traumatized imagination.

                How do you know that she has a cute little apartment and a dog and is fresh and funny? Do you know this from meeting her and seeing the apartment and dog? Or are these stories brought to you by the TurdNetwork DayTime TV Channel that is her social media account? Or is your ex telling you this?

                If this is an image or a story that you’ve been sold by her Facebook page, get off Facebook, stat. If this is interference that’s being run by the horrible ex, go No Contact. You don’t need this shit; it’s being fed to you in order to harm you. And if you are going looking for it, stop pain shopping. You have enough on your plate right now.

                However, having a good imagination can also be put to work to help you, rather than harm you. If it’s hurting you to think she’s flawless, why not try being more realistic and acknowledging her shitty character in your imaginings? This can be imagined in many rewarding ways, eg. she’s cheating on him.

                Comparisons are odious, and they are simply pain shopping in another form.

                You are more than good enough. In fact, you sound like an amazing, bright, competent and high-quality woman. You have a well-paying job, and you have offloaded a man with shitty character.

                I know you miss him. But you miss the Lie. The ‘exit affair’ probably wasn’t the first – you know that from reading CL – and in any case the ‘exit affair’ thing is bullshit; it’s the turdiest turd choice of a whole sewage farm full of turds. Only a genuine turd would choose this way of leaving a marriage.

                If he chose to desert you in such a cowardly way, your marriage was not great. Not at the end. I know you loved the asshole, but you need to get some extra help with processing this, because I am wondering how much of this is genuine love, and how much of this is the urge to do the Pick Me Dance, which comes from panic and fear of being alone, rather than love.

          • My calling out the disgusting parts of my X asshat’s body are to highlight that it is certainly not looks that the OWs are chasing, and I bet he will hide his undies from them until they are totally hooked into being his next appliance.

            And in fact, I loved him anyway, didn’t I. I would have put up with every disgusting aspect of him and continued to launder his disgusting underwear until he was 103. I was prepared to change his diaper one day if required. I loved him from age 17 forward and was committed to it all, it was just part of the package in my mind. That is the point: I put up with his slow physical decay and I NEVER CHEATED. But me? He decided I was an inadequate appliance and traded down to a young Schmoopie. Twice.

            By calling out the gross parts of him I was showing that I don’t have the same shallow character he does.

            I doubt some sweet young thang will put up with that whole diaper deal.

        • The comparative analysis is set up by the cheater, isn’t it? It begins with looking. He was always looking.

          Cheaters are never satisfied. The grass is always greener until the next. I for one accepted responsibility for not measuring up and for allowing him to take my power. Unknowingly.

          There will always be someone out there willing to hook up with a cheater., one with low standards, needy or desperate financially. In the other hand they might be financially stable.

          The OW/OM have something we no longer find acceptable and that is a lack of integrity, honor and loyalty.

          They trade down. It has nothing to do with age, looks, weight, or sex.

          It’s always about power and control. Personally, I find the OW ugly, unattractive, and classless. It’s a package deal that begins and ends with a lack of character.

    • A simple google search for the homely OW’s famous stars have hooked up with instead of their gorgeous wives shows that it is not a beauty contest.

      The maid, the nanny, the whomever-warm-place-to-stick-it is a complete cow compared to the gorgeous wife. But, not good enough for the wandering dicks.

  • I forgot to mention that I told Dickhead that his cheating was 100% on him. Also pointed out that it doesn’t matter what he told his friends, family, coworkers, whoever -all this shit is totally on you and you will not lay it at my feet. He had options and the cheating was his choice. That act of a coward.

    • THIS ^^^^^^

      Thanks MissBailey! Simply put. Always a great reminder.
      No matter what I am not, it is not a reason to cheat.

  • One friend, now former friend, told me he cheated because our house is messy. I had driven him to cheat because obviously I made the house
    my domain. Her marriage ended when her husband cheated. With one of her friends. Who she still considers a friend.

    I have not spoken to her since, and I don’t plan to.

        • My best friend befriended the OW. Not right away, no, years after. I was a part of the ‘Stay and Grow Thru Betrayal’ institution at my old church. Brought her to group when her husband was caught with Craig List and Randoms, …. Now, she is connected to OW on FB and Linked, and I’m out of that friendship, or whatever it was. When friends and family don’t see the humiliation they cause, I don’t need to be the one to alert them, I need to take care of myself and move on.

          • I’m having issues with this as my brother and sil are still FB friends with my ex and “like” photos he posts of him, the ow, their new baby and our child. I don’t even know how to bring this up. It’s very hurtful to me. I even noticed that my brother liked a photo without my daughter in it. Feels like a betrayal.

    • See, you’re better than me. I would have had to comment (call her, email, post on Facebook), “Well, your house must have been a pig sty for your X to cheat, right?”

  • The narrative typically preceded our knowing. The mindset of an abuser is in my opinion to harm not only the loyal spouse but the children also. They think nothing of demonizing the loyal spouse to justify their behavior.

    Tapping into another’s vulnerabilities often keeps the abused isolated and with nowhere to turn for support. Unfortunately by the time we are aware of what’s beneath the illusion, mindfuck, and gaslighting we have invested and lost so much.

    The narrative is changing thanks to Tracy and this nation.

    • Wow: “Tapping into another’s vulnerabilities often keeps the abused isolated and with nowhere to turn for support.” That is so true! Being blamed by X and my x-in-laws for X’s serial cheating, abandonment, financial abuse was actually FAR more damaging psychologically than the “acts” of cheating X committed. It really has left me feeling shaken to my core, even 4 years later. There also is so little “support” outside of CL. Cheater-apologists and victim-shaming/blaming is the norm for cheating. I hate it!

      • I do agree that the outside world’s reaction can be worse than the actual cheating. I think that is what keeps it secret for so long and helps in the isolation.

        • I had close friends tell me sense I wasn’t the best husband it is perfectly OK for the Evil One to have a 2 year long affair, get pregnant with the OM’s child, know it wasn’t mine and lie to me. They actually think I am the bad one. That is worse then what she did.

  • I couldn’t believe it when a good friend who’d known me all my married life, and who I’d thought was insightful and wise, did this. When I told him the ex had chosen someone half my age who was just like I’d been then, he replied “Cheater must be looking for something that you’ve lost” I.E. I had become old, dull and boring. He’d known the ex since he was a kid. I suppose he couldn’t believe ex was cheating either but I was so disappointed that he’d straightaway laid the blame on what I’d become.
    But don’t we Chumps do this too? What else is the Pick-me dance but an “I’ll change, I’ll be worthy of you” admission? I had a mild mental breakdown thinking about how I’d made my husband’s life so miserable and how I must be so callous and unloving. Thank God I regained my senses.

    • Good Lord. I hate this narrative that women lose their youthful sparkle and so men are looking for that and so cheat. People, both men and women, become older, gain weight (usually) and gain wisdom (sometimes). No one can be what they were when they were 23 all their life. Your ex was not that either – did you cheat when he got older? I am sure he changed as well. Ugh. I hope you set friend straight. Ugh again.

      • I got so fucking tired of hearing the word “change’ come out of Dickhead’s mouth. He kept making comments how things and me had changed. I guess he thought that fundamentally I had changed but he had not. Never mind, that he was smoking and chewing when we got together. He quit both – I didn’t ask him too. He started working out a couple of years ago because he wanted a better body – good for you, that’s change. He started bitching that McDonald’s was the devil and yet I found McD bag in the trash after he filed and starting visiting the OW.

        In one email to me, he stated that we shouldn’t have to change for each other (that would have been one for the UBT). I never asked him to change for me. However, if making me a priority or looking at me as a person was change – well, I guess that was asking too much. I think the word “change” just became a trigger.

      • Thanks Kale! One of his problems is he didn’t change, he couldn’t cope with married life and three kids, still wanted the gypsy life free from responsibilities that he thought he was going to have with the Dream Princess (who turned out not to want him in the end)… It felt like he thought he could keep his youth with her, but who the heck wants to be in their twenties forever?! Life is about growth and change and enrichment, not about endless immaturity and fantasy. That’s another kind of stagnation in itself. Groundhog Day!

      • I was told to my face by X that he cheated because I wasn’t young enough, thin enough, or pretty enough for him anymore (after giving him 16 years of my life). This from an eight-years-older 130 lb. man who looked remarkably like a guinea pig.

        When I asked him whether he thought I’d be 20 years old forever, he just smirked.

        Relationships with these sorts are temporary from the outset. They’ll keep shopping for something better until they think they’ve found it or their chump appliance figures out what they are up to.

        • Ha, 130 lb man who looked like a guinea pig. Well he had my ex beat by 18 lb – and yet he was a man who criticized me when I gained weight. Thought he was some kind of stud I guess. I had just come home from the hospital after having my second – so 4 days after giving birth – and the stud told me he couldn’t believe how fat I was!!!!

        • One of the crazy things about us (men) is that no matter how we are aging, or gaining weight, or losing our hair, Atlas is still in us…and we can bring him out at any time. 🙂 I’m sure it’s a mental disorder of some sort.

    • “Cheater must be looking for something that you’ve lost”

      Asshole.

      What he sees in the OW isn’t what you’ve lost; it’s about what he’s lost., the ability to age gracefully. This man will never be comfortable in his own skin.

      • Thanks Doingme???? You’re right – I am comfortable with being 52, love my silver hair/wisdom highlights, like being kind to my faithful steed of a body when it aches and complains of a morning. I would never want to go back to my twenties and I have just as much joy and optimism in my life as then!

  • I remember being stunned when I realized my friends thought I wasn’t having sex with my stbx. These are lifelong friends. Right then, I told them that entitlement doesn’t recognize loyalty or boundaries or the truth.

    Thankfully, they got it because I really would have hated to lose them.

  • Fundamentally speaking, excepting extremes like a gun to the head or kidnapping the children, nobody makes the other person do a thing.

    You wouldn’t run and jump off a cliff or murder me just to get away from me singing 99 bottles of beer on the wall, would you? (At least, not unless you were prone to such an act anyway.)

    If the same partner punched you square in the face for not getting the laundry done, would these same friends say “well, you DID wait an extra day to bleach those towels, you know…”?

    Those are extreme examples, of course, and I don’t mean to be coarse about human life and domestic abuse — I onky use them because this sort of extreme version illustrates the flawed thinking effectively.

    If these people would give you laundry advice after you were assaulted, I would absolutely recommend new friends. And likewise, if they tell you that a cheater’s behavior was yours to control and manipulate by being a more effective cheater-serving robot, I can only recommend new friends.

    Cheaters cheat because (a) they want to cheat, (b) they are willing to be people who cheat, and (c) they are willing to purposely do harm to other people. It is character only, nothing else, that drives them to it.

  • For me now, it’s really simple. I don’t care about moralising on your boundaries ( cheater’s ). I just need to know what they are and if they’re different to mine, you’re from a different tribe and I need to go and find my own. Bye bye.

    Problem was, he lied when I questioned him nearly 40 years ago because of red flags, and I only got proof after 35 years of marriage.

    • Same for me too, Be True To Yourself. I thought my ex was a cheater way back in 1992. I read a few letters that was sent to him by a “friend” and questioned him about his relationship with her after he got back from visiting her in England (she was stationed there in the army and he went with a guy friend to visit her). In the letter she said to him, “If you come visit me, we can spend the whole night together and have sex.” Well, I did not tell him I read the letters as I was embarrassed that I did so. But I questioned him about her and she said, “She’s just a friend.” and some said she got married while he was there. I’m not sure if that’s true anymore, because he lied to me constantly for 23 years. I saw many red flags throughout our marriage and times where I thought he was cheating. It took me 22 years to finally catch him out on a date. I will never make this mistake again. If there is ANY sign on lying or cheating with any man, no matter how wonderful I think he is — I’M GONE!

  • My stbx wanted everyone to think that our splitting was mutual. NO WAY was I going to take responsibility for his cheating. I made sure to tell the truth to all of our mutual friends. Some remain friends with him, but many do not. I even told HIS family the truth, and they were shocked. He says that “in his mind, he hasn’t been married for a LONG time, so it’s not cheating.” WTF.

    If only he knew how ridiculous that sounds!

    • Yep. I did the same thing. I am not trashing the cheater or editorialize my comments, but when asked I tell the truth: he cheated and picked the OW as a partner.
      To most of my close friends I volunteered the information. I told some of the kids‘ friends parents, because my kids spend so much time there and I wanted to be sure that these parents knew how ugly the divorce is.

      My cheater?
      To him his cheating is excused, because he broke up with me years ago. He just did not tell me.
      And I should have known that the marriage was over.

    • They all thought their marriages ware over years ago but they weren’t. They forgot to divorce us or even tell us they weren’t happy. Oops.

  • A lot of good posts lately from CL. Yesterday’s UBT was oscar-winning indeed

    One family member got cheated on by xH when they had young kids. She’s now divorced but yet my own family still trot out cheater’s blame-shifting of “…but she was always working. He said she was impossible.” So basically “my wife was working so hard that I was forced to strip naked and have sex with another woman at work” — riiiight

    On a similar theme, watched the Coldplay docu-movie yesterday. Very good, particularly the part that showed how badly affected Chris Martin was by his divorce. Chris M looks like he’s difficult to live with but he does come across a really nice, honest man. Quite simply a chump. And of course Gwynnie the Goop fits the profile of a selfish, controlling, cheating narc. Conscious-uncoupling my arse!

  • The therapist I saw right after DDay said to me “You will need to address what made him cheat.” I stopped seeing her thereafter. Well actually I saw her two more times, because I completely fell for the “it is all my fault” narrative. I mean the first thing a cheated on spouse gets is typically the blame: too little sex, too little attention, too selfish, not loving enough… I bought into all of this in the beginning. However, then I started feeling more and more uneasy and everything struck me as unfair. Why was he getting a free pass? Why was I supposed to guess what he needed and wanted without him telling me? How was I supposed to mindread when he was “so unhappy, that he hated his life for 15 years” when during those 15 years, he married me and said I love you quite often? How is not having sex only on me and he does not have to do anything to make things work?
    Why is it ok for him to wait till I fix myself and him not doing a thing?
    I then went to a second one.

    My second one said to me after I explained the situation was: “I am so sorry to hear that he cheated on you. This is awful.” After I explained more of the emotional abuse and such, her next words to me were: “We need to get you out of there. I am usually not for ending marriages, but he does not care about you or respect you.” I am still seeing her.

    Blaming a person that is in the dark and lied to is not a good thing. Cheaters lie, because they do not want to be found out. They devalue you to a point where you do not deserve any respect in their eyes. Sometimes they get a kick out of getting away with all this crap. Mine falls into this category. He loves the thrill of not following the rules and doing something behind someone’s back; he told me this in a different context: sneaking out of the house behind his parent’s back, stealing from school property, cheating on other girlfriends, etc. I just did not think he would do that to me. Yes, I am a big chump and oh, so special, as he told me in the beginning, not like others. I believed this.

    The 50/50 fallacy is that only in a true partnership can both partners be held equally accountable. This requires transparency and communication, so that both partners can make intelligent and informed choices. Let’s assume there is no sex? In a true partnership you would explore your options: wait till kids are older, go to therapy, try extra time with the partner (hotel, etc.), medical help, or open up the marriage together. The point is that you go together? What you do not do is to threaten your partner to put it out more, you do not accuse him or her of cheating, and you do not sneak around and use the sexlessness as an excuse to screw someone else. At that point, I am from now on assuming that you set up the marriage to be sexless, so you have all the justification in the world to do what you want. After all society is on your side and sexlessness seems to always be the problem of the wife or the cheated on, and never the problem of the cheater.

    I think part of the problem is that in movies and media, an affair is romanticized fairly often. Too often it is portrait as two people that cannot help but fall in love. Too often the cheated on spouse is portrait as someone who is “not enough” or “too much”.

  • Yes, it’s the idea that they can feel safe if they believe they know the reason, and the reason is almost never that some charming people are actually abusers.

  • Now that I understand that X’s conduct was/is classic narcissistic BPD abuse and I have gone completely NC, if anyone close to me tries to blame me for anything, I have a strong reaction and pull away. Several siblings are like this and I’ve simply decided I will no longer be abused this way so have gone NC with them as well. Life is so much more peaceful.

    My mom is the original narcissist in my life but she has actually stopped most of her narc behavior at 80 and I can actually tolerate her in my life and appreciate her slowly-acquired good qualities.

    My closest Co-workers (three) are huge blamers/screamers (one is a self-proclaimed OW with a long history of sleeping with married men-????) and I’m trying to find another position because I’m suffering terrible PTSD-like symptoms working with them. I’ve had to seek EMDR to deal with it. I started working with these people 5 years ago before I learned anything about X’s cheating, or about narcissistic abuse.

    • Loving all your comments on today’s letter! So true.

      In the aftermath of my ex leaving me I had to spend a huge amount of time with a (now I see she was disordered somehow) coworker. She was a self professed serial cheater and carried on a relationship with a married man right in front of me. She had professional insight that I felt I needed so I always bent to her abusive behaviors and never called her out for getting drunk on the job and leaving the hours of physical work for me. Total Chump alert!

      She’d always say she was there for me, understood me like no one could. But one night I stood up for myself and was rewarded with the “truth” that the infidelity was all my fault! I won ten minutes of her drunkenly screaming in my face! I was so numb from the last few weeks I felt strong in that moment, didn’t break my poker face. I walked out anc picked up the phone at 3am to call my bosses and she was fired.

      I have bushels of hurtful stories about this person but your comment reminded me of how this coworker abusing me, cheating (literally making out) in front of me, and blaming me, all at the same time as my relationship ended was an EQUALLY traumatizing event.

      Her words still rattle around inside me and are painful “YOU ARE ALWAYS A VICTEM” My friends have actually said “why can’t you get over this?” Because she knew me so well and weaponized my sensitivity and openness.

      Her abuse taught me how to spot disordered people though. An hour before she got drunk and screamed at me she’d given me the highest praise, and told me she admired how I brave I was telling off callers. Now I know if someone blows HOT HOT HOT then they are COLD COLD COLD. They are manipulative weirdos.

      • Sleepless—- I’m so sorry that happened to you too! Thank God she was fired. Mine is my boss so I need to move. I’m trying. May just have to take a leave though as my mental health is getting really bad: cannot sleep, racing thoughts, can’t focus, anxiety 24/7, high blood pressure all the time.

  • “To… what? Take the scrutiny off me? To let people know in an instant that it wasn’t my fault, and thus stopping them checking out my waistline/hair/face/attitude?”

    Then, people will accuse you of not adjusting properly your partner picker.

    A few years ago, it seemed that this crazy idea was really popular: that is, “You are what you attract.” Ergo, anything bad that happens to you, well, you attracted it.

    There’s also the Just World Theory that explains why others support blaming the victim as well.

    • I do believe we attract our vision (or god answers our prayers) whichever way works for you. Maybe losing fuckwit was part of the answer? I don’t know but I do know that my life is better without him. The last few years were tough In our marriage – he chose to be unemployed for 3yrs. Anyway, it’s done and I’m looking forward to the future

    • Yes, the whole “fix your picker” sort of winds me up. I do think it is generally good advice to examine your behavior to see if you were spackling early on, but it doesn’t always apply. My first cheater was a typical cheater in that there were flags I ignored or whitewashed. But, my second cheater never gave me even a moments gut uncomfortable feeling ever. Ever. I have thought about it incessantly for ten years. I could not have known. The truly smart and sociopathic can hide it so well you cannot see it. I don’t believe for a minute that chumps “pick” cheaters. I think cheaters, especially truly personality disordered ones, target chumps the way any criminal targets a victim.

      • Word, Jojobee. Especially the last sentence. I also had a cunning, shrewd, sociopath cheater-boy in my life. NEVER saw it coming.

      • Ah the old Fix Your Picker. I see it as a relationship template,etched in childhood by a disordered parent, that needs to be acid washed and carefully reworked.

      • They absolutely target kind people in order to use them. APs also target your cheater because two disordered assholes can often spot each other. Then they will conspire to destroy your well-being because it makes them feel special and superior to know they are getting away with doing wrong. The cheater’s high is a real thing, but it only happens for bad people. Good people don’t get a charge out of such things, no matter what the RIC con artists claim about “why good people cheat”.
        Nah, we don’t need to “fix our pickers”. We don’t need to stop being our trusting, open, loving selves.
        They need to stop being evil, lying manipulative scumbags. They must change, not us. Non-negotiable.

        • “They absolutely target kind people in order to use them.” Yes! They hide that THEIR goal is to have someone to use and/or make into a personal accessory, while OUR goals include finding someone to connect with and love. My ex was just like that. She also had a specific agenda to prevent me from being content or happy.

          It makes us vulnerable, but we can’t let ourselves stay discouraged. Most people we run across would not devalue us like a used up thing and choose betrayal over talk and compromise.

          From Sleepless above: “Because she knew me so well and weaponized my sensitivity and openness.”

          Gorgeous quotes that really express and nail down what is happening.

          Our cheaters are not part of any sort of 50-50 plan, because they chose to be fraudulent about their motives, their goals, and even about who they were as people.

          And Yes, they must do the changing or leave, since they created this problem.

  • We desperately want to believe the world is a fair place–good people will have good things happen to them, bad people will get their comeuppance. As CL says, this gives us a mirage of control–“if I behave well, my life will be rosy.” The counterpart, then, is that if someone has something bad happen to them, they must have deserved it.

    Nevermind that history is rife with good people being savagely victimized (think Holocaust, what is currently happening to innocent Syrian citizens, war captives being turned into slaves in ancient Rome), and with examples of evil, genocidal dictators living posh lives at the expense of their people.

    The world is not a fair place; never has been, sadly probably never will be. But people try to make it so in their minds.

    • Yes. Very true. Very hard to come to terms with though. We want that Hollywood ending and its not guaranteed.

      And then there is also the realization to “be careful what you wish for”. I was fantasizing about how lovely it would be for the whole world to realize how f’d up my ex is. An arrest? A newspaper article? Thats because he looks like such a great guy to everyone on the outside. He also seems to have the best luck.

      But then i thought about how humiliating it would be for my son. He already has it tough having a bare minimilist dad. To add public humiliation to that? Is that really what i want? This thought has been helping me tone down my revenge fantasies.

      So yeah, its best to just be secure in your own path. And make the most out of the cards your dealt.

    • ????100% right. This is why people become far right wing loons and heap hate on those poor souls who are desperate to escape being targets of gang violence in Central America and so seek asylum in the U.S. This is why people often blame rape victims. They are desperate to believe that terrible things could never happen to them or the ones they care about. They are extremely stupid and self-centered people.

      • Chumperella, please now. There’s no need to infect this good place with garbage.

        People who took economics classes and people who extrapolate forward from factors now while looking at history? Those people are seeing reality, not “being right wing” or “being loons”.

        Being a basic Centrist American who just wants what is factually best for the nation? That’s someone you would have to imagine hate and racism onto, not a person being automatically evil.

        By watching after their nation and their children’s present and future, they are certainly not “heaping hate on” anyone. But some people who talk like you certainly have heaped hate on Them for a while.

        People who seek asylum are not the problem. The people You mentioned are unlawful invaders. Lawful immigrants are Very tired of the Far Left trying to equate them with illegal aliens.

        Trying to see and get what will stop a destabilizing 60 Million people invasion from worsening and make your nation do well while people tell you it’s evil and demonize you? THAT is like being a rape victim disallowed from defending themselves. No. Like they are being attacked for defending themselves.

        But yes. Tempest is right.

        We like to feel better and more secure about our world around us, and to that end, studies show we lie to ourselves several times before lunch.

        I swear, I really thought I could trust my wife, but I bet you there were times where my own Trust Bias (from loving her so much) twisted my brain to forcibly overlook big enough signs of her infidelity. Big enough that I sometimes want to kick myself for not seeing it as it was.

        Strong emotions, idealism, and wishing, they cloud our judgement. I want my idealism back sometimes, even though I know it was a system of fibs and wishes that just made me feel better.

        Seeing things as they are is not always directly comforting, but it makes it so much harder for user people to manipulate and deceive us.

    • This. In a twisted way, this is the only thing that makes me feel better about my situation. Someone did something terrible to me. There is no justice. Life is not fair. And then I pick up a newspaper and read about people all over the world experiencing unimaginable trauma and still pushing forward. Makes me feel a lot less alone, and very lucky.

  • “WE need to fix US” was Mr. Sparkles favorite refrain. But you cannot fix another person – let alone a disordered cheating fuckwit. What you can do is divorce them and fix yourself.

    Case in point, I’ve been divorced now for 2 years in December. I’ve fixed my picker, I’ve steadied my household and made it a fun, safe and loving place again, I’ve got my finances in check (better than ever in fact), and my son is thriving.

    In the same time, Mr. Sparkles got dumped by his OW who caught him cheating on her (shocking). Picked up a new victim at the gym (probably overlapped) and before she could see through the lovebombing fog she co-signed a BIG mortgage with him only now to find out that he is cheating on her (Ashley Madison ad for starters).

    SO… regardless of what others say or do after you have been cheated on… YOU DO YOU. Speak the truth, tell your story, change the narrative, do the hardwork, and thrive cheater free. Meh is out here!

  • I put on weight at the menopause. I’m not horrendously fat now as I was quite tiny beforehand but (let’s put it delicately) I don’t think I’ve seen my feet in a good while (tits not belly). BUUUTT it never really bothered me to the point that I felt inadequate. Sure I wanted to lose weight (I probably will one day) but I always thought “hey tin ribs (the ex) if you don’t like looking at it don’t bother”. He knew he wouldn’t get anywhere with me on that score because he was 112 lb wringing wet so there was no body-shaming possible there. He ran off with a skank 11 years younger than me (so no menopause yet) but boy was she rough (woof – a bottle of whiskey a day will do that to you). So if people blamed me for him cheating I wasn’t aware of it UNTIL I found out from my hairdresser that apparently I beat him up every night when he came home from work. I ROARED laughing when I heard that so I think a few people figured out his lies then. And the skank? Oh she’s hit menopause and it did that fat-ankled skank no favours either! Not that they are together anymore – twu wuv my arse!

  • Why? Because it’s so much easier to believe that someone is all-powerful.

    Of course it’s pretty easy to overlook that IF you were that powerful to make someone miserable/cheat/insert here, then you can also make them happy/faithful/ditto stop. I mean, sure, you’re utterly miserable but that is on you because you wanted to them to be miserable so they would make you miserable.

    No, wait, what? Cognitive dissonance is strong when blaming someone else.

    So broom those individuals to the curb (for now? forever? You decide) and get out of the tar pit.

    • This. He was in charge of his happiness. I was in ignorance of my making him ‘unhappy’. He told me to look in pictures of us over the years how he never smiled. Saw a picture of him at a concert he brought my kids to this summer a year after walking out. Still ain’t smiling. He’ll never be happy. Too selfish

  • I think that because we’re Chumps that labels stick to us. Our sparkly cheater can’t possibly be at fault can they?

    As a guy Chump I found this particularly hard. I had presumed that Mme YogaPants was well respected and loved by all. She was active in the local community, volunteered, always had a smile or a hug for the people that came in to the shop she worked at. Very very sparkly for a middle-aged chubby matron.

    When she eventually left I was still pick-me dancing like mad – even though she apparently never looked back and so very few people knew what had actually happened for a very very long time. I was terrified of what people thought. “He must be some sort of nasty bastard to have Mme have to leave him” was what I imagined.

    What I found out over time was that Mme never had in all the years we were together complained about me in any substantive way to any of her friends. In fact she often went on about what a great husband I was. I also found out that quite a few people didn’t like her. And quite a few more were horrified at what she did when eventually she was outed by a Facebook post of her off with Senor MoneyBags at a tropical resort (paid for by money she took from the joint savings) and changed their opinions about her.

    Part of my pick-me dancing was allowing her to control the narrative by keeping quiet. I had hoped that the affair would burn out. Even though I was a chump I knew she was no prize – quite overweight, pain and mobility issues, thought sex was disgusting but used it to control. And then we could sweep it all under the rug and continue on. That didn’t happen. She’s still chasing after her dreams and his wallet and he has a bit of tail from time to time. It’s been over 3 years now. She’s got stamina – and I expect a determination to not admit to a mistake. After she was outed I no longer felt any obligation to be silent and “protect” her.

    It was amazing how freeing that was. I no longer had to hold her secrets inside like a burning poison. Mme herself has lied to pretty much everyone saying that she only started seeing OM long after she had left. Pretty standard narrative. Oddly, nobody who I’ve told the truth to doubts it. Even those who had heard her version first. Including my / our children.

    My time in the pits of the RIC didn’t help either. There was a lot of “fix all your problems” / “there’s got to be something wrong with you”. I was fortunate that I had a therapist who focused on ME and on giving me the tools and perspective to move on and heal.

    Since then I’ve encountered a lot of people that think that I’m pretty nice. Including a couple of the opposite gender who while I don’t have a “relationship” with any of them they make me feel good about myself.

    If there is one message I can send out of this it’s to look at yourself honestly in the mirror and accept yourself for who and what you are. I was more fortunate than many in that there was little devaluing going on – I knew my place and stayed there. I think as well that since she had me as a fall-back plan that she didn’t want to burn those bridges perhaps.

    BT

    • In the early years of marriage, I often thought that his friend and coworkers were treated better than me. In the last few years, I realized that he was same ass at work that he was at home. The older he gets, the less his asshole-ness is hidden. He has no friends and the only people who want anything to do him beside his son, daughter and sister is the new OW. He has no life. (chuckling) in fact, he’s boring AF.

  • Yes. Blame the victim- that is what victims are for. I refused to be considered a victim! Rather my marriage and family were collateral damage. I honestly don’t think dickhead wanted to hurt me or my sons, I don’t think he thinks about anyone else’s feelings or rather he might but prefers to get his rocks off. Avoidance of unpleasantness is his game. Then it felt soo good to get strange he just couldn’t stop and tada fucked his family over. I am happy to announce today is one year since my divorce. When I awoke this morning I felt satisfied even a little -dare I sat it-happy. I feel a bit like Grinch-what is that feeling? Could it be…a heart beating with joy? Thank you to CL and CN for listening and helping me get through this 2yrs. And to the new members of this club, hugs! What got me through to now (I k ow I’m not done!) “life is t about waiting for the storm to pass it is about dancing in the rain” . I moved quickly when I learned of dday and cried through it. Froze assets and credit (online), got a lawyer, negotiatored separation of assets, and filed. Divorced 8 mos from dday (3moth waiting requires). I found CL in the first month and believed what you all said. I didn’t see a way to trust or believe again and he wanted to feel young and free. I wasn’t afraid, just angry and sad. My advantage was I made and saved all the money. I know I was blessed with this advantage but for those who are not in control or knowledgeable about finances-GET THERE! You are 50% owner and responsible for your money. During a breach of contract like betrayal, it is all about the money. Be well my friends-there is a better day coming.

    • Love this… “life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass it’s about dancing in the rain”. Thanks for that. And congrats to you on your progress : )

  • I don’t know how many of you have seen “The Marvelous Mrs. Maizel”, but I almost threw the remote at the TV when, after being told she and her husband were splitting (because he was having an affair with his secretary) the first thing out of her mother’s mouth was, “What did you DO”?

    My own sister has made it clear that she thinks my cheater had a right to cheat because I had gained weight. She has also called the guy who raped me when I was 10 years old “the best caretaker our grandmother’s farm ever had”. Sorry, sis. Good caretakers don’t rape children.

    My other sister, however, is firmly on my side. She said it doesn’t matter WHAT I did, if cheater was so unhappy (as he claims he was), he could have divorced me prior to exposing me to STDs. This sis also has the cards/emails etc. he wrote me during the 7 year affair, to which I was oblivious, professing his love for me, thanking me for the regular great sex. Oh, he was SO miserable.

    I believe, like CL said, people want to blame the chump, because if the chump is a marriage-worthy person, this would never have happened. Because, if infidelity could happen to the chump, it could happen to THEM. So the chump has to somehow be labeled as deserving it.

    The only thing I believe chumps are guilty of is, perhaps, not having the discernment that would keep them from marrying a fuckwit. I am absolutely guilty of that. But I also absolutely did NOT deserve to be cheated on. Not at all.

    • Exactly, they are afraid it will happen to them and blaming chumps makes them feel better. However, it’s hard to have discernment if you are being skillfully manipulated and lied to by an abusive asshole who is taking advantage of your goodness. If your cheater is pretending to be a decent person who loves you, how are you to know if he/she is faking? Mine managed to fool everybody for decades. Except, it seems, my dad. When he was close to death, the last thing he ever said to my stbx was to ask him why he didn’t love me. I never knew about it until years after he had passed, about a month after dday when the jerk mentioned it. I only wish my dad had told me of his suspicions long ago.

      I hope you cut that sister out of your life. She is clearly toxic.

  • I was telling someone recently about my 50YO X asshat’s spectacular discard of me for a 25YO ho-worker. And how he had an OW#1 ten years earlier also with a younger ho-worker and I took him back then. The response was, “Gee, is he so hot and good looking that these young chicks just fall over him?”

    The answer was, “Hell no.” He is bald, stoop shouldered, has stained and broken teeth, bad breath, and snores like a freight train. And that is only what you can see from the outside. Under his clothes he has a hairy back, zero muscle tone, and constantly has shit stains in his underwear.

    And worst of all, UNDER HIS SKIN is the type of guy that abandons his wife of 28 years after intense and very recent future-faking, moving out while she was away and sending her an e-mail as her first notice that her marriage was over.

    I was a really good wife. I know that. I took care of him and treated him with respect. I went along with anything he wanted. I cooked from scratch. I made a ton of money and managed our investments and made him rich. I was attentive and loving in the bedroom.

    Why do the OW’s think he is great? Why did he abandon an objectively great life? I do not know these answers but that fact does not change the reality. He is a POS. People who choose to assign blame to me are simply wrong and they don’t matter anyway.

    • NIC, I wonder that, too. What do these APs think they are getting? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, but I do wonder from time to time.

      • They fall for the love-bombing, I believe. I sleep well at night knowing my ex will treat the OW as well as he treated me!

          • No one in my ex’s life will ever do better than I did. He’ll eventually treat them just the same (after the love bombing runs its course), but NEVER AGAIN will he part with half of everything! Heh heh heh…

    • Similar story here. The OW was a known user of middle aged men. They want security that an older man who they think has money provides.

    • The attraction is the OWomen think he is a catch because he has put forth a successful ($$$) persona courtesy of you. Two friends of mine married older (17 years) men that were well to do and not to be mean but neither was much to look at but they were very attracted to these men. Mind boggling. Of course if these guys had been flipping burgers they would not have spit on them if they were on fire.

    • LOL-what is it with the men who have residue-doo in their skivvies ?! Tell them to do their own f*cking laundry !

    • Gross! I would bet good money that the skanks he cheats with think he’s great only because he kisses their asses and does whatever they want. They don’t want his nasty body for itself nor do they like him for himself. They are users just like him. Plus, they don’t really like or respect other women and are deeply insecure, so they need to feel powerful by stealing husbands. They are as messed up as he is. Sucky people often find each other and use each other. If they would only do that instead of using good people, the world would be an infinitely better place. My cheater’s AP was a raging narcissist with a hate-on for other women because of mommy issues. She had been emotionally incested (and probably sexually, judging by how disordered she is) by her father and blamed mommy for it. It’s a sick, sordid story of a loser who turns to booze and homewrecking in an endless quest to fill her emptiness. She is very much like my cheater, even has similar pathetic FOO issues which she feels sorry for her silly self about but does nothing to try to recover from. It’s easier to take your rage and self-loathing out on others than it is to deal with your problems in a healthy way.
      Oh, the OW suck, my friend. They suck mightily.

  • TAKE A HUGE STEP BACK. now see this pix? The betrayed is at fault. oops, no, it’s the other woman, that slut homewrecker. Never the cheater and his twisted, sick brain. Not guilty of infidelity by reason of narcissism. (written with the deepest respect for sarcasm)

  • Spare me the ‘faults on both sides’ folk. Cheating was a unilateral act of abuse. Along with gaslighting it was fraud, deception, an ultimate act of selfishness, entitlement and a lack of character. It is a supreme betrayal. The pain is extreme. People are uncomfortable to think it could happen to them. Roll on changing the narrative. Cheaters suck. They had many options such as an honest conversation etc to work on any other issues. They chose deception and that is on them. Here’s to NO contact with cheaters!

  • When I occasionally meet this attitude, I always tell them the same thing. He didn’t cheat because I was a bad wife. He cheated because he was a bad husband. If they stick around I tell them I was a FABULOUS wife…cause I was. Perfect? No. Better than he deserved? Oh yea.

  • I have read that when a police officer gets killed on the job his coworkers immediately search for a ‘mistake’ he or she made that led to their death. As a way of distancing themselves…..the ‘it can’t happen to me’ thinking.

    So maybe this is part of the same mental pattern that occurs when others hear we were chumped.

    I had a family member smugly tell me after my separation that she and her husband agree that if either one cheats it means the other wasn’t meeting their needs. Barf. People are so f’g stupid and naïve.

    There are a lot of heartless people out there.

    • Yes, this is true. I like to reassure those smug people that, “Oh, no, don’t worry. It won’t happen to you! You married a better man than I did!”

      I was once a smug married woman. I get it. I didn’t know better, until I was forced to.

  • My XH was a serial cheater way before I’d ever met him. Of course I didn’t know any of this, I only knew what he told me as in I was his second wife when really I was his FIFTH and he cheated on every single one us. In fact, I did a timeline of his life after we divorced and if he wasn’t screwing around on a wife or girlfriend he was at least fucking some other man’s wife….Always.

    I remember a guy friend of mine made the comment to me that since my husband cheated on me, that I must not have given him sex. Hoo boy, that pissed me off. My cheater XH got all the sex he wanted from me and then some. Talk about blaming the victim. This same guy friend hasn’t gotten sex from his wife in 15 years so of course he was projecting his shitty marriage onto me.

    The same thing applies to illness. Years ago I was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer and you would not believe the people that asked me questions like, ‘did you ever smoke?’ They wanted to make sure that if they had never smoked they were safe. I smoked decades ago and quit but when I would tell them that I had, I’d see a smug look come over the faces and could see instant confirmation that they would never get cancer and they were now ‘safe.’ Right, if it was only that easy.

    • Geez with an attitude like that it’s no wonder his wife hasn’t had sex with him in fifteen years ! Ex friend I hope !

  • I think I was my own worst enemy there, honestly. I always thought people who cheated on their spouses were jerks regardless of the circumstances. There were certainly plenty of examples where the men left women for other women and they must have been out of their minds because their wives were awesome (Jenny Sanford, Lynn Johnson). In my case, however, I thought I could prevent adultery by being awesome because my husband wasn’t stupid (or so I thought) and would understand that he couldn’t really do better even if I wasn’t perfect. How wrong I was. When I first found out I was dumbfounded. “but I didn’t get fat and we still had sex and I praised him in front of others and I cooked meat for him so what happened?” Then I assumed that I just wasn’t doing enough after all. I didn’t give him enough blow jobs, I wasn’t sensitive enough to his need to keep the house spotless in spite of our three kids and the dog, I groused to him about that one thing he did that annoyed me a year ago, I didn’t notice and wipe off the smudges on the wall by the back door, I blew him off for sex that night at 3:00am when I had a big presentation to give the next day, I wore that pair of pants with the stain that I didn’t notice when I got dressed after being up all night with our depressed teenage daughter (he specifically remarked on that one angrily declaring “is that supposed to make me want you?”). I thought it was all my fault and I needed to “own my shit” and figure out how to do better so our attempt at reconciliation could be successful. It took many friends and relatives (including his), a therapist and CN to help me to understand that it had nothing to do with what was wrong with me and everything to do with what was wrong with him. I assumed that people would want to blame me as they all loved him so much but in actuality I did not encounter that. I have seen chumps blamed generally by random strangers on blogs and things (which always pisses me off), but I was fortunate not to have that directed at me personally by people I know. Most thought he was just being a jerk, including his own sister and aunt. Even his mother thought it must be temporary insanity on his part. Everyone who knew us both and heard about the infidelity gave me their sympathy and held their scorn for him. This included a lot of people who had formerly held him in high regard. He was the one being judged and he still feels that two plus years later. The only person I talked to who didn’t seem to think he was a jerk for cheating on me turned out to be Schmoopie 1.0 when I unknowingly confided in her about Schmoopie 2.0. I suspect Schmoopie 2.0 blames me too, but I haven’t spoken to her since DDay so I wouldn’t know and her opinion doesn’t count.

      • Probably because you heard that b.s. all the time in the media and from other people. It’s cultural brainwashing. A lot of people insist such things as “affairs mean there’s a problem in a relationship” and “problems in a relationships are always 50/50”. These are myths created by cheaters, abusers and the unscrupulous “therapists” and “relationship experts” who enable their lies, knowing it sells books and brings people into counselling. They know chumps and other abuse victims are desperate to believe there was something they could have done to prevent it so they will buy the books and pay for endless rounds of therapy to learn how to “take responsibility for their part” in it. If anything, we chumps take far too much responsibility for the status of a relationship. Abusers LOVE that. It’s why they become involved with and marry chumps to begin with. Suggesting chumps are to blame for being chumped is akin to blaming an investor when they are victimized by an embezzler. Anytime you innocently trust a skilled liar and manipulator and get betrayed, the liar is 100% at fault.
        Personally, I never believed the myth because it simply isn’t logical. Everybody knows there are bad people in the world who like to take advantage of and hurt good people. Why should it be any different in a marriage or long term relationship? Do people really think entering a supposedly loving relationship somehow protects you from being used and lied to by a rotten human being who is only pretending to care for you? Would that it were so.

        • Ugh. That hits home.

          “Do people really think entering a supposedly loving relationship somehow protects you from being used and lied to by a rotten human being who is only pretending to care for you?”

          Without realising it, yep. Welllll… up to the “by a rhb” part. We like to think our partners to be are decent people like us who want a good, life-long relationship.

          People have a strong tendency to think of other people as being like themselves. It’s a psychological thing that makes an easier target of ethical people.

          I find that I unconsciously thought being in a loving relationship, where I really worked to meet her needs well and where we had long-term love-bond goals (takes a breath); I thought That, plus our specific talks against infidelity in the beginning, were going to really mess-proof our marriage. I was trying to stack the deck in our favor and accidentally do some kind of Sympathetic Magic, I suppose.

          One thing I learned in all my research after this all came to light was that it is good to make your partner have to strive a little for you now and then. Honestly, of course.

          It turns out that what can appear to be a power imbalance in a marriage And a lack of needing to keep investing more, can make a person more open to an affair, even if they lack the normal attitudinal tendency.

          Both partners need to be very open about their needs. Both need to adapt to each other. We’re not being a bother when we ask for our needs to be met as well as theirs. Rather, we are making ourselves be more forthright.

          Jesus meant it in the context of talking about prayer, but it applies to many things. “You don’t have, because you don’t ask.”

          You are worth it. Ask for, and then demand what you need of your partner, if they don’t listen at first. They have to step up too.

          That said, my wife’s lifelong habit had secretly been to fool around to cheer herself up, when a relationship wasn’t going as she liked. She even made an artificial hole in our sex schedule to accommodate this guy. I had no power over the situation or decision-making ability. There was no shared anything between us happening there. It was all her.

  • The comments never cease to amaze me when someone writes an advice columnist about cheating. There are so many variations on ‘no one knows what goes on in someone else’s relationship’/’obviously there were problems in the marriage’. This really set me off when I a fav columnist had a cheater column one day and then two days later one where a spouse had secretly taken $50K out their accounts and blown it on gambling. The acrimony from the commenters was huge, they were all about burn that spouse at the stake, DTMFA. The very same ones mouthing platitudes about working it out with a cheater because there is always blame on both sides were INCENSED at the spouse who blew marital money in secret. So it’s OK to betray trust and break your spouse’s heart but don’t you dare steal money from them! Sigh. When I commented on the disparity I got mostly crickets, but a few said the two things were not comparable. That is how acceptable cheating is in our culture, argh!

    • That kind of comment drives me nuts. “There must have been something wrong in the relationship under the surface.” Why yes, actually, there was. I treated him like a god (if you’re part of some weird religion where people give their gods blow jobs every day in addition to constantly praising them and offering them libations and cooked meats) and he never complimented me, never did anything special for me, openly dreaded my birthdays, never wanted to have sex with me, shut down any time I tried to talk to him about anything important, etc. So yes, there were things wrong with our relationship, and those things were ENTIRELY HIS FAULT. If he cheated to escape the problems of a faulty relationship, it was because he had destroyed that relationship in the first place, so no, I will not be accepting any of the blame.

  • My wife of 17 years (together for 27, I played pick me for 3 years of the 17) had an affair with a co-worker. She stayed out of state for work every other week and that is when it happened. I was told she wasn’t happy for 17 years and that I treated her like she couldn’t do anything right. Her Mother agreed with her and said I made her a prime candidate to have an affair, So IT WAS ALL MY FAULT. I was also told (2 years into the divorce) that whenever I had to deal with something I shut down, so since I was told that I filed for support. Everything reminds me of the affair and not a day goes by that I don’t think about calling the wife of the scumbag that my wife had the affair with.

  • I took the blame like a champ. After all, what are FOO issues for, if they can’t convince you that if you Just Tried Harder, you could control/fix the known universe?

    Cheater #1: I actually made him hit me repeatedly, as well as cheat on me. I also once made him get drunk at a party and then go home and lock himself in his apartment and hide under a table howling and screaming, because two weeks earlier his elderly pet cat had to be put down and I hadn’t expressed sufficient sympathy. I also made him hate his ex-girlfriend, even though she was the best thing that ever happened to him. I also made him slam my arm in a car door because he had promised to marry me, and now he had to go through with it, even though he didn’t want to. (Spoiler alert: we didn’t get married.)

    Cheater #2: I made him cheat on me because we broke up once, and then got back together, but he wasn’t happy about it. So instead of discussing it and breaking up again, the right thing to do in this case was obviously for him to cheat. Fast forward to creepy phone call to my home number a year later (1996) when I’d moved out of state. Fast forward to even creepier Facebook stalking in 2008 when he was ‘happily married’. He was the first person I ever blocked on Facebook.

    Cheater #3: I made him cheat on me because he couldn’t have sufficient Feelz about me to know that I was The One. My inability to generate adequate levels of Feelz in him meant that it was perfectly OK to have slightly creepy romantic patronage-style relationships with women 20 years younger in his workplace (to the point where his work colleagues thought a marriage proposal was imminent), and to spend his weekends also looking for a better girlfriend on CatholicMatch. Because, after all, she MUST be a good Catholic but also give him Feelz so that he knows she’s The One. His late night TV watching in search of gay sex scenes was probably also caused by me, but in ways I have yet to fathom. Possibly my lack of a penis.

    Cheater #4: This one already had a harem (including his mother) when I met him, so I couldn’t be blamed for that, but I refused to be an emotional punching-bag for a hysterical, drug-addled, trickle-truth, closet gay man-baby. End of, and very quickly, I’m proud to say.

    Pretty much over dating now, and now happily settled with a good network of friends and supporters, lots of interests, full days, deeply restful nights, and my life back.

    • Oh. My. God. What a collection of creepy cretins. I’m amazed and impressed that you survived all that.
      The workplace marriage proposal thing reminded me that there was a guy at my cheater’s work who actually thought he and his howorker mistress were married and only recently found out otherwise. That’s how brazen they were with their carrying on. Everybody there knew about it for years. The humiliation of knowing that all these people were aware I was being made a fool of is something I will never forget. Some of these people smiled in my face and said nothing to alert me that I had been replaced by the office skank. I’m also angry that their superiors did nothing whatsoever to discourage them from taking off at lunchtime and being gone for 1-2 hours every day when they are only allowed a half hour, and also taking longer than permitted breaks together. They knew both were married with kids and nobody said a word. I have concluded that most people don’t have much of a moral compass, but you would think they would be concerned that it was creating a distraction in the workplace with all the gossip. You would think they would care that they were doing it on work time, essentially being paid to cheat on their spouses and cheating their employer to boot. WTF is wrong with people? Have we really sunk this deeply into the abyss as a society?

      • Thanks Chumperella. It makes for depressing reading, but I don’t mind people knowing what an epic Chump I was, and also one of the Solid Gold Pick-Me Dancers for years.

        Yes, I also suffered the humiliation of being smirked at in his workplace, or just viewed with puzzlement. I was known first of all as the girlfriend, but then I was mysteriously replaced, only to reappear at intervals. He also made a point of telling me that his workmates thought he was going to propose to the 20 Year Old.

        I also suffered the humiliation of taking my young nephew on an outing to this man’s workplace, and as we waited upstairs for Cheater #3 to join us, we saw him down in the street through the window, coming back from a lunch with the 20 Year Old – who gave him a very affectionate hug out there in the street. To my eternal shame, I spackled to the very surprised boy: ‘Oh, that’s X, and she and Cheater #3 are friends, so that’s OK for her to hug him.’

        Spackle, spackle, spackle. I just felt something die inside me. I can still remember that moment so vividly. Did I leave? Of course not. I was playing a very long game, and eventually if I just tried hard enough, he would pick me.

        The trust issues are ongoing, but I find they are less of an issue if I spend most of my time around trustworthy people.

      • No moral compass, I agree. I think also these days people take the whole “don’t judge” thing to an extreme. They may think, “Who am I to impose my values on someone else?” or “None of my business,” “What you do in your private life is private,” blah, blah, blah.

  • Hah! I use reverse psychology. Sometimes when I explain what happened, I shrug and say, “I mean, she’s really pretty. And she’s blonde, and skinny–he always had a thing for that look.” Most people are aghast that a married father of 3 would bail on his family for someone pretty.

  • Thank you for posting this, CL. It has helped me to identify what has been bothering me about an email I recently recieved from my mother. She offered the theory that my cheater did what he did because he “felt inferior” to me. I can now interpret that as “you’re a ballbuster so he cheated to get back at you”. Yes, I have been known to bust balls. But only if somebody deserves it by being a despicable asshole. She is confusing cause and effect. The assholism comes before the busting of the balls. It is not caused by the busting of the balls. I’m going to have to be wary of my mother’s supposedly “supportive” comments. She stayed in a shitty marriage and had lovers herself, after insisting on an open marriage because she couldn’t even stand to kiss my father anymore. She’s hardly unbiased on this subject.

  • LucyIntheSky,

    You haven’t grown cynical,you’re woke. Since finding Tracy’s website a few years ago, I get to reread relationships with my new glasses, the Chumplady model. They’re not for sale at Oliver Peoples or Warby Parker.

    A new interpretation of my parents’ marriage, my own history of being chumpy and attracting and tolerating for too long narcs and nutclusters. All the men in my parents’ group therapy during the groovy seventies led by the blameshifting therapist ? They were all cheating on their wives-Philandering Philatelist, Howard the Whoremonger, Dr. Dan the herpe(s)tologist and Jackass Joe.

    I can spot manipulators much more easily thanks to this site and our community. I spend about an hour every day reading all the comments. Thank youall for your experience,strength and hope. The succinct “charm, pity, rage” analysis came in very handy during a recent overseas vacation with my uncle (mute stroke victim) and his alcoholic Italian wife of thirty years. She was able to manipulate a few of the fellow barge cruise guests but not all of them. Charm-a university professor and scientist who starves herself during the day, drinking only espressos (one with a shot booze) because being thin “la bella figura” is everything. Pity-she’s been taking care of her poor husband since his stroke and “it’s very hard on her.” Utter bullsh*t-my uncle has been paying for three women from second and third world countries to help bathe,dress and babysit him during the day. When the fellow guests starting realizing how self-centered, arrogant and nasty (rough treatment of my uncle and late night alcoholic outbursts in her cabin) the rage reared its ugly head. Bitchy comments about the guests-“You know our captain Arnaud has a bit of a paunch” “Bronagh is morbidly obese. She may have a heart attack if she doesn’t lose weight” “I knew Bernard was a smoker. Did you see his teeth ?! Can you imagine kissing him ?!” My favorite was directed towards me during one of 2 a.m. tirades. With all the noise coming from their cabin, I was afraid we’d be asked to leave the trip. I tried to reason with the drunk and told her to settle down. She hissed at me “You have nobody ! Your marriage failed !” Bye Felicia

    I gave up and let her spin out of control. Barricaded myself in my cabin every night after dinner for the rest of the trip by pushing one of the twin beds against the door (no locks on our doors)

  • I realize I’m sort of late to this discussion today, but I would like to say that I have come to believe when cheating goes on, it is ENTIRELY the cheater’s fault and decision, and regardless of his or her personality defects (after all, who doesn’t have SOMETHING they could improve upon?) the chump is COMPLETELY BLAMELESS in the matter of cheating. 100% of the time.

    Contrary to commonly held belief, I believe that cheating is not the result of an unhappy marriage, but exactly the opposite. Cheating CREATES an unhappy marriage. Cheating can take a perfectly fine marriage and make it insufferable. I can look back on my 30 years of marriage to a cheater and now pinpoint exactly when he was being unfaithful. When he wasn’t straying, we got along fine. When he cheated, even though I was completely unaware, suddenly he was hostile and distant and dissatisfied. I would wrack my brains and try everything to make him happy, and nothing worked except for time. In retrospect I see that his affairs sapped the lifeblood from our marriage. When he wasn’t cheating, we had a good relationship; when he cheated we didn’t. It was that simple, and it had NOTHING to do with what I did or who I was.

    In my case, this was because I (unwittingly) married someone with a disordered personality. I think it’s quite common for the disordered to try to salve their fragile and damaged egos through any means whatsoever. At one point in their lives it might be wooing and marrying someone. At another point in their lives it might be infidelity. Infidelity is the ultimate distraction from thinking that you’re a worthless shit.

    When my marriage when through rocky periods, I completely blamed myself. When I first found out my then-husband was a cheater, I obsessed over what I could have done differently. As it turned out, the answer was: NOTHING. Cheating harms and robs from a marriage, and cheating is ALWAYS the choice and the responsibility of no one except the CHEATER.

    Sorry for the caps, I just feel very strongly about this issue.

    Love to all chumps!!

    • I agree with every word. Looking back, I thought my marriage was ebbs and flows but I didn’t know why. I have no proof of cheating throughout the marriage but it would explain his emotional withdraws followed by the happy-to-be-with-me episodes. In the back of mind, it felt like he was mentally gone and then suddenly he remembered be had a loving wife. Hell, maybe I was always the sloppy seconds, the backup plan.

      • I agree also. Now that I know he cheated our entire 30+ years his behavior makes sense. The ebbs and flows (anger then sweetness), unexpected gift or kindness….just guilt and bullshit. I spent too much time trying to figure out what was wrong…he was wrong.

    • Being cheated on has made me realize that whenever some older guy gives a toast at a wedding and stresses how “marriage won’t always be easy” and there will be struggles and low points, he’s probably referring to the times he was caught cheating on his wife. I always thought that sort of discussion at weddings was so strange, but now when I hear it it makes perfect sense.

  • Thank you Tracy for calling this out for what it is. Serial cheating/infidelity is domestic abuse. Period. Society needs to wake up stop making excuses for these fuckwits. Victims need support, not blame and secondary abuse from the peanut gallery.

  • This is something that affects us so subtly many of us never realize we think this way. It took me years to admit to myself that I got into relationships with men who are less attractive and accomplished than I am because I thought that if I were the more desirable partner it would protect me from being cheated on or left. I was always afraid to date really attractive or flirty men because I assumed they would cheat on me. But why would I assume such a thing, when I myself am attractive and flirty and genuinely want one monogamous partner? We have to change the messaging we send to young girls about choosing their partners.

    I told my husband that one of the million things that hurt me about him cheating was the humiliation of everyone knowing what had happened and assuming it must be my fault. That I must just not be good at giving blow jobs. I had tried for so many years to be perfect for him, and instead of bragging to people about his awesome wife he cast me forever as the One Who Must Have Done Something To Drive Him Away. His response to me telling him all this? That I’m being crazy, that of course no one judges or blames me for what he did!

  • >