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Dear Chump Lady, Why can’t I accept that he sucks?

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Dear Chump Lady,

My husband and I separated six months ago. I was 36 weeks pregnant when I discovered his six week affair with his accountant from his emails (purely by accident — I didn’t suspect a thing). I also had a toddler and was suffering from extreme morning sickness.

When confronted, he didn’t deny it, he simply packed his bags and moved in with her. She was married with two kids so she left her husband to be with him. She and my husband are still together.

I have since had the baby and he comes to visit now and then. He and OW have split up and got back together several times so I know all is not rosy there. However, I just can’t accept that he truly sucks. All the evidence is there — he cheated on me while pregnant, then abandoned me and the children. He also left his first wife when their second child was six months old so he is a repeat offender.

But he is a really sparkly person and every time I see him, I seem to get sucked back in to missing him and the life we had together. I find myself wondering what he and OW have that is so much better than what we had. What do they talk about? Do they talk about our kids (she hasn’t met them yet)? Do they eat the same dinners he used to cook for me? Go to the same restaurants? Visit the same hotels? I just can’t seem to move on and accept that he truly sucks, that she isn’t somehow the winner here and that their relationship is irrelevant to me.

My heart and my head are at war and my heart is still winning. Help!

Lisa

Dear Lisa,

If he doesn’t suck, what is your definition of “suck”? Drowns baby kittens? Kicks elderly people in the head? Steals drugs from cancer patients?

Sure, if he did THOSE things, you would see that he sucks. My examples aren’t rhetorical. In every instance, he would be harming a vulnerable population — baby kittens, elderly people, cancer patients. Only the really despicable would sucker punch a weaker person. Only truly dreadful people prey on the vulnerable, right?

Vulnerable like say… a woman 36 weeks pregnant with a toddler.

This man cheated on you during a time in your life when you needed him most. He then abandoned you with a newborn and a toddler. Just ran off with NO explanation (what could he say? “I am filth”?) — a complete shit and total coward — and you want this person back?

What kind of sparkles eclipse that lack of character? Blinding sparkles?

He’s an asshole. He did this before (please tell me you weren’t the OW in that scenario). This is who he IS.

Who is that? A man you cannot trust. A man who cannot be relied upon to support his family and the mother(s) of his children. A lot of chumps blame themselves for their cheaters’ infidelities. What are you going to blame yourself for — carrying his child? Taking care of a toddler? Did kibble production fall so low he had to go find it elsewhere? Do you really want the sort of narcissistic monster that demands more kibbles from a pregnant woman who is otherwise occupied, you know, gestating a human being? Do you think you can keep up with that kind of demand? Because you cannot. NO ONE can. It’s batshit disordered.

So why do you miss him, why can’t you trust that he sucks? Because you’re mourning the dream of what You Thought It Was. You invested wholly in that dream and you thought this  man was your security. He gutted you and now you need security more than ever. What’s more scary than being cheated on while pregnant? Being abandoned. Feeling twice as vulnerable now, you’re naturally afraid, and so you do that chumpy thing — you return to the very person who gutted you and demand that he heal you. He must make it better. He must reverse this. Only he has that power to bring the dream back!

Fuck him. Fuck the dream. That dream is dead. I’m sorry, Lisa. It’s time to rely on yourself and cut this toxic man out of your life.

Does he cook the same dinners? Go to the same restaurants? Visit the same hotels? Yes. Because he’s not very original. One kibble source is as good as the next. When that kibble source flags he will find another. (Apparently, he’s already keeping the OW off balance, dumping her and taking her back to increase the pick-me kibbles.) He does all the things he did with you because that’s his schtick. No one is special. Read that again: NO ONE IS SPECIAL. He only treats women “special” to lure them in as a kibble source. When they get vulnerable or tired or divert their energies to someone that isn’t Him and His Needs — he bails. When he needs a new sucker, he turns the “special” sparkles back on.

You miss the sparkles. You miss the illusion of being special. I get it Lisa. Been there, been a chump. Listen, the sparkles are a halluciangenic drug. It’s just a feeling of “special.” But the hangover is insane and withdrawal is painful. If he truly thought you were special, if he cherished you, if he were CAPABLE of cherishing you, he would not have abandoned you.

That doesn’t mean you’re not worthy of being cherished. You are. But love yourself first. Love yourself more than this asshole. Love your children more. Call a lawyer and make this guy your EX husband. Nothing here to save.  (((Big hugs)))

This column ran previously and there’s a special front-row bench in hell for people who cheat on pregnant women.

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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.
  • Lisa, I married the sparkles. I was pregnant, and 23, and terrified. I married him, red flags be damned, and when the baby was 2 months old, I found evidence of new infidelity. I walked out, we screamed, the baby screamed, I came back…10 years later, I caught incidental evidence of minor (online) infidelity. By then, we had two kids. Everyone’s screamed. We ended up staying together. 4 years after that (this September), kid 1 hacked his dad’s iPad, and found proof of 20 years of ongoing infidelity…since before we met, throughout our relationship, before and after we married, when I was pregnant, right up to his eldest’s 14th birthday this Friday.

    They. Don’t. Stop.

    It’s who they are.

    He won’t ever change, and none of it has to do with you. Just walk away.

    • Deborah

      Oh my… I’m so sorry for you I’m so sorry for your kiddo… I could have written ur story myself… before- during ongoing infidelity, screwing hookers…. after kid#1 I came across his browsing history and I was shocked.. how could he watch all the porn while having his young, cute wife next to him?
      Little did I know that watching porn was the smallest of the problems….
      have I known what I know now- I would never discussed possibility of having children with him.
      He was fucking around before we got met- when we met- after marriage- during my pregnancies ( screw the life of my wife and kids, fucking the hooker after taking her for romantic dinner or luring a women on a date and then fuck was a priority)

      When you learn all the filth, dirt and disgusting actions… what is left?

      I was trying to hook up to something…. memory, value, anything…. but there is none….

      Husbands supposed to protect and guard the family, wife and children…. they shouldn’t be playing Russian roulette with their life, because they feel like it.

      I feel so low today…. I know that some stuff are waiting for me, I know I have to take care of it…. it will hurt … so avoiding it for a day or two

      And I’m such a giving person, intelligent, creative and funny… WTF this whole fucked up world of abusive narcissistic human beings had to be part of my life???

    • Yes yes and yes… This is who they are. Sadly same sort of story. But 2 years out 18 months nc… Life is OK… Trust they suck!

    • Wow. Your own child did the hacking, which means how much your child suspected your husband’s infidelity. That says a lot about how even he’s presented himself to his children.

      Thank God you’re free.

    • Same. Took 15 years to break that bad habit!

      It was soooo scary divorcing. Will I be able survive? Will my kids be screwed up? Will I be alone forever?

      4.5 years out and life is much sweeter. My only regret is that I didn’t divorce sooner.

      We’re the sum of our habits – get out of your head and start putting one foot in front of the other.

      Big hug. You got this!

    • So sorry, Deborah. Yes, that’s what my mom and aunt told me: They are who they are. And, THEY DON’T CHANGE.

    • Absolutely right. They won’t stop. They only try to hide it better next time. Some don’t even make that effort, because there’s always another candidate they can start fresh with the same tricks.

  • Hello again CN,
    I’m the “I sucked too” guy, and I’m always having trouble remembering that she sucks. Because I don’t think she really did suck, except for the cheating.
    Still working on the divorce but I’m torturing myself with regrets. I’ve been reading all of your stories and a lot of the time when you describe your husbands I think “OMG that’s me!” The only thing I didn’t do was cheat. And I did the charm/pity/rage dance when I realized that she was dumping me. So in a sense I’m the one who thinks I’m shiny and that she’d be “better off with me.” It’s all about me. I can’t stand myself and I can’t stand the fact that I didn’t realize this stuff sooner. (See? All about me!)
    I guess I wish I could tell her all of this. I wish she could know how badly I feel about how I treated her. I know I didn’t “cause” her to cheat but…
    Why do I keep spinning? Why do I keep doubting myself? What do I need to do, besides realizing all these things, to prevent this from happening again? It’s almost like I’m the one wishing SHE would give ME another chance. Messed up? RIC retraumatization? Too much self-blame? Maybe, but it feels so real that I can’t use those things as excuses. Because then I’m sort of blameshifting onto her, right?
    Holy heck, this is confusing. And why oh why does it hurt so much?

    • Find yourself an individual counselor GMSB, one who is trained in trauma and personality disorders. Put together a treatment plan and get to work on you. You can’t change her. You can’t fix her but you can fix you. None of us here claims perfection but we all missed red flags and signs that our cheater was less than stellar at being a good person. I did a year of therapy and I learned a lot about me, about how I was raised and how that influenced my expectations about a relationship and how it laid the foundation of how I thought relationships worked. It was grueling and heart wrenching but I am a lot smarter now, about myself, about where I come from and where I am going and what my expectations are in a relationship. I can also tell you that having a relationship after you’ve done the hard work of working on you can be incredibly fulfilling. Partnering with a person of integrity and communicating well are an absolute dream and even more sparkly than any sparkly narcissist can dream of being. Good luck and keep moving forward.

      • I too have felt those feelings along my journey. Divorce provides plenty of self-inspection time.

        My X has a three-layer sparkle armor, she has the caring profession, is intelligent, seems caring, frankly is a very lovely person all things considered.

        But, at the core, she was NEVER invested in me. And the APs are proof.

        It’s hard to trust she sucks. It’s hard not to think I suck too, b/c she wouldn’t have run off if I didn’t suck so bad.

        But in that thinking i what I need to move forward: I didn’t suck THAT bad, not bad enough for her to run off (several times)

        Coming up on a yr for formal divorced status, still ironing this one out.

        • TO, this one gets me. The layered sparkle armor. Because she hits all the right notes when it comes to surface-level stuff. But then was she ever really invested in me? One thing she said after DDay was, “I just don’t understand why you never realized how devoted I was to you.” That one hit me really hard, and hasn’t gone away yet. Because all in all she was a decent wife. And I was a decent husband. I did all the husbandy things. Provided, cared, managed finances, fixed cars, all that. But was I ever deeply invested in her? And if I was, why didn’t I realize it until I lost her?

          So, you know, things I think about when I don’t feel like falling asleep until 3 AM. 😛

          • How devoted she was in you???? But yet she was cheating???? She was not THAT devoted to you if she was cheating. She only said that to make you feel guilty. She said that only to make YOU feel bad.. .. dont believe it. She just plays the game better then you because she never let’s you know the rules of her game.

            Please get counseling on why you are taking on her blaming and twisting your reality. That is what they do. She is good at making you feel bad and guilty and sorry for her. She is fucking with your mind. That way you fall right back into her hands. .. . Get therapy, get help, unfuck yourself. Unfuck your mind and find your peace. Good luck

            PS decent wives do not lie, hide, backstab, steal time and money, blame or cheat.

            • Ding, ding, ding!! They play the game better because they never let you know the rules of their game. My husband has said that he felt marriage was like a game, a tit-for-tat, keeping score so he knew he was winning HIS game which meant thinking, doing, and acting HIS way!

          • She cheated. So she was not devoted. This is not a hard equation to solve.

            You didn’t “lose” her. That’s part of her gaslighting story. She cheated because you didn’t realize how devoted she was.

            You are falling for the mask, not the person. That’s what we mean by “sparkly.” Someone who can put on a highly attractive mask, mirror you to figure out what keeps you hooked, and then abuse you mightily because she can.

            I can’t say this often enough: if you don’t see that they suck, after they do terrible things to you, you are engaging with a hollow person’s mask. Start reading about disordered people. Dr. George Simon’s website on manipulative people offers the equivalent of a degree in understanding what manipulators do.

            • Perfectly stated, LovedaJackass. Her final statement, which rings in GMSB’s ears, is taken by him as a truthful statement. It should instead sent shivers down his spine how zero-ed in she was on his psyche to be able to gaslight him so effectively with this line.

          • yeah… thats part of the journey.

            I see in your other posts, you’ve dealt w/ depression & other hard things. I did too. For the last 10 years, I KNEW things weren’t right, and I knew deep down that they never were and never were going to be. I was committed to trying, those were my values.

            A lot of times, reading CL/CN, I think I should be further along than I am. And sometimes I truly feel free and joyful and ready to take on a new life. Other times I struggle. Its a long process to move forward.

            And it sounds like you’re starting your journey.

            Here’s what I can tell you: you’ll like yourself better.

            When I was married, I worried that I might die half-happy. That my life was all about the martial struggle which is a pretty shitty ending. “Tall One wanted a bigger life, but here he lies, only having focused on trying to save his broken marriage”

            Here’s another thing I believe; her affairs helped me move on. If my X divorce honorably, I would really be struggling with what could I have done better. I would really be stuck. But her actions helped kicked me out of that orbit. They freed me from having to worry.

            Stand tall GMSB, you’re going to be a better, stronger, smarter man, wether you like it or not.

            • “I see in your other posts, you’ve dealt w/ depression & other hard things.”

              Did anyone else have any crazy nightmares before they found out? I remember having this same dream over and over, that there was part of my house that I didn’t know existed, and I opened the door and it was like there was an entire other wing with different furniture, bigger TV, stuff like that. And nobody had lived in it for years. So weird. I had that dream over and over. I mean it doesn’t take much to get the metaphor, right?

              It just occurred to me that I can’t recall having had a single nightmare since DDay. Sure, I’ve had dreams about her, dreams about OM, but none of those crazy chased-by-a-bear or didn’t-study-for-exam dreams, nor the other-part-of-the-house dream. Not even once.

              • For months I had a dream of a woman’s cackling laugh multiple times. Then, I found out that my ex had the OW back in the picture. I would wake up with my heart racing.

                I think our intuition picks up on a lot, but our brain does not have enough hard information to understand what the spirit knows. As far as I have been able to piece together, my ex participated in different levels of affairs for just over the last two years of our marriage, and had been watching porn regularly for a few years. In those years, I was consistently gaining 10 pounds a year, despite no major changes to my diet and still exercising (I figured it was a change in my metabolism). I had a hormonal imbalance that the doctor found unusual in a woman my age and what could be causing that particular hormone to be so out of whack. She kept questioning me to understand if I was experiencing acute stress in my life. I had stress but I didn’t think it was so acute. And, I kept having B6 and B12 deficiencies despite a super healthy diet, supported by a naturopathic doctor. Both my family doctor and naturopath kept coming back to the cause being acute stress. Then, I found out about the affair and did the pick me dance for most of the last year of my marriage – talk about rapid weight loss.

                What’s interesting about my health is that I might have lost 35 pounds due to the stress of the affair (but I’ve kept almost all of it off now that it’s been more than a year since my ex left), but suddenly I have no more hormonal or vitamin imbalances. In fact, I don’t feel anywhere near the same level of day-to-day stress that I did for years during my marriage – yet I have the same demanding career, still do most of the things my kids needs, now I care for a whole house myself, etc. The only factor that has changed is that I am minus a cheating husband, and I am the healthiest that I have ever been in years. I weigh a bit less that I did no the day of my wedding fifteen years ago and before two kids.

                Because I am also a religious person, I believe that evil can manifest itself in our lives in many ways. My husband was an evil that poisoned the well of our marriage, but it happened gradually and insidiously. He is at fault. However, my intuition knew something was really wrong for a long time. Those negative feelings and the his cruel intent affected my health, like being exposed to low dosages of an environmental toxin. Remove the toxin from the environment and eventually things start to flourish again.

                Hello peace. Sure, I still suffer some anxiety from the trauma of what was done for me, but that is a different matter than the continuous low-grade mind-fuckery I now understand I was exposed to for a number of years.

              • I used to have terrible nightmares. The “best” would be that I was stuck in a maze surrounded by monster. The worst was I was stuck somewhere in very high mountains (I live in the French alps) but instead of being covered in snow they were covered in sludge and I had to keep trying and trying to get out of that hell hole. I kept slipping and sliding and one young man (in my dream) in front of me, just stood there, spread his arms wide and jumped. But I never gave up. More often than not I was also struggling to carry a baby (always my second son, never my first – the second was the more sensitive one) and there would be complete and utter chaos everywhere. Sounds like a perfect depiction of my marriage.

              • I once dreamt that I had a terminal illness and decided to euthanize myself. On the day I was going to do it I changed my mind and Ex seemed disappointed saying “Really, are you sure? I mean, I wouldn’t want to live like that and be a burden on everyone, but it is up to you of course”. I remember thinking how realistic that dream was when I woke up because I think that is exactly how he would have reacted in that situation. Just knowing that should have been reason enough to question my marriage.

              • I was just thinking about it this morning!

                I never dreamed in a million years that my husband would ever cheat on me.

                But I DID.

                I had a very rare recurring dream in which he left me. When I woke up, in my mind it was SO obviously a dream and had nothing to do with reality that I always dismissed it without a second thought.

                Until a month before DDay. I had the dream on a trip I was on alone. I texted him in the middle of the night.

                “I feel like you are glad I am gone and I don’t feel like you love me and I wonder if you love someone else.”

                I was DEAD ON.

                In the morning he texted me back.

                “WE love you” (him and my daughter).

                Man I wish I could have been a
                fly on the wall of his tiny little criminal mind when he saw my 3am text.

                Now I also know why I never liked his new truck….the Dodge Ram Hookup, probably purchased to avoid spending money on cheap hotels with Craigslist ho’s.

                He’s cheap like that.

                Don’t cheat on psychic people, dude.

              • For me it was panic attacks instead of dreams. I never had a single one until I hit around 34-35, and that was right about when things really started to stink in the marriage. And after D-Day, I found out that was when the affair had started up and was in the heady and hot early days.

                My social worker and I brought this up in my last session. She said that the panic attacks were a sign that I knew. I didn’t know the specifics, but even my body knew intuitively that something was very wrong. She was right.

              • No panic attacks either! Didn’t realize that. Haven’t had one since living with her. I mean I’m anxious a lot but I don’t get those cold dread tunnel vision hyperventilating screaming ones anymore. Maybe I should book a flight somewhere and see if I even still have THAT phobia. Ain’t psychology great?

              • So interesting about the house dream! I, too, had the same reoccurring dream about other essentially unknown wings in my house. Just as you described – open a door and the new spaces would just unfold. I remember so clearly the astonishment I felt in my dreams – how could I have not known this was here all this time?? I’d also have dreams about him cheating – and ironically in the time he has been gone and I have dine so much research, I can now see just how clearly my dreams were spot on even in their timing. It’s now actually become a testimony to me that there was something higher guiding and protecting me all along…and I use that now as a reminder that I can trust this part of me.

                Like you, the dreams also stopped almost immediately once he left. That’s been even more astonishing to me…that I could dream something so regularly (for 10+ years!) – and yet have them stop so abruptly. Just completely gone (2 yrs now) despite that much of that time I was still in agony over the ending of the marriage. We really can trust ourselves. We just have to learn how to pay attention and LISTEN to that part. This understanding has been a tremendous gift to me in so many ways. I lost complete trust in him – and am now finding it in myself.

              • I had these same dreams over and over. Different rooms with my things in parts of houses that were new.

                Trauma affects many people in similar ways. The despair felt with loss and betrayal, the sickness of feeling empty. The utter rage that smacks you in the face is the biggest betrayal.

                The world is full of people. We connect throughout our lives with different soul mates. It might not necessarily be sexual or romantic but pure kindred spirits that due to circumstances, connect on that level. Maybe we are all connected to counsel others due to past experience for others’ present and future paths.

                I try and use my experiences to counsel as I believe I could write a book and it would be a best seller with the things that I have been through. I have been in Meh for a long time though so it helps me with a calming voice say this to you: life is a journey and you will be detoured throughout the way but the path is much more interesting with perseverance.

                Hugs your way. It will get better.

            • Tall One….YES!

              I heard in meditation “thank God he had the affair”

              WTHeck?!!!

              But it’s this….it slammed the door and nailed it shut and the portal then burst into flames and vanished, and left the ashes of marriage certificate like the spinning license plate on the pavement after Marty McFly goes back to the future. I needed an oversize sledgehammer to let go of him…I AM TOO LOYAL TO OTHERS AND NOT TO ME! Still!
              God doing for me what I could not do for myself. I would have hung in there because I took an oath. I am so
              Lady Brienne! Time to be more like Arya Stark.

              Time to get into the DeLorean and have a chat with the younger me and re-do the loyalty oath…..be loyal to ME.

              • PS….a loyalty issue was literally the first issue between us….never went away for 27 years….and the finale was DDay….major league loyalty issue. HE NEVER STOOD UP FOR ME. He bailed when I had nerve damage and was handicapped and couldn’t walk and was in astronomical nerve pain that had me in bed with tears streaming down my face waiting for the Percocet to (hopefully) work.

                Karma shuttle has come. He now needs his knee replaced. Bone on bone. Has a handicapped placard himself. Dreads going to Costco because it hurts to walk. Tells me all about it.

                Could be worse. He could be handicapped in pain while caring for a small child and running a household and married to someone who is taking their cheating accomplice bicycle shopping so they can ride bikes together (after declining to be gym buddies with you to rehab from the paralyzing nerve damage).

                That’s the ONLY thing I need to know about him. I don’t need more than that ONE story to as fuel to GTF away from him.

                GAME EFFEN OVER.

          • Oh we’ve circled back around to this one. Why would she want me to fall back into her hands, or keep me hooked, when she has already moved on? Triangulation, control, centrality…does that mean that after the divorce she’ll still text me? I mean at this point I get it, she wants to keep me thinking that she’s nice so I’ll cooperate in the divorce. But after that? (Trying not to be the “I hope she’ll hoover me” kind of person, but let’s be honest…)

            Tonight I’m gonna review my George Simon notes.

          • It doesn’t matter anymore.

            She’s gone.

            You’re better off without her. It doesn’t matter if she’s better off with or without you. She’s gone. That’s good for each of you.

            Fix yourself. Move on to a better life. And it will, certainly, be better.

          • GMSB, I will ditto what everyone else is saying. She’s playing with your mind! She’s making you question yourself and what kind of husband you were. DON’T FALL FOR IT!!! It’s what they, the manipulative people of this world do! None of us are perfect, so of course there is no such thing as the perfect husband or perfect wife. We all make mistakes and hurt our partner at times.

            She’s projecting herself onto you! She was the one who wasn’t a devoted partner, not you. But you are chumpy like all of us and you take that accusation to heart and question yourself. I did the same thing! My ex said to me, “You never took good care of me.” That comment took me so off guard. I was like, “What?” I dedicated my life to my husband and kids and I tried my best to make his home life as happy and easy as possible. Not once in 20 years did he do any housework except maybe once a month he’d vacuum the steps. He never did any laundry. He made dinner once a year on New Year’s Day. I trimmed and mulched all the landscaping every single year all by myself and our son cut the grass. I cleaned the garage twice a year and he never once cleaned the garage. I cleaned the basement once a year and he never once cleaned the basement. I took care of everything related to the kids, making appointment, school stuff, etc etc etc. You see where I’m going with this? He took the one thing that he knew I valued and was great at and he made me question myself. I honestly wondered, what did I miss? What didn’t I take care of for him? It was a total mind f*ck!!

            Get some counseling, read about personality disorders and manipulative people and TRUST THAT SHE SUCKS! Oh, and keep reading CL and CN. We are here for you!

            • Their take on reality is so skewed, yet us chumps take them at their word.
              Narc X said many horrible things to me when I discovered what a POS he is that I still fight them off during those hours between midnight and morning.
              In the morning, it’s still obvious to “Trust that they suck”.

          • If you were a good husband, WTF is her problem? Look, my stbx tried this kind of ploy on me; “I cheated because I felt you didn’t love me. You didn’t give me enough attention/sex/appreciation.”
            I laughed in his face because it’s 100% pure, grade A bullshit. For these pathologically self-centered people, there can never be enough. They always think they deserve more than anybody could possibly give, but they are not giving themselves. They put on a veneer of caring, but when you need them they will not be there for you. I was quite ill when he decided he was done with me and started cheating. I was also caring for our mentally ill and physically disabled daughter, with precious little help or support from him. Because my focus at the time wasn’t on He Who is All Important and His Endless Needs, he conveniently concluded that I “didn’t love him.” Fuck a bunch of that. Your wife’s lame line about you not realizing how devoted she was is the same kind of cowardly blameshift. She cannot admit to her failings as a person.
            Please don’t forget that she had other choices if she wasn’t happy in your marriage; talking to you about it, marriage counselling and divorce. Cheating would never have been on the table if she was a truly good, honest and loving person. Let her sparkle for some other sucker. She’s as fake as a hooker’s orgasm.

            • >>”They put on a veneer of caring, but when you need them they will not be there for you.”

              Said STBXW to GMSB during MC: “You were never there for me when I really needed you! And I don’t trust that you ever will be.”

              Oh, the projection. I’m starting to see it now.

              • Oh, they will project, along with the other standard defense mechanisms.
                The nerve of that bitch. She’s standing there, likely with semen stains in the crotch of the tacky thong panties she purchased for the viewing pleasure of her manwhore, and haughtily proclaims that she can’t trust YOU?
                Sorry for the gross visual, but cheaters are shamelessly gross people, so it fits. Mine didn’t even bother to wash his junk after he banged his skank. Sickos, the lot of them.

              • >> “the tacky thong panties she purchased for the viewing pleasure of her manwhore”

                Here’s another one that makes me think, “My Cheater was different.” There was nothing trashy about any of it. No thongs, no glitter. Very proper, noble, all that. Basically like she just found another GMSB and interacts with him roughly the same way. Replaced like a widget on an assembly line. But to the best of my knowledge it’s the first time. And we’ve been together since she was 20.

                OK, nothing trashy on the surface. Underneath, it was vicious retaliation for years of perceived mistreatment.

                Have you heard the one about Irish Alzheimer’s? They forget everything except a grudge.

            • “Fake as a hooker’s orgasm.” I like that one. I’m going to have to use it. Thank you, Chumperella! And I agree w/all your advice. And GMSB, I’m in the same situation as you, except I’m only sure of the affair w/her now former boss that ended our 24+ years of marriage. She has held resentments against me for a multitude of things for the last 10-15 years of our marriage (she has come right out & said this), including her getting pregnant w/our youngest child, our son. You, I, and every single husband out there made mistakes & were much less than perfect. What yours, mine, and all other cheaters fail to admit to themselves is that they are just as flawed as us. They try to blameshift everything about the relationship onto us chumps, in an effort to deceive us & make themselves feel better about what they’ve done. Don’t let her. Get CL’s book, Leave A Cheater, Gain A Life, and take what she says to heart. You are going to doubt things occasionally, but it will happen less & less as time goes on. Remember a few things if nothing else: You were loyal and loved her. She wasn’t loyal & her actions show she didn’t love you as she should have. You honored your commitment to her, and she didn’t. If she was truly unhappy w/you during the marriage, and couldn’t handle talking to you about it & working on things w/you either alone together or w/the help of a therapist, the ethical thing to do would have been to divorce you, not have an affair (and especially not multiple ones). That was cowardly & abusive. Trust that she sucks, and I wish you all the best in your struggle to accept all of this. We’re all here for you.

              • Make that MORE flawed. Much more, because we didn’t cheat. Hey, maybe I burned toast occasionally amd I once served ham without realizing he hates it ( for which I got yelled at), but I kept every single one of my marriage vows. These assholes keep a balance sheet in their heads that includes trivial annoyances such as burnt toast, unwanted ham dinners, forgetting to pick up the mail, being too tired to go to another boring birthday party with your idiotic in-laws, or whatever the hell you did or failed to do that annoyed them. They tally up these petty resentments to use as an excuse to violate the most sacred of promises and treat you like you’re subhuman. Because entitelment.

          • She’s devoted to you? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Is being a comedian one of the things you think is “neat” about her? If anything she is the one who failed to see how devoted you are. She probably did see, however, and just doesn’t care. She needed an excuse to justify her lousy behavior.

          • Ok need to say this. Marriage is HARD. It’s not perfect nor are people. You could be an ass to be married to, but you didn’t fall on someone’s genitalia. She did.

            I’m five months in and if I let myself i will list all the things I wish I had done differently. Call it the sad sack ‘if only’ song. I don’t let myself do it and you shouldn’t either.

            Get into therapy and really work on yourself. I bet you are not as broken as you think.

            Be kind to youself

            • Thanks. I know I’m not broken. I know there’s hope. I just miss her like crazy. What a friggin’ miserably year.

              • You don’t miss her, you miss who you thought she was. You are mourning the dream, not the reality. My life was perfect to all (even our children were fooled) but over the years little red flags kept surfacing. Usually on good days, like days the children graduated, or on vacations, or holidays. There was always drama surrounding us when there shouldn’t have been, living a lie becomes a hard thing to balance. Fucktard x was amazingly good at acting throughout our 28 years together but one thing always stood out, that little nagging thought of mine that everything in my life was going to come crashing down, and it did. I, of course, blamed myself, but once I was away from his toxic narrative I could see how blind I was to his evil. Narcs can not do real life, especially when there are challenges (which is why they choose strong, intelligent people), and once their crap pattern emerges, they move on to a new host. These people are cons, good ones, but not the best people to have “happily ever after” with. I recognize now how blessed I was to have discovered the truth and to know that what I felt was right all along.

    • Dear G,

      It took me six months (SIX MONTHS) to go from feeling nauseous about ME and any little thing I could think of that sucked about ME, which of course contributed to him cheating, because of course he had no choice, because of course he was so neat, because he was a helpless neat butterfly and I was just an imperfect bully who pulled his wings off and left him no choice but to find a kindhearted good woman on Craigslist in the Casual Sex listings Who Really Loved And Appreciated Him Like I Should Have….SIX MONTHS to go from that 24/7 loop of how awful I must be to….WTFingHELL this has ZERO TO DO WITH ME!! What a jerk!

      Do some writing. Do some writing on HER character defects. Things that she did that hurt you. Things you were upset about. Things that sucked about her. I guarantee you there will be more than just cheating on her shit list. And if there WERE only cheating on her shit list, that would be enough to put Florence Nightingale on Santa’s permanent Naughty List. Ask yourself, how bad would it have to be for you to leave? What are your deal breakers? Does there have to be actual blood and hatchets?

      IT HURTS BECAUSE IT’S ABUSE. INVISIBLE ABUSE. PSYCHOLOGICAL AND EMOTIONAL WOUNDS ARE NOT VISIBLE AND TANGIBLE LIKE BROKEN ARMS AND LEGS. This woman took an iron bar to you, and enlisted someone to help her beat the shit out of you emotionally. You are in the ICU on life support and there is no pain medication. That’s why you hurt.

      Please please get counseling if you haven’t already. And MAKE SURE it’s not a crackpot who wants to talk about how you/marriage problems/anyone, anything but HER contributed to the affair.

      Just because someone is a therapist does NOT mean they have their shit together. I was a very troubled psychology major before I dropped out to get my shit together first, and I had a couple of seriously lunatic professors.

      Keep coming back. You WILL get better.

      • …..and for the record, I don’t know if I have gotten my shit together. I am still a work in progress. All I can say for sure is that I am a person who cares about having my shit together and I want to do and say the right thing. And it really bugs me that I will never be perfect.

        Working on it…

      • I hope I can get myself back into this mindset (I got a taste of it last week). It’s almost like someone resets my brain every time I go to sleep. It’s almost like every time I make progress, suddenly some voice jumps into my head (not literally, of course) saying “Yeah but what if you caused it to be that way?” For example, did she not communicate with me because I would always get so defensive and feel like she was criticizing? I guess that’s what’s hard about this invisible abuse, it’s so subtle that you don’t even know if it really happened the way it feels like it happened. (Also I have some minor psychological issues that make it difficult for me to pay attention and remember details. Starts with an A followed by a few more letters…)

        I will keep coming back. I’m trying not to dominate the conversation too much (that was one of my many post-DDay faults) but the ICU metaphor is correct and this place is my life support. I wish I had found this place 6 months ago.

        • Ask your counselor what an “I” message is….

          “I feel _______when you______.”

          I’ll bet your neat wife who cheated doesn’t know how to use one.

          • …..and my brain needs to be reset A LOT…all day long. That’s why this blog is here and SO helpful!

          • Interesting. She got a lot better at making statements like that after she got into counseling. Which was about a month before the cheating started. Meaning she “got better for him” in a way. It also explains why I always got this vague feeling that she was “weaponizing” everything she was learning about boundaries. But stepping all over mine (although admittedly I didn’t ever make them clear). One time after DDay she talked about how great it felt to have boundaries and enforce them. But it felt more like…”Now look at what I can do to you, to pay you back for all of the times you walked all over me.” Weird.

            • The cheating (ACTIONS) reveal the truth about her character, NOT the words.

              We recover when we pay attention to ACTIONS rather than WORDS.

              WORDS ONLY MATTER WHEN THEY MATCH ACTIONS.

              And nothing says “I have major boundary issues” like cheating/lying.

              • Anne Katherine is my favorite author on boundaries…..

                End of the day, NO MATTER WHAT YOU DID OR DIDN’T DO, IT DIDN’T CAUSE HER TO CHEAT. Her cheating is evidence, proof positive, that SHE doesn’t have long-term intimate relationship skills.

                Earnie Larsen writes in “Stage Two Relationships: Love Beyond Addiction” that the only reason relationships fail is because one or both of the people in the relationship don’t have or can’t learn the skills for success.” I agree. And sadly, when my husband and I talked about dating exclusively in DEC 1990, I said I did not want to get involved with anyone unless they wanted to get outside help to learn with me because I did not have those skills and it would be a waste of time. He said he wanted to go. I thought he was a nice guy, in recovery, willing, honest, open-minded.

                Marriage is like a program of recovery. It’s not auto-pilot. It requires SKILLS. They are LEARNED behavior. The learning, a program of TWO people…constant and ongoing. On the job training. When one person or both stop the learning and following the maintenance program….working on self, working with partner, and putting in the effort, the relationship dies.

                I often think of how I used to ignore my checking account. I didn’t know how to balance my checkbook. When I was overwhelmed by the mess (that I made because of my ignorance) I just closed the account and opened a new one at a new bank. I did this a number of times. Until I learned how to balance my checkbook. The problem was ME.

                The more I think about it, the more I see similarities between this experience and affairs. Create an overwhelming mess with another person because of lack of skills and ignorance…solution? Go find a new person and start over.

                But wherever they go, there they are. And if nothing changes, nothing changes.

              • Thank you VH – actions do matter. When I think of what he did or didn’t do throughout our marriage and for me, I realize that he was a crappy shell of a person.

          • @Velvet Hammer ,we used that in counselling and all I can remember of it is that he, mostly or maybe all the time, used it in praise of me, e.g. “I felt happy when I came home and saw you.” Whereas I remember I more often said things like “I was upset when you talked about the caravan you’re getting ready in case this doesn’t work out.” (Extreme example!) I sometimes felt like he wasn’t paying attention to his feelings while he was around me and it was a tick-box exercise for him, while I was too critical and just looking for problems. Is that what you mean Velvet? What does that say to you?
            Even writing that I’m wondering if I remember right or if it wasn’t as bad as I think I remember… Argh!!

            • “Even writing that I’m wondering if I remember right or if it wasn’t as bad as I think I remember… Argh!!”

              OMFG that exact thought is my constant companion. All day long I’m haunted by that exact feeling. Thank you for expressing it that way!

              • Me too. I am questioning things myself. But I have to (re)learn how to trust my memories and emotions. He no longer can dictate those.

              • GMSB, my man. That thought process you have. The way you’re questioning your memories. 2nd guessing everything. Probably nightmares when you are finally exhausted enough to sleep. Self doubt. Self loathing that at times turns to self hate from the blame. Remembering most things very differently than what she has said happened. It comes from one place. YOUR STBXW. I’ll bet you’re stunned that your polished, educated bride with good social skills and a pretty good public image was able to do this? To pull the wool over your eyes. Now I do recall that she suggested counselling at one point. You didn’t take it seriously and its galling you. Did she go alone? Doubtful. Was she so interested in finding out what was wrong with her and why she felt this way in her marriage? No. Because the counselling was aimed at you to FIX YOU. Mot herself or your marriage but YOU. Either way you were not going to be able to save your marriage. No matter what. In my marriage there were times my XW did and said things that infuriated me. Hurt me. Made me question myself. Made me feel inadequate. Made me wonder if any guy would stick around for this. I know, that’s a lot of MEs. But that’s why we are here now. For ourselves. But never once did the thought of cheating, exit affair nor any form of abuse enter my mind. I’m just the type it would never occur to me to do that. Dude I heard so much petty projection about her affair and failure to adult. I quote ” The time we went to Disneyland (1998 still childless) I had the best time until that morning in the hotel you told me breath stinks.” Now I could have said that. And I remember many mornings after a meal the night before thinking that or possibly saying that. LOL. But come on. I didn’t ask her to leave the bed and do something about or else I’ll find another woman. OMG!!! How many mornings did I wake up with garlicky breathe from Italian and she ran like a vampire? LOL. I mean who remembers something like that in 2014? How trivial. Swear to God that really happened. LOL. We never brought up counselling. WHY? We rarely argued or raised our voices. In 20 years together. Sure we had our moments. So get out of the business of buying projection. You are not perfect and no one should ever ask or expect you to be. You DID NOT cheat.

            • See “ACTIONS” comment above….

              Not to mention, cheaters are charming. If they presented absolutely zero redeeming qualities we would not have gone on a second date with them.

              The world thought OJ was a nice guy, and lots of people still do.

        • Think about all of the things she accused you of and I will bet you can think of examples of all of the times she was doing exactly that to you. Now she is trying to project her failings onto you. She was the one who wasn’t communicating. She forgot to mention all of those pesky affairs. I remember being shocked in our fist marriage counseling session (scheduled before DDay but DDay happened a few days before). He accused me of so many of the things I had noticed in him. I thought it must have been me all along, but then I learned about projection and thought back to what was really going on and realized that I may have done some things wrong, but it was mostly him. If I wasn’t communicating or was “emotionally unavailable” as he claimed it was because he was “emotionally pushing me away”. He was being moody, prickly, uncommunicative and always had a complaint about something every time he did communicate. I was listening, I was trying to improve, but no matter what I did it was never good enough and there was always something else I was doing wrong. That eventually caused me to retreat. You probably had a similar situation. Whatever your failings, she probably exacerbated them through her own communication or lack thereof. She never took the time to examine her own role in causing her own unhappiness because she is a selfish coward who would rather just run away and start over with someone new than try to fix something she played an equal role in breaking. They will stick around when they think it is all about fixing you, but as soon as they there is any suggestion that perhaps they are partially to blame as well and that maybe they have things to answer for in the relationship they run away because they can’t face that. It is easier to start over with someone new who they haven’t yet wronged and to whom they owe nothing.

          For the first two weeks or so after dday I was pretty much where you are. I was digging deep into the self reflection, thinking it was all my fault and trying to figure out how I could do better so that he would want to stay. I was trying so hard (it wasn’t until later when I switched my thinking that I realized how hard I had already been trying to please him for years and failing at it). Then one evening ex looked at me and said “have you done any self reflection at all?” I was shocked. That is when I realized that he hadn’t done any and was never going to because in his mind I was the only one who had done anything wrong or had anything to answer for. That is when I finally started to gain some clarity and realized that I really wasn’t to blame for the state of our marriage. He was the one who didn’t care and wasn’t willing to do anything but sit back and tell me everything I did wrong that destroyed our marriage and justified his blowing it up through infidelity. I continued to smoke the hopium pipe for months thinking that he would eventually get his head out of his ass and come back to me willing to do his part to fix our marriage but that was a false hope.

          You may well have sucked, but you were not the only one and you were the one who was willing to work on fixing it. She is the selfish coward who chose not to do the work and instead chose a do-over with someone new who doesn’t know about her faults. Perhaps she thinks she can do better for him, but she clearly doesn’t understand commitment and isn’t really willing to self reflect beyond the surface stuff. She is going to continue to suck on some level. The good news is that you now get a chance at a do-over as well and you can do it with a clear conscience because you are not the one who abandoned your promises, commitments and obligations to go off chasing rainbows. You are also willing to dig deep into your own short comings and do the work to fix them. She lost out on the opportunity to benefit from that but some other woman will someday in the future when you are ready (no rush).

          • PPS. It would not matter if you didn’t suck. It would not matter if you had behaved differently or done anything differently. She still would have found something to criticize. She still would not have been satisfied. She still would have found some excuse to cheat and then claim to be the victim of an awful marriage. I would not have mattered if you were a model husband. It would not matter if you sucked or not because she still sucks. Her suckitude is independent of yours (if it even exists). She still sucks and still would have sucked no matter what.

            • Until I found CN I believed that I was to blame for ex’s cheating For the last couple years of our marriage I did the pick me dance in every way imaginable.
              I spent many nights and days analyzing our conversations and what cheater claimed were my faults, such as, I was never happy, he couldn’t make me happy, I never complimented him on his muscles, I never loved him, I didn’t run up to him and give him a kiss when he walked in the front door, I parked my car too close to the house.., to name a few.
              I plastered a smile on my face, to always appear happy, thanked him for taking out the trash, complimented him to show my appreciation, went to the door when he came home to give him a kiss. I was determined to show him I loved him and willing to correct these perceived faults of mine. Made his favorite foods, kept the house tidy and clean, smiling and understanding.
              Ex continued to be miserable and moody until the day he walked out (Mother’s Day). I felt like I had failed miserably, I asked what I had done to cause him to leave (I didn’t know he was cheating, although it was obvious) he hesitated, as if he was searching his brain on how to answer, then said, its’ the tone of your voice. I promised him I’d work on changing the tone of my voice. I would replay all our conversations analyzing what I’d said and how my voice sounded. Pathetic, it never occurred to me that ex was full of shit. I believed he was my best friend and his complaints were valid.
              Take it from someone who blamed herself and wasted days and nights over analyzing every detail of our marriage and conversations, what I could have done or said differently. The thought of anything being his fault or him being inconsiderate never entered my mind.
              Cheaters are pathological liars, devious, cunning and manipulative, they don’t feel empathy or compassion for other human beings.
              I had a difficult time accepting the truth, the person I married and believed was my best friend never existed. I married an imposter.
              People who love you care about your feelings and don’t treat you like garbage.
              CN save my sanity, I don’t know where I’d be without Chump Lady and all of you here at Chump nation. I found compassion, understanding and honest guidance. Reading posts that I could have written word for word the stories were so similar to mine I wondered if I had written them.
              GMSB, read and educate yourself on the disordered. Read the posts here on CN. Helped me tremendously..,

          • Not to downplay anyone else here but your comments always reach me. It’s like we’ve had very similar experiences, or at least you have the mindset I want to have. Funny you used the term “prickly,” that’s exactly how my colleagues described her when they realized after DDay that they could be honest with me about how they felt about her.

            Yes, projection, big time, and projective identification, too. These are some of the most primitive defense mechanisms, along with reaction formation and acting out. If an affair isn’t the most flagrant kind of acting out, I’m relinquishing my license to practice psychology and buying a sailboat.

          • Chumpinrecovery – thank you for this. I’m a couple of years out and still occasionally have trouble with the trust that they suck and that I maybe sucked too.You very clearly lay out the independence of those two things as well as the dynamic between them.

        • Hello G. My counselor described it as a record that skips. We are in an addicted state, trauma bonded, Stockholm Syndrome. Call it what you like. We have to mentally pick up the arm of the record player and move it many times before we end the pattern.

        • The loop in your self-talk, coupled with anxiety, are sure signs of trauma. My counsellor identified it in my me almost immediately after my ex left me. Please get yourself to a counsellor if you can. Lot of self-care: eating well and sleeping well are a priority. Try medication if you must the first while (hello melatonin). Lots of relaxation exercises. My counsellor also encouraged me to physically feel my pain in order to get through it. If surviving that level of pain meant moaning like a wild animal, screaming, crying hysterically, punching pillows, do it. It needs to be processed, not avoided.

          Going no contact or grey rock is essential to this. Even now, a conversation that goes beyond two minutes in which too much might get said, triggers me to some extent. I get moody afterwards or weepy, and it takes a while to shake it off.

          If counselling isn’t in the cards right now, then start doing reading about trauma, specifically infidelity trauma (it’s a thing), and there will be exercises that you can follow. The advantage of all of this self-care and reflective activity is that is starts to train you to focus on you and takes the focus away from you ex. That re-training is essential until it becomes a new, stabilized you.

          • Option, what do you mean by ‘loop in your self talk’? Sorry can’t identify the bit you’re commenting on in this busy thread! I’m concerned about my own state of mind and that stood out to me. Thanks! X

            • I have had The Loops.

              “I used to believe that my thoughts created my destiny. I had good thoughts and was happy.

              But this horrible, horrible thing happened to me. Was I an idiot for being happy?

              Or did I actually create this horrible thing through my own thoughts without knowing it?

              But I’m pretty sure I had good thoughts and was happy.

              So my thoughts must not have had any impact on my outcomes?

              So my it doesn’t matter now if I am optimistic or pessimistic about my future?”

              Your basic thought loop-de-loop.

              • I describe the loop in my self-talk the re-living all the terrible moments of the pick-me dance but blaming myself for all those moments. Lots of “If only…,” “I should have…” and then an ice-cold feeling would run through my body and I’d be left with the thought, “OMG I made all of this happen. I am a terrible wife and a terrible human being.”

                Another loop I lived with for months after my ex left was about dwelling on the OW. Maybe she is better than me. Maybe she was meant to be with him. Maybe what they have is real love. Maybe I deserved to be left for her. I would be overcome with shame at what I was perceiving was my failure as a wife.

                Thank God those loops in my self talk have stopped. The self-blame has ended. And I no longer believe that the OW is better than me, at all. But, I recognize that it was how trauma was playing out with me…the constant tightness in my chest and slight panic attacks. I still have work to do, but thank God the worst of it has passed.

      • “Do some writing”

        I do a lot of journaling and I just remembered something I wrote a month or two ago. I can recall plenty of times when STBXW would say, “You did this, and it’s not good because blah blah” or even “When you don’t do this, I feel like blah blah blah.” And my response was always, “You know, I’m sorry, I didn’t see it that way, and I’ll try to do better.” Or if she said, “We’ve talked about this so many times, how you never blah blah blah” and I would say, “I know, I wish I could do better, you know I’m doing my best.” Maybe a bit of guilt-trip and blame shifting on my part.

        But I have very few recollections of any time she ever did the same. I never brought up anything that really annoyed me about her because, well, I didn’t want to deal with the wrath or with her turning it around and saying “Yeah but that’s only because blah blah blah.” Also mostly because I just wanted to love her for who she was, warts and all, and nothing she did was really worth fighting over. I tried to accommodate her as much as I could.

        I can’t really think of a time when she ever said something like, “You know, I can see my contribution to this problem. I think maybe I should do such and such.” Or if she did, it was more like, “I’ve tried to do this, that, and these things, but you still didn’t blah blah.” It was always more about getting me to be the way she wanted me to be, and not so much about genuine attempts to get me to see things from her point of view. After DDay she flat out said, “Why can’t you be more like my family, they always intuit what I want/need but you’re just unempathetic or incapable of emotional intelligence” or some such nonsense.

        I’m sure this all sounds familiar to you Chumps.

        • I would see a complaint that I don’t intuit what someone needs as a big red flag.

          My therapist said,

          “Nice people are up front and tell you what’s going on for them. We can’t and shouldn’t have to read people’s minds.”

          I assumed my husband was telling me what was going on with him. He wasn’t.
          Expecting others to read your mind, and forming a resentment that they don’t, is NOT a sign of emotional/mental health.

          • this! Expecting others to read your mind, and forming a resentment that they don’t, is NOT a sign of emotional/mental health.” thank you for that insight Velvet Hammer.
            (x would say “I shouldn’t have to tell you”. then when caught out “you didn’t meet my needs”. Oh to have had honest conversation instead of the long-time deceit of being cheated on. Cheaters and their lack of character suck.

          • A critical component of their self justification is that they are a victim.

            If they are the victim, someone is to blame.

            Once they choose the path of betrayal, they need someone to blame. The very, very, very best person to blame is the Chump. And the very, very, very best way to do it is behind the Chump’s back.

            Think back to early in your marriage. Who did they think victimized them back then? Who did they blame back in the day? Bet there was someone.

        • Completely familiar. They sure are good at turning things around on you whenever you try to voice a complaint. Every time I tried to call him out on something he did wrong I would end up apologizing to him for having been unreasonable in my complaint or failing to acknowledge what he was doing right. He never apologized for anything. They love to cast rocks at us, but they don’t like it when we hit them with feather pillows.

        • Ok, I really want to comment on your last statement, GMSB, which everyone else caught on to as well. I had a relatable moment. W/in two months after D-day, while I was still trying HARD to get the STBXW to reconcile w/me (because I still loved the person I thought I had in her, I was still committed to her and to save our family a horrible experience), she agreed to go to a few marriage counseling sessions. I now realize it was to make me feel better about her leaving me, and/or in the hope that the marriage counselor would agree w/her leaving me, since I was such a poor husband to be married to. In the first & only marriage counseling session we had, w/the female counselor she insisted we have and that I agreed to and found for us (because she wasn’t invested in reconciling, only I was. I couldn’t accept that yet, though). She went on for 45 minutes of the hour session detailing all the mistakes and faults she noticed I had throughout our marriage. The marriage counselor turned to me and asked if I was hearing all this. I said yes, I heard it, I accepted it, and I’d be willing to try & change, but she wasn’t interested in reconciling! She turned to the STBXW, and said she was running into this a lot w/women her age (she had just turned 49). She told her she was a strong, independent woman, BUT that she never heard her say she told me she was unhappy. She said we were going to learn from the pain, and that was that none of us are good at reading minds. She said in ANY relationship you have, from friend to lover, if you’re having a problem in the relationship, you have to tell the other person bluntly not once but at least twice, ideally three times what the problem is and what you feel needs to happen to resolve things to your satisfaction. Anything less is expecting the other person to mind read. I can tell you she didn’t like hearing that, and still hasn’t accepted that message. Because in her mind, the cryptic, passive-aggressive hints I got from her throughout the marriage should have been sufficient. Well, I love that that’s not my problem anymore. And in time, you’ll see more things that she did that you’ll be happy not to have to deal w/anymore as well.

      • “Hear,hear” Velvet Hammer to lunatic psych professors and effed up therapists ! I have too many examples !

    • GMSB – you are in that deep pain of knowing that your marriage is broken yet you don’t want to accept the reality is the situation. I was totally in your shoes. I thought if he knew that I was sorry for my mistakes, we could turn this around. That I was the sucky partner. I could fix me and all would be better. I tried to have conversations with the Dickhead and he barely listened and never engaged. He didn’t care.

      It hurts because you love her. Because you gave her your heart and she wasn’t protective of it.

      I don’t know your marriage but I know that she cheated and not you. The Dickhead was not a good husband yet I didn’t cheat. I was loyal and a caring wife, and none of it mattered. You are in those hauntingly early days that seem to go on forever and and just fucking hurt.
      Think about the next steps, think about what you need and want, think about how she carelessly cast your marriage aside for the pursuit of other man. In those early days, I often told people that it was one day and one step at time. If it helps give yourself time to make decisions but set dates. Like a week from I will call a lawyer, or a month from now. But develop a plan a that propels you to move forward.

      • I just realized something about what she said once during MC. She said, “Change takes time, and it’s not right for me to want you to be something you aren’t,” something like that. Or maybe she said “I don’t want you to change just to please me” (like the Billy Joel song she used to sing a lot).

        So back then I thought, wow, that’s an honest and nice thing to say, she admits that she has high expectations and cares enough about me to admit it. Challenge accepted!

        But in reality she was killing two birds with one cryptic stone: 1) I don’t love you, and 2) you’ll never be what I want you to be. And she managed to say it in a way that not only protected her from having to say those two things honestly and directly, but it also shifted the blame right onto me.

        That was 6 months ago. If she wants to complain that I didn’t “hear her” when she tried to tell me things, maybe she should have said things in ways that it didn’t take me 6 months of isolated soul-searching just to parse the meaning of one lousy sentence…just to avoid having to face her own truth.

        • OMG my NARC said the same. I can’t believe you have just written that.

          He said just as I was about to get on a plane for work – I’m not sure if I want to be married. (WTF!! thought my brain, where did that come from??) He said basically we are just both good people (total bullshit here), and I don’t want to tell you what you need to change because I don’t think that’s fair on you. So there you go, it was all my fault for not changing even though he couldn’t verbally tell me what it was I needed to change. UNREAL.

          Turns out he was knobbing a work colleague half his age for the previous 5 months.
          Oh and did I mention he did this before to his first wife, who also divorced him for adultery. One crazy ex wife – understandable, two crazy ex wives and you’ve only got yourself to blame.

          So no he’s not good, I don’t want him and basically I’m a total chump whilst he is a grade 1 arsehole.

    • Thanks, both of you. I’ve been seeing a counselor for the past year, just about. STBXW was pushing me to do it, because I was super depressed, because I had this vague feeling that something was wrong in life. Oh, I was being cheated on! (Found that out later.) Almost feels like it was part of her setup, so that I would have “support” when she finally brought down the hammer. Same thing for marriage counseling.

      Maybe my biggest problem is that I always believed that with good communication and hard work, any obstacles can be overcome. I always thought we had a pretty decent marriage, unless she was doing a whole lot of spackling for me. So it’s kind of like…losing her is losing MY kibbles? But then again, like people here have been telling me. There WERE opportunities for communication and effort, and she didn’t take those opportunities when they would have really counted. So there’s that.

      I also get confused about the notion that the Cheaters are lazy. Because I am doing No Contact but she is dutifully preparing the house for sale, listing it, getting through her second year of grad school (where she met OM), taking care of the pets, all that. So it’s like, she’s only lazy for things that make her look bad. Like “failing” at the marriage and having to be divorced. Oh, now that I say that out loud…

      Anyway, thanks CN for helping me get through this.

      • I believed as you about the obstacle/communication/overcoming thing.
        I still believe it.

        But lying and cheating is NOT communicating. It’s PROOF they can’t/aren’t communicating.

        Marriage is a TWO PERSON program, not ONE person communicating while the other person is lying and cheating, which is what I had.

      • Don’t get too wrapped up in the idea that cheaters are anything specific (like lazy). My pathological lying, bisexual, porn addict cheater X is training for an iron man, sits on the boards of a couple of nonprofits, and spends his time volunteering teaching kids mountain biking skills. People think he is AWESOME!! His new girlfriend thinks he is AWESOME.
        And look, we chumps are fully human with lots of human failings. Don’t falsely equate your human failings with your wife’s cheating. If your wife was unhappy in the marriage and she was a woman of integrity, she would have told you she wanted a divorce or she would have gone to marriage counseling and told the TRUTH instead of using it as part of her set-up.
        Keep reading here – you are deep in the untangling the skein phase of chumpdom. It’s great you are taking a hard look at yourself. I did too in therapy. And I will be a better partner for my next relationship because of it – but I always have had a moral compass and integrity. Your wife has not.

      • I think it was Velvet Hammer who used the metaphor that cheaters find their car has problems with running so they get out and key it. The roof of their house has a leak so they burn the whole place down.

        They have problems and resort to total destruction and then blame the chump for making them do it.

        Problems exists. Decent, committed people work on fixing problems, and if they can’t fix them they unwind the marriage in a respectful way.

        Turds cheat.

        Get Tracy’s book, “Leave a Cheater, Gain a life” if you haven’t already.

        • Got it, read it twice, underlined pretty much 50% of all words (guess I left out “a,” “an,” and “the”). Changed my life already and I wish she’d write 3 more.

          Yeah I really wish she had unwound it decently. What I THINK happened is that she found a better way to hide the cheating as we’re going through the final dissolution, so that she can manage her image later.

      • GMSB, I think you are making an intricate intellectual puzzle out of something that is horrifying but out of your experience: you were married to what Dr. George Simon is talking about when he describes “manipulative people.” So you keep looking for what you did wrong when you were a human trying to have a relationship with someone who does not have the capacity for empathy or reciprocity or reflection that you have. In place of those things, they manipulate people for their own advantage. (“It was always more about getting me to be the way she wanted me to be.”) Use that curious mind to do the research on character disorder.

        It’s not necessarily a bad thing to figure out your contribution to problems in relationships. But that’s useless–worse than useless–if the other person is committed to maintaining an uneven playing field, tilted in his or her favor. Here’s an analogy: You are equal partners in a business with a man who is embezzling the business funds. When you catch this thief, he tell you it’s your fault he stole the money. Now, you wouldn’t spend hours and days and weeks looking for what you did to make him a thief. You would your share of the money and get away from him. There is zero point in trying to figure out what you did “wrong” when you were the victim of a rigged game. What you CAN do is study disordered people and cycle that their relationships often follow. They you will have a different lens for looking at the relationship, rather than ruminating on things based on the assumption that you could have fixed a marriage to someone who is not playing by the same rules that you are.

        • And intellectualization is my favorite defense. But yes, I read In Sheep’s Clothing and it was freaky how much it made me think of her. Now I have to get past my splitting. Because when I see behind the mask I see someone really awful. And it clashes with my impression of her as someone really “neat” (I’ll never live that one down, hehe). And it clashes with my opinion of myself as someone who cares enough about her to be willing to work with her despite seeing behind the mask. I ain’t afraid. But it won’t work if she won’t work it.

          Equal partner! She threw that one at me during MC, saying she never felt like she was, and I never acted like one. More projection, probably.

          • She might be right about the ‘equal partner’ stuff; if you were doing 80% of the emotional work in the relationship, and she was doing 5%, it’s not at all equal, on either side, eh?

            Part of what you’re doing may be the remnants of assuming that intelligence and good character are highly correlated. Your STBX may be smart, but that doesn’t mean her values (which seem to YOU like they’d be the obvious default for anybody capable of thinking things through) align w/yours.

            This is what allowed me to lay down the ‘untangling’ and accept who my ex was; the recognition that we really did not share the same values, as shown by his ACTIONS. (Of course he had mirrored my values and life goals, early on… that’s what they do!) And combining that w/the complete lack of self-reflection and taking personal responsibility in any of his interpersonal relationships, I realized that there was no way in hell my Cheater Narc Ex had ever been, was capable of being, or was ever going to be a better person.

            So she may be ‘neat’ in many ways, but her actions show another side … Hard for you to reconcile the two, but they are both there.

          • And her solution to her grievance about
            Equal Partnership is to LIE and CHEAT?

            That would make HER the cold, uncaring person she is accusing YOU of being.

            Maybe she isn’t neat. Maybe you are projecting your being neat onto her. I can be guilty of projection too.

            I do use that word. And it gives away my vintage.

    • GMSB,

      I really struggled with the same feelings, and honestly, there was a time that daily visits to CL pushed me towards suicidal ideation. I have acted very narcissisticly in the past, practiced image management, even cheated in previous relationships. I couldn’t reconcile the rhetoric from folks here with my heartbreak, with my years of being faithful and trying (imperfectly, but in good faith) to support and love my STBX. I started to trust that I sucked, that my kids would be better off without me.

      What finally helped was reading up on narcissistic abuse, and learning that codependency and narcissism are two sides of the same coin. Both seek validation outside of themselves because of a very damaged authentic self. Codependents can act very narcissisticly when their wounds are triggered.

      Maybe you’re a codependent, maybe you’re a narcissist who has undergone a significant enough injury to open the window of self-reflection. Either way, the way out is to pull your energy back into yourself, away from your ex, and to heal the inner wounds. If you can get the analytical brain to quiet and can entertain some new agey ideas, there are some videos from Melanie Tonia Evans on YouTube that I’ve found really helpful.

      Hugs to you. Remember, we are human and we’re all doing the best we can.

      • Yes, thank you. I resonate with this: “Maybe you’re a codependent, maybe you’re a narcissist who has undergone a significant enough injury to open the window of self-reflection.”

        As I said last night at my weekly CoDA meeting: “Hi, my name is GMSB and I’m codependent.” (And on that note…WTF, I’m the Chump and yet I’m the one who has to go to meetings, read entire shelves of books, and try to make things right? Yeesh. I feel some resentment about that.)

        • You’re the one doing the work, GMSB, because you’re the only one in that relationship who is accepting personal responsibility for any of it, AND for making sure things come out better for you in future – both because you’ll be a better person, and because you’ll choose your partner with your eyes wide open. She, however, will continue to be exactly who she is now, and will repeat the same relationship behaviours. How that works out for her is kind of flukey, but I think any chump would say they’d far rather be in your shoes.

          Not Today, thank you for your honesty. You, too, are willing to do the work. Right there that makes you a good person.

          • I appreciate what you said, but on a completely hilarious/aggravating side note, I looked up the word “flukey” (lucky, unexpected, accidental, etc.) and the example they gave was, “a fluky encounter with her ex-husband led to a reconciliation.”

            Fuck. That. And fuck whatever idiot wrote that entry in the dictionary. Obviously NOT a chump. Maybe someone from the RIC.

        • GMSB………..You really want to do a makeover on yourself?! Honestly?! Then, do it!

          If King Manasseh of ancient times can change from what he was, you can change. You are NO WHERE near as bad as he was!

          This will help way more than any talk therapy…..www.bodytalksystem.com
          Also, QEST4 (bioenergetic medicine)

          Also, be sure to stay here with this Nation. If you need a 2×4 up side the head, they deliver.

          You need warm embrace and comfort? They really deliver

          Best to you as you ForgeOn!

        • I have had times that I have felt resentful that I am the one that ends up in all the counselling, reading all the books, developing all the coping strategies for trauma, and doing all the praying, while he seems to have just run off into his bliss with the OW. He’s the one that needs this work more.

          But, now I am proud that I am doing all this work. I am grieving properly so that I can be a better person for me, my children and all my relationships. He’s just gone on to mask his pain and issues with his shiny woman. We all know that the infatuation of a relationship simply does not last. Reality sets in and whatever issues he has will emerge. Same with her, and I’ve heard she has some very serious issues. They can try to support each other, because they believe they are special and the exception. When neither have done the work on their own, they are now leaning heavily on one another to prop each other up through their flaws. There is desperation in that. Thank God I don’t need that. I stand on my own, at peace, moral and good.

          You do this work because you are a deep person. Your ex is not. That is why her solution to dealing with her marital woes was to lie and cheat. That’s it. The sum of her relationship skills. No real remorse that would prompt her to authentically work on her own redemption within the marriage. Nope, that’s too hard. She’d rather take her “lessons learned” and try them on someone new. You know that you work on you gaining a cheater-free life.

      • This, right here: “What finally helped was reading up on narcissistic abuse, and learning that codependency and narcissism are two sides of the same coin. Both seek validation outside of themselves because of a very damaged authentic self.”

        • Thank you people! Seriously – for this whole thread. One thing I have struggled with and still do on and off is how my ex constantly lays the whole – you are a narcissist thing on me. It blows my mind. I catered to him to an extent that embarrasses me to admit and yet somehow when he starts in with how I abused and controlled him I find myself half believing him.

          I freely acknowledge I was not a perfect wife and that any “problems” in our marriage were the responsibility of both of us to fix since we both made the commitment to it. However, I never cheated on him. It would never even have occurred to me and with two kids to take care of – one of them special needs – where in the hell would I have ever found the time?!?

          He did make that decision and nothing I did or didn’t do forced him to do that. He’s also the person with the history of cheating in his past relationships. Something I should have taken much more seriously before making a commitment to him.

          I work on me now. On how to be a better me. It’s still hard not to get drawn back into why did this or that happen? Who did what to whom? But it is getting easier as time goes by. GSMB – take care of you for YOU. Read the books, do the therapy. It not punishment or consequences for her actions. It’s protection or immunization against future run in’s with other unhealthy people out there. I think of it that way versus “fixing the picker” since I’m so not ready to think of ever “picking” again.

          • Does anyone recall that game where you add “…..in bed…..” to the end of a fortune inside a fortune cookie?

            I think we should tweak it for chumps.
            Whenever we think of anything good about the cheater, we should add
            “….and they lied and cheated and abused us…..”

            Whenever we think of any of our shortcoming or issues or character defects we should say
            “…..and I didn’t lie or cheat or abuse them…..”

        • That is interesting insight. At first I had some people suggesting that I am codependent. That may be somewhat true but actually I think he is the codependent one and it is his own feelings of inadequacy and fear of abandonment that lead to his cheating on me without divorcing me first. He didn’t love himself so he assumed he was unlovable so therefore I didn’t love him and then he resented me for not loving him after all he had done for me to make me love him. Meanwhile I had no idea that he wasn’t lovable and that I didn’t love him. Even after DDay it took me a while to figure out that he wasn’t worth loving after all. What I still can’t fathom, however, is why he thinks Schmoopie is capable of loving him other than the fact that she is messed up too so maybe he thinks she will understand him better.

          • I think [she] is the codependent one and it is [her] own feelings of inadequacy and fear of abandonment that lead to [her] cheating on me without divorcing me first. [She] didn’t love [herself] so [she] assumed [she] was unlovable so therefore I didn’t love [her] and then [she] resented me for not loving [her] after all [she] had done for me to make me love [her].

            And all I had to do was change some of the pronouns.

            Question is, if they feel unlovable, why didn’t they see how hard we loved them and use that to feel better about themselves?

            • Because they aren’t capable of seeing the positives and they interpreted everything we did in the most negative way possible. I sometimes wonder why ex doesn’t do that with Schmoopie, but then I remember that it wasn’t always like that with me either or many of the other people, places and things that went through his love it to hate it cycle.

            • Because they don’t equate love to the same way healthy people equate love. True love has a reciprocity to it. It feels just as good to give as it does to be given to. But to narcs, love equals kibbles. In a relationship with a N, love doesn’t grow but is rather consumed – so the “evidence” of it (as we think of love) has to instead be generated over and over again for a N – there is no object constancy for them. You loved them yesterday, last week, ten years ago – but this is today. It’s exhausting and you never ever make bank. It’s why they split when you get sick, pregnant, older, etc. Its also why they can completely walk away from a relationship like it never existed. The hook for us chumps – which also mirrors codependency – is that we think we can somehow live them enough (and in that, they will then love us). This is also why we ruminate so much, so long, afterwards about our perceived “failures”….ways that we wonder if we could have loved them more. That’s it’s own form of manipulation (give to get) – and also why we can find ourselves questioning if WE are the narcissist. This is why it’s so critical that we focus our healing inward and learn how to truly love ourselves – with the same vigor, determination, and commitment with which we loved the N.
              I consider it “cutting out the middle man”.

            • Other “labels” that I have come across that I feel describe my ex came out of readings to learn about myself. In trying to understand my conflict resolution style, I came across the “conflict avoider.” Oh yeah, that would be him. He spent years avoiding arguments, not wanting to address issues in any real way, agreeing to things just to get me off his back. Then his resentment just grew. These people often develop the attitude that they feel that have been giving in to others all their life and then reach an explosive point of “taking back their power” in covert ways, like having an affair.

              Then, attachment theory, I came across the “dismissive avoidant” to help me understand times that he just seemed so devoid of emotions or empathy for others. No doubt he has seriously insecure attachment issues.

              Some of these things also cross into codependent or narcissistic tendencies, which is why I hesitate to call my ex an outright narcissist. I think there is more to it.

    • Every single chump at some point worries, suspects, is pretty darned certain that he or she is actually the disordered narcissist.

      The actual narcissist never worries about that. It never once crosses his or her mind.

      So it goes.

      • cashmere,

        “It never once crosses his or her mind.”
        🔝EXACTLY

        Sadly, even if it was printed in neon, above them, in the sky!
        Nope, they would never see a thing.
        Narc coloured glasses hides it all!

      • Whew! You posted that just in time! I caught myself worrying about ME being the narcissist in abject denial while reading here today.

        I have heard it a zillion times. I believe it.
        But it still sticks likes a snowflake on a windshield in the summer in the Sahara.

      • Hitler had friends.
        Hitler loved his dogs.
        Hitler told jokes and made people laugh.
        Hitler got married.
        A whole country had Hitler’s back and did atrocious things in his name.
        Lots and lots of people thought Hitler was a great guy.
        And still do.

        I trust that he sucks.

        • Narcissistic abuse
          Negates and
          Nullifies
          NICE

          Mixed
          Message
          Men are
          Mean
          Morons

          All
          Attention on
          Abusive
          Actions

          NICE GUYS DON’T LIE

          NEAT DON’T CHEAT

    • GMSB–It’s admirable that you’re exploring ways in which you made your marriage a less than optimum experience. But it doesn’t justify your wife’s cheating. Many of us chumps married people who were difficult, less than empathetic to us, and frankly, assholes. Yet we didn’t cheat. Even if your wife gave herself permission to cheat because of your perceived suckitude, she made that decision rather than the decision to tell you to shape up, or to leave honestly.

      • Was thinking the same. Even if you sucked as a spouse, doesn’t greenlight betrayal and abuse.

        It’s a good thing to self reflect after a betrayal, it’s good to own your part of a crumbling relationship…those are learning tools. But there’s no owning your spouse’s shitty behavior.

        As someone who over-intellectualizes stuff, it’s pretty easy to get real far in the weeds on this stuff. Or you can give yourself permission to be a cave man about it and say: cheating bad, spouse cheated, spouse bad, must get away from spouse

        • Yeah! I like the caveman thing because it’s the antithesis of how I usually think.

          But then someone (either my conscience, or therapist, or the RIC) jumps in and says, “It’s never that simple when it comes to human emotions. Stop being so black-and-white!” And my inclination is to think, “Oh, true. So where was I wrong with that mindset, and how can I think my way out of it?” And the cycle continues.

          • GMSB- lying and deceiving a spouse is BLACK AND WHITE. Nothing excuses that betrayal of trust, nothing. There are other gentler, braver ways of ending a relationship. Trust that she sucks, sweetie.

          • Yep, overthinking (or as I like to put it–proper thinking, lol) is a tough habit to break. I agree with the person who said this issue is black and white–it truly is. Maybe your role in the marriage is more gray, so there’s where you can do the thinking–pull apart how you can be a better partner in the future, improve yourself, inject some growth into your life. But betrayal, to me, is a caveman issue (unless your doing it to save someone’s life or something). You could have been the shittiest most emotionally distant husband and still…cheating bad. Anyone who tells you otherwise is not very progressive on the subject.

            And I didn’t used to see it this way. It took be a couple years and lots of time on these boards to accept this fact. Also, that cheating is abuse and that most people who cheat have been playing a game with your head for quite some time (either purposefully or subconsciously), which is why you are in a chronic state of self doubt.

            I’ve read some of your posts here and how you pull apart things. You are really trying to understand and take personal responsibility, which is great–as long that applies primarily to your personal growth. In as much as it applies to your ex, I recommend closing that analytical door as soon as possible. Stop the habit. If you catch yourself trying to unravel the “whys” of her betrayal, acknowledge you’re doing that and force yourself to do something else. Anything else. I would exercise or do some landscaping. Maybe it’s time in your life to reduce your overthinking tendencies a tad–get out of your head and into more action. I have and it’s very freeing.

            If someone tries to talk you out of your stance that cheating is abuse, cease talking to them about the subject. I have a close therapist friend and we’ve agreed to disagree on the subject and not discuss it. She’s a “human emotions are complicated and cheating can happen” person and I’m a “that’s a bunch of BS, it’s a form of abuse” person, but she supports me in my personal struggle so we just don’t talk about this specific thing.

            Know that owning your part of a crumbling relationship is different than accepting the her betrayal was your fault. Those are different things.

            Anyways, best of luck. It’s a long road to recovery. I’m 5 years from Dday, 3 years from stopping the pick-me dance, 2 years from separation, and just recently legally divorced…and just now am I feeling “recovered.” But boy, was it worth the work to get here. Cause I am free–of that toxic person AND of my own self doubt. I’m free to live the second half of my life exactly how I want and be the person I forget I was all those years. I wish that for us all on here.

    • GMSB I have had a lot of the same feelings you’ve had. I saw on another thread that you were struggling with the rage/charm/pity stuff…me too. One of the things I keep ruminating on though is a nugget from one of the many therapists we saw during reconciliation attempts. She said that intention matters. The exact same behavior can be healthy or unhealthy depending upon the mindset of the perpetrator. If you raged, it was probably an authentic reaction to being hurt. Not because someone uncovered your double life. If you charmed it was probably a legitimate as attempt to save your relationship, not a manipulative ploy to throw someone off your scent. If you indulged in a little self pity it was probably because you were legitimately sad and hurt and trying to get some support from your spouse, who btw probably signed up for some version of that in your marriage vows. I dont think CL is condemning experiencing and acting on these emotions when they are authentic, she is calling out the performance of them when used to manipulate.

      • I like this, the thing about intentions. But, I know my intentions. How do I know hers? Maybe she really did feel self pity. Maybe she really did love me and want to show it. Maybe she did get angry that I wasn’t the person she thought she was getting. You know? Because I can be pretty charming too when I want something. OK, true, usually what I want is for people to like me, not to control them. But when I feel controlled by her, is that because her intent is to control or because I FEEL controlled?

        Yup. Gaslit. And I had a dream about her just now. And it’s tomorrow so my brain is “reset.” I’ll reread everything from yesterday.

        • You can never know the intentions of someone else for sure. But their actions
          (cheating, lying) are a great clue.

    • It’s entirely possible “you both sucked” (sorry!). But it’s not unfair to establish that she sucked more, if that’s the case. I know it sounds like moral altitude to try to establish a hyerarchy of wrong-doings but it all comes down to which boundaries did or did not get crossed. I had poor boundaries with an ex years prior to busting my cheater, but I didn’t want to be in that situation, asked for his help, was denied, then eventually rectified the situation by myself as I believed we were growing together. Fighting our demons together. Turns out, that’s work only one of us was doing, while he continued to take his shenenigans to the next level. At the end of the day, he’s an abuser (and a cheater) and I am not.

  • Lisa,
    I hope you finally got over the hump and learned to trust that he sucks. I hope you went to court and got financial support for your children. I hope you embraced the fact that No Contact is the path to the truth and the light so you can be free of mindfuckery and manipulation. Most of all I hope you have realized that even if you haven’t found a special someone yet that you are capable of doing so, and that good people with integrity are out there and capable of loving you and your children. I hope these things not just for you Lisa, but for all of us chumps. It starts with trust that they suck.

  • You most likely can’t accept that he sucks because you still may have a little hope. But, deep down you know he sucks. He cheated on you and left you high and dry while pregnant. Yup, he is an upstanding guy. Do not torture yourself thinking about him and the OW. They both are not worth the energy. Who cares about a women who knowingly cheated with a married man. A married man who’s wife was pregnant. I women who also was cheating on her husband. Let them have each other. I used to stay awake at night thinking about my STBX and my cousin. Did they feel horrible sneaking around behind my back? What did they say about me? Did they laugh at me? Who knew about them? I wasted so many sleepless nights. I am sure my cousin did not loose any sleep over what she did to me. Let your husband and the OW have each other. You deserve happiness and to be with a man who honors and cherishes you. Not a fuckwit who runs out on his pregnant wife.

  • This is the best, most clear advice ever for us chumps who keep telling ourselves that our cheating lying spouse really is a good guy underneath it all. The truth is, whatever tiny sliver of good is in there is overshadowed and always silenced by their insatiable need for something they’ll never find in another person. But they don’t stop looking outside of themselves. And they probably will be in that hamster wheel forever. Cut your losses. Let him go. Don’t waste another year pining away for an illusion. I wanted 3 years of my previous life in hopes he would change, as he pretended to be doing. Who knows what he was doing while I was back at it, trying to make this 30 + marriage work. Am I a chump, or what?! No more. The weight of his dysfunction is not my burden any longer. It feels so light and good. Believe me, I was locked into seeing the good in him. Impossible won the day!

      • This concept is very similar to cheaters focusing on our reactions as the problem, as opposed to what they did as the problem. Blame shifting indeed.

        Or abusers in general who say other people’s reaction is the issue as opposed to what the abuser did.

        Also there is a counter outrageous overshadow… where the abuser ratchets up their hysterical reaction to consequences being served, making themselves into the victim. Cheater overspending and hiding funds, appropriate response on our part is to have the accounts frozen. Then cheater gets ridiculously hostile because the issue was you had the accounts frozen. So their ‘counter’ outrageous overshadow gets the attention.

    • “But they don’t stop looking outside of themselves. And they probably will be in that hamster wheel forever.”

      This!! There is a part of me that feels for him because I think he knows that there is something out there, just beyond his grasp. He keeps reaching and missing. However, that doesn’t give him the right to trample on people or to use them and throw them away. He will spend the rest of life going through people. I’m just glad that I’m now on the sidelines and not part of that race.

    • And really, are they? I feel most people don’t recognize the signs of abuse from cheaters, while they almost always are. It’s easy to think they are great when you are just looking at the cheating and completely overlooking abuse patterns. Cheating is a part of abuse.
      I feel the only non-abusive cheaters would be the “unicorns” (so, extremely rare).

  • Is there a special front row bench in hell for pregnant woman that cheat on their husbands? Cuz, that’s what my wife did.

    • Of course there is chomped.
      No man should ever have to paternity test a child.
      I know it sucks to be here but I am glad you found us.
      We can help you through.

    • Yep. Whenever someone tells me how jolly cheating is, I bring up having to paternity test your children, and it shuts the chuckles down. Definitely same bench in hell.

      What particularly galls me about cheating on pregnant women though, is the health risk to the mother and unborn child. STDs are nothing to fuck with and people on this site have lost pregnancies or learned of their partner’s infidelity during pre-natal health visits and STD screenings.

      Intimacy makes us vulnerable. Trust makes us vulnerable. And to be chumped is to have that vulnerability exploited. But it’s much worse when the vulnerability is greater — pregnancy, the investment of children, cancer — when you really need your partner. It amplifies what is already a traumatic, horrible event.

      • CL, thank you for everything. Your voice which goes against the RIC, has saved my sanity. My wife was 3 mos pregnant (and two other small children) while riding a coworker like Seabiscuit. We spent hundreds of dollars to have the RIC explain to me why it was my fault she betrayed her entire family. Please continue being the real voice of reason.

      • Chump lady, your blog has been such a big help to me! Although I’m still having trouble believing he sucks. He cheated on my while I was pregnant with our second, and taking care of our toddler with a howorker that knew about me. He moved in with her and I played the pick me dance. He picked me moved back into our home and I thought everything was going down a good path, until about a month into wreckoncilation, I didn’t know at the time but he started seeing another howorker, and came home one day telling me I felt like his roommate….. I was 38 weeks pregnant. He said we should go back to counseling even though this whole time he was seeing this new whore! Well two weeks after I gave birth he went a fucked her and shit hit the fan the next day. I am GUTTED I did everything for him and moved my entire life for him. He is still seeing this cunt (what kind of a woman is this bitch) I pray karma fucks her hard, although she has a track record for doing this shit. I cannot believe they are continuing their relationship, does she think he won’t fuck her over too!? Anyways I have days where I struggle to believe that he sucks too, but you and CN are so inspiring! I’m praying I’ll find meh and my own happiness one day, and yes I filed for divorce!!

        • ((((Heartbroken))))
          I wish I could hug you in person.
          Sometimes words are just too hard to find,
          But, to you and to all Chumps, cheated on while pregnant and caring for other tiny children, I understand.
          I am so sorry.
          I can’t help but think of the combined strength we could have used at our greatest time of need.
          But, now, here, in CN, the caring, the outreaching, mostly the understanding, gives a certain knowledge and a sense of calm.
          Thank you CL, CN.
          Giant Bear Hugs and Love!

    • I would add to all of the above, that these cheaters are also being unspeakably horrible to the children they are creating then abandoning/treating like pawns.

      Showing up once in a while with a bunch of sparkly presents and acting like some weirdly intimate babysitter doesn’t do anything to heal the immense rejection a child experiences when a person leaves the family for another person or a “better life”. Same goes for walking out with the child with some assumption that you should have custody — just because you are you — and treating the other parent like something less than a full time or complete parent.

      A mutual decision to divorce and work through your differences while divorced so you can coparent well is night-and-day different from flagrant and unremorseful betrayal and abandonment.

      People who live their lives like petulant children don’t care how they are hurting children, or partners. Selfish to the core.

      • (With all the normal caveats, like if the other parent is abusive or committing crimes or living in a hazardous home, that changes the sitch, etc.)

        • My mother had to divorce my father due to DV and major mental illness; they were both there to tell us. I was about 6 y.o. (middle child) and it has been more than 70 years, and I still remember the despair and pain with which we had to deal.

          It’s never easy, and sometimes leads to a lifetime of pain. But it is so much better than living with the horror of their “marriage”, and never feeling safe.

          We were fortunate that my mom met and married a very nice guy who took the entire package of her and her pre-puberty kids. What a guy!!!

          • Your mom sounds like a superhero. And I can really feel your heart through your story here – so glad you shared it. 💚

        • Boom! Ami !!! You just nailed what has been the worst part of my experience with infidelity and divorce. The parental alienation. How the hell does a parent who is not only unfaithful, blindsides with divorce and has drug habits and closet spending think they are the better parent and the decider of all parenting? I completely agree that a parent with addiction, physical and emotional abuse are not exactly FIT parents. Should most likely be supervised visits. But how does one get it in their head to hurt the parent that does none of that? Do they hate the other parent that much more than they love their kids?

  • Lisa, what CL says is spot on. This part explains it all…

    …why can’t you trust that he sucks? Because you’re mourning the dream of what You Thought It Was.

    You invested wholly in that dream and you thought this man was your security. He gutted you and now you need security more than ever. What’s more scary than being cheated on while pregnant? Being abandoned. Feeling twice as vulnerable now, you’re naturally afraid, and so you do that chumpy thing — you return to the very person who gutted you and demand that he heal you. He must make it better. He must reverse this. Only he has that power to bring the dream back!

    Fuck him. Fuck the dream. That dream is dead…

  • Or a special place in “hell” for women who get pregnant by they AP and then get the Birth Certificate Fzther to pay and raise the OM’s child. They both want KIDDLES. When you stop Kiddles, it will set you free. Lawyer up and make him pay. I agree, unless, the wife is a totally evil, no reason yo leave her.

  • Sweetie, you deserve so much more than you think!!!! I believe this is your time to really examine your confidence and self-worth. This man is a narcissist and you are being victimized. Time to find your inner strength, It’s there!! Jump to the next step and rid your life and thoughts of this piece of garbage. Consider going to a therapist and work on your confidence. There is no validation of accepting this man other than he is the lowest form of life. I speak from experience. I have felt what you have felt also. I since realize since empowering myself that I lowered my standards and my assholes behavior had nothing to do with anything being wrong with me other than being a chump. Go to therapy or find ways to get out of this obsessing over him. You are an ocean and he is a puddle. A puddle of shit!!!

      • Ditto Lorelei528. My ex “I’m not happy” cheater left me for his 30 year old coworker. A week after he announced he wasn’t happy, I got diagnosed with breast cancer.
        He decided to move out and separate so he can have some “clarity.” He bought a new house with all new furniture. He had ZERO intentions of making this work.
        Literally…just walked out and left me. What a great example of how a man should treat a woman that our young daughter is witnessing. Finding CN has really helped me.

  • I was chatting with a besty last night about this feeling. The ‘what if he’s better for someone else’ I honestly hope the man I married has changed and is capable of being better for someone else. It doesn’t hurt me how it hurts others. I don’t know why. But I’m so thankful for it. It lets me focus on my internal pile of stuff. That’s already big enough. Maybe it’s because of this site and the eternal reinforcement that it’s not about them. It’s about your healing and what’s acceptable.

    I feel for this woman, and hope she checks in from when she first wrote in. I’m not feeling very witty right now, but I just figured I would share my take- sometimes you don’t feel like he’s you’re turd. Or you don’t care. I’m not at MEH, I wish I was, but I’m happy that I am really ok with him being someone else’s turd…

    • He destroyed our relationship. Killed it dead.
      Murdered. Over.

      His only choices are

      1) Keep cheating on new victims.
      2) Stop cheating on new partners

      So I’d have to say for the benefit of all humans I’s have to hope for number two.

        • I think my ex may actually stop cheating, ’cause it blew up both his first, 10 yr relationship, and the 14 yr one w/ me, and also contributed to destroying his relationship w/our kids (how he treated them following separation was the biggest part of that). So, CONSEQUENCES, which he does not like! (Is actually pretty enraged about, still.)

          But if he does stop, it will be because he didn’t like the outcomes FOR HIM. I want to be with someone who doesn’t cheat because they ALSO care about the outcomes FOR ME, never mind for any children involved. Someone who doesn’t cheat because they value our relationship and want to protect it, even when there are problems. Someone who doesn’t cheat because they are honest. Someone who doesn’t cheat because they don’t want to hurt me.

          (Also not sure, even if he decides not to cheat again, whether he’d be able to resist someone throwing lots of kibbles his way, in a situation where he thought he wouldn’t be caught, within a relationship where the initial ‘infatuation high’ has calmed down …. Not that much foresight or self control … and SO MUCH ENTITLEMENT!)

          • This>>>”whether he’d be able to resist someone throwing lots of kibbles his way, in a situation where he thought he wouldn’t be caught, within a relationship where the initial ‘infatuation high’ has calmed down …. Not that much foresight or self control … and SO MUCH ENTITLEMENT!)”

            My ex would not turn down anyone. Believe it or not, but he even told me. It’s funny how they tell on themselves, but they don’t even realize they did! And it took me about ten years to realize that he did in fact tell me that he’s a cheater and pretty proud of it.

            2004ish was a time in our marriage where I thought we were really moving forward, getting better, stronger, healthier, etc. It’s a long story of course, but this was about the time when my ex confessed to going up to Canada over ten times and getting 100% naked lap dances and probably more, because I am now 100% convinced he wouldn’t say no if someone offered him more, even if he had to pay for it.

            After I found out about the strip clubs, one day I asked him, “If someone offered to sleep with you, would you say yes?” And guess what he said? “HELL YES!” and he said it with a gigantic smile on his face. I know this is a strange question to ask your “Christian” husband, but I was trying to understand him and wondered why he went to those strips clubs. Well, now I know it’s because he sucks and he’s a pervert. But at the time I was trying to figure out how to meet his needs — chumpy, fixer me!

            If a woman came up to him today and said she’d have sex with him and he knew he wouldn’t get caught or found out. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that he’d go for it.

  • If there’s one thing that both chumps AND cheaters are guilty of, it’s the fear of missing out. Cheaters are always afraid that they’re missing out on side pieces and we as chumps are afraid that we’re going to miss out on the great people that cheaters might be later on if we just hold on long enough.

    No, he’s not going to change, leaving you to miss out on the new and improved version that you always thought he was. He’s going to be a liar and a cheater and a responsibility dodger for the whole rest of his life. Let one of his whores deal with it instead of you.

    • Thanks Last….VERY well said. Not to mention that he got 27 years with me, with counseling as a regular part of our life, to improve himself. PLENTY of time…and if after all that time what is revealed is lying and cheating, why am I still sitting at the same slot machine? Because I have already put all this money in and if I leave it will pay off for someone else!!!

      Nope. The house always wins. I win when I leave the casino.

      • Another observation that I’ve made is that the side piece almost always thinks that the wife is the problem and if only given the chance, she can be the one who makes the cheater happy and keeps him at home with her. Then if/when she finally gets her chance to prove it, things end up being a rerun of the marriage she helped break up. Eventually, the excitement and new car smell start to wear off and they’re just left with another ho hum relationship that comes with unmet expectations, responsibilities, bills, dirty laundry and for an added bonus, child support and visitation issues if there are minor children involved.

        There are no seamless transitions from one family’s unfaithful husband and/or father to some other woman’s prince charming. That ONLY happens in the fearful minds of panicked, deserted wives and boastful, clueless side whores. In reality, the only thing that changes is which woman he’s now cheating on.

  • When my X dumped me after 40 years, I was devasted, 70 years old what the hell was going to happen to me. I cried and cried and thought I was going to end up who knows where. I got a lawyer, bought a house in a new town, started doing all the crafty things I love with good friends. Thanks to CN I realized at 70 I had a second chance at a happy life. I’m 73 happier than I ever been and enjoying the years I have left. I refuse to dwell in the past. Life isn’t a dress rehearsal we only do it once. So take it from a senior chump, don’t waste another minute on these losers, save yourself! Hugs to all.

    • Silver, my dear friend, unmarried, retired in her 70’s and took up Chinese brush painting. She had never painted in her life and was so talented it became a second career for her. She taught me how to look forward to getting older. She had a jam-packed social schedule, dressed beautifully, and had a capacity house filled for her memorial service when she died in her 80’s.

      Google “Eda Kavin”…..you speak the truth!

      • Thanks Velvet, I will check her out.

        Kathleen, when all this happened I went to my GP and he listened to me, and then said “Silver, (as he held his two fingers up about an inch apart) life is this long and your plan to move to a New Home in a new town sounds pretty good to me.”
        I really felt that he empowered me to get going and start anew. He didn’t suggest RIC just asked if I wanted counselling. Perhaps I just needed someone to validate what I wanted to do. I’m not saying I wasn’t scared to death and all but I am so glad I didn’t pick me dance and the rest. I truly am happier than Ive been in many years. So there is hope for everyone no matter your age to recover and have that second chance at a happy life, even at 70 plus. .
        All the best to you both.

  • Lisa
    My heart goes out to you. Listen to the fellow chumps here at CN. We’ve all been there with similar stories in
    one way or another. I wasted 30+ years with a serial cheater not knowing who he really was. I gave him my love, dedication & my youth but it was all a lie.

    Please try to think with your head not your heart & kick this selfish man/child to the curb! You & your precious children deserve a toxic free life without a disgusting narcissist in it. This is who he is..he’s a loser. 👎🏻

  • When ACTIONS and WORDS
    DON’T MATCH
    The normal human response is
    CONFUSION.
    Pay attention to ACTIONS
    And words ONLY when they MATCH ACTIONS.
    For co-dependents, we recover when we pay attention to ACTIONS.
    TRAUMA ACTIVATES CO-DEPENDENCE.
    (Oh, so THAT’s why I feel like my recovery of 34 years flew out the window when I found out my husband cheated!!)

    MY WORDS DON’T SAY WHO I AM.
    MY ACTIONS DO.

    • The closer the relationship, the more profound the confusion is!

      It is common, for children who have been terribly abused by their parents, and have been placed in foster care, to want to go home.

      Definitely explains my confusion as a Chump, which thankfully is clearing up.

      😪

    • THIS exactly!

      Lisa, I too was abandoned six months ago full term with my second child. Left caring for a toddler alone too. My husband was Mr Sparkly as well. He would come and visit the kids, bringing gifts, playing the best father and husband when he was in our home and he would make promises he was going to therapy, was going to change be a better man, return to his family.

      Most people can’t believes he sucks, family and friends tried to talk him out of his mid life crisis (36 yo)/breakdown/whatever mental diagnosis. Surely there was a logical reason a good man would abandon his young family. He was not truthful to one person who tried to help him.

      I floated on hopium like you. But his ACTIONS never matched his WORDS. He planned his escape for a long time, he just decided not to tell me about it. If it wasn’t the massage whore he left us for it would be another whore and yes there were plenty.

      Mine was a coward and it sounds like yours is a mirror image of mine. He doesn’t want to give up the image of a good family man. If he was truly remorseful you would not need to ask him to show you, he would go to the ends of the earth to prove his worth to you. I said to mine over and over, if you want your family you would fight for us. He never did.

  • I am in the same boat today. And it sucks to feel like he only was this bad to you and he will be better with everyone else. It sucks, because this feeds into the narrative that somehow you are not worth to be loved and that you deserved the treatment.

    This is not true.

    When being with a disordered personality you slowly lose your standing as an individual. Every time you disagree, question, or ask for something about him or from him you are infringing on the power dynamics that he created. This always requires the cheater to reestablish the control for himself by putting you down. Cheaters do not compromise, cheaters do not think you should have an opinion or preference different than theirs.
    The word appliance actually hits it pretty well, you are a machine to them that serves them in various ways (sex, admiration, laundry, housework, scheduling, kids… ). You are there to satisfy his needs and you do not have any of your own. When you are trying to establish yourself as a partner you are no longer a functioning machine and in his eyes you are broken.
    So, they discard you.

    Why do cheaters believe they deserve such a machine? Because they feel superior. How do they know they are superior? Because general rules do not apply to them. They often have gotten away with sneaking around, tricking here or there, or talking themselves out of fines, fees, and other consequences.

    My cheater is lining up wife / women machines constantly. He has done this for all our dating life and marriage by excessively flirting with other women and “appreciating” them and “valuing” them. He was lying. Sometimes it came out… he would look at porn, he would enjoy “titty bars”, he would talk to his friends about women in derogatory terms, and he found all women who would not drink and party boring (same with men who would not drink and party and talk about women in sexist manner). Yet, he is the first man to hire female engineers and promote them. And… the OW is one of those. The OW went from homebody to party girl just to please my STBX. So, he is grooming women by pretending to value their intelligence. A mask that is working for him perfectly. I fell for it.

    A man who is not investing in the marriage, but instead pursuing an affair, is not a good person. This person is not partner material. This person does not believe in equal standing. This person is ONLY out for himself.

    That is why the RIC is so flawed, because they only teach you how to become a better machine; because you essentially are asked to meet his needs more. RIC books are essentially repair manuals for a wife appliance. Not how to establish a partnership where both parties are equally responsible for the outcome.

    • LOVE THIS! Repair manuals for a spouse appliance, that is TOTALLY what the RIC is!

      And I’m convinced the whole mindset was started by cheaters ,,,,

    • This is an awesome post!! Absolutely- the RIC as repair manuals. And like all appliances, you can only tweak or repair so much before they give out & die. And a new appliance is required.

      However hard you want to stay in the marriage and reconcile, your abilities to keep going as an appliance will eventually give out.

  • I find myself forgetting how much my ex sucks sometimes too. I can give a laundry list to anyone who mentions his name about how much he sucks and all of the horrible things he has done to me and his daughter. Yet, I still find myself wondering what him and the OW are doing. Spend so much time being better over being made a single parent who has to do everything for our toddler. Being left with all of the responsibility of the life we chose together that he just walked away from. I feel robbed. This was supposed to be our time together. For most of our relationship I worked 2 jobs and didn’t have a lot of free time to spend with him. When I quit my part time job, he was coaching high school sports and not home much. Then I got pregnant with our daughter and was very sick for the whole 9 months. We had the demands of having an infant, and he still coached and wasn’t home much, leaving me with all that responsibility. But now, he got fired from his coaching job, I’m only working my full time job, our daughter will be 3 in a couple of months and is at a fun age that we could have enjoyed her together as a family. I feel like I worked so hard to give us all that we had, and in the end it didn’t matter. I’m just left with all of our life without him. We should be enjoying our life together and not being pulled in a million different directions and being tired from being up all night with an infant. It should be our reward time, but the OW is getting the reward that I worked so hard for all of these years.

    • Yeah, she gets the sparkly turd reward. He was never going to be someone you could “enjoy” time with because he was never going to be vested.

  • Haven’t read all the comments yet, but co-sign the “get out & stay out” themes. I caught my Cheater cheating in my 20s & forgave him. Caught him again in my 30s & forgave him. Caught him again at 42 and by that time I had two kids – aged 6 & 2 and FINALLY, I was done. The marriage therapist shrugged when he heard my story and was like “you’ll be catching him cheating in your 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond, if you live that long due to the stress. You can’t stop him or change him, the only thing you can do is leave yourself & finally bring peace to your life.”

    I was literally a twitching mess by the end – sleep deprived, my eyes literally twitching constantly due to the stress & sleep deprivation. I didn’t have the mental energy to read a book. A John Grisham novel was beyond my mental capacity (even before I discovered 3rd round of cheating). No shade to Grisham- I love his books! But I couldn’t get through one, I was so exhausted.

    You become this twitching mess because once a Cheater, always a Cheater. You’ll be constantly doing some form of marriage policing, always. I used to go through Cheater’s dresser drawers, the balled up receipts on the floor of his car, the trash in our master bedroom. That was even before I used to have to trawl through cell phones, tablets, etc. It was MADNESS!!

    Get out & stay out!!!

    NONE OF THEM CHANGE, EVER!!

  • After almost 5 years, I still want to see the good in my ex. And it still is hard not to interpret his friendly gestures as signs of his underlying good nature and to respond in kind. I mean . . . I do NOT think he is 100% evil. I have often used the good twin-bad twin dichotomy to describe him. And I believe that is apt. I just can’t waste any more years of my life waiting for the evil twin to be vanquished.

    I have not read much, if anything, on this site/blog about substance abuse issues with our wayward exes. That clearly is an issue with my ex. His adulterous behavior corresponded with periods of excessive drinking. While he has never been the type of alcoholic who drinks daily, he is prone to binge drinking episodes that lead to all sorts of bad consequences. After one longer-term affair with his hard-partying secretary and a one-night drunken indiscretion with a co-worker he finally made the decision, on his own, to stop drinking. But it wasn’t the cheating and its marital/family consequences that caused him to quit. It took one particularly bad episode at a work-related party that nearly cost him his job. (No, the cheating with subordinates did NOT jeopardize his job.) That episode led to 20 years of sobriety and a seemingly-happy and secure marriage. I actually thought my ex had conquered his demons and that we would live happily ever after. Then five years ago, on a business trip, my ex decided to (a) begin drinking again, and (b) begin an affair with yet another subordinate co-worker. With this, my ex announced that (a) he never really had a drinking problem, and (b) he had found his soulmate in the OW. AND what’s more . . . I was suddenly the bitch wife who had unfairly labeled him as an alcoholic. Hell, I may even have been the cause of his binge drinking! I don’t know if I can blame the evil twin’s existence on alcohol alone. All I know at this point is that I have zero control over him.

    • My STBXH is supposed to have 30 + years of sobriety, like me, and I regard his affair as a relapse, with or without actual use of drugs/alcohol, which only he knows. He may as well be drinking and using as cheating and lying indicates zero recovery or relapse.

      I’m actually starting to believe that addiction issues are under the hood of the cars of all cheaters. Even if that were true I am not wrestling that 800 lb. gorilla.

      • Yes. I agree. It’s all forms of the same self destructive, seeking behaviour. Trying to fill up a perceived lack…never realizing that the answers all come from inside.

        I know. I was there myself. But much soul searching, work and self compassion has filled that up.

        Cheaters behaviour is all him. I’m not taking on any of this. I can tell him the solution, but I cannot actually find self acceptance for him. Perhaps that heartbreaking truth keeps me feeling sorry for him. I know he could be better…but does he? Will he? Can he?

        I do ask myself if that’s something I could live with. But I would most likely be setting myself up for some future disappointment.

        • He is going to have to work out any improvements on someone else. I can’t muster the amnesia, denial, mental gymnastics, Alzheimer’s, suspension of reality, or whatever it takes to continue on with him after the ITSY BITSY TEENY WEENY LITTLE TINY tip of the iceberg that I know. Which a microscopic fraction of that would be enough to kill off any trust or safety.

  • ((((Lisa)))
    I am so sorry for your pain.
    As a Chump ( pregnant, with a small child at DDay), who pick me danced and cheater stayed, ( he changed jobs, we moved away), I want to tell you that the best thing your cheater did was to pack his bags and move away from you and your babies.
    You don’t feel strong right now, you feel weak and you feel that you love him and want him to come back, at all costs. You want to be a family again.
    He will always wear narc glasses, he will NEVER be capable of loving you and your children and of caring for you in a genuine, unselfish way.
    Ask me how I know.

    Listen to all the experienced Chumps here, they have your back.
    In not too many years from now, when you reread this CL archive you will have come to realize that his cheating was never YOU, his shitty character was never YOU!
    Love your babies, hold them close, teach them how to be the present, sane, loving parent that you are being, today, and every day.
    They will grow, respecting you, and loving you beyond all others.
    I send you much love, understanding and hope!
    ❤️

  • Whoa!
    “Chump Nation’s on Fire!” (Alicia Keys voice to “This Girl”)

    Velvet- you’re so loved.
    You had me at trauma activates codependency.

    Regarding all of the intellectual brilliance here,
    it is loved and admired.
    But I gotta say this- I started to heal when all of the thinking was set aside, and I worked with a therapist to really feel this.
    There was an arm wrestling between head and heart going on.
    With professional guidance, I needed a safe place to just feel it all.
    It was 2 months of sessions where all I did was cry. But I kept going. And crying. And going.
    I’m not talking about the other crying we do.
    This was different. Crying in therapy, it helped lessen the hideout in intellect. Who knew.

    • Yes. We LAUGH when we hear a good joke.
      We don’t just TALK or THINK about how funny it is, and ANALYZE why it’s funny.

      CRY CRY CRY CRY CRY

      The EXPRESSION of the EMOTION (emotion is energy in motion) is the KEY.

      And daunting is the task for those of us who were trained not to cry, not to feel, punished for crying, expressing emotions…..(me).

      😪

      I would even venture to say that HIS extremely repressive upbringing against expressing ANYTHING, and failure to amend it, is a BIG component in the “why” of having an affair…

      • My father, also disordered, was an skilled trainer in holding back tears and emotions. I never felt safe with him. The Dickhead has shades of my father – I also didn’t feel emotionally safe with him. I wanted to and I tried but I learned that he just didn’t care to listen or even try to help me.

  • Omg. I read this and read this and I know he sucks and yet I’m still considering reconciling.
    I know he’s been a cheating, selfish, lazy, generally useless husband, but he says he will do better.

    I can’t imagine wanting to ever have sex with him again. I can’t imagine respecting or believing him again.

    I’m more relaxed and happier without him in my house. And I am financially independent.

    But I miss my friend who liked the same sports teams as me and travelled with me. I wonder if I can just suck it up and go on. Just lower my expectations and try.

    Why do I think this way? Why do I know I deserve better, but am still willing to hold out hope that he will change all the bac behaviours AND remain faithful?

    I cannot understand my own thoughts. My rational brain says screw him. He is losing out on an awesome wife and family.i am losing deadweight. And my heart says it will miss him…

    • It’s hard, Marge, one day (even mine is not quite there but getting closer) your heart and head will be on the same page. Time, distance, and no contact help numb the wounds so they can heal. Lately when I start romanticizing him, I try to turn toward the anger which remembers how little he actually was there for me as a husband, as a man and as a ‘friend”. I remember that the quality he gave me over 19 years was severely lacking. I gave him my everything and I got shit or nothing back in return. He gave me just enough kibbles that I kept dispensing cake. When my dispenser got tired and emotionally spent, he left me. All those times that I had his back and I couldn’t even get a freakin’ hug.

      Be patient with yourself – what you are going through is not easy. One day and one step at time.

    • It helped me to reframe in the context of respect. Because I value loyalty so much, I dont respect those who violate it. I just don’t. So, how does it feel being in a relationship with someone you don’t respect? Soul sucking. And how many years of your precious life you want to feel like your soul is being sucked from your body? Maybe, zero

  • Great quote from the musical “Into the Woods” (Stephen Sondhein) from Cinderella’s Prince: “I was raised to be charming, but insincere.”

    I think this applies to your situation.

  • From someone who stayed through the “husband caught cheating while wife pregnant” ordeal, for 7 long years (and one wedding), trust that you did the right thing.

    Ok, we had some good times through that 7 years. The wedding was great, the happiest day of my life even. My husband cried through the whole ceremony which I thought was sweet, but I only just found out it was because his OW of 3 years that he told me “nothing had happened and she’s out of my life now 2 years prior (she wasn’t the one I walked in on when pregnant btw) had dumped him a couple of days before wedding. What a great gal! I’ve seen her Facebook profile from the time since (5 years ago now, lots of mentions of her “secret party friend”) so it carried on for sure for at least another year until the next OW came along and he predated on her when my mum was DYING! My baby boy and his older sister grew up in a family with a home and roof over their head. I probably would have lost my home, in middle of a housing crisis, if I had dumped him then.

    The discovery while pregnant was actually me walking in on him and our lawyer sucking each others cocks (after weekly movie dates for prior 5 years). So yeah, I should have dumped his ass then. Hormones suck. Wanting to house and care for you’re babies, only sucky thing there is the shit we do to make it happen.

    After baby was born and wedded bliss settled, he actually exploited me into a threesome thing with a guy (cos I got sick of his triangulating me against women when it was girls, and am just not into girls).

    I put an end to it after a year cos I felt exploited.

    Turns out he was telling EVERYONE about it. My friends (so I became isolated from them, including showing them pictures, awkward for them but they didn’t think to mention it to me). His friends (so they all assumed we had an open relationship and he could fly in his OW to their boys weekends away every year, that he kept on telling me I wasn’t allowed at. Turns out ladies and wives were allowed. Just not me.

    The exploitation and manipulation went on and on for years. Finally caught a text with a girl on girl porn gif and some saucy comments to follow between the two of them last July, unrecognised number, only 4 messages on the record.

    First thing he said was “it’s your fault cos you don’t want to fuck me” (I got tired of marital rape and temper tantrums that made me feel it was easier to just say yes instead of having to watch his drama, and don’t forget the triangulations, with men and women now.

    I laughed. Old me would have taken that on board but I’d set a 4 strikes and you’re our rule after the lawyer incident!

    Next thing he said was “ok it’s a guy”

    I’m like WTF? If it’s a guy (still not ok cos it’s still cheating behind my back dude) why are you sharing girl on girl porn gifs with him?

    I laughed again. Then he broke down the bathroom door I was holding all my weight against as I tried to unlock his phone. Then a glass framed very heavy picture on the wall smashed on top of me. And he disappeared for 5 hours after tussling with me for it for a few minutes.

    So while this final drama was enough to give me the resolve to trust that dumping him was indeed the best thing I could do for me and my kids, I still wish I’d worked this out when I walked in on the lawyer and ex with their pants down. The humiliations and set ups to make ME LOOK LIKE I DESERVED OT AND WAS OK WITH HIS BEHAVIOUR, are killing me. But they are giving me trust in myself, something I never had before cos I was giving all my trust to him! What a Chump. So glad I’m done!

    • Nena, I am also very glad you are DONE w/this manipulative asshole! And so sorry you had to go through all of that.

  • Avoid ASSHOLES !

    Newt Gingrich serving divorce papers on one of his wives when she was in the hospital.

    The sparkly turd that lived upstairs. I already knew he was an asshole when I told him about his crated, distressed dog barking all day long and he didn’t care. When his very pretty,silent wife became pregnant, he came home a couple of times at lunch with other women to pork. He also got blow jobs from the gay guy next door. I wish I lived on an acre of property so I didn’t have to listen to these shenanigans.

    One of the women in my late mother’s cancer support group shared the following during a meeting. She came home exhausted from treatment and lay down in bed to sleep. Her monstrous spouse entered her bedroom,repeatedly kicked the corner of her bed and ordered her to get up to fix him a meal.

  • Lisa, this is his pathology. He can’t accept that he cannot deal with creating a family so he consistently destroys it. He’s very screwed up and it probably is a stain that runs generations back in his family of origin. You can’t fix him or the marriage and attempting to do so is going to destroy you. The best advice you could ever give him is to get a vasectomy. Run. Get free.

  • Take it from someone who stayed after a “found him cheating while pregnant” for seven long toxic years, with one wedding in between, dumping his arse is the best thing for you and your kids. Trust me. Trust you. Trust that he really does suck.

    I only got pregnant (2nd baby, after 3 years of trumping and all the trauma that goes with that) because I had uncovered him cheating with not one but two separate ladies. The pick me dance that followed (along with his guarantee the ladies were gone and nothing really happened) finally gave me my much wanted second child.

    Little did I know that one of them (a stranger I then became friends with, pick me threesomes included) was just a decoy for the other one (a friend who we had holidayed with for years, and he went on band dates with cos I preferred to spend my money on shoes, and childcare to support my career). It carried on for another few years, through baby, through wedding and another year until the next lady waltzed in and he predated in her when my mother was DYING!

    Apparently she dumped his arse a few days before our wedding. And there was Chump me thinking how sweet it was he cried through the whole ceremony (he never cried, unless he’d been dumped, which I realised when I finally dumped him last year after 5 years of married toxicity).

    Then when I was pregnant I walked in on him and our lawyer (also a friend we holidayed with) sucking each others cocks, outside in our garden, about 3 feet away from our sleeping 4 yo daughter inside.

    I blame my staying on my hormones. Oh and needing a roof over my head and an income for me and my kids. Stupid hormones!

    But in that 7 years the pick me dance went batshit crazy. I got manipulated into another threesome thing, this time with a guy (another porn addict like my husband, I sure can pick ‘em).

    Turns out that episode was actually just another cover!

    A cover so he could show my friends dirty pics of it and see how far their boundaries could be crossed if they would tell me about it or not (they didn’t. I only found that out a week ago. Trickle truth for life!)

    A cover so he could tell all his friends how open minded we were, with our “open relationship” they all just assumed we had (threesome only allowed in husbands presence btw, I ended it pretty quickly too but after the cat was out of the bag and assumptions were made). Those same friends then said nothing to me when he was flying in his next OW (the one with my dying Mum) to their boys weekends away, the boys weekends where wives and girlfriends weren’t allowed (I kept on asking to come as I got wind of some wives attending). Those boys were the first to block me when I finally dumped him last year (crazy psycho ex wife might make shit up to their wives about what they were up to when they were away even though they got up to nothing it was only my husband doing that, along with filming me at home with a secret camera to make sure I wasn’t cheating (or secretly flying down to boys weekend to surprise him more like).

    The shame of this ongoing pick me dance haunts me every day. WTF was I thinking. Yes he was sparkly (he’s not now, paunchy sweaty and heart attack material when he has sex in particular). Yes his love bombing felt good.

    But his going on movie dates on his own after showering shaving and covering himself in after shave were pretty shit tbh.

    His locked up glove box and no key available sorry were also pretty shit.

    His intense jealousy and raging at me should I go to a movie on my own we’re unbearable.i actually stopped going out to movies. Or drinks. Or girls nights out. Or work sometimes. Definitely no working late. My career definitely suffered.

    The thousands and thousands of dollars of cash withdrawals I found after I dumped him were interesting though. As were all the plus size tacky AF lingerie purchases on our credit card.

    While all this shit has meant there is no way in hell I’ll go back to him, I do wish I’d figured it all out sooner. Still, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, so at least I’m out. Just think about all the shit you’ve saved yourself from like the shit that I chose to endure. It’s not sparkly on the inside, even if it is on the outside. Trust me. Trust you. Trust that he sucks. He really does.

    NB: hope this doesn’t appear twice. I thought I posted but seems I exited before it fully loaded. So this is round two. On a positive note it’s the condensed version btw

  • I am sorry for chumps who have been cruelly abandoned by unloving partners.

    I am still struggling with ‘believe that they suck’ when it comes to my last boyfriend, who I learned married (probably several months ago) the young work subordinate he left me for. He didn’t even wait for the bed to get cold from jus discard of me to nail her down. I can’t help but think that he will be a million times better for her, just as I think he was for his first wife who cheated on and abused him (according to him–I believe that some of what he said about her is true although he has lied to me several times).

    My mother still believes that my abusive, adulterous ex-husband, who left before I got involved with last boyfriend. Last night, she said to me, ‘your ex-husband told me that you kicked him out of bed (years ago) because he was snoring, so he had to sleep on the floor of another room. Why did you do that?’ I never did that in spite of Jet engine volume snoring by him. He used to lock me out of our bedroom for who knows what reason. He also falsely accused numerous people of sexually harassing him and attempting to rape him. He falsely accused me of molesting one of our kids, attempting to rape him (now ex-husband), etc. Yet my mother still falls for his lies. I trust that he sucks.

    Now if only I can stop grieving loss of my last boyfriend, the one I mistakenly took for a great friend for 30 years. He’s great at portraying Mr. Nice Guy. I often think that he will treat his new wife (and any children he has with her like royalty.

  • Cheaters often have a lot of charm and charisma. That causes confusion.

    My ex said that he enjoyed ‘programming’ women. And ‘stringing them along’.

    Look at a person’s ACTIONS. Not their words. Not their sex appeal. Look at what they have DONE, and are DOING to others.

    If the are capable of deceiving you they are capable of deceiving you. Good people do not lie to, cheat on,and manipulate their nearest and dearest.

    • The minute people whip out the sparkle or the charm, I’m done. I like kindness and a sense of humor. I like humble. I like work ethic. I like the loyalty and reciprocity.

  • Lisa,

    Sadly, many of us have been distracted by the “sparkle”. But these soulless assholes have a sparkle that isn’t anything like the beautiful twinkling lights on a Christmas tree or the constellations on a crisp, clear night; it’s more like the sparkle in Satan’s eye when he’s about to lob a 10-ton dirty bomb into your life… the attack comes out of left field, and is designed to create a crater in your life from which you’ll be lucky to survive.

    As for the life you had together… it wasn’t what you thought. You deserve a beautiful life, but you’ll have to move on without him in order to get it.

  • Lisa,
    This is what my ex would have done if I ever got pregnant. And since my ex has no shame, he does take her to all the same places, all the same hotels, and cooks all the same dinners. Also since he married her, he is her whipping boy. Lol. She is 10 times the bitch and that is what it took to keep Mr. Sparkles in line. Did I also mention she has joined them together with superglue so that she can monitor him 24/7? After all, she set her sights on him when she knew we were together. She pursued him to the ends of the earth and she can have him.

    Good thing I am also a gourmet chef (as a hobby) and have been to 23 countries before I even met Mr. Ex Sparkles. I was always my own woman. Be your own woman too.

    I also went on to marry someone and have children. I am still married. (Although last year was very sketchy and this year continues to be on my husband’s part. He has chumped me on some level but he is good st hiding things, so I am trying to figure out what actually happened. If there was an affair, it will be over. But I don’t make decisions until I have proof). The only proof I have is a married spouse poacher targeted him and then died of some sexually transmitted cancer within the year. That is why I am here so often. My H won’t speak about it and I am trying to process it.

    My Ex Mr. Sparkles (not my current H) is married to the OW. I showed my 14-year-old son my ex’s Facebook page when he asked. My 14-year-old said, “Holy shit. He has a child molester face!” Touché, mon ami.

    My Ex Mr. Sparkles has NOT aged well. The sparkles have left long ago. The same will happen to your Ex Mr. Sparkles.

    Please know that you will find someone else. Time to look forward. Get a make over so that you can see yourself in a new light. (Not to support the relentless body-shaming industrial complex that is the mainstream media and fashion industry).

    Also, my body positivity hero of the year is Amanda F***ing Palmer. She calls herself that. She is fierce. One of my besties bought tickets for her concert and we are so excited. When we got the confirmation emails, Amanda sent photos where she was posing completely nude, without make-up, without photoshop, showing her post-maternal baby body in all its glory and holding a giant sword above her head. She looked like the embodiment of some kind of ancient, Celtic warrior Goddess. She gets my respect. That takes Courage.

    Look her up. She is Neil Gaiman’s wife and I am pretty sure he will have to change his name to Neil F***ing Palmer to keep up with her. And I know he will be okay with that. And I love Neil for that as well as for his Sandman series.

    Peace.

  • I think what shocks me is this statement: “I have since had the baby and he comes to visit now and then.” In what world is this OK? That he walks out on you while pregnant and after the birth “comes to visit now and then.” That’s what your Aunt Agnes does, come to visit now and then. A baby’s father pays child support. He has some regular custody time in which he is not “visiting” at your home. How are you ever to move on and have some kind of life if he can just wander in and out at will? You can’t move on while you are letting him run the show.

    Set some boundaries. File for child support. Insist on actual visitation, maybe supervised or in some neutral place to start out if he’s not grown up enough to spend an afternoon with his own baby.

    I’ve read about a lot of losers here, but this guy is lower than a bedbug.

  • I needed this today… Last year, I found out my husband of almost 6 years was cheating on me again. He cheated on me 4 years ago when our son was just 4 months old. I did the pick me dance. We got back together and just when I thought we were getting back to a really good place, everything starts to fall apart again and I found out he was cheating again. He actually left to be with her but just before the holidays last year, he came back, said sorry, everything I wanted to hear. So I welcome him back with open arms. I was the same as Lisa. I just couldn’t get it in my head that he sucks. I told myself the heart wants what it wants. But then after New Year’s, he said he just couldn’t be with me. He couldn’t give me the love I need and I deserve better. That’s when I exploded! Then why the fuck come back at all? Just because he thought that would make him happy? Because the OW wasn’t quite what he expected? It doesn’t even matter anymore. I still have days when I miss him and what we had. But I have to constantly remind myself. I miss what we had and that is gone. I have to keep on moving forward. But truly, it’s hard. Very very hard. I still feel like my heart doesn’t agree with my filing for divorce. Thank you to CN for stories like this. It reminds me of the important things I have to keep in mind.

  • Lisa, I see that this ran previously. I hope you are out of there and will drop in and give us an update on how mighty you now are!

  • All you moms just remember Scott Peterson and be thankful your pos left instead of killing you. Chris Watts. Just a fun loving guy until he killed his entire family including his pregnant wife. Sometimes these sweet acting men are narcissists or sociopaths who couldn’t hold it together anymore. Their creepy, slimey selves just started oozing out.
    You had one living in your house with you. What a lucky break that he is gone.

  • This letter from Lisa reminds me of when I was pregnant with DD, The Evil One wouldn’t touch me from the minute he found out I was pregnant.
    He was a night-crawler those days, a repo man, so now I have absolutely no doubts whatsoever he was getting it on the side often. I was working full-time, two boys 14 f 8, who had very active schedules, I just didn’t have time to even worry about it much, except thinking he wasn’t even asking for even oral from me since “(my) mouth still works”
    Ugh. Bastard.

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