Dear Chump Lady,
I’m not sure if I belong among your chump ranks. My husband of 11 years developed an ongoing emotional affair with a woman at work. I could tell something was in the works with him and approached him with tears in my eyes, asking him to set boundaries with her and not to become too emotionally attached.
Instead of doing this, he went underground — texting with her using encrypted messaging that automatically deleted after a few hours. Being the tech-savvy person that I am, I was able to discover what he said on these texts about two months after he started sending them. He was told her that he was in love with her and using the descriptive words of Crayola crayons to tell her how much he adored her eyes. I could only read what he wrote, so I have no idea what she said or the context of these daily musings.
This discovery, and discovering a stash of “never sent” love poems for her on his computer, broke me into pieces. Now four months later, after lots of therapy and three new medications for anxiety and depression, I’m ready to leave him over this. At the same time, I’m wondering if that’s the right thing to do. He’s pointed out to me that he never got physical with her and told me that the one-sided pieces of his text conversation I was able to read were him and her trying to work through their feelings to get over them.
I feel like he is changing his story after the fact. He was initially angry with me for asking him to end his relationship with her, never apologized for saying those things (He thinks he did nothing wrong), and blamed me for snooping into his private messages. Now he is telling me that things were never very serious with her. They only held hands and hugged, because those were the boundaries they set together. I asked him to leave his job and cut her out of his life completely, but he is unwilling to so that and still wants to be her friend.
What is going on? Am I, as he says, being overly controlling with his friendships? Do I belong here if my spouse had an emotional but not a physical affair?
Dear Authentic Chump,
Blameshifting? Check. Gaslighting? Check. Minimizing? Check. Really schlocky Schmoopie poetry? (Waves for waiter…) CHECK!
You’re a chump. Welcome to the club.
Is your husband an entitled, emotionally abusive creep? Absolutely. But that alone doesn’t get you admission to our ubiquitous club — it’s doubting whether you can have dealbreakers that makes you a chump. Hi! Let me fold my needs into tiny origami pieces and stuff them into deep recesses of my soul. Wait, would you like to see this paper swan? No? It offends you? That’s fine. I’ll burn it.THAT makes you a chump.
Your husband is professing his love to another woman, repeatedly, in sent and unsent messages, and you’re wondering if you’re “being overly controlling with his friendships“? (Plural?!)
No. You’re not controlling. If you are, gosh, you really suck at it because you haven’t been able to do jack shit about his secret poetry stash, messaging, and work situation. Concentrate harder on those superpowers, woman!
Cheating is an abusive power dynamic. Look, you could ask him to not run up secret debts on the charge cards. If he then took his accounts underground and ran up bigger debts — would you doubt the validity of how untenable this is? He’s doing the whole You’re Not The Boss of Me cha cha. Behaving unilaterally and bridling at having his entitlement questioned.
Can you have a relationship with that? It depends on how you define relationship. Sure, if you want to be used and devalued. Sure, if you want a Potemkin partner to watch Netflix with. (Assuming he’s not busy that night with his jumbo Crayola box.) How much origami can you fold?
It doesn’t matter if he got his dick wet (he probably did, adults have sex eventually) — it matters that he treats you like you’re an annoying afterthought. That he believes you’re stupid enough to buy that professing his love to his co-worker isn’t “serious.” (Why not try that line over at HR?)
Either he’s lying or he toys with people’s emotions for shits and giggles –nothing is serious and no one matters. Neither quality makes for healthy partnership.
They only held hands and hugged, because those were the boundaries they set together.
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve read this on my blog…
Yeah. A guy who shows zero restraint and recycles cutesy folk songs (“Crayola Doesn’t Make a Color for Your Eyes”) is a guy with boundaries. Of course they couldn’t fuck, because they just respect you so much.
Please leave. He can work through his feelings with his box of crayons alone. What’s the color of jerk? Sky Douche? Burnt Schmoopie?
Be free. Unfold the swans.