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Dear Chump Lady, I want closure

Dear Chump Lady,

Leaving my cheater has been a real struggle for me. I started going to a trauma therapist to get some help with my issues. I’ve learned there are several internal walls that are blocking me from making my exit.

A big one is what to do when I leave. My plan was to leave a note on the dining room table and ghost my way out. The plan was no discussion, just leave. My therapist pointed out that my personality pushes me to be compassionate and sit the cheater down and explain why I’m leaving. This is not my therapist’s idea of what I should do, it comes from inside me. 

Another part of me says she doesn’t deserve closure. I want to be 100 percent no contact. Why do I owe an abusive person closure?

Then there’s the part of me that says it’s ok to abuse me I can handle it. My whole life has been one of accepting abuse, what’s the big deal? It’s better than nothing. Maybe I should stay. And there are more walls, about not making a mistake, grief over losing her, fear of being alone, and not sure she’s still cheating.

So my therapist says I’m stuck. I’m in a hard place. Maybe you can kick my butt so hard that I get unstuck? Maybe those beautiful people in the Chump Nation can rain some righteous sense on me?

Blessings,

RatInACage 3times

Dear Stuck (I won’t call you “Rat”),

I don’t think the mechanics of How To Leave are your problem — whether by note, chat, or sky writing — it’s permission that you’re after. A classic chump dilemma.

You’re giving your cheater the benefit of the doubt you won’t give yourself. She deserves closure and explanations? (Not you.) She deserves umpteenth chances? (Your time is an infinite resource?) She requires a continued presence in your life? (You don’t deserve space and no contact to heal?)

This lopsidedness — your needs are microscopic, hers are paramount — is the problem. You’ve accepted her entitlement — to your time, to chances, to resources — as Right and Proper. And you need trauma therapy to figure out if that exchange rate is okay.

It’s not okay.

You matter. When deciding to give ourselves permission to leave, what’s often in conflict is our value system. One value might be: I Won’t Tolerate Abuse. Which is in conflict with another value: I’m Not a Quitter. Or, I Don’t Give Up On People I Love.

And these values duke it out, LEAVE! Stay! LEAVE! Stay!

It goes beyond the heart versus the head — it’s an internal conflict about what sort of person you are. And trust me, mindfuckers are very invested in this battle. If you have a conscience, if you can be shamed, you’re much more easy to manipulate that the cold-hearted creatures who don’t give a fuck.

Getting to the mental place of being able to leave feels like trying to morph into a cold-hearted creature who doesn’t give a fuck. It’s a difficult head space for chumps, who’d much rather love all the hurt away and be awarded a gold medal for their self sacrifice.

So… let’s untangle this.

My plan was to leave a note on the dining room table and ghost my way out. The plan was no discussion, just leave.

Are you married? Do you have kids or resources? If you have no legal ties to this person, absolutely — just go. For everything else, get legal counsel and figure out your options. (Is leaving construed as abandonment? How do you divide things of value?)

Leaving in a big harrumph sounds good, but a exiting a shared life is generally more complicated. That said, the point is LEAVING. The plan is for YOU. You don’t discuss it, you do it.

You know what says “I’ve had enough of your shit?” Not being there to take it. No note required.

Another part of me says she doesn’t deserve closure. I want to be 100 percent no contact. Why do I owe an abusive person closure?

Closure is a myth. There’s just time and no contact. Eventually you get to acceptance.

Why do you feel you “owe” her anything at all? She certainly didn’t feel she owed you fidelity.

Then there’s the part of me that says it’s ok to abuse me I can handle it.

Is that the life you want? An endless hazing ritual?

My whole life has been one of accepting abuse, what’s the big deal? It’s better than nothing.

This is a false choice. You’re never left with “nothing.” You’re left with yourself — and you’re much better company than a fuckwit. I promise.

Maybe I should stay. And there are more walls, about not making a mistake,

Let that go. We make mistakes every day. Why are you holding yourself to perfection but can’t judge a serial cheater who is hurting you?

grief over losing her, fear of being alone,

Work through the grief of what you thought it was, and could be. Actual “her” is abusive.

and not sure she’s still cheating.

If you want a relationship without trust or respect (is that a relationship or a hostage situation?) — continue. You don’t get to bitch about her abusiveness and then stick around for more. Put up or shut up.

Unknowning chumpdom is cause for compassion. Volunteering for this shit is whack.

You don’t get her without the abuse. It’s a package deal.

Return to sender, if you ask me.

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.
  • I increasingly appreciate that some people can’t make friends or relationships, but they can certainly take hostages.

    And for the typical Chump: untangling the skein and codependency and fear, oh my.

    Gosh it’s liberating when you get free – it’s like when you’ve had a great morning doing fun stuff, and you look at your crumpled bed and remember how comfortable it felt this morning when you didn’t want to get out of it.

    Do you want to crawl back there now? Hell no. That’s what getting a life feels like. But when you are just waking up, it’s really hard work.

    Bottom line: You are only as stuck as you want to be.

    • I increasingly appreciate that some people can’t make friends or relationships, but they can certainly take hostages.

      My God, you’ve just described my ex to a tee. It took me years to figure out why so many of his “friends” were constantly angry at him … yet stayed. I eventually ghosted him because it was the only way I could escape with minimal stalking. He still harassed me for over a year demanding explanations, until I learned to block him everywhere. Problem solved.

      Stuck, you don’t get closure from a disordered person. That’s like asking a poodle to do the cha-cha. These abusive psychos literally DO NOT CARE that they’re hurting you. Some of them even enjoy it. Worse, any confrontation (your honest attempt at communication will be viewed as a confrontation) will set off a bomb in the cheater’s eyes. Then they’ll flip out and do everything in their power to hurt you and sabotage your escape.

      Ghosting has a bad rap in society these days, and I agree under normal circumstances it’s rude. But it’s absolutely appropriate when you’re dealing with abuse. Get a lawyer, ask them the best way to split assets (if any), and then get the hell out of Dodge. Your cheater is a dangerous freak. Act as if you’re getting away from a crocodile, because you are.

      • Many even enjoy it (hurting you) – here, fixed it for you. 🙂

        I’ve ghosted people, like people i dated. This happened because they played hot and cold (after a hot intensive period they dropped all communication and then they got in contact again as if nothing had happened) and they lied, usually in a very stupid way. I remembered how once I started to explain to a guy who had contacted me with the stories about how much he missed me and wanted to see me again how I didn’t want to date him anymore. I simply told him that he couldn’t go on dates with me then cut any contact without a reason for several weeks. He wrote back angry, accusing me of being a drama queen. I don’t do closures anymore. I don’t owe players, liars and let alone cheaters ANYTHING.

        You see, you give them closure and explain what went wrong and they think you’re a drama queen (king) and ‘crazy’. That’s where many stories about crazy exes/ dates come from.

        • The behavior you describe (hot cold mind games, lying, anger) is a huge red flag for abuse. I think you did the smart thing ghosting those people. I’ve done the same with toxic people and never regretted it.

          To reiterate, I’m talking about proper decorum with normal people. Scary people get no consideration.

          • To be honest, I don’t t think they were dangerous narcissists, just people who thought they could play with me. Normal people who played games because they couldn’t commit (to me or anybody else). But you’re of course right, it’s a huge red flag.

            • I think narcissism is a spectrum. My ex was definitely malignant, his behavior was absolutely sociopathic and very dangerous. I’ve met other people who I wouldn’t call dangerous, but they were toxic drama queens at best and any time/information I gave them opened me up to potential problems down the road, so I got out.

              I would argue that people who thought they could play you isn’t “just” anything, that’s a huge red flag for a problem and high five to you for bailing.

              It’s a tough call to make sometimes, whether someone is dangerous. That’s the problem. When is something “just” a flaw versus a huge screaming red flag? Tough to say. But having met enough toxic people, I’d say any of the red flags you describe is enough for me to judge a person unsafe.

              That was a big epiphany for me: just because someone doesn’t strike me as dangerous doesn’t mean they’re safe, and that’s enough for me to bounce them.

              Thanks for having this conversation with me, btw. This was really though provoking.

          • Also going out on dates and then disappearing for a few weeks sets up a victim to respond to intermittent reinforcement. It’s a control thing.

            • Anyone who plays games during the dating ritual should get ditched (and don’t be talked into playing such games (e.g., “hard to get”) by dating advice sites).

              Here is what a top researcher on attachment has to say about traits to look for early on in the dating dance:
              Amir Levine “pinpointed five overlapping qualities to look for that create a strong foundation for a happy, secure relationship: consistency, availability, reliability, responsiveness and predictability ― aka CARRP, as he calls it. These closely related qualities are at odds with the idea (however misguided) that we need to be mysterious or play hard to get in order to be seen as desirable in the dating scene.”

              Full article here (and Levine’s book on Adult Attachment Styles is very good):
              https://www.huffpost.com/entry/happy-relationship-secure-attachment-style_n_5bff1b23e4b0864f4f69f4f3

            • This, 100%. The moment someone shows they’re not on the same page as me, I take a giant step back and reassess the relationship. Especially when they don’t respect my time or communicate.

              For me, it’s about character. And character (or lack thereof) is a predictor of behavior down the road.

      • Not my husband ( cheater Jesus freak ), but serious relationship after divorce…

        Had guns. Some not legal. He was the “looks good on paper guy” on the surface.
        Scratch the surface and he was a malicious narc.

        I mistakenly moved in to his beautiful country property. Then the mask fell off.

        Less than a year later I packed up all I owned and disappeared one weekend while he was away.

        I seriously believe it was the only decision.
        For my safety and my sanity it had to be done that way.

        Listen to your gut. If it feels like the right thing to do and you will have no legal repercussions- just go and take care of you!!!

    • Deat RatIna Cage
      Please get out now no matter what. You are a good, compassionate person. Do not wait to long like I have. My H that I should have left yeara ago had a massive stroke, which leaves me as caretaker. I’v found out more about his affair…for three years..trips..nice gifts….I am the true rat in a cage. Please get out before you really end up being the rat and can’t get.

      • I hope you are able to get out one day, “Sanelady” [note: I changed your name; could not bring myself to type the other one]. My thoughts are with you.

    • Actually, you might be stuck as long as is a disonance between your toughts and your actions. You might think you got it solved and you know what’s best for you, but then again you find it hard to act and go back in circles. For me, the link missing was a long history of abuse that made me inapt to act in my best interest. I always knew what was best for me, because my mind wasn’t lost, but I always was paralized, because the abuse made me fearful of standing for myself. I am still struggling, but I finally see where I need help. Tracy said it: “it’s permission” from the abuser that we have to learn to escape, trying to leave behind codependency, and how to learn to walk again and to act on your own.

  • We want closure because we think that they are moral people.

    The cheaters in my life are disordered.
    That means to me that they are living a lie.
    Once I accept this, I can make my plans accordingly.
    Closure from somebody who abuses and me? Why I look to them for closure are my own issues that I need to address in therapy and self-help groups.

    • And like any abusive cheater, if something benefits us they will want to snatch it away or ruin it for us, just because they can, and it makes them happy to hurt us.

  • Stuck- I completely understand you. Leaving, disengaging, felt like cutting off my own arm. He was the only love I’d ever known. He was a part of me for 20 years. But I knew that if I wanted to save the rest of me I had to cut off my arm or his gangrene would consume me. So I did. It wasn’t easy. But you know what, not only did I rid myself of the gross infection that wanted to consume my life, I’m whole now. My “arm” grew back healthy, healed…and very happy. Yours will too.

    • Manna, well said! Amazing when you leave a cheater and quit being co dependent, how your life improves. 34 years…I was killing myself staying in an abusive marriage, pretzeling myself and spackling. I literally cut (him), the cancer, out of my life. 3 years later I’m 1.5 years NED and traveling in SE Asia. It’s a big beautiful world 🌎 cheater (and cancer) free.

    • That’s a good way of putting ending a 38 year relationship, Manna: cutting off your arm. Takes a lot of guts. But the arm grows back. Like a tadpole’s tail and it grows back and tadpole turns into a completely different creature (I love frogs).

      • I love that analogy. I think the longer the relationship, more of that arm gets cut off, therefore taking a little longer to heal. It never will heal completely and it will feel like a phantom arm for a long time. And, with massively hard work, let’s hope the arm goes from a nub to a fully capable neck-hold Wonder Woman style…to ensure nobody ever fucks with you again.

  • If you want closure, be sure to closure the door on your way out. It’s the best closure, and the only closure.

    LEAVING AN ABUSIVE PERSON IS CLOSURE.

    STANDING UP FOR YOURSELF BY LEAVING IS CLOSURE.

    ACTIONS THAT ARE SELF-PROTECTIVE ARE CLOSURE.

    APOLOGIZING TO YOURSELF FOR STAYING SO LONG IS CLOSURE.

    GETTING LEGAL HELP IF REQUIRED IS CLOSURE.

    NO CONTACT (OR MINIMAL IF YOU HAVE KIDS) IS CLOSURE.

    BEING ON YOUR OWN, WHICH IS BETTER THAN BEING WITH SOMEONE ABUSIVE,
    IS CLOSURE.

    DECIDING TO NO LONGER ACCEPT ABUSE IS CLOSURE.

    Be sure to closure the door, and weld it shut, on your way outward and upward.

  • Dear Stuck,

    You seem to be a lot like my father with my cheating mother. Except you sound young and my dad died a very depressed, sad old man. One of the saddest things in my life was to watch him do ANYTHING to get my mother to love him.

    You are wasting your precious time.

    My cheaing mother never changed, very sad.

    Speaking about chumps, first, my mom tricked my dad into marrying her (back in the 50s) telling him she was pregnant. He was a top engineer, used a slide ruler to synchronize generators with substations, but could not count to nine: I was born 11 months after they married.

    My dad raised a child that was not his. He would ask me how my sister could be his child if he and my mother hadn’t had any sex….

    When my dad was in his 80s my mother, full of debts, even tried to get him declared mentally incompetent so she could get his insurance (she is very smart), but I stepped in and the judge listened to me. And it goes without saying my mother and I do not speak.

    If you are coming to Chump Lady it is a good sign that you are looking for the fair outcome. Please listen to her! Take care. Now I am going to spend the day sad about my dad, a good man, but a chump.

    • Oh my god, this is terrible. I’m so sorry about what happened to your dad and to you. No one deserves this.

    • I witnessed the same sort of thing and went through the same with my dear Dad and evil, narcissistic mother. He sacrificed his life for her, while she just abused him and went on dates with other men. He would have done anything for her. When he got old and got dementia, she shoved him in a nursing home first chance she got, and threw all his special belongings out. His huge record collection, everything. Then she abused him the day she dropped him at the nursing home, by nastily saying she had everything that was his now, his house, his money, everything. Then she left. I arrived the same day to find my beautiful Dad sitting alone in a chair, crying and shaking like a leaf, that he had “lost everything”. She proudly confessed she had spitefully told him all that, at his weakest and in his vulnerable mind with dementia. He was the kindest, most loving man you could ever meet. I will never forgive her for the way she treated him at the end, and for their whole marriage. (By the way I got him out of the nursing home within the month and took him to my home and cared for him myself for the last years of his life.)

      When I left my adulterous, abusive husband, I planned it so I left on the anniversary of my Dads death. He couldn’t escape his abuser, so I left mine in his honour on that day. I also posted a memorial in the paper on the day, saying “this is for you Dad.” I know he would be proud of me and glad that I got out. Seeing how his abuser treated him in his old age, at his most vulnerable, made me realise I would get the same treatment from mine when I was old, or if I got sick. My Dad was my inspiration and strength to leave. I knew he would have wanted me to.

      • It’s this sort of behaviour why I can see how chumps can snap and seriously injure or even kill their fuckwit cheater. It makes me want to do it, and I’m not even the one she abused.

        What a vile cunt.

  • Cheaters are essentially, at the molecular level, dishonest. About your relationship’s history, the current state of affairs (pun intended), their intent—everything. Meanwhile, closure—an objective reckoning of what happened and what that implies about character—requires honesty. Brutal, clear-eyes honesty, especially about your own mistakes and hurtful conduct. So then, it’s simply impossible to reach closure with someone who is essentially dishonest. As impossible as reachig the bottom of the ocean with a handful of smoke.

    • Yes, Nomar….good description…I kept looking to him to display decent traits I believed were just under the surface… just a breath away since I believed him to be a good man yet he had betrayed me systematically for our entire relationship… he was dishonest on a molecular level.

  • When you show empathy, compassion and kindness to a cheater, you are in reality just eating “shit sandwich after shit sandwich”
    I spent three years eating shit sandwiches until the day finally arrived when I decided to change my order.

  • Chump Lady, there aren’t enough words to express my love and gratitude for you and Chump Nation. I’m going to copy your reply and read it every time those walls of doubt come up. I can’t wait for the time when I can message “Free at Last”. The part of me that says “I won’t tolerate abuse” keeps pushing me forward…I have an attorney, I have a separate phone, a separate bank account, I’ve moved some of my stuff to storage. The waiting for funds gives time for doubts.
    The next steps are rent an apartment, close my joint accounts, leave, and push the attorney button. Just need a little more funds to get an apartment, I can put the attorney on a credit card. I’ve done all this on the sly, and you know what, I HATE being secretive. How do cheaters function?
    Last words, I want to pay this forward. Someday I will have money and I’m going to help a fellow chump escape their hell.
    Blessings.
    Stuck

    • Hi Stuck. Congratulations on saving yourself. I truly believe my healing would have been tons faster if I had left when I wanted to, or stuck to my guns and kicked him out. Healing from s place of power is much better than after being cruely devalued, triangulated and discarded. But I would check with that lawyer first. Make sure everything you are doing is legal in your state. I’ll never understand liars either. Mine could lie to my face point blank. In fact he denied the last one existed. It took HER husband calling me to tell me about my husbands affair with his wife. Cheaters are worthless people. I’m moving on to my better life after thirty years of abuse. Hope you didn’t stay as long as I did. Good luck.

          • 36 here. I was a lucky one. Found this site right away and stayed many steps ahead of him. It was empowering.

        • 27 years and it took me 3 years to actually LEAVE. I hemmed and hawed, and threatened, and tried to work things, out, tried to be understanding, worked on “my role in enabling the affairs to happen” ( TOTAL BS ), basically doing everything the CL mentioned. When I finally did leave, I was a shell of a human. Not physically, there was no physical abuse, but mentally. I had to live with friends, I had to find work, I had to reestablish myself in a new state, my minor daughter was part of the free and reduced meals program at school for over a year. I had to sacrifice to pay for my attorney, all while my ex was living well off in the house. It was hard, I was miserable at first and I STILL was showing my ex compassion and trying to be amicable. I got hosed in my divorce agreement because of it, and because my attorney rolled over every time my ex’s attorney made a demand.
          STOP OVERTHINKING THIS.
          LEAVE. Get an attorney, serve your spouse immediately. Do not give them time to wheedle you, guilt you, play upon your kind hearted nature. DO NOT TRY TO BE FAIR. (They certainly weren’t when they were out sleeping with other people). Your spouse cares ONLY about herself. It’s time you cared about yourself and not her. You do not owe her one damn thing.
          Also- get a new therapist, yours sucks…. walls…. smh. Any therapist worth their while would encourage you to get out of the relationship and offer your post traumatic therapy. Ours encouraged my to focus on my role in his affairs… say WHAT?? I think we saw him 6 times.

          • Thank you for the wise advise GrandDame, especially DO NOT TRY TO BE FAIR. BTW I love my therapist. One time she told me “Look in the mirror Mr. Why the fuck haven’t you left her?” My therapist is not the problem, my thinking was wack. However, CL and CN have put some sense in me. How many kicks in the butt does it take to wake up a chump? I am so greatful to see the light and the love.

      • I wish I had found Chump Lady when she first started, it would have even saved me money. But better late than never! And my health is good and finances in order
        .

        • ClearWaters – I was desperate for a therapist and I highly recommend people talk to one during their troubles (stabby – as I’ve learned here). It was vital and I spent $125/week. But, rather quickly I found C/L’s site much more therapeutic…and all of C/N. I quit my therapist after 8 months and saved money every since. It’s been 6 yrs and I still read daily. **Proud to be a Patreon*

    • Dear Rat,

      My cheater moved out in February 2018. Had a year all to himself to create his perfect life. What has he accomplished, now that he has been free of his unhappiness, which was because of our marriage?

      I found out he has been lying to me for over a year about renting an apartment with the OW. He chose living with a hooker from Craigslist over living near his own child.

      He has been cheating on the OW. Tinder, and his favorite, the Asian massage parlors. My daughter caught him on Tinder; a drop-down message came through when she was on his phone. The Asian massage parlor thing is really stupefying; the Craigslist “sole mate” he has been living with is from China, so even his real-life fantasy come true is not enough to end his lying cheating ways.
      I did, however, get to swap the Pick Me dance for the Victory dance….this all proved the cheating was NOT about me, the marriage….ZERO to do with me, EVERYTHING to do with HIM, just as Chumplady drills into us.

      He is currently miserable, as he himself admits and looks, even more so than before he left, and I am no longer around to pin the blame on. Yay!

      I don’t believe it is EVER a mistake to leave someone who displays NO LOYALTY OR HONOR OR SAFETY OR TRUSTWORTHINESS. There is only UP and onto BETTER.

      • Sole mate=sh*t on the bottom of his shoe. Not a classy red soled Christian Louboutin. I love reading your comments Velvet Hammer

        • me too- love to read your comments Velvet Hammer. There are so many smart and witty chumps here, It makes me proud to belong to Chump Nation

    • Stuck-
      You WILL pay it forward.

      Here I am, back visiting the chump nation just to encourage newbies that it’ll be ok. Better than ok.

      Here’s the kicker; you like yourself so much better. And that’s worth so much.

      Gonna be rough for a tad more, but you got this.

    • When you leave, plan the exact day for the day she’ll be served.

      There’s her note.

      You give her a note from you? She’ll either mock you and show it gleefully or will tear off the part about her failings and save only what she wants to show others. Because she lies and manipulates… don’t give her any material.

      The day she’ll be served, block her number. Block her email. Let your co-workers know that you are refusing any contact from her, for when/if she calls and identifies herself. Let your family know that she might call with a sob story, explain what she’s done, and tell them you’re done with her. Keep the details of your plans and new life to yourself, until the divorce is final.

      And no more defeatist Rat talk. You’re balling up and taking charge. You’ll be magnificent in your new, Whore-Free life!

      • Yes, PLEASE block her everywhere. Email, phone, social media, all of it.

        I didn’t do that when I left and the ex harassed me for a year until I finally blocked him. It’s not true “no contact” until the offender is blocked and literally has no way to reach you. They WILL continue the abuse via technology if they’re not blocked, so block them.

        • Yes- block her and inform any people she may slag you to. Mine called the cops when I had him served. It was horrible. But I had told my neighbour that my son mght need a safe harbour, so he went there. Then cheater flipped out and ended up in the psych ward the next day. You do not know what you are in for.

    • Stuck, I’m doing a little dance of joy for you! You’ve set yourself free! I let him come back because I hadn’t got closure. For 9 months I slid back into wife appliance mode because there was no closure. It took finding my 15 year old son looking at a website on why not to kill yourself, before I kicked him out. I am one of those Not A Quitter people, but I’m now Not A Quitter for ME and my kids.
      Stuck, safe journey through the coming months and happy landings in the land of Meh!

    • I’ve done all this on the sly, and you know what, I HATE being secretive. How do cheaters function?

      You know who else had to be secretive? The Allies, right before they stormed the beaches at Normandy. It was the largest seaborne invasion in history and the last desperate bid to take Europe back from Hitler. Was that not a good secret? Was it not done for honorable reasons?

      YOU are being secretive for honorable reasons, unlike your cheater. YOU are choosing to escape abuse. If you could be open about leaving, you would be. But you can’t, because your cheater is an abusive pathological liar who will hurt you if she finds out too early. Just like the Nazis would’ve crushed Operation Overlord if they got a whiff of it before the Allies showed up on those beaches.

      Do what you need to do to survive and get the eff out. YOU did not cause this conflict. Your soon-to-be-ex did. This whole situation is her fault. You did not choose this. Now you’re simply doing the reasonable thing and choosing yourself.

      • It’s even more basic. In order to protect yourself and others who depend on you, it’s imperative to know the truth of your situation. If you are dealing with someone who is lying, cheating, and stealing, the worst thing you can do is tell them what you suspect.

    • Cam: This triggered me! Feeling guilty about “spying” on your cheater. While she was out getting naked with unemployed biker dudes and lining her ducks up, I was home trying to decipher our finances that she had handled for decades. And I felt icky!!! When I GPS tracked her cell phone to her fuckbuddy’s daddy’s basement, I felt sneaky!!! Why? It must be a chump trait, not wanting to sink to their level.

      • Let’s reframe: you felt bad because you’re normal and well-adjusted, with morals. Spying isn’t in your regular frame of reference because you like to respect people’s boundaries and autonomy.

        But leave it to a cheater to make you feel bad about being a good person. I hope you’re out of there!

        • I’m out! Divorce is final. I got the house and adult kids while they attend college, she got everything else. I still think I “won” as my kids are close to me and want nothing to do with her. Not the life I wanted. Now I’m dating in my 50’s, it’s like high school again but with wrinkles! Ha ha.

          • Hey As a 50 year old female out there single as well, let me just tell you, don’t sweat the wrinkles. If you are a good man, in reasonably good health and actually single, you are like, the lost city of el Dorado. You are golden man, trust me.

          • Haha I feel like the men enjoy the the dating factor a lot more. Although I think my pool to pick from is a lot slimmer. People who got married in The their early 30’s aren’t divorced yet and the other group are the narcissist playboys who are single at 40 because they will probably never get married. It’s brutal out there! Maybe once I’m in my 50’s there will be more chumps to choose from 😂 *fingers crossed*.

            • You’ll be fine. Find a single professional who has been working on himself and his career and is now ready for love. Whenever I meet a new divorcee my first thought is “was she the chump or the cheater?” I wish there was a simple pee test or something to revel the cheaters. I think scarlet letters were a good idea! Hahaha.

      • Don’t feel one bit bad about what you did to protect yourself.

        One of the key features of cheating is creating an asymmetrical power relationship, where the cheater knows EVERYTHING that is going on and then lies to the chump, overtly or by omission, and uses manipulation and gaslighting to create a false reality.

        What you did was cut through that con job to figure out what was real. Good for you.

        • So true. You find yourself living in an information vacuum. When you finally discover the truth it is like being unplugged from The Matrix. You realize your marriage was one giant head fake. It’s disorienting. The deception and treachery are far worse than the extramarital sex.

          • My own thought is the deception, treachery, and gaslighting are what makes it so hard for some people to leave.

    • Totally laughing at “how do cheaters even function?”

      There have been so many times I have had to do things on the sly even after my divorce (planning a move and having to get attorneys in place) and I couldn’t believe how STRESSFUL it was! It takes a very special kind of sociopath to live that life…

    • Like you I was raised and enculturated to accept interpersonal abuse. I was also never going to be a “quitter”and steeled myself to tolerate whatever was needed. Readjusting yourself to make good decisions after decades of abuse is hard.

      My Cheater wanted to be rid of me without the stigma of being “that guy who ran off” he wanted to be “that poor fellow whose wife threw him out”. Looking back now, I should have done exactly that … I had dozens of good reasons any of which would have sufficed, but I didn’t. Instead he died and I Have had a very complicated grief recovery.

    • If you were going to be happy with her, you would have been so by now.

      People don’t change. You’ll get more of the same. They can vow to change if they are in a corner, but once the crisis passes they revert to type.

      Once she finds out she may beg for counseling, or she may try to destroy your things/reputation. Both are manipulative tactics when you are dealing with a proven liar and cheat. Sorry. Better times are ahead. It will take a few years to get stable and for the smoke to clear. But you will get there.

  • “So then, it’s simply impossible to reach closure with someone who is essentially dishonest. As impossible as reachig the bottom of the ocean with a handful of smoke.”
    Beautifully put Nomar.
    Well done Stuck. Keep coming back to this places, it helps so much.

  • Dude, you’re missing THE essential point: If you have no trust, you have no relationship. What you thought you had was all in your head, and there is zero, nothing, nada to be gained from prolonging the break.

    And this, from CL, is priceless: “Closure is a myth. There’s just time and no contact. Eventually you get to acceptance.”

    Of course, easy for me to say now. I was EXACTLY like you until it became too obvious even for me. But as CL also says, “It gets better.” Go.

  • She’s a bad habit. You have a lot of years invested with her and your identity is bound up with her being at your side.

    But it’s all smoke and mirrors. She’s not at your side. She’s hurting you.

    I’m very sorry that she has hurt you, time and time and TIME AGAIN – but the only way for her to no longer hurt you so badly is to leave. If you’re married, SEE A LAWYER. If you’re living together, it’s a good idea to see a lawyer in case you’ve legally and financially entwined.

    • Agreed. Mine tried the “open marriage” sales pitch after she got caught. She said, “Let’s stay married and see where that takes us”. My reply, “Let’s get divorced and see where that takes us!” It would only have given her more time to spend and hide money and refine her legal strategy. Move quickly!

      • Agreed. ANY warning to a cheater is like giving them another bullet to shoot you with because they missed you the first time.

  • Stuck- I,too, wrote a letter to CL, back in December about feeling stuck in my marriage to a 2x cheater whom I hoped “could change.” I was completely devastated, not wanting to face the reality of the situation and stuck.
    Needless to say, CL and the community here set me straight and have supported me all the through. I also got a great therapist who is helping as well. After my initial letter and the many responses I got, I’ve posted many times to the forum and received so much support there as well. I’m still living with cheater (now 7 months post DDay) but I have told him it’s over, I have a lawyer and I just found an apartment to rent (I asked him to leave but he refused). So teen son and I will hopefully be moving next month.
    It takes a long time, so much courage and the firm belief that you truly deserve better to move on. I will never have closure with the cheater because he isn’t capable of remorse. He blames me for all the reasons why he felt he had/ deserved/ was entitled to cheat. Whatever. I’m moving on from his lies and abuse. Now I’m able to post supportive messages for others and every time I do I get even more persepective on my own situation in some way.
    You can and will do this. You are so very close. And we will be here to support you.

  • I believe as chumps we tend to seek closure from words with our cheaters. We fall into a trap of ascribing value to what it said especially if it mirrors our longing for what we wish we’d hear. But if it is truthful closure that you wish to have, you need only observe the person’s actions -both past and present. That’s all the closure you need to understand how worthless they are to you and your healing.

    • Absolutely NoRainNoFlowers! I couldn’t agree more. How could one ever trust or believe any closure/apologies from the cheater. I know in my situation, the lies were so numerous that i could never trust there to be any truth in his words. Actions will always speak louder than words and when you can’t trust words actions will tell you everything.

      • It was the bizarre comments and the history that I found out…
        When he popped the “ you can’t put my dick in your purse”, there’s no going back
        The. I found out that this had also happened in his first marriage WITH the same lines….
        Made it so clear, still painful, but clear
        I did not leave for lack of love but knowing that there would be no real change
        Just break

  • You deserve better than someone who has abused you for so many years, and I truly hope you leave her for good and find inner peace and freedom.

    I agree with CL; closure is a myth. She won’t give you the closure you want, the only one who can give you closure is your own company. For me, closure meant letting time pass, going no contact, and focusing on therapy and myself… until one day, I came to a place where I healed, and let go.

    Trust therapy, time and yourself. You’re the one pulling yourself out of this every day, you got this! You can do this! We’re here supporting you.

  • Do not look for healing at the feet of those who broke you -Rupi Kaur

    They have nothing for us, they can’t make it better. There is no closure with the disordered. Why give your executioner more bullets to perfect their aim?

    I had some conversations with the X Asshat after his initial abandonment by e-mail (after 28 years married he moved out while I was out of town, future faking me right up to my departure, OW is our daughter’s age). Those talks are simply blaming opportunities for him to declare how awful I was. He made sure I understood that I was 100% of the problem and that our daughters and all of our friends agree. The one doing the spectacular discarding? Innocent. He invented crimes to justify his unbelievably shitty behavior and his words still haunt me as I wonder if he was really right and I am a terrible person and unworthy of anyone.

    Nope, nope, nope. Don’t sign up for the beating. If I knew then what I know now I never would have contacted him at all after receiving that e-mail.

  • Rat~ When you say your whole life has been abuse and you can take it, I UNDERSTAND! Before asshat decided he was done (found a ho-worker that would feed him kibbles), I did the pick me dance of all chumpdom. That included: going to a Dr. and getting bloodwork to find out why I didn’t want to have sex with him (must have been my fault), saying it was ok with me that he smoke pot like a 15 year old, ran home to make dinner before I went to the gym so he would have dinner right when he got home so as not not endure the complaints… the list goes on and on and on and on….

    Truth is this: you cannot get closure from someone who is abusive. They want kibbles. Now my ex wants to “talk”…. to “see where my head’s at”. I am certain this is a ploy to figure out what I’m going to ask for in the divorce. He doesn’t care where my head’s at. He’s not capable.

    Put away your buckets of spackle and close the door yourself. and change the locks.

    • Now my ex wants to “talk”…. to “see where my head’s at”.

      Translation: “I want to SEE the fruits of my hard work and see how desperately you’re in pain so I can feel central again. Dance for me, monkey!”

      You are gonna piss him off SO bad when you don’t respond. Let him ask your lawyer.

      • Oh yes, this. About a month ago, I (in fine chump style), agreed to talk about the finances of the divorce. He came over and we talked a bit. He makes about 4 times what I do. I asked him how he would handle it if I was the one with the high paying job, and he was the one with my salary. He said “I would man-up and figure out how to budget”. In chump style- I didn’t call him on that shit immediately. I ended up crying and telling him how sad all of it makes me. He said “yes, it’s been my biggest failure”.

        When he wanted to talk again “to see where my heads’ at”, I told him I wasn’t comfortable doing that. I should have said that years ago! I will not dance. ever again. (unless the alimony makes me do the happy dance).

        • Good for you. Keep those boundaries strong. There is literally nothing to discuss with him, he’ll just use any info you give him against you. Refer everything to your lawyer. You got this.

          • I agree. He is not asking to speak with you so that everyone walks away with a good settlement. He is asking to see your cards so he knows how to play his. Protect yourself, let your lawyer do the talking.

  • Stuck, I’m doing a little dance of joy for you! You’ve set yourself free! I let him come back because I hadn’t got closure. For 9 months I slid back into wife appliance mode because there was no closure. It took finding my 15 year old son looking at a website on why not to kill yourself, before I kicked him out. I am one of those Not A Quitter people, but I’m now Not A Quitter for ME and my kids.
    Stuck, safe journey through the coming months and happy landings in the land of Meh!

  • She’s not just cheating on you, she’s interviewing for your replacement. The only reason she’s still with you is because she has yet to land a guy with a bigger house, bigger wallet, bigger whatever.

    Mine blindsided me after 3 decades too. By the time I realized what was happening, she was 69 chess moves ahead of me. Money moved, missing financial records, investment accounts changed to her dad’s address, maximum ATM cash withdrawals, embezzled funds from my company, divorce attorney consults, the works. Consider yourself lucky you have had warning – protect yourself and your kids’ inheritance!

  • There is no satisfaction in how you leave…you still go through the pain, sadness, and anger. Regardless how you left…..satisfaction comes from healing, growing, and rebuilding your life over time.

  • Regarding “closure”. Mine began her exit affair the month we dropped our kids off at collage. Was it mid-life crisis? Menopause? Empty-nester syndrome? Succumbed to her FOO destiny? Greed? Bad breath? Did I suck in bed? I’ll never know. Everything out of her mouth is gibberish.
    I’m damaged goods fur sure, but now I realize I don’t need to know, it doesn’t matter. I can’t change it. All that matters is what I chose to do next. Good luck.

  • I’ve been in therapy forever.

    One downside of therapy is talking things to death.

    My suggestion? Stop contemplating your inner walls or blockages or whatever and start planning.

    Where you live: If you own the house or are making mortgage payments, what do you want out of that asset? Was it her house first? Yours? Or purchased together? If you are renting, and your name is on the lease, you will have to pay out your half. Where do you want to live when you leave? Do you have money saved? Have you looked at neighborhoods? Houses vs. apartments vs. condominiums? What will you do for furniture?

    Kids: Custody? Child support?

    Attorney: Do you have one? Do you know if you are likely to face alimony or a division of your pension?

    Finances: Do you have copies of all joint financial documents? Have you run a credit report? Do you have the cash to move?

    The idea of just waltzing out and ghosting someone can backfire if your STBX stops paying rent or the mortgage and your credit is damaged. That’s not a reason to stay put and take abuse. That’s a reason to plan carefully. Maybe you can pay off your 1/2 of a lease. Or file for divorce and get that started before you leave. But you must protect yourself financially. And it will help if you can value your own life more than this letter to CL suggests.

    It doesn’t matter if she’s still cheating or not. What matters is what you are willing to tolerate in your life. Know you’re worth. Anyone can do better than a cheater. A hamster is better than a cheater.

  • My. cheater ( 4 d days and 17yrs of marriage) left me for schmoopie number 4. I was discarded in the blink of an eye and totally ghosted unless the subject on the table was the divorce settlement….then it was charm city, can’t we be best friends.
    I still feel like I left him. I feel this way because even after everything he did, he still had me hooked. There is something about being married one second and discarded the next that makes you (however fucked up it is) cling to the sinking ship…..it’s all you know.
    But even if you got discarded and seriously ghosted like me, there’s still that moment where you leave them. It’s the moment YOU say no more, you reclaim your life, and you start fighting back.
    Indenendence Day.
    Be kind to yourself, don’t beat your self up for the mid steps…learn from them. Take it one thing at a time, don’t get overwhelmed with the enormity of it all. Celebrate every day you keep no contact like it’s another day of sobriety.

    • that is the truth!

      She said she wanted the D, but I left her when came looking for divorce-related anxiety support.

      That moment hurts SO BAD, but it is victorious and one huge step.

  • Hey Stuck! I don’t know how you found this website BUT it is the BEST website on personal development and psychology I’ve ever run across AND going through the different articles has SAVED me a ton of money on therapy! I don’t like to wallow in my misery – I just want answers and advice that makes sense to me so I can move forward.

    CL is not only the smartest advice person on the web she is 100% consistent. She does not mince words, she is direct and to the point. She doesn’t waffle on her message.

    As you get your shit together I encourage you to go through this site every time you doubt yourself or your circumstances. If you think of a phrase or word that gets you “stuck” just go to the bottom and do a word or phrase search and I guarantee you you will find multiple letters and articles on whatever you are thinking or hearing abou from your friends or reading from magazines.

    I also encourage you to develop a personal mantra when your mind starts to wander – this site has many easy ones. My favorite: Trust That They Suck! https://www.chumplady.com/2012/12/trust-that-they-suck/

    Stick with your plan, YOUR plan that will move you forward and away from the bullshit. You got this dude!!! You’re not stuck now – you found the right site 🙂

    • Take it from someone who was pulled back in MANY times, it won’t change and YOU DO NOT DESERVE ABUSE. It is abuse.

      I started to make videos to myself. On the days I felt mighty (and really rational), was free of the hopium high and clear, I would record pep talks to myself for later play. Actually they were more “get your shit together ” talks. I failed at leaving soooo many times cause he would throw a kernel of hope my way and then I would stay. Weeks would pass and I’d be in the same hell. Rinse repeat.

      When I would freak myself out about taking a step toward leaving and “destroying” my family, I would play my self talk. Nothing like seeing yourself talking some sane sense into YOURSELF to bring back perspective. If you can’t listen to the rest of the world, a true least listen to yourself.

  • Ghosting is best. Block them everywhere you can. Tell your friends that you want NO contact, ask them to not pass along “messages”. I know you are waiting for funding, and I get that. Do what you can now to make your disappearance as quick as possible. If you can afford it, start moving small things into a storage unit, or over to a friend’s house. When THE day comes, have a plan that you can enact swiftly. Believe me when I tell you your cheater will be piling on the charm, the love-bombing, doing everything she can to reel you back in. You need to shut that shit down BEFORE she can make use of all the various ways she can to ooze back into your fuckwit-free life.

    I believe cheaters can sniff out chumps like drug-dogs can sniff out cocaine. There is something about us that draws them to us, that lets them know that we are chumps. Perhaps we are too trusting right off the bat? I dunno. Do we have “doormat” emblazoned on us somewhere that only cheaters can see? I’m a three time chump, and I truly need to learn the warning signs of a fuckwit in front of me. Some are obvious, but others are not.

    Chump nation, I would love to hear what you have to say about how to spot a fuckwit.

    • Dark is always drawn to the light.

      We are kind, loving, and loyal. They are NONE of these, and seek to steal our good qualities to cover the absence of their own. They can’t keep up the charade forever though, and when we see them for the empty that they are, they just move on to new shiny.

      Trust that they suck.

    • I could write a book on fuckwit spotting. It’s like The Sixth Sense, only instead of dead people, I can now see narcissists.

      -Inconsistent behavior is a huge red flag. Playing hot/cold, lovebombing you on Wednesday then can’t be arsed to respond to your texts on Saturday, being nice to you then shit talking their ex or the waiter. Normal people are CONSISTENT no matter who they’re dealing with. Inconsistency covers a huge range of toxic behavior, from broken promises to lovebombing.

      -Little white lies. Why do they feel the need to lie about the stupidest shit? What else are they lying about? One guy told me he loved ice cream and then weeks later forgot about his lie and said he hated ice cream. I realized with a chill he was mirroring my likes to impress me. This was on top of repeatedly calling out sick on our dates with obvious lies about where he was. I broke things off and he threw a tantrum. We’d only been on 3 dates! I later learned he stalked women and committed revenge porn on an ex.

      -Related to the above, pay attention to missing reasons and explanations that don’t add up. Why are all their exes crazy? Why did their boss REALLY fire them? Why won’t they introduce you to their friends? Wait, why do they have no friends? Why do their neighbors keep giving you the stink eye? Who won’t their kids talk to them? Why do they hide their phone from you? Why can’t you get a straight answer from them on anything? Why do they answer by trying to distract you or pick a fight?

      (Honest people have reasonable reasons for EVERYTHING, even if they’re embarrassed to tell you. Liars not only lie, but their omissions and half-truths don’t make sense. Listen to your gut and never spackle. Be ruthlessly committed to seeing the truth for what it is.)

      -Rage, charm, and self-pity. I am really leery of people who operate on the latter two. Normal people have their shit together and, even when they face obstacles and tragedies, they deal with it instead of moping to strangers or new acquaintances. A while back, I met a sparkling stranger who was clearly trying to pick me up and told me, within minutes, about his traumatic childhood. I reacted as if I’d just met the devil. I later learned he had a wife, 3 girlfriends, and was a rapist. I was not surprised. At best, he had poor boundaries. At worst, he was trying to lovebomb me, and who does that except a predator?

      -Boundaries. They respect their own boundaries and other people’s. To that end, they take their time getting to know you, respect your time, and don’t try to rush you. See my earlier point about lovebombing.

      -Any hint of vindictiveness or glee at other people’s mistakes or misfortune. You’d think this is obvious, but I’m constantly shocked at how social media mob mentality will cheer on a bully. I have more than once distanced myself from a “nice” person who revealed themselves to be a horrific bully online. Like, you know I can see how you’re treating people, right? That’s all I need to know about you to walk away.

      -Refusal to accept responsibility. Healthy people own their mistakes and are ruthlessly committed to the truth even when it means admitting they fucked up.

      -Refusal to apologize. We all know Marilyn Manson is a piece of shit who blew up his marriage with a teenage mistress, right? But to this day, anytime an interviewer asks what happened, he’ll either blame his ex-wife or say “mistakes were made” (but not by him). Dita von Teese was way too good for that guy.

      -Refusal to apologize, part 2: they not only refuse to apologize, they ignore problems (especially ones they cause) and expect you to pick up where they left off. They are astonished any time someone tries to hold them accountable for anything. History doesn’t mean anything to them.

      -OPTIONAL: their lives can be a real train wreck. Unemployed or underemployed, getting fired, unpaid bills, slob lifestyle fit for a frat house, etc. This isn’t always true, there are some high-functioning narcissists who can hold down a fancy job and a Maserati, so don’t use this as your only barometer of character. But I have noticed a lot of toxic people are truly dysfunctional and can’t wipe their own ass. That’s why they need victims/hostages as makeshift servants.

      I had a girlfriend who was 35 and the CEO of a failing company. Instead of working her butt off to keep the doors open and her employees on the payroll, she was out partying. It’s a Tuesday and here I am finding half-naked party photos of her on Facebook. Meanwhile, I’m getting tired of finding dog shit in her carpets. The place looked like a frat house during the blitz. Who LIVES like this after college??

      I finally ended the friendship after she complained her boyfriend dumped her. Cue ten minutes of me pushing for what happened and her rewriting history. First she blamed her ex, then she admitted she hit him. No, he hadn’t threatened her and no, she hadn’t been defending herself. She was just angry at something he said and instead of handling it like an adult, she hit him.

      Then, when it was clear I wasn’t on her side, she backtracked and said she WAS afraid of him and he DID threaten her and oh, by the way, she’d battered another ex of hers in college. I was shocked, I had no idea. Then when I called her abusive and said she needed help, she threw a tantrum and called me names. I ended the friendship right there. She was astonished and “couldn’t understand why.” Refusal to accept responsibility, historical revisionism, etc. I’m glad her boyfriend ran for the hills. Good for him!

      A year later, no apologies or explanations, she sends me a friend request on social media like nothing happened. I just blocked her with no response. She was a perfect example of all the red flags of an unstable toxic person.

      I find it’s rare for toxic people to hide themselves as well as Ted Bundy. High-functioning predator absolutely do exist. Most times though, I think there’s usually red flags. It’s hard for most people, even sociopaths, to compartmentalize their lives so well that they can hide all their dirt.

      • They respect their own boundaries and other people’s. To that end, they take their time getting to know you, respect your time, and don’t try to rush you. See my earlier point about lovebombing.

        Whoops, I obviously meant this is what HEALTHY people do. Predators do the exact opposite.

      • All of these! And let’s add: finds fault in everybody: the person driving in front of them, your family, their family, the kids, the neighbors, people at work, people at your work, their friends…ooops nope, they don’t have any!

        • +1 to all of this.

          If we had to distill all the red flags down to keep it simple, I’d say watch for:

          -Manipulation
          -Lack of empathy
          -Entitlement

      • This is a wonderful list, thank you. I love specifics.

        One of my biggest red flags is when someone demonstrates reluctance to accept “no” and continues to push boundaries. If someone asks me to do something, for example, and I say no in a kind, polite way, and they still hassle me to do it or act all butthurt — big red flag! I think this is one of the first things these folks look for in a mark — can they convince us to do things even after we’ve said no? If we let them, they know they’ve got a live one.

        This goes hand-in-hand with noticing my own tendency to agree to things I don’t want to do. Even if the requestor in that case is not being pushy or inappropriate, noticing when I override my own internal messages is a reminder to check in with myself about what might be going in my life (tired, lonely, feeling bad about myself, etc.). I owe myself and my wishes as much respect as I do other people’s, even if I don’t have a “good reason” to turn someone down.

        • THIS THIS THIS.

          And you know, honest people will back off EVEN if you say yes (but look uncomfortable). Because they’re not interested in a “yes” that’s clearly under duress.

  • Hey Stuck: do you feel you “owe” it to her to explain why you are “leaving,” in hopes that she “does the right thing” and explains herself to you?

    I was similarly in your shoes a couple of years ago. I kinda felt that by being more “open” to her, she’d see that I was wronged and needed to “do the right thing” and be morally straight w/me. After abusing myself and realizing that she was no longer the person that I thought I knew for almost 20 years, and I quickly made (forced) myself to move on and never expect this “gift” from her that would never come, or at least come genuinely.

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, brother, but she’s not going to do this; you’re asking someone who’s morally corrupt (you decide to that level) to be morally correct in order to support your closure. She’s probably in a bit of damage control, and may find reasons to turn the table and make you look bad. And even if you “forced” her to give her side of the story, what does that do but perhaps make you longingly ask more questions? It’s a bottomless pit to nowhere.

    Individual therapy, group therapy, time w/friends, time alone is the best healer for you now. Get whatever help you need now, because only you can decide when are ready to move on.

  • You deeply love your spouse. You trust them with your life. You would take a bullet for them. Then when they use these very noble traits against you like a weapon, it hollows you out inside. It’s soul sucking. It stops you in your tracks.

    I recently learned there is a third option to the Fight or Flight response. It’s Freeze. You are frozen my friend. Despite all your rage, you are still just a rat in a cage (cool screen name). Time to fight or flee.

    • Flight is imminent. My other favorite music is “Words As Weapons” by Seether. “You’re not the saint that you externalize”. Chump Nation is helping me so much.

      • Have you got proof of her cheating? Phone records, credit card statement, emails etc. Now would be the time to gather these and store them at a friends or family members. Once you split she will move heave and earth to blame you. Any cherished photos or art/books should leave the moment you do.

  • Anyone still in the divorce process should write this in sharpie on your forearm and look at it 100 times a day until you believe it:

    You CANNOT reason with the disordered.

    Communication to a cheater = means to manipulating you. Don’t be tempted. If you feel you must explain something to them, write as brief a note as you can and send it after you’re divorced and NC. Optimally, the note should say, “I divorced you because you are a dishonest asshole.” Sums it up nicely.

      • Yes, although many Cluster Bs can feign empathy, or talk a good story. Be aware of how they actually act toward other people, or during a conflict–do they acknowledge your point of view or get dismissive/petulant?

    • Gawd, this is so true. Every time I tried to reason with the Dickhead, it somehow bounced back to hurt me or became my issue because he couldn’t be the problem. Save your breath and your energy, and use to gain a life.

  • I’ve learned a lot of things about liars, and this has proven time and time again to be true: Liars don’t lie.

    Liars have a tell. This means right before they tell the truth, they set the stage. The liar I was “married” to would say first “You think I _____”, as in: “You think I ____ her.” (Sorry, I can’t type out the word, still too triggering.) Guess what I replied? “No I don’t!!!” And he smirked.

    There are many, many more examples of how the liar I was “married” to would “tell the truth.” Even in regards to closure. Yes. Now I wonder if Liars, too, feel a need for closure, as a type of confession, or coming clean.

    Here is the form of closure I got from Liar in an email: (Remember his tell, in other words, right before he tells the “truth” he says “You think I ____________” and then says exactly what dirty deed he has done or reveals a horrible truth about his character.) “You think I married you for a green card. You think I married you as a front for my secret life.” Next he veered into projection, his other tell: “You are an extremely superficial person, and you are chained to your lower nature.”

    Bingo! Liar provided all the closure I needed. The marriage was a sham from the beginning. He wanted a green card and my good reputation. He confessed to being superficial and having low morals. Closure accomplished. Thank you, next.

  • Thank you for that post.

    I am also waiting for closure with my cheating wife (now perfect of course). I can’t tell you my whole story : that would be too long and I’ve been chumping long enough to spare you that shit but a few phrases…

    I was a poor Chad who married a rich and good-looking (she almost virgin when we “met” at 18) woman with a good education like me. Over years, I was never good enough while being faithful and I think a good person overall, even as a father.

    Yet, 17 years after we met, she had an EA she confessed then …

    3 years later, I found emails indicating it was not potentially an EA (what a surprise), then again…

    3 years later, I found her in his house (3 times caught by GPS) but of course nothing happened (but “handjobs” 6 years ago and quite recent naughty pics) as some dirty emails helped me finally find out Of course, not hers as she was hijacked by a friend who gave her the phone (and is actually a pro counter-hacker) or maybe another coaching guru she was in conflict with (this one accused of rapes).

    I also spare you other anecdotes along this way with other guys trying to pick her but no proof at all in these cases.

    I tried to leave but she attempted suicide and my kids did not react well. I went back one month after that.

    Whatever. My plan has since always been 90% closure when my last kid will be 18+ but I am reconsidering the whole thing to leave earlier than that.
    Maybe a 2 to 5 years window instead of 5-10 years (last kid would be 23 then, studies finished) previously.

    Now, I don’t care that much and just fuck her as I would of a whore (never did one btw). Still, the kids are quite happy and she still thinks we’ll be together till death (I guess I am a good comedian).

    I am not saying this is easy as you can guess, but I’ll try to make it.

    Leaving now would jeopardize my finances (child support) and kids. Thus, I prefer to wait a bit for them and, even though I am still Chad for my age and my finances will be ok when I leave, I just gave up on LTRs once for all.

    • Yep…I hope you can get out as soon as you possibly can. Suicide attempts after THEY cheat and you want to leave is BEYOND manipulative. No it cannot be easy for you. Hoping you find a way out soon.

      • Cam, Urban Dictionary says a Chad, in derogatory slang, is a young urban white man, typically single and in his 20s or early 30s. Never heard that one myself either!

    • Hey Yep —

      I wouldn’t have sex with her. Your goodness will get mixed with her evil. You’ll feel worse. She’ll feel better. She wins. She’s the bad person, and you sex her? You’re worse off. Just sayin. Don’t sex her.

      • I agree, Queen. Sex without love will mess you up. Yep, either the brain chems will get you hooked on her or your heart will harden. She wins there.

    • The correct way to deal with a suicide attempt is to call an ambulance and/or the police if necessary (to break into a locked house or apartment).

      Send them to the premises where the person is. You don’t need to be there, and you don’t need to visit them in hospital later either. Once they get home and are stabilized, you can think about it then.

      ** If the attempt is real, the person gets the immediate help they need.

      ** If the attempt is bogus, I assure you that it will be the very last time they do this to you, especially once the emergency services finish bawling them out.

      If you get involved in these things in any way, you are telling the person “THIS IS HOW YOU GET MY UNDIVIDED ATTENTION.”

      Suicide is actually a highly individual and personal decision. It has nothing to do with you or your behavior, unless you were actually standing over the person, telling them to commit suicide.

      It’s all on them, and it’s NOT your problem, even if they are the parent of your children. Your kids, you can help. Them, not so much.

      • I understand you, Yep, but all of the above are correct. It’s a bad decision, despite your children’s distress, to stay with such a vicious, manipulative cheater. And you aren’t teaching your children nothing good. You teach them:

        1. That you and your children are responsible for her feelings – can be source of major confusion and distress throughout one’s life (talking from my personal example)
        2. You’re priming your children for abusive, manipulative behaviour.
        3. You’re teaching your children that obnoxious behaviour doesn’t have consequences.
        4. You’re teaching your children that if they misbehave, all they need to do is playact and get away with it.
        5. You’re teaching your children that bad behaviour and manipulation pay off (as your wife has you all exactly where she wants).

        You’re forcing yourself into having sex with her – why? Trust that she still cheats.

        Whatever you do or don’t do, please think about what everybody wrote about your situation. If nothing else, please start having conversations with your children over who’s responsible for other people’s feelings, and about consequences of one’s behaviour.

  • Closure

    The dictionary defines as:
    • the act of closing; the state of being closed.
    • a bringing to an end; conclusion.
    • something that closes or shuts.
    • an architectural screen or parapet, especially one standing free between columns or piers.

    One person can do all the above and achieve closure, without any input, agreement or coming to terms with their cheater and/or abuser.

    Even the architectural definition is “one standing free”!

  • Stuck…I agree ‘Ghost’ her. That would be the very best thing that you could do. The disordered hate to be ignored. If she needs to talk then she can talk to her attorney which in turn can talk to YOUR attorney.

    I ghosted an old boyfriend last summer. I hadn’t seen him in 20 years and he found me on Facebook. We went out a few times until I found out that he’s on (hard) drugs and showed up at my house high. Oh hell no. Whereas in the past I might have tried the ‘you need help, blah blah blah’ now I just GHOST!! No explanations necessary. GTFO.

  • CL read my mind, what a timely post. I have been so frustrated working with the Traitor lately I started penning a Why??? letter to him. Putting it in the forum.
    Of course it is pointless trying to talk to these people, it would only be kibbles and more mindfuckery.
    Thank you, Tracy, so timely and so good, as always!

  • So much great help, encouragement, and info in today’s comments as it applies to my timeline.
    Hats off to you who’ve made it to the other side, and hats off to us still pulling ourselves through our martial quicksand!
    Your all great and beautiful people!
    And Tempest, getting that Sharpie now

  • It’s like the cheaters found an additional (terrible) tablet of commandments.

    “Thou shall not give your chump the dignity of; truth. decency or closure”.

  • I wanted closure as well, but the truth is the X will never be truthful, so future conversations will always be suspect. I will never know all the lies and deceits, and I will never truly believe that she is remorseful and contrite no matter what she says.

    What I’ve come to learn is what I know is enough and that it was unacceptable to me. Her previous promises and apologies mean nothing, so why would additional ones in the name of closure be any different?

    Closure is acceptance that they wanted to because they felt entitled to, they did not consider you, and it was unacceptable to you. Closure only requires you.

  • My struggle is dealing with the mind f*ck of him leaving then finding out a week later he was cheating. By then he had told lies to his family and friends and they believed him. I have not heard anything from his family since a month after he moved out and that was 18 months ago. He has never contacted me since he left. I have so many things I want to say but I know it will just be kibbles but it is so hard to get it out of my head. It’s like PTSD recovering from a passive aggressive personality.

    • It is exactly PTSD, and continues for years. There are triggers all the time for me, but it does get so much better. And, no contact from his family is also a blessing. I promise you’re being saved a ton of drama there. Always remember that the people who truly know you and care about will not believe a bad word he is saying about you. All the others…F em. This kind of situation creates a real litmus test for relationships. Anyone in my life who questioned my version of events was cut. Buh bye. My circle got smaller but way stronger. And that is a gift.

  • Dear Stuck,
    Looking back on several relationships in which I was discarded by abusive, dishonest partners, including my husband (now ex-husband) and my last boyfriend, who claimed to be my friend for 30 years but was really just a lying opportunist who discarded me 1.5 years ago for his young work subordinate (now wife) and then forever completely blocked me from his life, I wish that I had left THEM. They didn’t deserve the love I kept on giving in spite of the abuse, disrespect, dishonesty. At least, my relationships might have ended with me retaining some dignity and some sense of agency. Now I feel like just a washed up, worn out doormat (over 50 year old unemployed, chronically injured, divorced mother of young kids) instead of a mighty chump. I wish you the best!

  • Oh gosh, I so understand this. I have been sucked back in because I’m a “chump,” and also because I want “closure.” But she’s right, there is. no. closure. They will use your need for closure to weasel their way back in. I’ve learned this the hard way only to be blindsided again (“ehhh turns out I *do* want the other woman and not you.”). No one deserves this. I read either somewhere here or in the book “No contact is the cornerstone to healing.” I’ve put it on post-its; I’ve written it in the notes on my phone, in my journal, and even on my hand on rougher days. It is true. The more distance you get, the stronger you get. And yes, you deserve better and *not* abuse. Chin up!

  • Oh my Gosh! Did I relate to Ratinacages issues.
    It was a real eye-opener and very scary to realise that I had crazy big beliefs that were lies!
    I had lived my life hi-jacked by the hurt little girl trying to protect me, in-effect leaving me stuck!
    Not trusting that I had my own back. Not trusting myself, not loving myself, not being kind to myself, was leaving me open to more harm.
    Still a way to go, but life is constant learning. I am more self-aware at least, working on changing my beliefs and questioning the way I think.
    I look back and wonder how anyone could tolerate me, the biggest thing is forgiving myself for being broken.
    I really hope other Chumps heal and learn that loving ourselves in a healthy way really is key, so that no matter what kind of manipulative narc etc comes along, that you did nothing to deserve it, broken or not, and you are worth fighting for, to get away from the toxic blood-suckers that won’t change their ways.

  • My only regret is that I didn’t get out earlier.
    Freedom and PEACE! That’s what matters.

    I never wanted to break up my family. Guess what, it was already broken!

    You know the relationship is no longer working and you are thinking of getting out.
    Don’t think! GET OUT NOW…!

  • CL’s right–closure is a myth. Even if you did all the “right” things said in all the “right” ways to properly communicate your thoughts and actions, there won’t be closure. Because disordered people deny, obfuscate, get angry, deflect, etc. It will make you feel worse and probably cause you more trouble. I did the thing–said the right and thoughtful words so my ex could understand. Did not go well and he has spent quite a bit of time now trying his best to punish me with those words–twisting them to use against me. The best thing I ever did after that was give him nothing to work with. Even still, it’s been almost 2 years since I’ve had any substantive communication with my ex and he still tries to use my words against me. Just got an email the other day guised as something relating to our kid that had some gems in it.

    I mean, ghost, don’t ghost, explain, don’t explain. It doesn’t matter as much as just taking practical actions now that protect you and your future and work on the emotional “broken” parts as you go that all us chumps have. And by practical measures I mean extricate yourself from an abusive home environment, protect your assets so that your abuser can’t spend all your money, consult a lawyer (hopefully 1st) to ensure you’re not creating more trouble for yourself, etc. Just do those things and let them speak for you.

    Best of luck

  • Dear Rat in a Cage 3 Times,

    My heart goes out to you. ♥

    I think it’s easy to decide to leave. All the books, all the opinions, all the internal warfare, all the writing it out, and all the reasoning: it all adds up. “I must leave” is the answer every time.

    But we will not have it. We will stay another day.

    Why?

    Because leaving means moving, uncharted territory, into-the-blue, new friends, new landscapes, new headspace, new everything, and we don’t have a clear picture about what that would look like.

    When I left in the past, I had to fall in love with the new stuff and focus on the new me, and just let myself be propelled towards it. Leaving the good stuff behind was too difficult without moving forward to something better. I had to create a plan that excited me! So much that I’d be a little disappointed if things suddenly worked out and I decided to keep the status quo.

    Example: I had to take a difficult test for my career. There was an 8% pass rate. I took the 3-hour test and was the only person in the room at the 1.5 hour mark. How did all those people finish before me? They had all the answers, I reasoned. When I finished, I went to eat and for a walk in the park. Then I slept. The results were posted that evening, but I couldn’t bring myself to look at them. I had no idea what I’d do if I failed.

    So I asked myself, “What would I do if I failed?” Some friends had been asking me to come stay in their guest house in Thailand. I had just been there and seen it, and I told them I’d really like to do that. They said, “Soon!” So I decided that if I failed the test, I’d go to Thailand for a month, study some more, and that would be that.

    I really, really started liking that idea. I’d go to the Night Market in Ching Mai, down to the beach for a while, spend quality time with my friends and learn more about life in Thailand, try to understand the culture a bit, and who knows? Maybe I’d find a place there and stay…

    With this plan I took a look at my grade.

    Passed!

    And with the passing came a bit of a disappointment that I wasn’t going to Thailand after all…

    It seems as though you’ve made the decision to leave, but you don’t have the excitement about where you’ll go. Maybe spend some time on that?

    It’s a thought…

  • I just woke up one day after 3 days of careful thoughts… sadly with a broken heart and shattered soul I left him leaving our family picture on top of his pillow. It was an excruciating pain but I gave him plenty of opportunities to mend his behavior, the gaslighting abused was absolutely devastating, it took me 27 months to recover.
    I will never hate or have negative feelings against him but I just can not look back again to the betrayal and lack of respect he did to our relationship. My heart and soul are on peace now.

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