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Dear Chump Lady, What’s wrong with me?

Dear Chump Lady,

I just bought your book, and I am enjoying it a lot so far. There are parts of the book that I can’t relate to because, I am NOT married. My story is different, I am in a relationship with a cheater. Oh, he has cheated on me so many times and I keep going back to him because he is nice, fun, vegan (like me), knows my son and my son likes him and I am a single mom that doesn’t want to date and obviously doesn’t love herself enough. He has cheated multiple times and gone to therapy while he was still cheating. He is known for his career and so he has that power that a lot of woman want and uses it for his advantage.

Sometimes I think it’s a control thing for me, sometimes I think it’s low self-esteem or maybe codependency or all of the above ? Sometimes I feel empowered if I can hurt him or play the game.

What is wrong with me ?

The unmarried

Dear Unmarried,

Uh…. that you set the bar at “vegan”?

It’s nice to have things in common. But when a shared love of brussel sprouts is eclipsed by shitty character, why cling to the brussel sprouts?

I mean, imagine the guy drowns kittens. And you defend him with, “Yes, but he doesn’t eat kittens.”

Isn’t that kind of dumb? He models terrible things to your son. Hi, watch me disrespect your mother and vanish from your life! He’s manipulative and plays at therapy with zero interest in changing. And he brings out the worst in you. Sometimes I feel empowered if I can hurt him. 

But, but… brussel sprouts?

No. What do you see in a serial cheater? You have a choice — you can be the sort of superficial person who doesn’t care. He’s nice! I don’t have time to date! Or you can be someone with larger values who cares. I don’t like how he treats other people. I don’t like how he treats me.

You can’t be both. Are you the Other Woman in this situation? Are you complicit in his cheating with other women? Is that who you want to be?

He is known for his career and so he has that power that a lot of woman want and uses it for his advantage.

Yuck. Are you dating Harvey Weinstein?

How about being the sort of woman who is known for HER career? Then you don’t need his career to get reflected kibble glory. Ask yourself, are you your own person, or are you a satellite?

An accomplished partner is a beautiful thing, but accomplishments mean jack if they’re eclipsed by rotten character. And one doesn’t tell you anything about the other. You can have beautiful character and not a lot of worldly accomplishments, and you can be The Shit and be a shit.

We are the choices we make.

You define yourself as unmarried twice. Cheating is destructive whatever your relationship status. If you invested, you hurt. Arguably, people who are legally committed have much greater sunk costs, children, mortgages, family, public commitments — but the power dynamics of cheating don’t have much to do with 401Ks. They’re about triangles (rectangles, dodecahedrons… I never tire of this line).

I can’t tell from your letter if you’re dating a player with a harem of pick me dancers, or if you’re the Other Woman and the guy’s doing therapy with his chump wife. Either way, this isn’t a good look. If you think being used or complicit in hurting others is fun, I can’t help you. Anyone with any shred of self-respect won’t tolerate this crap.

My advice — dump the loser. There are a lot more vegans at the group house potluck. Choose better.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • It seems as though you’re measuring your worth based on your marital status which is bad enough. You describe him as nice, fun and vegan. People who cheat aren’t nice. It’s no fun wondering if you’ve contracted a sexually transmitted disease and to be honest I don’t even know why vegan makes the list. That is a head scratcher for me.

    I get the attraction to wanting to part of a couple but why is this okay to you at the expense of your self worth? How did being alone get such a bad wrap? I’ve been divorced for 5 years and alone for that long. It’s not the same as being lonely, which I’m not but I was for a lot of my marriage.

    CL is right. This dude is modeling crap behavior for your son. At the very least dump him for that reason alone. Then try to figure out why you think his behavior is acceptable!

    • As a vegan since the 70s, being vegan IS REALLY important. But it doesn’t trump cheating. However, I’d rather be alone than with a meat eater OR a cheater. Living a cruelty free life includes not wanting to be emotionally abused.

      • ♥️???????? You get the vegan thang 🙂 but yes. Also, how can he be so compassionate towards animals but cruel to me right?

        Thank you. Self respect above all, my new mantra

        • Mine was a vegan too. But a cheater and discarded me in a most horrible way. Being kind to animals is part of their game, this was a question I asked too. Cruel is cruel. He saved his cruelty for me and never addressed his severe mommy issues. Going no contact really is the only way to heal.

          • Thirty year vegetarian here. When ever someone mentions how wonderful it is that I’m so committed to vegetarian ideals, I remind them that *Hitler* was a vegetarian. Loved animals, no respect for other humans. False equivalencies.

            Unmarried, I hope you find the inner strength to drop this guy like a hot rock. No contact may be your best tool for cutting ties once and for all, so he can’t charm you into coming back (meaning: being his booty call). Best of luck to you.

          • Yes! All this Diary of a Yummy Grandmummy. When pursuing a cruelty-free life, include yourself and your loved ones in that commitment. And Unmarried, I get it, I’ve been a vegetarian for 28 years, was one of the easy things in common with my STXB/cheater, but in no way did it soften the daily dread of criticism, isolation, and loneliness that defined our relationship. Move on in joy and confidence; real character, real cruelty-free relationships are out there, but the one you’re in isn’t it.

            • Plus- how do you know he isn’t eating meat when you aren’t there to see it? He’s hooking up with other women when you aren’t there to see it…
              I thought my ex (20 years married) was anti-racist. Turns out that now we are divorced he tells the kids horribly offensive racist shit. At first I couldn’t even believe he would say things that he was so vehemently opposed to. And then I realized it is all one huge image management game to them.

              Whatever you think your cheater is- think again. You will never know the whole story. That is part of the “duping delight”

              So if being with a romantic partner that shares your ideals matters- don’t pick a liar.

        • Seems as if you might be projecting your compassion toward animals onto his veganism. Maybe he chooses to be vegan because of the reaction he gets from others. Maybe his veganism gets you to dance harder for him. Maybe after he cheats on you or his wife (still don’t know his status) he stops for a steak burger.

          So many of us chumps projected our values onto our cheaters, which resulted in accepting affair fog, Naugahyde remorse and unicorns and staying longer than we should have. Please take care to judge him by HIS behavior, and not by the values you think he shares with you.

        • “Also, how can he be so compassionate towards animals but cruel to me right?” Because he’s not actually compassionate. It’s playing at compassion. Pretending. It’s a mask he wears. It’s image management. It doesn’t go deep. A truly compassionate person would not limit their compassion to not eating animals. They would be compassionate towards those closest to them as well. Cheating and disappearing only to come back again are not compassionate. Therefore, he is not compassionate. And so he’s not really compassionate towards animals. His veganism is a cheap costume he wears. I would bet he eats meat when he’s not around you.

          • This!!! ^
            (Wish I’d read this before I commented above because you said it better ????)

        • Dear ‘The Unmarried’,
          He probably eats meat behind your back, too…
          Dump him today.

      • As a person who has followed a vegan diet in different periods of my life, I can tell you that it isn’t always an altruistic motivation that sparks a vegan lifestyle. For me, it was the result of research about nutrition, and discovering how great my body felt when I eliminated animal products from my life. If I was a highly manipulative person, I could have claimed that I was defending animals, and I could revel in the glory of having genuine altruistic people admire me. Heck, if these were the things that motivated me, I could have probably maintained a vegan diet with more consistency.

        • I totally agree with NoThankYou4U. My monster ex can change his beliefs at the drop of the hat if it gets him kibbles.

          • Same, NoThankYou4U. I’m vegan due to health issues, though I care very much for animals too. But health issues turned me to veganism, first and foremost. If I was a manipulative liar, though, I could spin that to be any story. Liars lie.

        • Hah! This resonated with me. I am a vegetarian (for 33 years), but for health and environmental reasons (although I am sad about how cruelly animals are treated in the food industry).
          Cracks me up when people assume that I am some altruistic, kind person because of my dietary choices.
          I am those things, but what I choose to eat is NOT a basis on which to judge my character.
          There are plenty of shitty people who don’t kill animals for food, but treat humans badly.
          And lots of kind people who do eat animals, but are caring towards humans.
          I don’t judge people by what they put in their mouth (although I *may* think they are misguided ????). I try not to judge people at all, but if you treat people with total selfishness and disrespect, you’re crap to me. Regardless of what you put on your plate.

          • We are mostly vegetarian because meat has gotten so expensive. With seven people to feed in our house, we eat a lot of beans, squash and eggplant. Our garden helps with the cost, too.

      • If he’s a cheater, he could also be a liar. That vegan boyfriend could be seeing a burger or two on the side.

        • Oh you guys brought a smile to my face on this challenging day!

          I totally do think it’s part of the face he shows so people believe in his kindness and compassion, when in reality there is no compassion in his heart. I also believe that despite your dietary choices or beliefs, you can be kind or not kind.

          Thank you for every one of the replies. You guys are so awesome!! How did not know about this support system before ??


    • We really need more people to understand the difference between lonely (an emotion) and alone (a physicality). Occassionally i get lonely but then i consider the compromises id need to make to not be. And definitely recall how lonely i was in my loveless marriage. Well i loved, but he was incapable of it. Sex was the only way je knew how to express love. The tantrums when I’d say no weren’t particularly loving. In fact they made me want less sex and less of him. I preferred it if he was out of the house.

      Being alone. We need to take ownership of that. I do and i love it. No more triangles. Boy i dont miss them.

  • “It’s nice to have things in common. But when a shared love of brussel sprouts is eclipsed by shitty character, why cling to the brussel sprouts?” OMG this made me chuckle.

    Yeah either Unmarried is the Other woman, or she has very very low self esteem. Either way, like ChumpLady said. Get out!! She’s not married to this Asshole, her son is not his, so why stay in this dysfunctional relationship. Because he is great at his job?

    Unmarried, please continue to read here, and read the archives. You will read about amazing Chumps here, how they did it on their own. You don’t need this man. Show your son, what a strong Momma can be like. Show your son that a man does not disrespect women like this.

    • Awww thank you! Yes I will keep on reading and actually. Re-read the book!
      Have a blessed day!

    • I wouldn’t be too surprised if the ‘Vegan’ is not actually a vegan. If you are an OW he likely ‘hooked’ you posing as a vegan but he takes his wife out for steak on their anniversary!

    • Please stop reading into her letter that she is “the other woman”. She didn’t write that and I personally don’t want to see a repeat of what happened the other day with Jim.

  • It’s another one of these letters, that until I hear from OP, I don’t know if she’s the OW, or a chump (now volunteer) dating a douchey single person.

    In any case, she knows he’s a cheater, and to me, there’s an issue of being the OW to some unknowing new chump. You know you’re one of the people he fucks around with. Gotta own that choice.

    • And I still, in either case, have sympathy. Fix the picker. Do better. Figure out what your values are. Don’t sell yourself (and your child!) out.

      • Thank you Chunp Lady. I wrote more story at the thread. Thank you for the book and giving me courage to let him go!

        • fix your picker. figure out how you want to live your life and what makes YOU happy and then focus on getting to that happy. .. .. sounds like you need to work on your boundaries. make them stronger and figure out how to keep them strong.

          you ask what is wrong with you, you mention that it is a control thing for you, low self esteem or co dependacy or all 3. So focus on figuring out what it is with the help of counseling. And you probably should not date anyone until you do figure it out. you cant control other people or make them do things or fix them, all you can do is work on yourself and make YOURSELF better.

          you say he is known for his career and has power that he uses against women. is THIS what you want from a partner. is THAT what is important to you, money and power? is THAT the type of man you want your son around, to influence your son by example? do you want your son to care more about money and power then people feelings? Also be prepared for the monster to come out once you start “letting him go”. once he realizes that you are not under his power anymore, he is going to rage and you will see the bad side of him. BE SAFE above all things. keep your son safe. if you are sure that you are going to let him go, think about changing your phone number, maybe move to a new apartment, change your email address.. . block him on social media and facebook. go NO CONTACT. you have zero reasons to talk to him or to listen to the rage, self pity, or manipulations he will throw at you. (3 channels, he will go from being charming (to get you to cave), to self pity or being the victim (to make you feel sorry FOR him) and when those dont work he will get mad and rage/threaten you. (to scare you).. … wasband has done all 3 in a single conversations, switching channel randomly to whatever he thinks will work for him. Be prepared…

          Good luck to you and your son

  • Why would you stay with a cheater ?
    You are not married to him as far as I can see he is not the father of your child so why would you stay ?
    Run and run far away you have no legal commitment to him you are free you just need to believe that .

    • He is everything any girl would want except he cheats. I know, dumb excuse. My son doesn’t know his dad and cheater is the only guy he has known and loves him . He is kind with the community and “strong” spiritual man. All lies right. ? I guess confuses me because I always want to believe he will change or he has changed.

      Thank you for your reply.

      • Im reading a lot of judge-filled commentary here and that makes me sad. If she’s the OW, I get it, but if not, how about we have some compassion for The Unmarried? She suffers from trauma bonding like we all did and it’s HELL to try and recover from. I was blindsided by my cheater discard after 28 years of what I thought was a happy marriage. I divorced him but the trauma bonding is still a fresh wound. Lets be kind.

        • You’re right Grandmummy, just remember that CL regularly gets emails from OW looking for sympathy so CN is a understandingly wary.

          My advice to Unmarried —RUN don’t walk RUN from this guy !!
          Please read the archives and stories of people who had long term relationships/marriages to disordered serial cheaters. Hint that movie NEVER ends well and at the end you are devastated emotionally, mentally, financially and sometime physically.

          There are many nice SINGLE guys out there who would be faithful to you and a good Dad to your son — go find one and dump this loser. If you don’t there will be nothing but heart break in store for you.

      • I totally understand my STBXH is everything I ever wanted . He has a good job a close family and seemed a really great guy except he is a cheater . That is my red line he knows it I know it and there is no changing that .
        I wish you and your son all the very best no matter what you decide but know if you have the courage to leave you and your son can be happy without a cheater . I send you my best wishes with what ever you decide

      • He wouldn’t be what I would want because his character is poor. He’s a liar. Not trustworthy.

  • If/ when he gives you STD, will you still think how nice, fun and vegan he is?

    I know that too many chumps were given STDS by their cheating partners. I’m interested – when you found out about STD (herpes, cancer, the need for hysterectomy etc.) did your feelings radically change? Or you continued to find excuses for the cheater?

    I’m asking because I recently read about a woman who was so in love with her cheating husband that she tolerated everything until he gave her HIV. I’m interested what happens with people’s feelings in such cases.

    • Eeeeek. I rebuke that!
      I left him this Monday and for sure get tested.

      Thank you!

    • Persephone, the “staying” with an abuser of any type isn’t about feelings or rational decisions (obviously). It’s about trauma bonds: the fact that anyone would stay with an abuser of any kind is proof that there is psychological injury causing the victim to stay and act irrationally. Someone here circulated a link to Patrick Cairn’s book Betrayal Bonds and it describes the phenomenon well. There is a lot of literature and research about why victims of traditional DV return again and again. It’s the effect of the abuse.

      • ???? I can attest to how powerful a trauma bond can be. It can, however, be broken. Instead of looking to the very person who abused you for comfort about the resulting trauma, you can turn to a therapist for help, enlist support from friends, family and other people who have been through it. There are support groups, for example, and of course, there is CN.

        • I agree that these trauma bonds can be broken and for those of us at Meh, this has happened to a greater extent than before Meh. Interestingly, the literature suggests that no contact is the key to accelerating the recovery and release of these psychological bonds/wounds.

          • So I’ve heard, and that is my intention. Right now I am fixing our house up to sell so I have to talk to the jerk and even work with him on the house, since we can’t afford to contract out all the work. I’m looking foward to NC when this is done. The SOB never stopped being emotionally abusive to me, So I am grey-rocking it for now.

      • Carnes the hypocrite? The first self diagnosed “sex addict”? The one who’s ORIGINAL model blamed the spouse for her husband’s “sex addiction” and labeled her a “CO-ADDICT”? The one who’s made millions from blame-shifting and KEEPING spouses in abusive relationships by promoting and teaching the axioms “don’t tell anyone they won’t understand” and “don’t make any major decisions for a year.” THAT Patrick Carnes???

        While I believe in the theory of trauma bonding having lived it myself, I also when through the mind-fucking experience of “sex addiction” therapy for spouses.

        Patrick Carnes, master of the sex addiction branch of the RIC, along with Ester Perel, should never be a resource for a chump.

        • Yep that Patrick Carnes. He makes me sick. His concern is the betrayal bonds of the CHEATER aka sex “addict”.

          Trauma Bonds
          Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D., CAS
          Abandonment and trauma are at the core of addictions. Abandonment causes
          deep shame. Abandonment by betrayal is worse than mindless neglect.
          Betrayal is purposeful and self-serving. If severe enough, it is traumatic. What
          moves betrayal into the realm of trauma is fear and terror. If the wound is deep
          enough and the terror big enough, the body alters. The system elevates into an
          alarm state, never safe. Waiting for the hurt again. In that state of readiness
          the client doesn’t notice that part of them has died. The client is grieving.
          Like everyone who has loss, the clients have shock and disbelief, fear,
          loneliness, and sadness.

          The “client” he is referring to is a sex addict. He is for real saying that the issue is trauma to the cheater which causes the cheating. The circular reasoning boggles my mind. That is some superior blame shifting and gas lighting there. Dude probably wrote the cheater handbook they all play from.

          • I haven’t read this guy’s crap, but he probably means early life trauma, not trauma caused by the chump. If so, he’s not blaming the chump, it’s just the ever-popular FOO excuse the RIC peddles.
            So yeah, he’s obviously full of shit.

            • I read a lot of Carnes’ stuff during ex’s “sex addiction” phase. He found that having a model that assigns the partner a share of the blame is the only way to achieve the therapy trifecta: “addict,” partner and couple.

  • “I am a single mom that doesn’t want to date and obviously doesn’t love herself enough.”

    I think it might be worth investing some time with close friends and / or in therapy to uncover why being in a relationship with a cheater is better than being single.

    If you don’t want to date – don’t date. But being single OR dating is infinitely better than being with someone who repeatedly betrays you, lies to you, exposes you to disease and clearly doesn’t respect you.

    You say you don’t love yourself enough. Start by getting rid of the person who loves you even less than that. You can’t build yourself up by being with someone whose behaviour brings you down.

    • Loved the last paragraph. I appreciate your time replying

      Thank you!

      • Why do I feel like Unmarried is the Other Woman? If you are not, state it. No comment? Well then.

    • Amen, FridayGirl. I was engaged to my cheater for nearly 12 years. When it was good, it was good; when it was bad, it was unspeakable. I couldn’t believe I allowed myself to get into this situation.

      Time heals. Fast forward to a year later. I feel like me again. The daily drama is gone. So is he and his howorker.

  • When you say you don’t want to date, does that mean you’re looking for a casual relationship? A FWB or a fuckbuddy?

    Because there are people out there looking for the same thing who are capable of doing it honestly and respectfully.

    But what are your expectations really? Most people don’t expect monogamy unless they’re at least dating. If you want a monogamous FWB, you’re going to have to be up front about it being a firm boundary and expectation.

    You get to set boundaries and expectations. No matter how casual the relationship is. You don’t have to accept cheating as a trade off for keeping it casual.

    • I explained this on the last reply but I’ve had couple bad relationships in the past and it’s very very hard for me to open up. I don’t have the energy or time to want to meet someone “new” so I fall back to this asshole. Didn’t help I lived with him and that he is very attached to my son.

      Thank you for your reply ????????????????

      • I felt the same with my asshole, but I was lucky, he left me for ow. Recently, I met someone new. It wasn’t as hard as I thought and actually required less energy than being with a jerk! I had some time alone and went to counselling. It helped me become stronger, redefined my worth. I’m sure that if you take some time for yourself, you’ll figure out that you are stronger than you think.
        Nice, fun and vegan are superficial qualities, I remember thinking about my ex and missing him for superficial stuff like that because he had no depth.

  • The child in this situation is in terrible emotional danger.

    Of course the child likes the cheater — the cheater WOULD make sure to be liked by the child. Part of the image management.

    It’s only one of many reasons to discard the relationship, but it’s nearest to my heart of all — this child needs for this relationship to end and for all of this chump’s future relationships to be stable and functional.

    People usually become vegan because they want to avoid harming creatures, at least in part. This child deserves at least that much compassion and care.

    • I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s only vegan around her. Guys who are like this will say anything to get in your pants and, frankly, women like this will believe anything if it’s what they want to hear.

      • Yessss. I wonder this myself. I sometimes think he just has a double life, period. Thank you for your time.

        • As a vegetarian since 1989 and vegan for the past 15 or so years, I’d wonder what his story is behind going veg/vegan. Most truly vegan people have a story of what caused them to turn away from the meat/dairy/seafood industries. Mine was being in an AP English class in high school and I chose to write on the use of animals (specifically monkeys) in medical studies – animal testing. That knowledge led me to learning about the meat and dairy industries, which are horrific torture facilities. A few years later, I learned of the awful practices in the seafood industry, and went full-on vegan from there. Recently, a few family members went total vegan for health only reasons, stepdad had a heart attack and mom wanted to lose weight and avoid health problems related to meat/dairy. I do know a few people who were temporary vegans b’c they thought it was “cool” or were with someone who was vegan, they returned to meat after the breakup.

          *Most* people who change their eating habits, religion, political views, etc have a strong story behind the decision. Next time you’re infatuated with someone for being vegan, ask them why and it’ll be pretty telling if they’re in it for the image OR in it for real.

          Best to you, Unmarried! You and your kiddo deserve way better than this player!

      • My cheater XH changed his persona with every new woman. He was vegetarian when he was with me. After I left him he immediately went back to his old ways. Yep – it was probably always a double life!

      • My STBXH hates seafood. Everyone who knows him will attest to that. My cultural background if very seafood oriented, and he would struggle with all the seafood served at special occasions with my family. At best, he would tolerate some salmon or shrimp.

        Now he’s with the OW, whom I heard had been a vegan, but I guess now she does seafood. I don’t understand her life philosophy as she’s known to spew “all natural” lifestyle (inner chi, meditate, essential oils, etc), yet she wears tons of make-up and got breast implants after the birth of her third child.

        Anyways, my kids now talk about how daddy buys seafood but they never get it for dinner (of course not, it’s not meant for you), and recently I had someone tell me that they saw him at one of those seafood places where you eat off the table from the pile placed in the centre (all the crab, lobster, etc.). Fifteen years I was with this man, travelling to coastal countries, and there would never be a time he would have ever agreed to this.

        But now, I guess he eats seafood, and consults with psychics with her, and uses essential oils. The same man who mocked my visits to the naturopathic doctor. That same man, who when he would have to cook a meal, rarely respected my dietary restrictions (sensitivity to eggs and cow’s milk). The same man who prided himself on the BBQ as he did up his steaks and ribs, and felt triumph years ago when he finally got me eating prime rib occasionally.

        What does it feel like to never truly be yourself?

  • “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” —Michelangelo

    You don’t need a man.
    You need therapy to figure out why you’re aiming so low.
    You can be unattached & happy too. I promise you that’s a better option than what you’re living with a cheater in your life.
    Aim higher!!!

      • You are stronger than you think you are. Everyone has their time & hopefully this is your time to put yourself first. You did the first step in breaking up. Don’t slide back.
        Get support from friends/family/
        CN-use the forums. Stay busy doing other things.
        We are here to support you. Wishing you the best for you & your child.

      • If you REALLY want to help your son heal from this bonding with a cheater? Somehow get the cheater on video eating meat. That way cheater won’t be able to gaslight your son about how much he ‘loves’ you, is ‘working hard in therapy’ etc. Your son will see that cheaters will stop at nothing to con everyone.

  • It doesn’t matter if your married or live together, cheating is cheating people still get hurt.
    I don’t know if why you stay or are with him, he’s cheated several times, but your son could be affected by this, children see this behaviour and importantly how it affects you.
    Your teaching him how to treat other people.
    Was his with someone else when you got together, as you seem to accept the situation,
    It seems weird that you mention cheating but then say your both vegans, it sounds a bit odd, I hope this is a real post.
    You deserve better if you are a ow you need to think why you treat yourself so bad.
    Nobody else but yourself can make you happy.

  • I think we sometimes confuse personality with character. People with amazing charisma can have rotten character and sometimes there are people without buckets if charm who have solid character.

    • I agree. Totally in this case. He helps the community, helps kids in need, fights for animal rights but very shitty with me 🙁

      Thank you!

      • This is common with narcissists. He does those things for impression management. He just wants a good public image. But behind closed doors, the monster behind the mask comes out. I’m sorry you got manipulated by a narc, but you know who he really is now.

      • This pattern is so common with narcissists, especially covert ones. Mine used to volunteer at senior assisted-care facilities, as well as serve as a mentor to folks in his field who were underrepresented. He was so invested in his “nice guy” image that when we began the divorce process–and even now, years later–it drove him absolutely crazy when I stopped buying his schtick.

  • I find that lately I have less and less tolerance for people who know they are living in dysfunctional relationships and yet do nothing about it.

    What do you want from us? You know the answers and what you need to do, so do it and quit thinking of ways to justify your screwed up noggin.

    Come back when you decide you’re no longer content with your fucked up life.

    • And yeah, your kid. You’re showing him a really shitty example. Stop it.

    • WORD UP.

      I have a sorta-friend who is in . . . maybe not this bad a relationship, but she calls periodically to whine about how she doesn’t trust him and they fight all the time but THEY ARE SO IN LOVE.

      SO WHAT.

      Being in love means squat if everything else is in shambles. They’re terrible to each other. Also: Nobody ever said you had to act on being in love with somebody. Being in love is an adrenaline rush but it’s pretty meaningless in and of itself. It’s entirely possible to be in love with somebody but realize that you’re awful together, walk away, and wait for the stupid brain chemistry to burn itself out. I’ve been there.

      • Yessss. Waiting for this brain chemistry to get fixed :). Thank you.

    • If maybe I was as strong as you, right ?

      Maybe be more compassionate and maybe I didn’t share more details of the story

      I have been to counseling and endless talks with my pastor. Read books and listen to talks. I was here for support and maybe tips, but you can’t always please everybody, right?

      Thanks for your time.

      • And now we are on the sad sausage channel.

        Typical for a cheater, or the OW.

        Moving along then… I don’t have time for this crap

      • What often happens is that people know what they need to know but those around them discourage them (why would you leave him, who’ll want you with a child, he’s charming, fun and vegan, does so much for everybody else …) So they aren’t only gas lighted by their cheater but people around them as well. They rationally know what to do but are discouraged by other (who are mostly unable to look below the surface and/ or don’t know the situation well). That’s why it’s good to hear contrary voices as well and I hope you’ll get enough encouragementioned to do what you know you need to do, Unmarried. All the best!

    • Why not be kind? We have all travelled this path and we needed someone to be compassionate, not cruel. Unless she’s the OW and is playing chumpnation for attention, let’s help her, not throw stones.

      • Awww thank you! This very short statement gave me tears. Maybe just one of those hard days today. ♥️♥️????????

      • Yummy I agree. I don’t understand the intensity of the negative feedback. I’m years out now from the divorce but was a mess for a long time. I cringe when I think about the contortions I made to not take action. This was before CL and maybe a I needed kindness and compassion or maybe I needed a 2×4 of tough love telling me how it is CL style – but one thing I know what didn’t feel good was condescension.

        Hang in there The Unmarried and take the advice that makes sense to you. You are reaching out so it sounds like you are ready.

    • “I find that lately I have less and less tolerance for people who know they are living in dysfunctional relationships and yet do nothing about it.”

      I think that would describe 99.9% of us chumps here before we got the courage to leave, which this site has played such a crucial role in supporting us in finally doing, often after multiple attempts at pick-me dancing while searching for our unicorns. The OP deserves compassion, as well as a break.

  • Dump him right now! You and your child deserve more. Better off without a partner than a shitty cheating coward.

  • So if a guy has 6 girlfriends and they all think they are THE girlfriend does that make them all OW’s to each other? In cases like this it is difficult to tell who is the primary and who is the sidepiece unless he’s married to one of them or lives with one of them. In this case, it doesn’t sound like the guy is particularly committed to any of them so I am not sure anybody can really be called an OW.

    • *raises her hand* Oooh, I know! I know! Honestly, most of us are chumps-in-arms. The Primary, hah!

      Was it me, the Wife? Was it the girl he is completely obsessed over now? Is it the “ex-fiancee” who he loudly proclaimed was his True Love all over Facebook? Was it the crazy stalker who was determined to be Last Girl Standing? The Craigslist girls who were “only emotional support”?

      None of them! There is no “Primary”, only oceans and oceans of Cake. Who knew about who? Ooh, would there be cat fights? Which Special gets the Crown and which get the Consolation Prize?

      Fortunately, we all had a choice in this, too. Run far, run fast.

      • My head is spinning watching that juggling act. “Not my circus,not my monkeys”-best CL quote evah !

    • I was living with him. I put a little more story at the end of the thread. Thank you for your reply ⭐️

    • Is it important who’s primary and who’s a side piece in such situation? I’d think not. Unless you’re a swinger or in an open relationship.

      • Certainly it makes no difference. No matter what all of the various girls know or don’t know about the others, he’s still an asshole who is deliberately lying to and hiding things from at least one woman.

  • You’re modeling unsafe behavior for your son. Do you want him to decide that cheating and treating people like crap is okay? That Mom was cool with it happening to her (and by extension to her son) when someone she feels attached to just bails?

    If you need a body in the bed, try a body pillow.

    Remember – you need to be the Sane Parent. So get cracking on that project.

    I am sorry that Mr. Vegan Cheaterpants is cheating on you/with you. Put an end to that for your own sake and safety.

  • Let me guess: Not Being Single is really important to you. Like, really, really, important.

    I’m single but . . . eh, who cares. That just means I’m available if I meet somebody nice and that in the meantime I’m free to do whatever the Hell I want, my way, on my own timetable. But I’m not Single. It’s not part of my identity. It seems to be part of your identity, which is never a good perspective and has led many people to make bad decisions. Right now, it seems like you’re willing to be treated badly, to indulge your worst inclinations, and to bring someone into your life who is a terrible example for your child, just so you’ll be Not Single.

    You are choosing this jerk, and your worst self, over your kid.

    So . . . what is your deal? Are you that desperate not to be alone with yourself? Do you not know who you are without a man? Are you looking for an excuse to be vicious to somebody? Are you just as invested as all those other women in this guy’s status? This is not going to be fun, but it’s well past time to look in the mirror and ask yourself some very uncomfortable questions.

    • I replied at the end of this with a little more information on this.

      ???????? Thank you!

  • Well, I have a number of thoughts. And questions. First, is he “cheating”? First, if he’s married, he’s not cheating on you.He’s cheating with you. If he’s not married, and he’s seeing other women, then he’s made it Abundantly clear that he doesn’t want a commitment. If he’s pretending he does, then, he’s lying. If that’s the case, you have a opportunistic, fuck buddy who’s more than happy to take advantage of you, your desire for an exclusive relationship, your dedication, availability, etc. While maintaining his commitment to the whims of his dick. Unfortunately, you decieve yourself when you think you can beat him at his game. Sweet, sweet kibbles for his narc ass. Please wise up and be honest with yourself. Eat brussel sprouts and let him eat cake.
    After years of narc abuse, and two bad marriages, years of dating emotionally unavailable men, I haven’t even had to fix my picker.I just took the batteries out of it and put them iny vibrator. I’ve been single for years, and honestly love it. I’m sixty. My life rocks. By Golly, I Rock.
    Good luck. You might want to Google trauma bonds.

  • Awww. Thank you guys for your replies and chump lady for creating this safe space for us!!!

    I am the “main” one, so I have girls coming up to me or reaching me on IG telling me stories about the hookups, he tells me a sob story and makes all these promises and then I “forgive him” and I go back to him. He reaches out to them and gives me “my place” telling them they are nothing to him.

    I live with him and he wants to be married, of course I’ve been pushing the commitment. I am beginning to think it’s a sex addition and I “have” to help him.

    My son’s father isn’t around and this is the only man he has know and they have a great relationship. He is a very very involved “step-dad”. It’s hard for me to remove the only person he has known as “dad” in his life. The affairs are always so secretive and my crying I do in silence and I don’t believe my son has an idea of what’s happening. And you are right @amiisfree I think he uses the child or helps me financially with the child to stay “in” my life

    When I say I don’t want to date, is because I’ve had very challenging relationships in the past and it is very hard for me to open up and it’s hard to find the time or bring someone new into my sons life.

    I broke up with him this past Monday, I am just praying for strength to run back to him. I am also starting therapy as I know is an un-healthy bondage I have with him.

    Thank you again!!!

    • ” and he wants to be married, ”

      No, he doesn’t. Or, at least, he does only so far as it will keep you with him. It will not make one iota of difference in your relationship because I promise you he will keep on keeping on with as many women as will pay him attention. He’s using this to keep you on the hook.

      “When I say I don’t want to date, is because I’ve had very challenging relationships in the past and it is very hard for me to open up and it’s hard to find the time or bring someone new into my sons life. ”

      You opened up and he treated you like dirt! And your son would be better off with nobody than with this turd! Trust us all on this one: It is far better to be single than to waste time on someone who doesn’t respect you.

      I read somewhere that a lot of people stay in relationships to avoid the miserable feelings you get just after you break up. And they suck. They suck hard. But they won’t kill you. Distract yourself with anything else (except men) that it takes to get you through this, one day at a time: Do stuff with your son, go to the zoo, read, jog, enlist all your girlfriends to dangle shiny coffee breaks and window shopping in front of you, whatever.

      • Yes. Totally agree! Can’t deny that I’ve had very sucky two days, but I am hoping for the light soon

        Thank you!

        • you wont see the light if you keep going back to the man who keeps you in the dark.

          you cant clear your mind if you continue to talk to the person who keeps fucking with your mind. .

          you cant heal if you keep holding on to the thing(man) that is hurting you. ..

          you cant over come this and move forward if you keep going back.

    • Way to go Unmarried. Keep strong with those good choices. And thank you for reminding me of the rationalizations I made about STBXW…she loves puppies and babies, she contributes to charity, she makes meals for an old person, and once in a while she gave me pats on the head…so she must really have empathy and not be a nark, right?

      She also mirrors people she wants to impress. For instance her body language mimics theirs, and she chimes in complete agreement with their values, attitudes, and beliefs. If she were stalking you, she would also be a vegan around you, while feasting on roadkill on the side.

      • Wow 🙁 yup! Exactly.
        Sorry you had to go that too!
        Thanks for the reply ratinacage!

    • Aw, Honey. You weren’t hiding it from your son. He knew something was wrong even if he didn’t know exactly what it was. Kids know more than we think.

      You’ve done a great job ending it. Now keep on going down this path. It’ll be hard at first, but every day away from the cheater is a victory. I STRONGLY suggest that you go no contact with him. You weren’t married and he is not the father of your son. He is not even the step-father of your son.

      You ex is a man who lies and cheats. He is NOT a good person. You do not want your son to emulate this jerk. Keep him away.

      • Thank you!!!!! You are absolutely right. Last time I pushed him away, he guilt me so bad about how I pushed him away from my son and the hurt that I caused him ????

        I am staying strong! I HAVE to

        • Block him on all your phones and social media so that he can’t reach out and “guilt” you.

    • Hi TheUnmarried–

      Thank you for taking the time out to respond.

      Here is an absolutely key part of your response: I live with him and he wants to be married, of course I’ve been pushing the commitment. I am beginning to think it’s a sex addition and I “have” to help him.

      Look, if he wanted to commit, he’d have committed. However, he’s fucking other women. That’s a message both to you and to HIMSELF that he’s not interested in truly committing. If he wanted to commit, he’d have proposed AND he would see himself in an exclusive relationship with YOU.

      That’s not what’s happened. Instead, he has you as a kind of live-in vibrator. You’re not quite a Wife Appliance, but you’re functioning as such. You and your son serve as a kind of Insta-Family.

      Now that you’ve broken up with him, stay broken up! Book an appointment with a therapist who has experience in trauma bonding and relationship issues. If you work on yourself, you can find your inner strength and confidence. You can fix your picker so that you know your own self worth and that you are worthy of someone who WILL commit, not merely tell you that they want to commit but actually want a bunch of side-pieces.

      Insofar as your son is concerned? You don’t say how old he is, but he could benefit from therapy, too. Your current Cheater is sometimes present/sometimes absent. A parent figure should be a model of stability and caring, so even if Cheater is nice to your son when the Cheater happens to be around, that’s still not a great role model.

      Talk to your son openly and honestly in an age-appropriate way. Explain that you and Cheater were dating because you thought that you’d be getting married, but when people talk about marriage, they don’t date other people and you discovered that Cheater was dating other women. This means you won’t be marrying Cheater so you won’t be marrying him. You know your son will be sad, but things will get better.

      Once you focus on healing yourself, you’ll feel less pressure to be part of a couple and find it easier to set and maintain boundaries. At that point, you’ll be in a much better emotional place to date (if you want to) and be choosier about the relationships in which you’ve entered.

      Good luck!

      • I agree about the whole marriage/commitment thing. If the cheater is a narcissist, he has no ability to commit to anyone but himself. If they marry, it is only to take their primary victim off the market. This one hadn’t found that necessary yet, as he had all of the benefits of marriage already.

        Unmarried, do not be surprised if the cheater circles back with a marriage proposal when he realizes you have flown the coop. Be strong, and understand that a ring won’t change his behavior.

        Good luck to you.

    • “I broke up with him this past Monday, I am just praying for strength to run back to him” Did you mean to say “strenght NOT to run back to him”? If you broke up with him this past Monday, and you havc been living with him, do you mean you just made him move out?

      Regarding your son… I have four children, all different ages. I’ve been alone for years now, but once upon a time, I too thought they had no idea of anything, and in protecting the cheater, hiding my pain, I was protecting them. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I promise you, at the very least, your son knows you are in pain. He will remember you crying behind closed doors. You don’t say how old he is but it doesn’t matter. Every day you stay in this sham of a relationship is another day older and wiser that your son is. Whatever his current understanding of the situation is, it will only deepen and become more impactful as the months turn into years, if you let them. You are being a fool with this cheating piece of shit man for sure, but a much greater fool with your son, if you think you can or should keep huge hideous secrets from him. You can’t, and you shouldn’t try.

      “I am beginning to think it’s a sex addition and I “have” to help him.” WTF? No. Help your Damn Self.

      • I agree. Thank you.

        I lived in his house, so I am moving out. Thankfully he travels for work so he is not around and can’t “stop” me and I have a week to move out.
        Yes, praying not to go back to him.

        • There are going to be times when your heart will ache, you will think, maybe it wasn’t that bad……IT IS WAS THAT BAD! Rally your troops, journal, scream at a tree, whatever it takes not to go back.

          Lookup personality disorders, trauma bonds, etc. I promise you it will get better. It takes hard work but in the end it will be all worth it. I wish you peace.

        • The Unmarried, I did it that way. Moved out while he wasn’t here. A fait accompli is easier for you to manage. And I made the mistake of keeping in contact because our youngest son was only 13 at the time. I realised after 18 months of his spasmodic email and text abuse that a shared calendar was all the communication I needed and blocked him on phone and email. However, you do not have to do custody visits or anything else, you are home free once you are gone from his house. No contact is the best thing. Better for you and your child to tell him the age-appropriate truth and explain why you won’t be seeing this guy again and neither will he. When he gets that this guy was hurting his mum he will be protective of you if my experience is anything to go by. I tried to hide the truth from my youngest son (because our marriage began to disintegrate when I became pregnant with my youngest, and my husband was furious and wanted me to have an abortion, and remained angry, increasingly abusive and vengeful for the next 13 years after I refused). When I told my son, he just hugged me and said “now I understand”.

    • It’s not a sex addiction. It’s a power addiction. Sex with a lot of women makes him feel a rush of power. So does abusing you by rubbing your face in his cheating and manipulating you into staying so he can continue his abuse. Your son is much better off without a step-dad who uses and abuses women. If you think he hasn’t picked up on this asshole’s contempt for you, you’d be wrong. He is learning how to be a man from a predatory, misogynistic turd. I’m sure you don’t want him to follow in *those* footsteps. Please keep strong and cut this jerk out of both you and your son’s lives. Model the right values for your boy by refusing to tolerate disrespect and abuse. Keeping coming back here for encouragement as you start your new life. Eventually, you will find somebody who will be the good role your son needs, if you fix your picker. At a minimum, stay away from guys who are blatantly, unapologetically narcissistic and selfish like the clown you are with. There are good guys out there, and a good guy will appreciate what you have to offer. So why settle for trash?

      • Sorry, I meant to say “the good role model your son needs”.

      • You are absolutely right. Thank you for the words of encouragement!!!

    • Quick note from this therapist: Sex addiction is not a thing. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a thing.


      • No empirical research to back it up. Failed to get into the DSM again. Doesn’t exist in the lower socioeconomic communities that can’t afford therapy. Yup. Not a thing.

      • Yup. Exactly what I’ve commented before but some people insist it’s real.

      • “Sex addiction” is a cue for a codependent to fire up the “let me waste my life trying to save you” mode.

    • Sex addictions do exist but are rare. But let’s say he’s a sex addict. You still don’t need to tolerate it as you don’t need to tolerate having your teeth knocked out by somebody who’s addicted to alcohol, poor guy. If people have addictions but don’t get treatment or get treated for them you have every right to leave.

      Also, if he’s a sex addict you’re in great danger re STDS because these guys and gals who really have sex addiction just have a compulsion to have sex with whoever. Not only they don’t care who they have sex with and where, they also don’t think about protection.

      Most cheater don’t have sex addiction,they just suck.

      • Nobody ever died from lack of sex but alcoholics or drug addicts going cold turkey without medical supervision sure can.

    • “I live with him”

      Yeah. Stop that. Get your own place. I don’t care if it’s a bolt hole and he lives in a sumptuous palace you need your own space! Don’t have a job? GET ONE. Job pays crap? GET TRAINING AND GET A RAISE. Please.

      “and he wants to be married,”

      I dispute that or if he wants to be married, it’s all about image management

      “of course I’ve been pushing the commitment.”

      Why is this an ‘of course’? You are a fully capable adult human being. He hasn’t committed to anyone but himself. If he wants to be married, he can say yes when you ask, or ask you himself. Say no though. He’s not who or what you want him to be.

      “I am beginning to think it’s a sex addition and I “have” to help him.”

      NONONONONONONO! Please don’t sell yourself short or jeopardize your son’s life and future. It’s not “sex addiction” is a fucked-up character. He is NOT a fixer-upper. He is a jerk and very likely an abuser.

      Have you ever read Dr. Karpman’s Drama Triangle? Please do so. You are not a victim. He is not a victim. Get off the merry-go-round ride from hell now.

      • Thank you! Never heard of it. Will look for it. ????????????????????????????????

    • Good for you for breaking up with him! That was mighty. The fastest way to healing is no contact.

      I know it feels very hard to take him out of your son’s life, but you’re saving your son from having dysfunction and disrespect modeling to him. He’ll probably be upset, but he’d be upset if you pushed him off a busy highway toward safety. Mothering is making hard decisions for the Greater Good.

      Getting this toxic guy out of your life is good for you and it’s good for your son. Short term pain, long term gain.

      Thank you for clarifying your situation. (I get a lot of OW letters.) Don’t be part of the pick me dance brigade. When you act, the feelings, the self-respect follow. It doesn’t work the other way, like magically low-self esteem goes away and THEN you act. Nope, you do the Hard Thing, and the mighty muscle strengthens.

      Hang in there.

    • Unmarried, I know you came here to CL and CN for help. And lots of advice you will get. You just have to act on it! Even if it’s a baby step every single day!

      First step is to get out/ move out! No contact next. Stay no contact. Delete any possible way for him to contact you. This will be hard. Very hard. You are lucky this cheater is not the father of your son. You can easily not ever see him again and that is a huge blessing! It may not seem like a blessing right now. But trust us chumps that have children with a cheater. I would so love that I never had to see my XH, the cheater, again. But I will have to eventually when the big events, like marriage start to happen.

      Now, I read above that he said he wants to marry you. Okay, here comes the 2×4. No, he does not! He would have married you by now if he wanted to be married to you. I’m sorry. I know it hurts. But sometimes we have to be clocked in the head with the truth. The truth always sets you free if you pay attention to it. He’s dangling the “marriage carrot” in front of you to keep you committed to the relationship and him. My XH dangled the “I’ll have more time for you and the family someday carrot” in front of me for 23 years!!! I truly believed that “someday” he wouldn’t have to work all the time and would have time for me and the kids. The truth is that he didn’t want to spend time with me or the kids. Work, girlfriends, ho-workers, attention/admiration kibbles from his hobbies and volunteer positions were more important than me and our children. His ACTIONS proved this to be true for 23 years. I failed to notice and believed all the lies instead. Your EX-boyfriend is showing you over and over what you really mean to him. And he knows you are a chump, because you forgive him and take him back over and over again. And I’m not ganging up on you. My XH knew I was a chump too. I put up with a lot of shit and he knew that I would forgive over and over again. It took him blindsiding me and discarding me to slowly wake me up that I was married to a very dangerous and abusive man. Yes, cheating on and fucking with someone’s head and heart is abuse!

      You said you are in therapy. Good! Make sure they are experts at trauma bonding and trauma. If your therapist isn’t helping you, move on. There are a ton of them out there and you are paying them to help you. Don’t be afraid to fire someone!

      I’m not sure if you like to read a lot, but I do. I devoured tons of books in the early days. Here are some that were very helpful to me:

      Chump Lady’s book!

      In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People — George Simon

      Psychopath Free — Jackson Mackenzie

      Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse — Shannon Thomas

      The Emotionally Destructive Relationship: Seeing It, Stopping It, Surviving It — Leslie Vernick

      This is just a starter pack, but helped me tremendously during those early days! I also watched a ton of Youtube videos about narc abuse — Dana Morningstar is my favorite. A few years ago the wonderful people of CN told me that I needed to deprogram myself and that is what you need to do too! This man does not love you even though he says he does. Love doesn’t hurt. People who love you don’t cheat. People who love you don’t lie to you. He’s abusing you and one day you will look back and see it for what it is. Abuse.

      Unmarried, it’s not the end of the world being unmarried. It’s way, way worse being married to a serial cheater! You will never ever have peace of mind with someone like that. Never! My XH’s new victim was only days divorced before he pounced on her and we were “happily” married at the time when he asked her out on a date, because he “just wanted to be a good friend to her”. Little does she know he’s a serial cheater and predator. I would rather be alone the rest of my life then to be with someone like him, a man who has no problem leading a double life for close to 30 years! One day you will see your worth too and know you deserve the best! Not a cheater! Read, read, read all of the past CL’s blog posts and all the comments from CN. It will help to deprogram your mind and steel up your spine. You can do this!!

  • He is not “nice.”

    He ACTS as if he is a nice person.

    Most narcissists are highly skilled actors. They know how to sparkle and how to make people think they’re nice.

    I know because I fell for it and married a seemingly nice guy who’s actually a lying cheating jerk.

  • How I wish Chumplady had been around through my marriage, and my subsequent ‘engagement’ that left me with an expensive house I can afford but don’t want, a jerk who has parked a ‘POD’ in my driveway since December 2017—-I think getting divorced after 23 years was maybe simpler but sadly, I lost my 28 year old daughter in the process.
    She just married in the Florida Keys and lied to me every step of the way leading up to it, including omitting my invitation. WTF? I’m the best behaved member of the small crew! And the only one who could contribute financially though of course I did not. This happened after many many years of her father and schmoopie telling her how dangerous I was, but that’s a story for another day.
    Anyhow, most recently after processing the worst of the worst of the trauma is exactly this: what’s wrong with me? My psychiatrist/therapist speaks a lot about the repetition compulsion: if we (one) don’t work things out the first time around, usually with parents (and my parents were, sadly, both abusive and certifiable—until the work of really examining things is done, we tend to repeat the same old same old. )
    Which was certainly true for me. I can’t speak for anyone else here. And no, one can’t process parental inadequacy or pathology at 2 years of age.
    My ex-husband of many years was so very sparkly that it was easy until it was no longer easy to overlook his b.s. Then after a number of years, a quite less sparkly man caught my fancy and now we seem to be engaged in a bitter legal battle over ownership of a house that we bought together (but as chump extreme, I paid most of for, bought with cash) that feels almost as bad as the divorce so many years ago.
    Am working so hard to get off this merry-go-round, sworn off dating for the present until I get things in my head right. It’s interesting to me to read how many chumps experienced chronic abuse/deprivation as children. Once again, I can’t speak for anyone else, but it certainly shifted what I believed I deserve out of life hopefully, not permanently but that is the work of therapy.


  • I was sitting on my back porch this morning enjoying my morning coffee and I could hear my next door neighbor yelling screaming at his wife. I never hear her say a word. It’s him screaming and when he walks out the front door he’s seems to be the nicest guy around.
    I know them both slightly. Wave say hi when I’m outside.
    They both work hard seem nice so what gives ?
    I will be divorced 5 years in June and nine months separated in which I’ve done no dating and feeling weird I wasn’t coupled up by other people’s standards.
    I have been through I’m tired of being alone but I have also had lots of personal post growth.
    Take a time out for yourself. Rest. Enjoy your son. Make a better relationship with him and your friends and family. New boundaries. Healthy thinking and taking care of yourself.
    Yet as I sat here this morning I couldn’t help but wonder why anyone would let someone treat them this way. Scream at them.
    No way would I ever now let that into my life. Peace is so under rated but the best way to live.

    • Beetle, you are spot on! I have the sweetest neighbour whose husband treats her like shit. She comes round to me in tears sometimes, but he insisted she give up work when their kids were born and has no income. He is as nice as pie to me and has always been very helpful to me. BUT when my ex first moved out he (the neighbour) asked me to have an affair with him!!!! I put him right back in his place and he apologized afterwards but I never told her. I just couldn’t see twisting the knife in further. She won’t/can’t leave him. I don’t know if I did right or wrong but you’re spot on that so many marriages only seem happy on the surface!

      • The neighbor (single white male) who adopted a little African American boy, the one with a law degree and a MBA who is an activist in the community ? Sounds great doesn’t it ? Guess who SCREAMS at his son several times a week ? I feel I know him better than most because my home is ten feet away from his house. Looks great on paper but all you have to do is scratch below the surface.

  • He sounds like a “communal narcissist.” His community work is all about feeding his ego. He is not who you think he is. I was married to one. Everyone thinks they are such fabulous people, so your experience of them behind closed doors is unbelievable to them. It’s very confusing. Another good reason to get out and remove your son from his influence.

  • I’ll take sautéed Brussel sprouts over any cheater any day. I Won’t have to worry about health issues mental or physical with Brussel sprouts. Those lines were funny.

    Know ur worth and don’t have him model shit character and abuse to ur son. Dump that piece o shit and invest in yourself and ur son. Sending positive vibes ur way

    I stopped doing the pick me dance a year ago and I am rocking low contact and investing in myself and son and I feel a lot better now

  • There’s a strong scent of faith-based abuse here.
    A book comes to mind: “When God Becomes a Drug”. Communities of faith, recovery, etc. can be very attractive to people who are looking for victims to abuse. A kibble factory.
    These communities are also attractive to those who are looking for emotional safety.
    Bottom line: I keep myself safe, by practicing solid, non-negotiable boundaries with others. This includes individuals as well as organizations of any kind.

    Recovering Chump
    Single mom of 13 year-old (and yes, our family is fully INTACT, with the two of us)
    13 months no contact
    4 year partnership ended after discovery (marriage is not a requirement to be here)
    Every day is a little better, easier, happier.

    • ⭐️???????????????? Thank you! And I’m proud of you, I know it takes a lot.

  • I’m just going to go on ahead and assume that Mr. Perfect Cheater is also cheating on his vegan diet when Unmarried isn’t around.

  • Hi Unmarried, I am a vegan myself and although I can see why you may feel that its good to have a lifestyle in common, this in no way whatsoever should come before the basic and fundamental characteristics of a partner; honesty, integrity, trust. Do not look specifically for another vegan, I know from experience they are few and far between, instead look for core human values shown in how a person acts towards and treats others. Because kindness, respect, honesty, trust, integrity etc, are qualities that should be at the top of your list. Just because people show compassion for animals through a vegan lifestyle does not mean they are compassionate to other humans. As is obvious with this cheater. Ditch this creep. You are worth more and
    your child deserves better. Drop this scumbag and stop playing his pathetic games. Step off the chessboard.

  • Unmarried, that you’ve been readying CL’s book and that you’re here in the thick of this discussion today are great first steps! It’s so very hard to finally quit the hopium that keeps you stuck to the dishonest person whom you still love and have loved with your whole heart,
    I packed serial cheater’s clothes up on DDay 3 years ago and filed for divorce within a month to protect the kids and myself financially. The divorce was settled last year. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that I returned to the hopim pipe over and over during all that time despite knowing better. He’s the father of my four precious children, which has made it harder to grey rock/no contact him, but eventually it was for their sake that I was able to truly ‘leave’ the lies, gaslighting, and psychological abuse. Yes, embarrassing, but I now feel so much better about myself as a person and as a mother.

    Please know that we all understand how excruciatingly hard it is, but CL is absolutely right!!

  • Unmarried, if you don’t have the strength to stay away from this man for your own sake, then please find that strength for your son. Do you want your son to grow into a narc cheater? That thought should scare you enough to quit your addiction to this merry-go-round.

    Narc parents cause tremendous, life long emotional and psychological damage to children. Please google that if you don’t believe me. You’ll find so many adult survivors of a narc parent sharing their pain, damage, stories, their own inability to form healthy relationships as a result of the damage. The damage is often not overt, but rather covert, insidious. You might not even notice yourself while the Sparkly Cheater Narc is all smiles and fun and then he makes some brief cutting comment that undermines your son’s confidence or self worth and quickly back to all smiles and sunshine. It’s a toxic subtle drip drip drip rather than an obvious deluge. If it was obvious, you’d have cut him off long ago.

    Cheating is a form of abuse and a man who will abuse you, will abuse others as well, including your son. This is fundamentally who they are and they do not change.

    As for the pillar of the community, church leader, sparkly high profile professional, etc, etc, etc. Well….not every leader is a cheating narc, but every narc seeks these positions. Let’s just say that if you look for a mate based on those criteria, you are more likely to continue to cross paths with narcs than if you were to date just a regular bloke. Positions of power, authority, leadership are like crack to narcs, both overt and covert. Don’t look at how they act in public, look at how they act, talk, treat people behind closed doors. How he treats you is his real face, it’s what’s behind the curtain and what’s behind the curtain is a callous, power hungry cheater who actually enjoys duping you, gets off on this game of you catching him out, walking away, only to get lured right back in. Duping you is his ultimate high.

    • Just wanted to clarify that “you” is the generic you. Not necessarily you in particular Unmarried. He is doing it to you and all the other women he is cheating/using as side chics. He will do it to anyone he can get or con into being with him. There is absolutely no happily ever after with this man for anyone. So please, don’t think for a minute that maybe it was something wrong with you or that you can fix this or make it work or what about the next woman and maybe she’ll get only the Sparkly part. Nope nope nope. She’ll get the cheating abuse just like you….or worse….an incurable STD as a lasting present. These people are dangerous and they do not change.

      • Yeah!!! So true and scary!

        Thank you so much for you wise and kind words!

    • Just as cheaters come in several different flavors, chumps do as well. I’ve been reading this blog and all the comments for a few years now. Some chumps write about having personality disordered parents which laid the path for them to form relationships with abusers.

  • Hi The Unmarried, ❤️

    Another unmarried who clung desperately to the fact that Mr. Peek A Boo used to help me cut matted feces balls from snarling stray chows. We would work for hours with the strays I rescue. He would also spend money on them- consistently and generously.

    Why do I call him Mr. Peek A Boo? Because he was like a baby. When you’re playing with a baby and cover up your face, they seem bewildered and it is as if you have vanished.

    Then you take your hands down and say peekaboo! And the baby giggles with the delight. You are back!

    When I was out of his sight, I did not exist. The moment his truck would leave my driveway, I was not in his mind anymore.

    Then -he would get back in front of me, he would focus that laser charisma and serpentine sexuality completely on me.

    I paid for it and had phone canceling with the “Institute to prevent pathological relationships”. I might be butchering the name.

    But I discovered that he did a lot of intentionally hypnotic behaviors to me: When he was speaking with me he was constantly running his fingers through my hair, stroking my arms, making intense eye contact, and speaking in a soft magnetic voice. He was physiologically addicting me to him.

    Then he would leave me and inflict some horror on me- Disappearing with a meth whore for two weeks in a hotel room. Using hard drugs. Not answering the phone for days. Things that absolutely I should’ve been running like my hair was on fire.

    And I would think: but he loves all the dogs. Just as you think: but he loves my son!

    It’s been three years since the last D day today! Synchronization with this column.

    I am ashamed- horrified- to tell you that I have at times updated him on the various outcomes of all the stray dogs I take in and HE KNOWS . Guess what? He has never responded. He has my address and knows how much dog food I need every month. He has never sent any.

    Not to belabor the point, but I want you to understand these are dogs that he rolled around on the floor with. These are dogs that he paid for their organic treats. These are dogs that he never showed up empty-handed for. When I texted him about the death of a dog that I spent $2000 on, dog they had a terrible life- HE NEVER RESPONDED. He hand fed this dog chicken with me.

    The rolling up his sleeves to help the strays that I dedicate my life to was just an act. It’s so hard to grasp that. But go back to the concept of peekaboo.

    When he’s there helping me with the snarling pitbull, he might actually care in that moment. He might even be having fun. But there is no constancy there.

    When he would take a shower and go pack up his stuff- I simply did not exist anymore.

    This is a different type of monster than the abuser screaming in your face- but a very scary one.

    I also had another question: what would he do if you floated the idea that you also want to see other people? Because if he was cool with that, that might mean he is just day free love douche bag.

    But if he responds with anger and abuse , you know he’s just a atrocious entitled cake eater.

    If someone makes you miserable, get away from them. Decisions that are logical do not require mental gymnastics. Can it be that simple? Yes.

    Just for now be alone. Don’t be with the Vegan Peek A Boo Player. Just be with your son. In the stillness, peace will start to bubble up. Sane thought will wrestle crazy to the ground.

    You will start to see how ridiculous- how utterly insane- it is to be with someone who makes casually breaks your heart.


    • Sorry for the typos- I am in my phone waiting for my narcissistic hypochondriac mother to finish a colonoscopy. The fun never stops!!!

    • Oh I have ton of typos, English as second language. We are good!

      Thank you! Wow. I hurt when others hurt and I am sorry you went through that 🙁

      I find so many similarities in your story, thank you for sharing. ♥️ I know it’s a long road ahead but I feel ready.

  • Hey Unmarried, I’m glad to read you’re returning to counseling. Please make sure the counselor is skilled and challenges you to realize the addictive nature of dysfunctional relationships. You chase the highs when things are very very good and when he is out and being the sad sausage you feel powerful and wanted. It’s just a big merry go round that always leaves you flat bc the best indicator of future behavior is his past behavior. You need a good counselor to help you find your footing and me a mighty model for your son. Having an on again/off again dad figure isn’t good for him and it gives you zero partnership. Good luck on your journey and here’s to health and happiness for you ahead.

  • I can see how UM has gotten to this place. Here’s the fabulous, checks off the boxes guy. She lives in his house, he’s so good with her son. He’s made it easy to lean on and you counted on him. Then you find out he cheats and you hit a wall. And now you’re weighing out the cost/benefit analysis and you realize he’s not the best for you. I’m throwing this out here. You’ve put up with his shit because maybe you don’t really love him. Oh, he had the potential but now he’s just a bother. It’s going to be tough unloading him because he’ll try to tempt you with what you believed was an easier life for your child. But I think it will be easier to return this fish to the sea once you realize you don’t really love him. Good luck.

    • I like the “return the fish to the sea” ????

      Thank you for your reply!! ❤️

  • Unmarried,
    You bought the book, you know what you need to do and are finding the strength to do it. It is painful to know what you need to do.You are a vegan and you love your son dearly- clearly you have a vision for what your world “should be” and everything is perfect except the pesky fact that your man is trolling the IG for strange and causing plenty of drama. Is this good for your son? NO. Why? Because his mother is deeply suffering. Your son needs YOU to be happy and strong and feel safe and loved (and avoid animal products). Chump Lady tells us they DON’T CHANGE. They really don’t. You can’t love them back. My very strongest advice to you (and yes, I’ve been in your shoes) is ok, you are making the steps to leave. IT WILL GET WORSE, somehow! Yet, CL can probably predict exactly how (and CN). My guess is you’ll get a full massive apology, and superguilt you that you are taking your son away from him. The son will be his pawn to get you back– notice everything he says and does! Most unfortunately it will be textbook Creepy-Crunchy-Narc. The truth (that you can’t win the pick me dance and hopium is just that) is going to really hurt. For a long time. Put your lifejacket on before your kid’s. Best to you. P.S. find a therapist who understands this. So many do not and are useless. You need one to really dig in to why you are settling for less.

    • I did telephone counseling with Sandra L Browns group, who focus on pathological love relationships. In addition to being a therapist, Sandra is an evidence-based researcher collaborating with a major US university studying victims of cluster Bs. Her group helped me step away from the drama drug my husband and his “sex addict” therapists prescribed and approach things more logically. Once I started doing thing, my rational brain reclaimed command and I could see not only that I had to end my marriage to save my life but a solid path to actually achieving freedom

  • When I read posts like this I think of the movie “Love Potion #9” where the high power guy keeps the nerdy, caring, and gullible girl friend as a booty call and manipulates her in a most cruel way. That and “Gaslight” are great examples as to how these assholes work. Unmarried, you should watch them both.

    My personal experience with Narcles the Porn Clown is he went vegetarian to get more gals in his yoga classes and prove how dedicated he was to the new life style, i.e.; get more strange. Who knows what he does when hes not with you. He could be downing a 16oz steak with one of his side chicks or his wife. I have to agree that this sounds like its all a facade created to keep you off balance and thinking the best of the cheater since its his image that rules, just like it still does with Narcles.

    • Could it be that because of all the shitty things he does with women, he needs to justify by being “kind” and giving to the community?

      Who knows ????

      Thank you for your reply!!

      • Unmarried, you seem to be grateful for the support here and I congratulate you for taking the steps to leave. However, what is your plan?

        From what I’ve gathered you like the lifestyle he offers you and your son. Then there’s the trade off as you are for the most part the one he offers to marry? It sounds like a hollow offer.

        So I’m back to wondering about you! Do you have family, a support system in place, and are you self supporting? You appear to be quite passive. That’s not a judgement, it’s an observation. Where’s your anger?

        Hoping you won’t go back? You need a solid plan to never go back. What is it?

        • I do have family around and a great support system, even though I’ve isolated myself from friends and they don’t like him!

          I have not contacted him, despite my urge to tell him my “feelings” I am sure he doesn’t care and will just open the door. So I am sticking To “no contact”

          I am moving to my moms house as she is by herself and she is very involved in my sons life, it will be good bonding company and I can slowly figure things out.

          Thankfully I’m not married and I have a decent job.

          Thank you again for your kind reply!

  • I had one of these. The kind of guy who went for vulnerable single mothers so he could be the rescuer and because she is already a bit isolated. The kind of guy who knew that your sons affection would make you spackle anything.

    Chumplady’s definition of kibbles being centrality was so useful because I could see that the things he supposedly did for me were actually for kibbles.

    I think you need to get out a bit more and build up your life without him. It’s bloody hard as a single parent. I have no idea how CL did it, but part of it is asking for help.

    Choose good conditions for yourself.

    • I agree, he is actually still in his exes daughters life (daughter that is not his) he cheated on the mom as well. I think he comes to rescue and might use the kids to cause guilt and manipulation.

      Thank you for this reply!

  • CL makes an excellent point in writing, “And he brings out the worst in you. Sometimes I feel empowered if I can hurt him. ”

    You are with someone whose behaviour is bringing out the worst in you. It’s not empowering to hurt someone, it’s toxic. You know he hurts you so you hurt him back and feel a sense of glee, then you mistake that as some sort of power. It’s not. It’s a reflection of immature relationship skills.

    I am not saying that you are immature. I am saying you are in a relationship that does bring out the worst in you, it brings out immature and toxic reactions because you are in a dysfunctional relationship.

    It’s just been in recent times that I am starting to wrap my head around this concept that being with my STBXH did not bring out my best. After wrestling for a year trying to save my marriage, and then the 17 months since his discard to be with the OW, I have gone through my ups and downs of figuring out if I am truly as horrible as he claimed I am or not. I know that I was not always perfect, and there are things I need to take responsibility for about my relationship skills and work to improve. I have been improving.

    At the same time, I am now learning how much of my poor reactions stemmed from the frustrations of being in a dysfunctional relationship. I’m not trying to pass the buck, but I am seeking to acknowledge that it’s not likely that I will react with the same immaturity in future if I am in a healthier situation and I am feeling greater inner strength. And if I am in an unhealthy situation again, I now am better equipped to get myself out of it and react with better composure than before. I think that that is what empowerment is more about.

    You stay in this spiralling dysfunction because you don’t yet know how to get yourself off the track. It may carry with it it’s own allure, your own addiction to drama, so to speak. You get a high off of the drama perhaps. But you won’t really know what it is until you get off the damn track.

    You are not being the best you in this circumstance. You are not loving and caring for the little girl inside of you who deserves better than what she’s getting. You need to work on being the best you for yourself and to be a model for your child. That is empowerment. That is glorious.

    And, maybe, as a bonus, you’ll eventually attract a person of higher value. That would be a perk but that cannot be the purpose.

    Inside of you is a sweet, scared, and confused girl. Lead her to better pastures so she can breathe the fresh air and decide her own direction.

    • Thank you♥️ Honestly that was one of the sentences that caught my soul. He is not bringing the best of be and that on itself should be enough reason

      I appreciate your words!

    • Thank you, ONM. Not only was I trying to find the why he did what he did (and her too) but also struggling with the idea I was the worthless person they said I was. And I too had to examine my behaviours and what I need to change but I understand now, I wasn’t operating within an honest and healthy environment. So instead, I can acknowledge my reactions in a dysfunctional dynamic and know that, if given the benefit of truth and respect that anyone deserves, I would have had the opportunity to truly know myself.

  • “What is wrong with me” has no short answer. Many of us much farther along in the de-chumping process still have no clear answer. But, I agree with CL that a lack of answer to that question does not preclude you from changing your life.

    You seem to dance around both untangling his skein and yours (by wondering why he is a vegan and a caring community member but also a relationship asshole and then wondering why you keep taking him back). So, first off, remove untangling his skein. Hit the pause button on questioning WHY he does what he does. Just know, he does these terrible things. Period. Keep asking WHY you do what you do, but think on that WHILE you are taking brave and definitive actions to sever him for your life. Actions first, thinking second. Be strong and brave. Be the architect of your life.

    Yes, removing him from your life will affect you son…but keep in mind that your relationship will end one day. His values do not match yours and you can’t live with that. So, why prolong their relationship? Just do the work now with your kid that you’re gonna have to do eventually.

    Hey look, I think being single is great. It’s 2019 and the sky’s the limit for single women, IMO. But, if being in a good relationship is a goal of yours than you are not doing anything to reach that goal. Every second you spend on this douche is a second you are estopped from reaching your goal. And also–vegan?!? Being vegan’s great, but you’re using it as a weapon against yourself here.

    Lastly, you deserve to be loved and cherished. Your son deserves to see you being loved and cherished. This guy truly does neither of those things. Best of luck.

  • Unmarried,

    I haven’t had a chance to read all of the replies, but I’m just going to quickly jump in here and say your story has some parallels to my early story. I am your cautionary tale. Single mother is introduced to someone who appears to be a kind, caring guy. He is even in a helping profession and works with children. Everyone thinks he is a great guy – so kind, so selfless, so giving. When I first met him he appeared to be crazy about me. He developed a wonderful relationship with my young daughter. He wanted us to be married, kept saying I was the one. Then came the cheating and the drama and the breaking up and making up and getting back together. Eventually, lucky me (not!), he chose me. Fast forward 25 plus some years later and he decides he to run off with someone who is willing to take care of him. From what I can tell looking back on all of it, he was always cheating, looking for a better opportunity to come along.

    Unless you want that to be your story, get away and stay away from this guy. This is supposed to be the period in your relationship (the courtship phase) when he should be putting his best foot forward and showing you his best self. If this is his best, what’s his worst? He is not going to be struck by lightening and have some miracle revelation about your value and your worth if you just wait long enough. If Chump Lady had been around back when I was going through all of that drama with my Ex, I would have run away from him like he was propane and my ass was on fire. I do not regret what I’ve learned and I am so thankful for my children and some of the good times but he was never a good partner or a good person.

    Cut your losses. I was almost 60 years old when the Ex finally, thankfully, ran off with his “soul(less) mate.” You still have life and time to get this right. This guy is never going to be the partner you want, need or deserve. You and your son deserve better than the “appearance” of a good guy. You deserve a guy who is actually good – most of all to you and your son.

    Take care and good luck to you.

    • Oh Chump Princess, you are mighty now!

      “Single mother is introduced to someone who appears to be a kind, caring guy.” is what is happening right now with my ex and a new chump (not the OW, just an unwitting new girlfriend). Sure, I want to warn her against him but (A) not my job and (B) he’s far too charming for her to see me as anything other than the crazy ex. Meanwhile, he’s playing daddy to her son and surely setting them both up for major heartbreak later on. These guys are terrible and should at least of the decency to stay away from women with kids.

    • Oh wow! Yes, done that back and forward with him many times. I know I need to build my self worth and breaking up was a huge step for me!

      Thank you for your reply!

      • There’s a line about this in the film “Jerry Maguire,” where Jerry’s client Rod, a dedicated husband and father, lectures Jerry about dating a single woman with a child: “Don’t shoplift the pootie.”

  • Unmarried,
    There’s a ton of good advice in this thread. Some of it gentle, and some of it harsh (there were days I certainly needed the harsh). Take it one day at a time. If you slip up, and contact him or do some other mistake, dust yourself off and get back on track. At your stage, I was a shell of a human being for a really long time. I made many, many mistakes along the way in the breakup process! Sounds like now you are in a bargaining phase and a “why does he do this” phase. I leave you with our master’s quote from the book:
    “Instead of looking at this on the micro level look at it on the macro level- he sucks. No further analysis required.” Make that your mantra when your mind starts to go to those spiraling places!

    • So true, I’ve already made some powerful mantras! Thank you!

  • I’m another chump vegan, so I’ll chime in.

    This guy may eat a vegan diet, but that doesn’t make him ethical or compassionate. He’s probably one of those vegans who gives the rest of us a bad name. The guy who foregoes dairy strictly to improve his complexion and waistline, and as an excuse to be sanctimonious at parties.

    We’re not all like that! I totally understand wanting to find someone like-minded, but there are good ones out there, I promise. Go to meet-ups, hang out at the local vegan ice-cream shop, find a guy who respects you and deserves you.

    And hey- I left a meat-eating husband who blamed his cheating and abuse in part on my unwillingness to eat and cook steak. I wish I were exaggerating. The OW gave up her vegetarian diet for him. That’s how she “won.” And I won by cutting him out of my life entirely and finding a man who loves and respects me. He also happens to be vegan. Sometimes things work out that way.

    Get away from him. There is nothing wrong with you. He’s emotionally abusing you. You can do better, I promise.

    • Hello fellow vegan! Oh man. I feel like with all of these replies I finally realizing more and more that he is just shitty human, period and there is many like him. I always try to look for the best in people, and forgive over and over but this is defiantly at the expense of my happiness and peace.

      Thank you!

  • Traci your FUNNY I love reading your commentary! You held the bar at “VEGAN”?????????????????????????????????

  • For what its worth Unmarried, my ex was in the 2nd half of a four year affair when we got married, and halfway into it when i had our 2nd child (got pregnant from angry breakup makeup sex after 2 years of trying, and found out about the cheat which he told me nothing happened and sat through therapy with me for months). I heard she ended it the week before wedding (suddenly got a conscience or finally realised he was bullshitting her too). I thought his crying all the way tbrough wedding was adorable. Turns out it was because she’d dumped him, by my calculations the day of his stag do, so ill guess he went to her for sex after leaving his stag do early.

    Being married means jack shit. Dont try to convince yourself it makes a difference. Houses, mortgages, children, businesses – they make a difference. And that difference is financial security going out the door in legal fees and court cases. That is all. Cheating is abuse. I despise our liberal western culture for minimising what cheating really is.

    • I want to send you a big hug, what you have been through is horrible
      You are a true warrior, go build your amazing life

  • This response is on the mark!! My add to this is that it applies across the board. Even if married, you are the choices you make. Lack of self respect comment applies here too!! Once you are aware, and you stay, you are making the choice. Choose carefully!

  • “…and you can be The Shit and be a shit.”

    One of my new favorite CL lines! Simple, concise, and to the point. Love it!

  • He doesn’t love you. He has no regard for your feelings whatsoever and he uses you like a doormat. He isn’t ‘kind’ – he’s a sociopath. No conscience, no true emotions. Why haven’t you figured this out yet? How long have you been enmeshed in this dysfunctional charade? What will it take to break free? He doesn’t love you. Tell that voice in your head that keeps telling you how ‘nice and fun’ this douchebag is to EFF OFF and then grow a set and reclaim your life. It is yours to rebuild. If you stay with this loser, you will regret it I promise. You won’t be able to reclaim those 20 or 30 years to do-over and that is a fact.

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