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Dear Chump Lady, I have a young bitter heart

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Hi Chump Lady,

I am new here, however, I am not new to chumpdom. I am a young chump (just turned 30) and am going through the second breakup with a man who lied and had an “emotional affair” throughout our time together, then proceeded to proclaim fucking the other woman officially the moment our breakup was verbalized. (“But we broke up” everyone reminds me of).

I have experienced the exact same sequence of events twice with two separate men back-to-back, however, the situations are eerily similar — me knowing all along, ignoring my gut, “she’s just a friend”, blah blah blah. I was with the first man for 3.5 years and the second for over a year.

This is no way to the degree of what other women describe on your site, but jaysus am I feeling hopeless and so much PAIN.

My question for you is how the fuck do I break this cycle?

I have been in therapy and take pride in healing my traumatic past and working very hard on myself and well-being, however, I keep attracting the same narcissist, different face.

I’ve been single for years and not single, dated and abstained, thrown myself into work/hobbies/meditation and have also just lied in bed for months. I’ve taken antidepressants, I run, I don’t run. I gain weight I lose weight, sometimes I’m pretty and sometimes I’m an ugly hog. I’m exhausted and feel like I am missing fuses in my brain or that some cosmic entity hates my sorry guts.

How do I get away from this pattern and break the cycle without just wanting to die? I’m afraid to ever marry someone or have children now because of my horrible choices and of all the horror stories and horrific people in the world. Damn the fucking other women too, I’m so sad about the fallen “sisterhood” and don’t trust anyone anymore. I have a young bitter heart.

I am currently no contact with all the exes, they never care enough anyway and all quickly abandon me. (Yay?)

Wanted to reach out…

Young scared chump with a black heart and way too much life ahead of her

Dear Young Chump,

Why is this about you? What cycle? You’ve invested in two losers. I can’t really say if that’s a “cycle” — or just shitty luck. There are a lot of losers out there. Maybe you’re perfectly splendid and just need to learn to dump people sooner instead of investing 3.5 years in them. That’s the kind of skillset that comes with age… and encounters with losers. Perhaps what you need is a pocket Field Guide to Losers and not self-recrimination?

I’ve been single for years and not single, dated and abstained, thrown myself into work/hobbies/meditation and have also just lied in bed for months. I’ve taken antidepressants, I run, I don’t run. I gain weight I lose weight, sometimes I’m pretty and sometimes I’m an ugly hog.

So, you mean you’re normal. Are you comparing yourself to some happy, always productive, perpetually attractive species? I don’t care what Instagram says, they don’t exist.

We all struggle, kiddo. All of us. No one feels gorgeous and loved and brilliant all the time. You just have to find what you’re good at in this world, and stick at it, and ascribe value accordingly. Don’t measure yourself by fuckwits.

I feel the invisible sentence after “I’ve thrown myself into work/hobbies/meditation” — and still no one chooses me.

Choose yourself.

Work because you’re an adult and work is how adults support themselves. Work because you’re proud of what you do, whether that’s swapping out carburetors or crafting sentences. Have hobbies because you have interests — not because you want to be noticed Doing A Hobby. LOOK AT ME WITH MY GLUE GUN. AREN’T I PRETTY?!

Please don’t be that person. The world is full of those idiots. (I think they live on Instagram.) Be the nerd who joins the Thaddeus Stevens Society because she LOVES Thaddeus Stevens. (Um, okay, I just recently joined the Thaddeus Stevens Society. Best $25 nerd dollars you’ll ever spend.)

Speaking of Thaddeus Stevens, he wasn’t lucky in love. He was born with a club foot and died a bachelor. Oh, but you know what he did do? He was a goddamn abolitionist and a senator from Pennsylvania. He saved the Union. He fought for public education (because he was poor and self-educated.) He was a lawyer and created a foundry so that escaped slaves and freemen would have jobs. The Confederacy hated him so much, General Early came to personally burn his business to the ground and tried to hang him. HE REBUILT. He gave those motherfuckers HELL.

(Yes, that’s badass Tommy Lee Jones playing Thaddeus Stevens in Lincoln. Tony Kushner was the screenwriter. Swoon.)

You know what Thaddeus Stevens wasn’t? Popular on dating sites.

My point — there’s a lot of ways to live an amazing, productive life that don’t involve dating narcissists, or being coupled. Or, hell, even being attractive.

Consider Newt Gingrich. Dude’s been married three times. I mean think about that — a guy who is named NEWT who looks like Newt Gingrich has found three different women (real women! not robots or inflatable people!) to marry him. Thrice.

Does that make you want to blow your brains out, or stop and consider just how far chutzpah can take you? I mean, imagine if you had one-tenth the self-esteem that Newt Gingrich has, what things you could do! I guarantee you are one-thousand times more attractive than Newt Gingrich. (Most of the human population is, and most of the non-human populations too.)

How do I get away from this pattern and break the cycle without just wanting to die?

Know your worth. Isn’t your life more valuable than the opinion of a couple fuckwits? Who, by the way, collectively spent 4.5 years with you, so if you suck, apparently you don’t suck so badly that they didn’t invest years in you too.

Be your own person, who does not need the validation of fuckwits. Do you think Thaddeus Stevens cared if the Confederacy liked him? Or probably half his own party. He had shit to do. Important work. Go be your best self, and hang out with people who bring out that best self.

I’m afraid to ever marry someone or have children now because of my horrible choices and of all the horror stories and horrific people in the world.

Oh please. Engage with life. Of course do your due diligence, but don’t be scared to grab life by the curly shorthairs. Chances are you may fuck up. I did — not once, but twice. I made horrible choices. And — surprise! It turned out okay! Really! Out of Horrible Choice #1 — I got my beautiful child. And out of Horrible Choice #2 — I got Chump Lady. This voice came from fucking up — and getting back up again.

The point of life isn’t to Not Make Mistakes — but to learn from them. And, if you want to wax all philosophical, (and I did just natter on about Thaddeus Stevens, so yes), to leave the world better than you found it. Which means INVESTING in people and good works. Not being a shrinking violet.

I’m not really the best person to give dating advice. I’ve spent a decade now with Mr. CL (coming up on 9 years married) and I got lucky. The wisdom was knowing a good thing when I met him (I didn’t have that kind of wisdom in my 20s and 30s, see Mistakes #1 and #2).

The difference this time around is that I invested in a person like me — a bonder. Someone capable of intimacy and deep commitment. I’m from the chumpy, gooey, empathic Bonding Tribe. Not everyone is. I wish someone told me that when I was younger. You know how to tell when you’re with someone who is not committed? When you’ve spent years with them with no commitment. You want commitment? Next.

You know how to tell if someone can bond? You’re not pick-me dancing. You have their total attention. “Friends” that make you uncomfortable? Next.

Some people don’t want to bond — they want the buffet. When dating, that’s OKAY. They’re the Buffet Tribe. You’re not them. NEXT.

Find your tribe. That’s all I got.

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Oh Young Chump, you are never an ugly hog. Hogs ain’t ugly. Hogs have purpose and that is their beauty. You look within and find your purpose.

    You have this wonderful opportunity. You get a do-over while you are young and fresh. You get to chose you. Do that.

    I have found such comfort with the help of a therapist. Find you a therapist. Have boundaries with the therapist too. You might need to try another if you don’t make progress. It took me three therapists before I found my Earth angel therapist. She was nothing what I expected; fresh out of college, brand new at her job. She is a badass, competent professional who listens and has her own two-by-four of truth.

    I think you are doing great for yourself. I wish I was thirty and had found Chump Lady. You did that at the tender age of 30. I think you are going to be fine. You have such promise, such potential.
    Now you need to convince yourself of that.

    Love yourself first. Put yourself first. Don’t worry about those skanky other woman. Skanks aren’t your concern. They don’t matter. You do.

    I am rooting for you. CN is behind you. You got this.

  • Wonderful wonderful reply. I couldn’t have said it better.

    Choose yourself. Stop waiting to be chosen.

    I can’t promise you that you will ever partner up again. Not every pot has a lid.

    What I can promise you is that if you start LIVING YOUR LIFE as if you’re going to be single for the rest of it, you will have an unbelievably good time and be happy far more often than you probably deserve.

    This is how you work out who YOU are, instead of always squeezing into someone else’s glass slipper.

    • I actually think the odds are good that every pot has a lid. The thing is, you shouldn’t accept any old lid — and control what you can control — your own awesomeness. Be as interested and engaged with the world as you can be. So when the fuckwits reject you, you’ve got the Thaddeus Stevens Society, or your cats, or your friends — the people who GET you.

      The more your best self aligns with the people you choose to spend time with, the better chance you have at not tolerating fuckwits and moving on.

  • You shortened the time between “the end” for each of those two. So your bullshit meter may not be totally reliable, but it’s getting more sensitive as time goes by. Or if they left you, it’s because THEIR “use her or lose her” meter chirped and let them know you were reaching The End. Now you trust your gut more when “she’s Just A Friend” doesn’t ring true.

    Now throw yourself into your life and try (it’s hard – I get that) not to dwell too much on the “why don’t the good ones find me/choose me?”. I know that some days it feels lonely and miserable. Even when married there are days that are lonely and miserable. Or at least not particularly great and it’s not always because someone is sniffing other crotches. It’s life in general too.

    You simply have to keep paddling. I hope you find something that really lights up your life and who knows? Maybe someone will be your boon companion too.

    You are 30 – please invest in yourself FOR your own sake. Not for how brightly you may twinkle in others’ eyes.

    • So true. It took me 35 years the first time 2 years the second time and 5 months the third time. I say that’s improvement and I still have life to live even though I’m twice your age. You are waaay ahead of many of us my darling. Just live your life. A good man will come along if it’s meant to be.

  • Young Chump,
    Welcome to Chump Nation, our tribe. We have all had phases when we thought and felt what you’ve written.
    (I’ve been single for years and not single, dated and abstained, thrown myself into work/hobbies/meditation and have also just lied in bed for months. I’ve taken antidepressants, I run, I don’t run. I gain weight I lose weight, sometimes I’m pretty and sometimes I’m an ugly hog. I’m exhausted and feel like I am missing fuses in my brain or that some cosmic entity hates my sorry guts.)
    Some are lies, some are distortions caused by the emotional pain – this passes. CL got it right – stop pointing the finger at yourself! You’re grieving and blaming the wrong person!

    Some of us need more than one trainwreck to get off the damn tracks. You did it in a fraction of your life, Young Chump – congratulations! My lessons happened over the entire scope of your young life. 31 years ago I married Boss Hogg after he showed me AND told me about cheating on his first wife AND threw up huge red flags after I moved in AND cheated on me with 2 separate women within our first 3 years of marriage! Pass that Hopium Hookah, sister! I was duped into believing he would “change” and spent a good bit of money on therapists – individual and marital – in the intervening years only to learn he did it again. No pick-me two-step this time! I felt sick to my stomach considering “wreckonciliation” (“for the kids” “for the sunk costs” “for my lost youth” yadda yadda)…then the internet heavens opened and I found Tracy and CN. Righteous snark, logic and empowerment all in one convenient spot? Sign me up!

    At the time, I had felt like a loser frump, at 55 and …well, NOT at my peak, physically or emotionally. I grieved like a mortally wounded safari trophy. But I turned that ship around. I am doing so much better on so many fronts! I’m finally divorced and dating different people (but not committing to anyone because I’m not ready and I don’t want to!). There’s been a sea change in my daily life not trying to please the unpleasable Boss Hogg. I think I hit “MEH” not long ago, one Tuesday, as I was getting my nails done. My life isn’t perfect, but it is MINE. I’ve launched a small business, achieving a lifelong dream. I have love coming in at me from every side – friends, clients, my awesome children – who are better for the divorce. I’m about to be the hottest brand new grandma of a little girl next week and my younger will graduate from high school in 9 months. My passport is ready and there is NOTHING standing in my way! Not these extra 50 pounds (less than the 75 I faced losing 3 years ago, but still on the journey), because I’ve learned how to hold my regal head up and not wear someone else’s damned shame! I’m gorgeous!

    Feel that gief & pain, Young Chump – let it help launch you into your next chapter, undefined by fuckwits. There ARE a lot of them out there. But your Fuckwit Detector is recalibrating as you read this and there is true freedom and hope on the other side of your emotions.There are good people, too.

    Stick around, Young Chump. Study and bemoan and vent and spit your coffee out on your keyboard laughing at the resilience and strength we Chumps embody. You’re worth it!

    • ChumpDiva,
      Would love to connect with you as your post really inspired me today 🙂 I’m in my early 50’s and really thought I was the only one in that age bracket going through this mess, I’d love to hear from you…thanks!

      • Sobbeld— there are tens of thousands of us at least! I’m 52. Married 25 years, 4 kids. DDay #1 was on 12/26/14.

        Meh is awesome at this age or any age!

      • Im 52 and twice divorced with 2 healthy, mostly independent young adult daughters and a wonderful old lady dog. Lost 2 houses and gained 25 pounds. Im piecing together low paid PT work despite being well educated and experienced, but I’m free! Worked with great therapist, quit my toxic job, and cut ties with nearly everyone from dysfunctional chump life. Single not dating since April FOOL’S Day 2016. It’s hard and scary sometimes, but I am no longer someone else’s pawn in a rigged game.

        • Never posted but read every day! I am now 62 married 37 years at the time I discovered the affair in 2012….did not find The Chump Lady until after he 2 year hell of a divorce or I would not have indulged in pick me dancing or allow cake eating….and live with he no contact with 2 of my adult sons for reasons unknown except the ex spin on things I guess….really?!? He cheated and my sons think that is ok?!? Oh well, I digress….I carry copies of the book and hand it out freely to anyone who shares their own cheater stories!!
          So there are many many of our number of over 50 chumps…..

      • OMG you are so not alone – early 50’s here too. Chumpdom (and fuckwittery) know no age boundary.

      • I’m in the club too … together 20 years and married most of those with 2 girls under 10. DD was 18mths ago but it was actually a long and protracted discovery due to the gaslighting in the 12 month lead up. If only I’d discovered CL & CN then. Most days now I feel Mighty. I’ll get there but that’s pretty good for now. I can definitely see Meh on the horizon. Life is good, all said. Chumpdom can happen at any age. We’ve just got to work with the hand we were dealt and make the best possible life for ourselves going forward.

      • Sobeldd,
        I’m another older chimp. Late 60’s. Married 30 years. First Dday 25 years ago when I was young, dumb, in love and believed in miracles. Therapy = “sorry, I won’t do it again” shit. I believed it. Guess what….now that is a question I am sure most here at CN can answer without even knowing me or the X. Yep….he did multiple times but I didn’t know it because he just got sneakier and I was easy to fool because I wanted to be fooled. My life is littered with red flags now – like a communist country. (Hindsight is remarkable once I got over the shock. Now I think it rocks! but only because of CL and CN)

        I did pick me dancing. I believed in the hopium spread by the RIC and I threw me heart and soul into wreckconcilliation until I found LACGAL which led me here and my life did an upside down turn around that left me spinning like an out-of- control top.

        Still working on connecting my head knowledge with my heart – a feat I never imagined could happen but now do because I learned about NC here. (By the way, my daughter – in her 20’s got to NC long before I did. She taught me a thing or two in one short lesson!)

        You will find a lot of us here and I have found a lot right around me in person where I live. In fact. one of my best support people is a woman who was chumped after 40 years….She is one who did not do the pick-me dance at all. Simple kicked him to the curb.

        Anyway, keep reading and you will find a lot of us hanging out here – in good company and heading towards Meh all because of CL who turned her life around and has been kind enough to show us the way. Welcome to the Nation!

        By the way, I never in a million years thought I could ever feel good about what happened to me or that there would ever be a light at the end of the tunnel I had fallen into – been pushed into and now I know there is more that just light and it keeps getting brighter every day despite the shit being thrown my way as the fallout continues to land all around me.

      • Raising my hand too. Now 51 years old, married 20 years, two kiddos DS20 and DD18, Dday was 3 years ago. Almost 50 year old Dr. Cheaterpants ran off into the twu wuv sunset with DD’s 20-something asst sports coach in our kids’ Catholic high school. Actually he was content to eat cake and I kicked his arse out–he was giddy as he was leaving out the door though since he gets to claim I’m the bad guy. Kids now see through it and don’t want anything to do with him and he’s still spending money like a drunken sailor on young schmoops buying expensive house, tropical vacations, lots of jewelry. She’s an expensive one.

        And just so I don’t leave out the original poster that’s 30, Dr. Cheaterpants left the first time when we were in our early 30’s and the kids were 2 & 4 years old. The twu wuvs was a twice divorced, history of cheating on both husbands nurse in the unit he works and that her peers had nicknamed crazy. Hence I’m twiceachump. I let that fucker come back and spent many years with a very selfish man.

        It takes time and distance. As you start reframing who they are and what they are capable of then you really start to see they were a shitty person in many aspects of their lives. You were there to spackle as you looked through rose colored glasses at a fuckwit.

    • Sobeldd, there are LOTS of us.

      I’m 52 1/2, 28 mos since DDay (married 22 yrs, cheated for last half, hundreds of men and women, blindsided) and I feel in that time I’ve been undergoing a warp-speed evolution. And while I “got” the whole “love yourself, choose yourself” etc intellectually a good while back, I reckon it’s just in the last 5-6 months it’s really percolated right through my heart and soul.

      I actually do think I’m awesome now. Like, I REALLY like myself!! Even if I am a freak (sorry CL, I truly think the odds are slim there’s a lid for me – am a pot that was thrown on a very wobbly wheel. Plus, my bar is ridiculously high).

      ChumpDiva, I love what you wrote. Love.
      (((((((mighty middle-aged Sisterhood hugs)))))))
      To you both

      • And, believe it or not, there are a hell of a lot of chumps being dumped after 45-40 yrs, or longer.

        I Love hearing from them.

        I was 36 yrs married myself and it came out of wild blue yonder.

      • Mamameh, I would love to talk with you. I was married 13 years and just like you I was blindsided. My STBXH cheated on me with tons of men and women. It’s been 6 months since DDay, sometimes I’m ok, but other times I just can’t function. I’m seen a therapist and he says my situation is very traumatic.

      • Love your comment:

        “warp speed evolution”

        Right On!

        I will add that without CL and CN that warp speed probably would have been spiraling me down into a deep abyss but do to CL and CN my direction is UP into realizing parts of myself that I never imagined existed – like inner strength, self-worth and a sense of humor that I thought I had lost decades ago. I am finding someone that I actually like to spend time with – ME.

        Has it been easy? Hell no! It has been brutal. The pain unimaginable like childbirth; it has consumed my life for the past 2 years but, and that is a big but – I wouldn’t change it for the world today and I couldn’t have said that 2 years ago.

    • There must be so many chumps about this age I think cause the ex partners have had long enough to play families or relationships and then get bored and have the sadz of a mid life crisis because they are so special and deserve more. Chumps come in all ages shapes and sizes but I bet the 45-55 bracket is well stacked. 48 and proud (49 this month). I said to twat face if you were so unhappy and lonely all the time why didn’t you bloody well leave me earlier to give me a better chance of going off and finding someone else. Because it’s all nonsense. My feelings never mattered anyway clearly not as much as his because he is special and I quickly became a wife appliance (although not married) and inconvenience. I wonder what young women see in a 10 yr plus older guy I really do. Never appealed to me. Best bit about being chunked when you are older is you have started to cease giving much of a shit about a lot of things.

  • young chump. I was 32 with 2 young children when my ex left suddenly after 15 years together. Age is a number!

    I know where you are coming from though. you feel alone, unloved and wonder if you will ever find someone to complete you. well its not about that. its about completing yourself first, loving yourself first. would you want to be with a person who always talks about how unattractive and unlovable they are? first find YOURSELF before you find someone to share your life with. become that person you want to be, you have time and the freedom to do so. if you dont…who will?

    good luck x

  • Young Chump, the best advice I can give you is stop ignoring your gut. You don’t need a forensic expert, three eye witnesses, and circumstantial evidence before you cut your losses… if you feel anxious with someone you’re dating and don’t like their friends, that’s enough of a reason to pull up your anchor and find gentler seas.

    • I think this is a generally undervalued truth. One doesn’t need some justifiable reason to decide a relationship isn’t working well and refrain from participating in it. I’ve spent a lot of my life feeling like I would be a bad person if I didn’t do everything I could to save relationships. Exploiters use that trait to keep us on the hook and take all we will give.

      Problem is, while all that energy is going out to exploiters, I had none left to give to other quality humans.

      The better I get at being by myself, the less anyone can manipulate me by activating my fear of grief and loss. That is a good and useful thing. I don’t fear being without a companion because I really like doing things on my own. I like doing them with companions, too! I just don’t like it so much that I’m willing to feel shitty just to have them around anymore.

      • Thank you for this, I never thought about how I hold on too long to bad relationships. Definitely FOO issues, these patterns are so hard to see!

    • This one was hard for me. If my gut was warning me, I would not listen to it until I figured out ‘why’ I felt that way, what was my gut warning me about? Now, I don’t wait or try to figure it out. If my gut senses something, I walk away without trying to figure it out.

  • Your picker usually gets better with age.

    A few years after divorcing my ex, I began dating a guy who got me all twitterpated at first. But I began noticing many, many yellow and red flags. Guy couldn’t let me be right about *anything.* Charlie Sheen had just made headlines for fessing up to being HIV positive, and I said I thought it was awful that he’d had so many partners without without telling them he was HIV positive. Dude couldn’t even let me have that.

    Me: He says he slept with over a thousand women, if he were telling every one of them about the HIV, it would have gotten out much sooner!

    Him: You don’t know that.

    Me: Dozens of women have said he didn’t tell them!

    Him: They could be lying.

    And on and on. No hill was too small to die on for him.

    He was also blameshifty AF. If I had any kind of issue with anything he said or did, he would always spin it around and insist it was really my fault.

    Anyhow, younger me probably would have spackled that crap away and stayed with him much longer. Older me ditched him after a few months.

    Younger me probably also never would have dated my current husband. He was/is too short, too quiet, etc. But older me gabe him a chance and now I’m deliriously happy with him.

    Start thinking about the things you didn’t like about those other relationships and stop dating men with those traits. That’s a good way to start fixing your picker.

    • Great piece of writing here!

      I would only add a thought about timing — it won’t move faster than you can stay grounded when it’s solid. If you feel swept off your feet, if you find yourself changing the way your life runs and prioritizing the person over other important events and people, ask yourself, why am I so far off course from my normal life?

      I am not saying the sparkles of a new thing must go completely away, but Ibam saying they should remain in balance. If you are suddenly overspending, blowing friends off, playing hooky from work, or engaging in other similarly dysfunctional behaviors, notice that, and ask yourself why you have to change so much for the person.

      Because, well, you don’t.

      • I think it’s super important to gain a life before you have a partner. Then you can text whether a partner adds to your life–or wants to change it, and you.

  • You aren’t bitter – you are becoming more discerning.

    Now go do you – really and truly – and cut yourself a little slack. You’re doing fine. Truly.

  • This column and comments are refreshing. I’m youngish (34) and have had to fight through bitterness as well. I held off on relationships after the one with a narcissist, but still had more big betrayals from friends and colleagues that had me thinking Jesus Christ, am I going to attract this shit forever? But we do have to give credit for the gradual fuckwit radar recalibration. I am quicker and more decisive in how I interact with toxic people now. I accept that I’m dealing with a shitty person a lot faster instead of bargaining and denying for as long. I’m not afraid to end long relationships that don’t include enough trust and respect. What I have to get better at now is fully appreciating and trusting people who maybe aren’t perfect, but are much more well-intentioned. We can’t lose sight of the better people in the world, though it takes some searching to find them. Building up self-forgiveness and self-trust so you can find a healthy relationship someday is a process.

    • This! This is exactly my lesson for living well. Always choose people who have integrity and have your back. The other people can be around, just don’t invest in them.

  • Chumpawumpa,
    This column and comments are refreshing. I’m youngish (34) and have had to fight through *The Anger*as well. ….”.

    Fixed it!

    Anger is what will propel you forward. Don’t ever let anyone try to reframe your emotions and reactions to this assault as Bitterness. If you were a bitter person, you would be perpetually pissed off at everyone for everything.

    • This is a good point. I’ve lived a pretty long life and there are people who have treated me poorly at various times, but there are only two people in the world I am angry at: XW and her AP. To me, this proves that the problem is not *me* but *them*.

    • I am kind of distrusting of people, but’s it’s more like a PTSD response I’ve to try to coach myself through. I’ve isolated myself a lot more, I flake on invitations to weekends out and parties, cut off guys who’ve expressed interest in me, etc. I even quit my job and went on a creative sabbatical where I have launched a project that’s drawn in a lot of fans and media attention. I’m pretty cagey about getting too close to anyone, and every proactive outing with people takes a lot of courage. I feel bad for not giving well-meaning people around me enough credit for trying to connect with me. Rebuilding self-trust is big for me because when I realized what kind of relationahip I had been in — and honestly also had with several family members and friends — I felt humiliated. I wanted to lock myself away and fix myself so I don’t keep on making the same dumb mistakes. But you just can’t skip the bumpy phase where you’re trying to change and still fuck up. Or, better yet, reframing: I don’t need to be ashamed that I ran into an asshole who was attracted to my light again — I can be proud that I recognize what I’m dealing with and make smarter decisions faster.

      • I used to say that I attracted sh*t but now I say that my goodness attracts everyone the good & the bad. We just have to learn with time how to recognize which is which.

        The OP is smarter than I was at 30 but a lot of the younger generation are smarter than I was.
        They know that self discovery & happiness are entwined. Learning more about yourself leads you to knowing what makes you happy.
        You can do things that make you happy without being thought “selfish” these days. In my day, we were taught to put other’s needs first which did not always have a healthy outcome for us.
        Put your oxygen mask on first. Take care of you, explore, discover, share & the rest will fall into place. It just takes time.
        Good luck.

        • Thats right Renee62. I am of the older set too and used to feel like I had to be perfect and pretty damn near killed myself trying – eating disorders, pick me dancing etc….

          It is only now that I am realizing that I don’t suck. I never did suck. I just believed other people’s opinions of me – the ones destined to tell me I sucked vs all the others that were drawn to me, like me etc….I didn’t believe those people because ‘what could they know?’

          Now I am listening to the amazing friends I do have. I am not pushing them away or their truths about me away anymore. I am recognizing the energy vampires and trusting that my intuition about them is right on. No more manipulating me with the DARVO ‘techniques or the FOG cycles. Nope, thanks to CL and CN I now can spot them a mile away and I give them wide berth.

          Learned it all here and I am pushing 70. My daughter, in her 20’s already knows this and I am sooo proud of her that my heart splits open wide just thinking about her. A lot of us older ones are standing behind our savvy daughters these days. Mighty young women who don’t take shit off of anyone. Some call them bitches – those who don’t know that it stands for
          Being In Total Control of Herself!

          Thanks for posting.

          • Bless you elderly chump, you came from a generation where women were often 2nd class citizens, expected to only take care of her family and feel totally fulfilled. Your generation made it possible for women today to step away from that role.

            • JP

              Thank you for your kind words.

              Reading them just now reminded me that there is a bigger picture here, somewhere, and we all have our parts in it although we may never know it unless we do step away and take a broader look as you have done.

              I am just ever so grateful that I am still alive and able to witness my daughter’s wisdom and strength. She is a tiger and holds her ground in terms of job opportunities and equal pay etc. Something I NEVER would have even thought of doing at her age. To her it is natural. Amazing.

      • You have a lot of self-awareness. Take time …as long as it takes…to invest in yourself. I am experiencing the same stuff. None of this was done fairly to us. If we had been informed, we could have made different decisions. This makes me angry and wary of other relationships where you go deeper and present your vulnerabilities.
        Find your tribe. Invest in you and those people in real life who support you. CN is your virtual support.

  • Newt Gingrich, like many politicians on both sides of the isle, cheated. He was a Mr. Sparkle Pants….even with the name “Newt.”

    • A serial cheater who dumped TWO wives when they got sick, and was already cheating on them when he dumped them. Truly a repellent being.

      • Two wives?! And he left both of them when they got sick?! My God, I knew about the one, but TWO? What a sick bastard. I guess he’s a sparkle turd w/C. Diff. Stay away from him, people!

      • Yup ! Dumped one wife when she was in the hospital with cancer,if memory serves me correctly. What a steaming p.o.s. !

  • There are a huge number of assholes out there, I’m not gonna lie. And they attempt to cover up their assholeness most of the time.

    I guess my advice is to not get too invested in anyone till you have observed that they do and not what they say. We watched a Spiderman movie the other night and Spiderman said “Watch the hands, not the mouth.”

    Just be glad you found out these guys were losers when you did. It gets easier as time goes by and you begin to trust yourself.

  • The thing is, people can pretend to be committed. My X did, and he did it so well that he fooled me and all our friends and relatives, for 20+ years. Granted, I was young and foolish when I met him and believed the spiel, although I had this little voice in my head all the time telling me it would be a mistake. I gave in after months of constant badgering, and it seemed for quite a long time that everything was fine. Until it wasn’t. But what kind of a person puts on an act for so many years? Why would he even do that? These are rhetorical questions people still ask me but I’m not going to waste any more time on untangling the skein.

    Just wanted to say, even if someone says they’re into commitment and behave like they are, it’s still possible that they’re a disordered f***wit hiding behind a mask. I realise this is not a comforting or helpful comment for the OP, but it’s my own experience.

    • This was my experience as well. I was in a long term marriage marked by problems & issues, but ex swore he was committed, loyal, etc. and so I thought my doubts, unhappiness, etc. were a reflection of my insecurity, rather than his deception. I still don’t understand how someone could “fake” commitment and bonding for so long.

      The “Crane Wife” essay from last week was a revelation for me. It really helped me to see why I put up with all those red flags for so long, and why I kept trying to make my own needs smaller and smaller in order to sustain my marriage.

      • Spot on, it was DECEPTION. We were conned. The cheaters were actively lying to us and concealing their real self.

        It’s hard to not blame myself for not seeing or knowing what was going on until too late, but I have to remember I went in to my relationship believing the show he was putting on. I didn’t know I needed to be in detective mode.

        Normal people don’t / shouldn’t have to approach relationships in defensive mode.

      • I don’t know, I’ve been divorced since 2016 and she left a year before that. I hate what happened and the hate bounces to her and back to myself. I’m pissed. I’m 70 and have become one bitter human being. I am an isolator, I’ve lost trust and feel safer without someone too close to me. I used to believe that deep inside people are good. I am an ass for being so gullible. Trust me, I’ve taken a lot of advice. Anti depressants – check, therapist -check, hobbies-check, great little dog-check (I got the day after the divorce), a hand full of good friends-check, you get the picture. I’m still pissed. I think I was too old to lose so much and so afraid I’ll be dead before I reach MEH or maybe worse, live to 85 and stay the way I am. I can easily walk away when I see a flag the trouble is flags are all over because the problem is I think I am handing them out. I told a friend today that I’m pissed and she said (of course) “You’ve got to let it go”. I totally agree. Anyhow, I’m going to find the Crane Wife essay because you got me wondering.

    • growingwingsagain,

      As much as I’m loving all the other responses so far (they’re great and full of truth for young scared chump), you hit on a nasty truth. The disordered fuckwits can still sometimes fool you. Especially if your fuckwit-sense isn’t fully developed. Or you’re having an off day. Month. Year. You get the idea. Also, they’re just nasty good at fooling you. Like my XW.

      Sometimes, us chumps get overwhelmed by emotion for someone that may be a disordered fuckwit. We’re usually the truly empathic, caring ones in a relationship (hopefully we hone our picker & find another, also empathic, caring person to be w/, but…not always. Obviously).

      Young scared chump, I was friends from high school w/my fuckwit (FW) XW. There were red flags from the beginning, but I was insanely shy, didn’t start to date until I had almost graduated from college (and I had only had the one girlfriend for at most 6-9 months who dumped me right before I partnered up w/the XW, right after my father died).

      So I was super-shy, we had been friends since junior year of high school, and I was EXTREMELY young and green when it came relationships. The XW seemed a diamond in the rough, was extremely intelligent and I thought she loved me like I loved her.

      I got married to her 4 months after graduating from college. Since we had been friends for years already, it seemed we were now on the fast track to love. I thought I was doing right by being friends first and it developing into more than friends. Boy, was I wrong.

      But what I’m trying to get at is that almost 2 1/2 yrs from D-day, I’m really starting to appreciate me. And you should start trying to really appreciate yourself. No, I don’t think it’s the happiest I could be, compared to being in a loving relationship w/a good woman, but it works way better than being w/a disordered FW that really doesn’t care about me. Just like your former FW partners. Perspective and context is EVERYTHING to me now. Start trying to see how it can help you to have them, too.

      And I’m doing my damndest to always look on the bright side of life (yes, I am a proud fan of Monty Python). That’s me making a conscious decision every day to do so, which I didn’t do previously. I’ve got freedom from the XW, and I’m working on making my life better. Really try to work on that for yourself. It’s not easy, but it beats the alternative, which is where you’re at. And we’ve all been there, so don’t feel bad about yourself. Just try to move forward for yourself, at your own pace.

      For example, I say so what if the FW XW is living w/her former boss, who’s a millionaire (a really cheap one), and a former bigwig in our state’s politics? WHO GIVES A FLYING FUCK ABOUT HIM/THEM?!

      Well, sometimes I do, but I’m caring less and less as time goes on. Let the fuckwits have each other. I TRUST THAT THEY SUCK. I’m focusing on my life, my kids, the cats and being happy w/myself.

      And now I have to go check out Thaddeus Stevens. He really is sounding like a badass. I loved the movie Lincoln, but I guess I didn’t fully appreciate his character in it. Thanks CL, for clueing us in to that. Also, love Tommy Lee Jones for always being a kickass actor.

      • Gosh…I feel like you just wrote out part of my life in a sense. I had know my Fuckwit since we were 8 years old! I really thought we knew each other after 35 years. So after my first marriage failed and his as well, we started connecting on a different level with our friendship and got married. HUGE mistake! I had no idea that my childhood “friend” was a narcissistic and pathological liar. I should have done my homework into why his marriage failed and I would have found out that he was a cheater too…ugh! So here I am trying to recover after a 43 year mess of what I thought was a friendship, but I was just being used, lied to, and cheated on 🙁 I hope your heart continues to heal. It’s definitely a work in progress.

  • You dated two losers. We’ve all dated losers. It’s no reflection on your worth. Some people pretend to be into us when they are actually just using us. How would you know that? They are good at pretending. One way to tell if they’re for real is to ask for a commitment. That’s when they might show their true colours. There are orher signs, but I ignored them because I was in a precarious situation financially at the time. I feel like an idiot because the man I was with for 32 years did not want to marry me five years into the relationship. He had excuses, but no solid reasons. I should have known what that meant. But instead, I gave him an ultimatum; we marry or we break up. He decided to marry, and I now know he only did it to keep on using me.
    I wasted my life on this ass, but I learned a valuable lesson. Concentrate on what you’ve learned; that *some* people can’t be trusted, not all. Look for signs that the guy is less invested than you are in the relationship, and never shrug them off. It’s a blessing that you didn’t waste your whole life on some dick. Forge on and be you. As CL says, do what you love and stop worrying about being chosen. *You* do the choosing about what works for you.

  • Love this post and yay Thaddeus Stevens! My historian’s heart is going pitter-patter today!

    Young Chump, a dear friend sent me a wonderful link last Christmas as a kind of Christmas wish for me (and because I knit): a woman in the UK had lost her husband, and her therapist suggested she learn to knit to help deal with the stress and grief. Eventually, she created a yarn bomb memorial for him that evolved into a charity that created knit memorials. (This took some time–unless she’s a much faster knitter than I am!) In the process of collecting yarn donated by people who had lost loved ones who had knit (and who had left behind fabulous stashes, natch!) she met a new love (who was also grieving the loss of his spouse). The point was: devote yourself to the things you love that heal you, even if they seem like solitary pursuits–you truly do not know where your efforts will lead.

    But maybe, you’re saying, it doesn’t lead to a new love. That’s true, sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve had a few people who love me send me these kinds of wishes, because they want others to love and appreciate me as much as they do. When they express these wishes to me, I (perhaps like you are inclined to do in these moments) want to err on the side of a more “realistic” outlook and quietly say to myself: this is just a wish, not a prediction.

    But here’s the incredibly important thing: there’s no way to lose if you play the game this way. When I spend the day invested the things I love that heal me, I never feel like I wasted that day. And if my friends’ wishes aren’t predictions, and there’s no new love on the other end, I’ll still die happy and with no regrets, because I will have (with luck!) piled up a succession of splendid days that I valued and didn’t waste, that I spent doing things I loved and that healed me. To do only that seems like it would be a great miracle, but perhaps one within my grasp?

    Also, a journal is a great place to dump all your worst fears and insecurities–maybe write more about all this? Good luck, Young Chump!

  • “The difference this time around is that I invested in a person like me — a bonder. Someone capable of intimacy and deep commitment. I’m from the chumpy, gooey, empathic Bonding Tribe. Not everyone is. I wish someone told me that when I was younger.”

    Oh this is me!! I THOUGHT I had found a bonder (I spent much time observing Cheaters interface with his FOO and thought I had a winner, I was terribly mistaken).

    I had an extended Wreckonciliation from Hell longer that both this writers bad relationships 2x over and during that time, I applied myself to the care of dying children…NOT a real sexy past time. I did, however assist some precious humans to peaceful love-filled exits from Earth is situations where they were in danger of horrible deaths and I taught others to do likewise.

    The stone over my head when Im gone wont comment on how cute or funny I was and explaining my passions for competent care in peds death is not really endearing on dates, but I found a fellow bonder who worked through his angst over my occupation and realized I am cute and funny and its all good.

    Women these days have come to see their lives judged by their relationships (I sure did) and I wonder why we bought this Sale of Goods because (like my angst-filled relationship with my mom) we cant control relationships by ourselves…by definition there are other people in them, sometimes folks who dont share our values. Wow…I think I just had an epiphany.

  • You know, I know this might sound simplistic, but it has helped me…

    If I forget to brush my teeth, I brush them as soon as I remember.

    I don’t consider giving up brushing my teeth.
    I don’t beat myself up for forgetting.
    I don’t proclaim that I am a failure at brushing and vow to just forget about brushing my teeth
    ever again.

    Being cheated on hurts like nothing I have been through recently in my life, but IMHO it is in the
    same league as being victimized by a violence
    (I have that experience) which is ABOUT THE PERP AND NOT ABOUT ME.

    So part of overcoming this trauma is grabbing my toothbrush and brushing, so to speak.

    It’s very difficult to skip over the self-flagellation
    part of being chumped, but essential to recovery.

    I also notice that cheaters are notorious for their complete lack of introspection.

    Pickers can be improved for sure, but our WALKERS and LEAVERS need to be in top working order because we are still vulnerable when it comes to expert liars.

      • It absolutely is. I think that statement, and the realization of the TRUTH of it, actually made my STBX feel a bit of shame. Maybe.

  • In addition I’d add two things:

    1. Don’t let people invalidate how you feel about how you were treated. “But we broke up?” Ugh. Tell them to gtfo if they don’t have your best interest at heart. You need support and validation here, not dismissal.

    2. “Me knowing all along, not trusting my gut.” This. This is key. And I get you girl. I just had my first situationship thing after my chumping relationship ended over two years ago. I picked wrong. I ignored red flags yet again. I compromised my boundaries. Because I liked him and was enthralled and he lovebombed me. I hate that this second time it seems I haven’t learned the lessons of the first. But I guess I needed to be shown again how easily I could be swayed and the work I need to do still to get stronger. Enforcing your standards when you invest in someone and want to like them and want them to line you is HARD. Do this and you’ll get the confidence you need to it be bitter and to build an amazing fulfilling relationship. With yourself, if nothing else.

  • To “Young scared chump with a black heart and way too much life ahead of her”
    You still have time to find somebody, and somebody who will treat you well. Don’t sweat it. As the CL says, don’t stay in a relationship for long if the other person just isn’t going to work out long term. You now know more than you did before.
    -TTW

  • Aww. Hey, it’s gonna be ok. Really. Don’t let the bad guys in your head or out win. Ol Thad didn’t. But I do get your panicking feeling because being chumped can bring ptsd type symptoms. I woke up In The middle of the night last night. Gasping for air, heart pounding, coming out of a nightmare in which I found out I was being clumped! And I awoke screaming no. I hate that anxiety fear feeling and I had to talk myself down and put the chump moment out of my mind (I read a romance on my kindle). But before I read today’s column, I asked myself why I was dreaming that moment. And I’m not sure. I think self doubt is the curse of chumps. Put a rubber band round your wrist. Every time a self defeating rant starts in your head, give it a good snap. Break those thoughts and create a new, positive inner chatter channel. Hugs, little sister.

  • You’re still so young. Some day you will look back and say, every false step I ever took and every jerk I ever dated was pointing me to this wonderful place that I am right now.

  • Fourty-something single woman here. I think there is a special amount of anxiety and pressure around dating in your thirties. Women aren’t just expected to find “Mr. Right” at that age (or earlier), we are also expected to go “all in”.

    Examples: Most of the young mothers I know are still financially dependent on their husbands, at least to some extent. They usually work part-time, at most, and often in jobs way below their skill levels. Many of them also spend a lot of money on their weddings, buy expensive houses and costly furniture etc. This either means going into debt, or depleting your savings, or receiving financial support from one’s parents.

    What if the relationship falls apart? As people who have been burned before, we can hardly ignore this possibility. In such a case, women often end up in precarious economic situations, especially if their family of origin was also toxic and cannot be relied upon for support. In addition to that, we would have to deal with the emotional fallout.

    In short, we have to take a lot of risk. We have to “get it right”. If we either shun that risk entirely or pick the wrong partner, we will be considered a failure (that’s what society tells us all the time, at least).

    I think it’s especially hard if having children is high on your list (it wasn’t on mine, thankfully, therefore I remained childless). If single parenting is a possibility (supportive birth family, supportive friends, sufficient savings, family-friendly career etc.), this might greatly reduce the pressure, even if you aren’t planning to become a single mother.

    For me, all that pressure was too high. I felt unable to handle it while in my thirties, and opted for single life. For other women, the risk might be a lot more manageable, for a variety of reasons. In this case, all power to them!

    I still feel the need for human connection. Maybe I would like to have a relationship in the future, but I wouldn’t want to take the economic risks described above. I want to be able to leave a relationship behind with most of my life still intact, if need be. The emotional risk alone is scary enough. I used to hate myself for feeling like this, but now I am starting to understand my own motivations better.

    What I’m trying to say: It’s not easy for women (and probably neither for men). Maybe we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves.

    • *Forty-something

      Please forgive me all other orthographic errors I may have made in addition to this one, I’m not a native speaker!

    • I have never been more glad that I did not quit my career to be a stay at home mom as my ex wanted me to do. My marriage would still have ended the same way and I would have been way too dependent on him. Being abandoned would have been more than just a heartbreak. Thank God I was not willing to give up that piece of my soul to please him.

      • THIS Chumpinrecovery. I would have given my right arm to stay home with my kids when they were little and was jealous of those that got to do that, but as an expat with the expat benefits (i.e. schooling in English for my kids etc.) I had to keep working. I feel like I really missed out BUT my job allowed me to divorce the bastard and buy him out of the house, and now retire on a reasonable pension with a paid off house. I think it’s nice if someone can stay home with the kids (not necessarily the woman) – a lot less stress – but I just thank God it didn’t work out that way for me!

      • No doubt! My STBXW wanted me to quit my job and be a stay at home dad. It would have Just been another way for her to have more control of me. Yes it sounded great and my friends were envious that I was given that opportunity. But I just couldn’t do it. I still ended up being the primary caretaker for my kids anyways. It sucks now that she is trying to be this super involved mom all of a sudden to our kids and her boyfriends 4 boys. It’s pretty disgusting what she is doing. I should not have let her back in when I threw her ass out.

        • 8 months ago, I had gotten a promotion as a supervisor at a law enforcement agency and I was bringing a little more money than my STBXH. However, I was working alot of overtime and he was taking care our girls most of the time. He begged me to leave my job because working and taking care of the girls was stressful for him.

          I feel so stupid, I stepped down from my promotion and I got a part-time job. As soon as I was home, he would say he had forgotten something at work or he needed to go out because “he needed it to distressed himself.” Two months later, I discovered his infidelities.

          So you are absolutely right, the FW loves control. He is fighting to stay with our house and pay less child support. I waz so blind.

  • When you are ready to date take it very slow. Do not become exclusive with anyone. Date, but don’t rush into living together or marrying. Wait a 2 full years before you move in with a man. (This was the advice given to me by the abused woman’s center in my city.)

    Almost half the population divorces, a large percentage of married and coupled people are miserable together. If you find a decent man, great, but that can’t be your yard stick of success and happiness in life. A relationship is a bonus, not a necessity.

  • I’m not sure if you FOO or general background is whether you were trained as narc bait or you were bought up by people who wouldn’t dream of doing what your exes did so you didn’t read the signs but I do understand feeling like you have no point of reference for judging a person’s character, like people are some kind of opaque box that you can’t read and it’s scary because you can’t really tell what’s swimming around inside unless they overtly show you. That makes the world seem scary random and uncertain, we’ll at least it has for me. My advice is take it back to you. You are your centre don’t let anyone else be your centre, your compass. Check in with yourself often. And if like me you don’t feel like you have that centre, it’s a matter of doing a little science, a little experimenting. Look. For patterns over time. What do they say v what they do. Those times and this is not always about romantic relationships but could be family work friendships where you had a gut feeling. What happened? Was your gut feeling right or wrong? Having a place in your journal where you write them down and then can go back and compare your gut to what happened, we’re you right was it magical thinking fears or anxieties? Checking in with yourself and calibrating that picker and learning to trust it or feel how you feel when you’re working from a place of intuition or fear or anxiety. How does each one feel to you? So you’re not having to read minds all the time but rather checking how it feels to you.

    • Just to clarify that intuition doesn’t have to be prediction in any kind of magic 8 ball kind of way but more chump lady’s does this feel acceptable to you? Taking the discernment back to what is healthy for you, not what will make someone else pleased with you. And also when relationships don’t last long or don’t work out during dating, don’t necessarily take that as a reflection on you, unless you want to frame it as, everyone has something in mind when they are looking and I’m not what they were looking for. And that can be a blessing in disguise if you are giving off signals to a narc tgat day I’m of no use to you. If you put up boundaries and exclude people who give off the same behaviours that your exes did, then that’s a good start. Don’t take it as rejection of you just see it as you are not good supply and the trash took itself out before they had a chance to start any trouble because you didn’t give the right response to their mating call. All the best, don’t read your discouragement as bitterness,either.

      • Yass to all of this. Many of us are here because we were trained at a young age to be narc bait. We have to reconnect and respect our instincts again.

      • Or you could look at it as “if they don’t like the boundaries I am setting (ie. no close female friends) then they aren’t good enough for me”. Even if they are the ones who walk away citing your boundaries, you are the one who is being picky and that’s ok. You don’t need to be desperate.

  • Personally, I think turning 30 is the start of choosing the life you want to live. Your brain has matured, you have had time for both success and failure, and hopefully you have learned from both. You may be able to discern patterns in your life choices, evaluate why you made the choices you made, and then decide what you want to change. You should have learned by 30 that there is no one path to success, that other people do not have secret knowledge about how the world works, and they don’t have a conspiracy withholding this knowledge from you. In your childhood, and throughout your schooling, adults made assignments, and told you how to complete them. As an adult, you learn to make your own assignments. I do not know one person who has all the answers, or who lives a perfect life. If they say they do, run from them as fast as you can, because that is a big lie. You are fortunate that you have not had to divorce, and you have not created children. These are learning experiences that carry consequences for a long time. You don’t have this extra baggage to carry.

    Life is a process, and learning continues throughout all the time granted for you to live. Concentrate on making the best choices you can, and evaluating what works for you and what doesn’t. Try to find friends and partners who have similar values and goals. If you find they lied, and don’t have those values and goals, leave them behind. That is the best you can do, for you. There is no perfect life, no matter what people post on social media. Enjoy the good times, and roll away from the bad. Best advise I have from my life, over 30 years older than you. I hope you find it useful.

  • I think the key factor here is ignoring your gut, your instincts, your own common sense. Why? What compelled you to ignore your own inner voice? Perhaps the key to happiness lies in sorting out the answer to that. It’s not that you don’t know better, it’s that something is compelling you to act against your interests. Once you resolve that, life will become much more clear and less confusing.

    Going against your intuition will make life confusing because your gut, your intuition is screaming against the choices you are making. It doesn’t feel good even as you do it. You have to learn to trust yourself, your instincts,your intuition before you can figure out who else you can and cannot trust.

    It’s not about running and not running, being pretty and not, being social and not, it’s about learning to trust your judgment AND taking appropriate action accordingly. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been on 3 dates or 50, when your gut tells you that this person is bad for you, you walk away because that is the right decision for you. Own your life.

    • And why do we hold on to relationships long after our instincts tell us they aren’t good for us? Part of moving on is developing the capacity to let go.

  • Your aftermath is a lot like mine. It is very hard not to compare to others and their enhanced social media persona. But comparison gets me no where other than a dark whole of dispair. It has taken me a long time but I am now truly happy. I am comfortable in my own skin. Is my calendar constantly filled with fun events? No. Do I have a significant other to walk through life with? No. Do I sometimes wish things could be different? Yes. But I am happy and open to anything or nothing. My weight was on a roller coaster for many years, but now I have gotten to a place where I am healthy. Happiness comes in many forms for me but mainly it comes from peace.

  • I had my first D-day with my ex when I was 31 and I managed to spackle until the 2nd D-day when I was 37. I wasted all of my 30s and my fertile years with that loser. I should’ve left him after the first time, but I was too scared and I thought I was in love.

    I was married to a classic covert narcissist…I have learned a lot since then.

    I am 40 and I haven’t even been on a date since the divorce–too scared. He married mistress #7 less than 2 years after we split.

    • Similar story. In the end he described the cheating to me. I never knew him. Honestly don’t think I will ever trust my picker. Maybe someday we won’t be too scared? I don’t see that in the best future for me but anything is possible

    • I was married to a classic covert narcissist as well and I didn’t realize until D day that he was a closet narc and that I had been chumped. The coverts are the worst, in my opinion, because they are such incredibly good con artists.

      My situation happened 11 years ago. I kicked him out on D day and immediately set out to terminate the marriage. He was in absolute shock because he thought I adored him and he figured I’d forgive him. Wrong. I “got” exactly who he was on D day. For the first time. It was incredibly enlightening and it was actually frightening to learn just how good he was in hiding his secret life.

      I am still the same person I was before this happened to me. I’ve always been a very empathetic person and I still am. If anyone I don’t know well comes at me with the pity play, I get away from them quickly. That’s a hallmark of a covert narc and that’s how they suck you in. They can spot an empathetic person from a mile away.

      Since my marriage ended, I haven’t even looked to date because I’ve been busy doing exactly what I want to do with my life. But even at my age, I’ve had a few come out of the woodwork and they have tried to get something started and they were really quite manipulative about it. Two of them were guys who were old classmates from 45+ years ago who surfaced and friended me on facebook and then started doing their thing. They were quite aggressive and I flat out told them I wasn’t interested and this didn’t stop them. I finally stopped responding and then they got mad. Too bad. I didn’t make a mistake in shutting them down. I’m confident of that. If I happen to meet someone who is the real deal, I believe I will know it and if that doesn’t happen, I’m fine with it.

      To the OP, you cannot control what others do, but you can control how you respond to it. You can control how you educate yourself about the Cluster B’s and learn to be able to identify them before they break your heart and destroy years of your life. Beware of the coverts as they are more difficult to spot than those who are overt. I also think they are potentially more dangerous. You don’t want to get a personal education with a covert. Trust me. If it’s any consolation, you were spared having to go through a hideous legal process to end a marriage to a narc.

      You are young. Pursue your work, build your financial nest egg, pursue the hobbies you love, and make close friendships with people who appreciate you for who you are and who give at least 50% in return consistently. Live your life regardless of whether you meet someone who is good enough for you. Narc cheaters aren’t worthy and they will never deliver what they promise.

      • 007 – The X is a covert too. My marriage was not perfect but it was a dream compared to what people have to endure with an overt narc. I may or may not have gotten out earlier if he had been overt but at least I had a semblence of a ‘normal’ life and our house was peaceful for the most part. Kids not exposed to all the flagrant crazy making that one of my friends had to go through.

        My shock came out of the blue. He remained nice throughout the divorce which kept me high on hopium despite my life falling apart around me. I was enamored with the RIC shit because I had no clue about CL and CN in the early days. He was big into image management which kept his behavior in line. I could have ruined his business and brought him to the ground with one phone call and he knew it. Others could have done it too so there was a lot of external pressure to keep
        him in line and acting all sweet – lets be friends etc….DARVO dancing. The ‘nasties’ didn’t appear until papers were filed and divorce final and NC entered into the picture. True colors popped right out of the wood work and red flags began to decorate my past at break neck speed.

        I agree with how sinister they are due to their ability to mascaraed and fool everyone, especially those closest to them. The X still has 2 of his grown children and my dog fooled and that really bugs the he-be-je-bes right out of me. It was really hard in the beginning due to the shock but it is getting easier by the day. Your words, at 11 years out, give me hope. Thanks for sharing. I am still really new at all of this and am so grateful for the ‘old timers’ who still post here..

  • Dearest Young Chump, I have never heard anyone describe being chumped better!! You may be young but you are wise, anyone who is that unafraid to be so totally authentic is fierce. I would think you have the ability to write. To help others with your gift of truth, that is an untold gift you have. I have no doubt at all that you will survive and go on to so much more than you would ever believe and I am not just saying that. Believe in yourself, truly.

    • Wow…thank you so much. All of the comments here have brought me to tears and have been so liberating and empowering!
      I don’t have social media because it’s toxic for my mental health, so this connection is truly wonderful. Thank you for instilling the feeling of “tribe” within me.

  • I think Portia is right when she says, “I think turning 30 is the start of choosing the life you want to live.”

    So your task is to take your mind off your past relationship failures on onto the life you want to build. What do you want in your life? What are your passions? What makes your heart sing? What do you want to give back to the world, to contribute? Who do you want to be in 5 years, in terms of character? How do you want to spend your time? Do you have a plan for today that moves you forward? Do you have a plan for the next 6 months? Or for the next year? 5 years? That doesn’t mean a rigid plan, but a set of goals for the future.

    I’m 67 and am in the middle of my current “plan,” which is to get back to my goal weight, get back to regular yoga practice, do specific upgrades/repairs to my home, do some publishing, and figure out how I can best support democracy in the U.S. These are MY goals and do not in any way involve a man.

  • Aw, nuts! So disappointed that CL used Newt as an model for multiple marriages. He married 3 times because he cheated. I read here every day. Say it ain’t so Tracy, that you find him an admirable example.

    • That’s not what she meant. As I understood it, she was saying it was remarkable that a POS like him found three women willing to marry him.

  • My best friend said something to me when I felt pretty much the same way as Young Chump. She said, “your situation may not be unique but you are. Your story will be different than everyone else’s because we each have a different life to live and if you didn’t know this situation was going to happen to you how could you possibly know who you might or might not meet in the future.” Because she said that to me I was able to move forward with the attitude, “I don’t know what’s going to happen” instead of my past way of trying to control life by deciding how it was going to be for me and trying to force the outcome (which was never right and never ever worked).
    It’s frightening but it’s liberating just accepting that I don’t know. My new motto is “wait and see”. I’m finding that I’m constantly surprised by life and generally contented with it these days. And fucked up people, I’ve found, aren’t into “waiting and seeing” so it clears them out pretty effectively.

  • Hi young chump,
    I’m a young chump too,just turned 31 with a bitter heart and faith in men lost. I won the pick me dance, or so i think….

    story short, boyfriend had an emotional affair (or so he says) while spending ex s long birthday weekend with her, abroad . We were supposed to go there ( he with work, me tagging along for a long weekend), but then i was suddenly uninvited while he blamed depression and anxiety. I had a feeling in my gut and acknowledged the signs i was seeing and i dumped him .
    Then he came crawling back..fast forward 2 years, no commitment in sight …
    Problem is i love him , and don’t know what to do but at the same time i feel like i”m wasting time with someone that considers me his backup plan . I feel like i’m going nowhere and all men are pigs and it s too much effort for nothing. oh , and this happened with 2 prev boyfriends too , who , at least had the decency to ghost me before cheating. ‘

    So , I just wanted to say you’re not alone, and I truly hope there is someone for us too, and that I know that It s truly frightening right now , but it has to get better !

    Ps just wanted to thank Chump Lady and all the other lovely ladies in the comments, this community helped me get through the though times.

    • Just saw your post and that really sucks. I’m twice your age, but when I was in my late 20’s and early 30’s, my boyfriend cheated on me and I dumped him. I thought I loved him and he came crawling back and I let him back in.

      After a total of six years together, our relationship had still gone basically nowhere and I suspected he was still cheating. He indeed was and with multiple women. I broke up with him and this time I went no contact. I white-knuckled it and didn’t give him a another chance. He was so full of himself, he finally called me thinking he was still in control and he threatened he was going to start seeing other women if I didn’t get back with him. I told him “go for it buddy” and that’s the last time I talked to him.

      Very soon, I started getting asked out by several young men and I was dating up a storm and having a great time. Once I freed my own heart, all kinds of good things started to happen because I was open to new relationships and experiences. My career also really took off. I didn’t have the life I thought I would with my old boyfriend had we gotten married. I had an even better life.

      Guess who called me not too long ago, after 30 years and left a messsage for me at my office?. Him. I did not return his call. He’s married and I imagine he’s cheated on his wife for many years. I wouldn’t take her place for anything in the world.

      Take care of you.

  • A lot of these comments are hurtful to me. Because I have a dream of finding a partner. I am happy for the people who can take it or leave it. But it’s MY dream. And I don’t like the message that I should be content if I can’t achieve a dream that is very doable for many people. My odds are very low at this point. I wish I could express myself better. Does anybody understand what I’m trying to say?

  • Not sure why your odds are low CD. The overall message isn’t to squash your dreams. It takes some time and work to feel comfortable in your own skin. As chumps we learn from our experiences, fine tune our needs, set clear boundaries within all relationships. We GROW.

    Them, not so much.

    • CDISGONE, I don’t think the content of these posts are to discourage you from “finding a partner”. The push is to partner yourself first, in a process to prevent being narc bait. I offer my experiences as a cautionary tale.

      I speak from bitter, brutal experience that seeking love before I loved myself resulted in decades of abuse. It was normal to me, raised by a mother who repeatedly claimed the only mistake she ever made was having children. I learned to settle for crumbs of love. I didn’t know any better. You get to know better.

      I read these posts and see Chump Nation rising up to say “Love yourself first.” Our stories/advice aren’t to deny you a partner. Rather to encourage you to see the folly of seeking another to complete you, to love you. Chump Lady herself says “I actually think the odds are good, that every pot has a lid.”

      What you see as a dream achieved by happy married people is so often behind the public facade a nightmare. You can’t know another person’s reality. I am sure my long term marriage looked successful from public view. It was the only time he was nice to me, when other people were around.

      I would encourage you to really look why these comments are hurtful to you. I can assure you that was never my intent. My comments are made to offer up my experience so you don’t have to live through decades of narcissist abuse. Don’t settle for crumbs.

      You are the clever one. You found Chump Lady and Chump Nation. You can benefit from years of experience. You can find the lid to your pot. Chump Lady and CN will help you make sure that lid ain’t a lying, cheating, adulterous, ho bag loving, abusive narcissistic lid.

      • I can assure you I felt very good about myself when I met the ex. I was not desperate by any means. I operated on the information that was available to me. And he was well liked in the social circle. And still is. They have all been taken from me. Every. Last. One. Loving yourself is not always a defense to avoiding these outcomes. To say that the reason a person ends up in this situation is lack of self-love can be very wrong sometimes. And it just feels like being blamed for something being wrong with me. If only I had been a whole person. NOT the reason for what happened. He was very kind. I just didn’t know what had been happening behind my back and that I had been married for money. I never experienced any abuse that I was aware of. So I wasn’t putting up with anything that was wrong. I loved my life with him and he is the only person on Earth who knows the truth about me. Everyone else only knows and believes what he has told him. There are people who should have/could have helped my situation but chose not to. I would stand there and watch them and him die before i would call an ambulance. I will be spending my 5th holidays alone again this year. Hard not to be bitter. I live in VERY close proximity to all the haters. I have a major dental problem that is very hard to fix. A lot of time and money that I don’t have. Been to 5 dentists in just a few weeks and none will do what I ask. As soon as I open my mouth it is glaringly visible. I am thinking about knocking out my own tooth so I can get done what needs to be done. There is not a single thing to look forward to. EVER. No phone calls. Ever. The only person to come to my house in over 10 months was the ex recently. And that was to intimidate me. I did not let him in and the police came. I don’t watch tv/movies because I have no attention span. I have no emergency contact. Just had to get this out of my system.

      • I just want to add, the saddest part of this whole thing is not that nobody gives a fuck about me. I don’t give a fuck about anybody either. Nobody to give a fuck about.That is the saddest part for me. Every person I have ever known except my Dad and my paternal grandparents are total pieces of shit. They are gone now. At least when I still loved the ex, I loved someone.

  • Mamameh, I would love to talk with you. I was married 13 years and just like you I was blindsided. My STBXH cheated on me with tons of men and women. It’s been 6 months since DDay, sometimes I’m ok, but other times I just can’t function. I’m seen a therapist and he says my situation is very traumatic.

  • Chumps never be afraid to seek out a therapist that deals with PTSD. A trauma in your life whether abuse, war, death or divorce can cause this very real trauma to your mind. A specialist can be a lifesaver!

  • Read this quote in book today
    .. Many disappointments lead to cynicism.
    Its hard not to take repeated betrayal personally. You can’t un feel or unsee. I think it takes an awful lot of effort to want to try again. It takes alot of effort to keep picking yourself up each time and to keep going. We are human.
    I hope that you find acceptance at each stage. I know it’s hard. Hugs.

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