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Dear Chump Lady, Is she a cheater or a muse?

Dear Chump Lady,

I am am 51 year old male who has been married to his wife for 27 years.

There have been four distinct occasions when my wife “fell” for someone else, three of them led to no sexual or physical intimacy. 

The one came about when she was open with me about her “interest” in him. I didn’t like the situation and sensed it was getting close to an affair. So I pressed, she broke and we split for 6 months.

We never stopped loving each other and we actually secretly dated each other while we were both exploring other relationships.

Ultimately she asked me to come home. That was 4 years ago.

Now she is out doing her music thing, which I support, and she is interacting with two men.

The first is an older gentlemen (more of a teacher guru) who is helping her expand her creativity. He is married and seems to have pretty decent boundaries and almost like therapy is allowing her to get this “thing” out as to why she’s been doing this over the years, so it’s more than unconventional, it’s fringe. He’s 3000 miles a way, but they have Skype sessions (which she tells me about, not the details) and messaging etc.

She most likely won’t have sex with him for many reasons, but the emotional attachment is obsessive.

The second also is a married man. He is a music professor who is miserable in his marriage, and has professed his interest in her. She has explicitly expressed this would be a non-sexual relationship. But she is taking his class and using his services.

There is clearly an interest in what these men have in knowledge and ability that can “help” her.

She writes poetry to the first guy. (This is used to help her transcend the lustful desires to spiritual higher ways) without acting out physically on them.

I know it sound nuts, but I see it working.

At the same time I’m halfway through your book and many things are resonating with her behavior. So my question is maybe unique — Is she a cheater? All the letters in the book are about actual cheaters, she physically has not cheated.

She asked me to be patient and trust her through this. We have set some boundary agreements, but she won’t show me any of the emails.

I did see a few and a message when I used her computer (she had me listen to to a podcast); she left the browser open.

I have told her I know what going on, and she has acknowledged it. I feel like a chump in many ways.

Please advise.

Mr. Husband of a Poet

Dear Mr. Husband of a Flake,

Is any of this okay with you? The emotional investment in other men? The marriage policing? The batshit crazy poetry-as-cold-shower thing?

I’m thinking it’s not okay, or you wouldn’t be writing me or reading my book.

You do get a vote here. You don’t have to be cool with whatever Ms. Lustful Spiritual Pathway is shimmying her tambourines at today. Not supportive is actually an option.

“We” set boundaries, she reacts with secrecy — what’s your next move? The vagary of “I know what’s going on”? Shrug. Whatever, dude. Me and Guru got a date.

It seems like you might just be on the verge of enforcing a boundary if it weren’t for being stuck neck-deep in spackle.

(Spackle, for the newbies, is the act of slathering filler over unsightly evidence, and spinning excuses.)

Every time sirens go off in your head that Things Don’t Feel Right — you spackle.

my wife “fell” for someone else, three of them led to no sexual or physical intimacy

And you know that, how? And why are you using the language of “falling” in love or infatuation with someone and not the behavior as it affects YOU?

Try this:

My wife has had four relationships with other men where she behaved secretively, and gave me reasons to distrust her, which led me to believe she was having affairs, although only have proof of emotional affairs.

Sirens a little louder now?

I want you to give up a few mindfucks, Mr.

1.) That your wife is a Great Artist. One of the most pernicious myths in our culture is that artistic greatness equals license to be an asshole. Unfortunately, you can be both things at once — a really great artist AND a flaming asshole. The painter Gauguin abandoned a wife and six children so he could paint Tahitian hotties. I don’t think narcissism gave him better color sense. He was a dick who could paint.

Your wife may or may not possess artistic talent — it doesn’t give her license to treat you like shit.

More often than not, people approximate narcissism for talent. I Am Behaving Like a Total Shitheel, But It’s Just In Service to My Art.

“Art” is the cover. Really, they just want to swan about with self importance, book a couple workshops in Taos, make pet portraits out of driftwood…

Consider that your wife might not be that talented. Except with her double lives. Or that her artistry and “poet” status is really besides the point.

It’s spackle to think you have to accept her shit as part of some Larger Creative Good.

2.) That everything’s okay so long as she didn’t fuck anyone. You don’t know if she did or didn’t. What you know is self-reported from a very unreliable narrator, so my money would be on her fucking around.

But it doesn’t matter — emotional affair, physical affair, she’s treating you like a chump. Promising “boundaries” and then violating those boundaries. Investing all her energies in relationships other men, one of whom professed “his interest.” (In what? Harmonic scales? What do you think?) Do you want an open relationship? Do you feel safe? Or would you prefer to be in a monogamous relationship? If so, stand up for that.

3.) That she’s a prize. She’s a fuckwit, and she’s got you pick-me dancing.

He is a music professor who is miserable in his marriage, and has professed his interest in her.

And you know this… because she told you? Marriage policing is not a good look on anyone. But what’s particularly conceited is that woman who thinks Everyone Wants Her. And tells you about it.

First, you’re her husband. That’s disrespectful and cruel. Second, it’s an invitation to the pick-me dance. Ooh! I must fight off all these suitors! Boy, she really is a charmer. I need to fight to keep such a muse!

Bullshit. She’s a needy cow.

Mr., this whole shit show works for her.

Does it work for you?

I think you know enough about who she is. The question is, what are you going to do about it? You only control you.

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.
  • And to think I had someone insist to me that emotional affairs don’t count when it comes to cheating…it’s still shit no matter how you slice it. Listen to CL, bud, she’s trying to protect you

    • Yes…please listen to CL!! Cheating happens in lots of different forms, and Emotional Cheating is one of them. You are being cheated on! Time to run like your hair is on fire and lawyer up. YOU deserve SO much better than being with a serial cheater, a liar, a manipulator, a scam artist (now you know what type of “artist” she truly is), etc. Get out while you can. I am also the same age as you so I understand how scary this can be at this point in your life. But I promise you that maintaining your self worth is far more important than playing her pick me dance crap.

      • How many guys hang around for a relationship without sex? There, you have your answer-NONE

    • Hey, Mr. HOAP,

      This moment stands out to me:

      “We never stopped loving each other and we actually secretly dated each other while we were both exploring other relationships.”

      From whom was this a secret? Did you do to someone else what hurt you when it was done to you?

      See, the thing is, while you are indeed a chump, you are simultaneously an active participant. Many chumps are kept completely in the dark and blindsided. You are aware, in the loop, and participating (albeit probably not entirely consciously) in the dysfunction pretty willingly.

      This doesn’t make your betraying partner’s actions ok. Her actions are pretty messed up no matter how you slice it.

      But if you don’t have clarity in the relationship about whether non-monogamy is allowed and, if so, what the rules are (and it sounds like you have been permissive enough that the boundaries are highly fluid), then we can’t be shocked and indignant when she violates what our rules would be.

      So, CL is right here. You need to get your own shit straight — what IS ok with you and what is not? — then you need to state it clearly, then you need to enforce it in your life, no exceptions for art or anything else.

      Until you are willing to do that, you’ll be part of the plan, one of the secrets, dancing until your death trying to gain what you want from a person who is not offering it to you.

      I speak from experience, so I am not without compassion. I don’t mean to be harsh. I do mean to be clear. I hope this, however painful, is also insightful. Good luck.

      • (As often, my comment wasn’t supposed to nest under another – sorry about that, Friends!)

      • That was my thought too – how do you (and why would you) “secretly date” your spouse?? That makes no sense to me. HOAP, you aren’t just smoking the hopium you’re mainlining it. Please listen to CL and remove yourself from this craziness.

        • It sounds like he is a cheater also. Being separated doesn’t give you a license to sleep with whoever you want?

          • Sirchumpalot,

            I agree! It sounds like they are both cheating on each other. Just because you are separated doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want. You are still legally married and bound by the commitment of your vows. So both sides have done wrong in this one.

            • I didn’t touch that because I don’t have enough context. People separate, they file, they date other people. I’m not quick to condemn dating while separated because some horrible states (I lived in one once) make you waits YEARS to divorce. Virginia has a law where you have to wait one year and a day of physical separation before you can FILE.

              That said, I’m very cautious about this. OTOH, have a life. OTOH HEAL first. Don’t self medicate with other people.

              It doesn’t change my advice — this relationship doesn’t sound acceptable healthy and what the wife is doing is no way to treat anyone. If he was doing revenge affair/dating BS, well, obviously that’s dumb and wrong too. And totally ineffectual as far as revenge goes. It’s just extra kibble portions.

              • Some states, like PA, see separated people as free agents able to date without impacting their legal position in the divorce.

        • Beth,

          I agree. I was thinking about this too! It really sounds to me like she has him in some kind of bold mindfuck if she can convince him to keep “their relationship” secret when they are the ones who are married. This whole situation is a clusterfuck.

          Reminds me SO much of my serial cheater ex and the shit she got me to do through years of manipulation and mindfucking. At one point she convinced me to to be openly poly with her because she claimed it would keep her from cheating on me. Then as soon as the other relationship went somewhere, she DEMANDED I end it immediately, even though she had been cheating on me for years and years with at least 10 other people, was even cheating on my after coercing me to be poly, and she was the one who pushed this specific third party on to me.

          I ended things with her soon after this and damn that was maybe the best decision I have ever made in my life. I am now very happily cheater and drama free and in a loving monogamous relationship where we have healthy communication and boundaries and mutual respect.

          I strongly recommend leaving that mindfuck.

          • I also had the pleasure of a faux poly cheater. He convinced me after his year long affair (which I didn’t know about at the time) to open our relationship. I was never completely into it but he cheated on me IN an open setting. Right in front of me on one occasion. Cheaters that manipulate their partners into open relationships are special kinds of psychopaths.

        • and I, for one, would like to know what “He is married and seems to have pretty decent boundaries and almost like therapy is allowing her to get this “thing” out as to why she’s been doing this over the years, so it’s more than unconventional, it’s fringe” means. word salad like that… that’s a red flag.

      • Sounds like he wasn’t all in with the consensual non-monogamy. Exploring other relationships while spouses are side pieces doesn’t meet my definition of marriage.

        • I thought it was a particularly messed up form of pick me dancing, and triangulation by the wife.

    • Emotional affairs are just a strategy from the cheaters playbook. They always deny anything physical happened. Because that’s tough to prove unless you actually catch them in the act. But if you catch intimate text messages, emails, social media messages, etc…then they can claim it was just an emotional affair as a DEFENSE TOOL. Cheaters will always minimalize. People don’t have emotional affairs and restrain themselves from getting physical. That’s pure B.S…..don’t feel bad I was a victim of this multiple times, only to find out that it really did become physical with all of them, plus there were more affair partners I didn’t know about. I only found out because I got lucky and overheard a phone conversation my ex had, talking about what a naughty girl she was. Of course after I confronted her she denied it and tried to gaslight me. ….just walk away!!!

  • Define ‘relationship’.

    Now define the ‘relationship’ you want.

    Now define ‘defective relationship’.

    Now RUN!

  • I’m trying to come up with a way to be supportive of HOAP, but coming up way short. The wife is a user and HOAP allows himself to be a doormat. Allows it. Repeatedly. Or he’s an emotional voyeur and seems to enjoy it.

    The letter indicates there’s a glimmer of hope he knows he’s in a garbage marriage, but he’s still allowing her to just walk all over him. Wearing cleats.

    Dude, man up and get out.

  • Come on Mr Husband, who do you think you are fooling?

    If this excuse for and this means of being a patron of the Arts is OK with you, take care.

    For the sake of the Arts, I hope your wife is indeed a poet. But it sure looks like she is one more anguished narcissist, upset that that her greatness and talents STILL have not been discovered. You are just her place to crash softly if things go wrong.

    • Bingo. The tortured soul of the artiste obviously requires multiple “artistic connections” with other men in order to fuel her “art”.
      Barf. Just another self-deluded narc user. He’s her safe and secure base camp from which she can “explore” other dudes. She won’t let him read the emails for a reason. No doubt they are steamy and full of whining about her unfulfilled life with a husband who doesn’t understand or appreciate art, bla bla bla. They always say crap like that. No matter how good to them you are they will find some excuse to complain about you. Mine whined to his AP that I didn’t understand the importance of getting drunk, FFS.
      HOAP needs to face that he is being used and lawyer up.

    • and can I just say, as an artist myself (a good one, thankyouverymuch) that it sucks that there’s this notion that being artistic makes one or gives one licence to be a narc cheaterpants. female artists are portrayed in a lot of media to be waifish muses who like to pose nude ourselves, either literally or euphemistically, because we are just so free and worldly and sexual – and selfish. blecch. being artistic\whimsical\creative doesn’t comment on character. I wonder if the woman in question here is playing off that stereotype and just doing anaiis nin cosplay. because no offence to maya angelou or anyone, but… poetry? really? and how many mentors does one need?

  • Emotional affairs are still affairs. Your wife is investing her time and admiration on other men. She is basically flaunting it in your face. Talk about a huge ego she has. Every man seems to want her. Even the man who is married. If your wife is willing to have an emotional affair with a married man it shows you how much she really respects marriage. Just because the man is in a marriage that is not working does not give him or her a right to be cheating. Also, I know from experience. Cheaters only give you bits of the truth. As long as she can keep playing cat and mouse with you she will continue her inappropriate relationships with other men. Is that acceptable to you??

    • Emotional affairs are definitely still affairs.

      Also, after finding out that affair sex can take shockingly little time, it’s very probable that the emotional affairs are physical ones. Even if the other person is 3000 miles away, that’s only a flight. The first time that either one can be out of town on work, the other can join them, even if it’s only to hook up while the person is on an extra long layover between flights.

  • Don’t you find it AMAZING that someone with her creative talents simply cannot find a FEMALE mentor, in whom she has no sexual interest, to work with her?

    Not that she may not find women attractive, but you say it’s only been men.

    Run. Whatever it costs you to get rid of her is money well spent.

    • Same sex mentors are no safer than opposite sex mentors. The assumption that same sex = no risk of infidelity really, really irritates me.

      I had a female colleague who talked incessantly about her female best friend. They commuted to work together, took vacations together sharing a bed, the works. It was obviously very intense and intimate. This same colleague judged me again and again for my friendships with men, most of which remained appropriate. She told me I should do what she did: avoid men and develop close relationships only with women. Well, that is overt sexual discrimination, and illegal. Where I work people who get caught doing that get fired. Furthermore, it has been my experience that women are more likely than men to proposition me sexually if I let them get near me. For cheaters it seems same sex is an even better cover than married. One day I lost patience with my colleague and told her it seemed to me she was cheating on her husband with her girlfriend. It was at the very least an emotional affair. I never heard from my colleague again.

  • Here is a suggestion Mr – Listen to CL! She is a fucktwit and using you to keep her lifestyle while she is fucking dudes on the side. It doesn’t matter if it’s physical or emotional or spiritual….she is fucking them by pouring her time, effort and energy into them. And, you can bet your hard earned money that if she is doing that she IS physically screwing them. So, get the hell out of that relationship and gain a life with a respectable person that only wants ONE significant other in their life to pour time, effort and energy into. I am speaking from experience.

    • This. The time she could be spending with you, making your marriage stronger, she is choosing to spend with other men. Ego strokes are so enticing.

      Are you the primary earner? It sounds to me like she is using you.

      • I was wondering the same thing. There are a lot of creative people out there (painters,photographers,musicians,writers,etc.) who may even be talented but they can’t support themselves financially with their “craft”. You’re being used. Get out now.

  • Your wife knows how to schmooze men who can help her in her art, and flatter her simultaneously. Obviously any professional boundaries are not present.

    A marriage is either open or it’s closed. It can’t be somewhere in between. You have to pick a side, and enforce it with words and deeds.

    My gut is that this won’t work for you. And if you stay it will be a rather crappy existence. To have to compete with other men for your own wife defines suckitude.

  • It sounds like you both have a lot to work through on your own.

    No one should cheat and no one should be cheated on. Sadly not everyone has the emotional maturity to face the uncomfortable issues and in many ways cheating is an easy way out of addressing issues.

    You admit that you Chumped others and you are a Chump yourself. The first thing to do is get yourself in therapy and deal with your own shit. Please don’t date. Don’t do this to another woman. You know how it feels which makes it all the more cruel.

  • We all have to tell ourselves that we are worthy of an attentive, kind, loving spouse. Anything less is just not acceptable! I want a spouse who appreciates me & values me & my time. Because that is exactly what they would get from me.
    I stopped the pick-me dance. It didn’t work anyway. Competing for attention from my spouse is not acceptable to me. How was it ever?! That is what I have to work on.
    The time & attention given to others instead of their own family is the part that I still can’t understand but not my problem any longer.
    Don’t compete. Retreat.
    Get your head out of the mindfuck blender. They aren’t special. They are cheaters. Period.

    • AND safety, don’t forget safety. I spent years not feeling safe in my own home.

      Comes from living with a covert narc who set up situations to look like a victim. That and the non stop compulsive lying.

  • Can we as a culture stop elevating The Marriage above the self-respect of its participants?

    Yes, hard to leave a 27-year marriage out of habit. But Mr. HOAP, necessary. Your wife is cannibalizing you and blaming “Art.”

    • Yes please!! “The Marriage” really sets me off. That was ex’s primary excuse: “I was increasingly unhappy in The Marriage.” No. The Marriage is not a thing. There is you and there is me. WE are The Marriage. If you were increasingly unhappy with me you should have told me so. If you were increasingly unhappy with yourself then you should have found a way to work through that that did not involve a disgusting variety and volume of porn and strippers.

      • This may be the best comment I have seen all year. Sending you big long-distance hugs. ❤️

        • Aw, thank you Sunny! I will never turn down a hug from a fellow Chump. But no worries about me. I am happily divorced and long since arrived at Meh – until I see “The Marriage” and take off on a rant. 😀

      • Very great explanation of what I truly believe: that saving a marriage is not as important as saving the chump who is being abused in the marriage.

      • Yes! This! It’s a way for them to depersonalise the damage they have caused in their spouse, as if happiness in “The marriage” was something they had no control over????

  • She sure thinks she is some hot shit, doesn’t she. Apparently so do you.

    Despite you feeding the pig all the slop she demands she hasn’t produced the earth-shattering high art that was supposed to come from this special handling. She produces schlock to benefit some other dude who is jerking off to it 3000 miles away behind his own wife’s back. What a pile of steaming garbage.

    Let’s see how she does with some real drama in life, with your dumping her ass cold and gaining a life for yourself. She will finally have some actual difficulty in her life to write about rather than this bullshit manufactured angst that does nothing but damage you. Since it seems to be a prime concern, you can call this a service to her art.

    You deserve better.

  • Hey HOAP – Your marriage is like the “Amityville horror ” – the walls are whispering ‘get out’! Your ‘wife’ obviously wants to fuck other men – part of her ‘getting off’ is gaming YOU. You’ve really have no choice. Just leave -now.

  • Ugh.

    Mine fancied himself as an “artist”.

    Albeit a shitty artist. He sold 2 paintings. One to my dad, one to his dad.

    But see, he justified his ways to me because Picasso had many lovers, even though he was married. Picasso clearly needed the strange to inspire him.

    So since it was good for Picasso, it was okay for him.

    • Picasso was a talented artist who made a living doing it. And he also treated the women in his life like mierda/merde. Also look carefully at the depictions of women in a lot of his work-full on misogyny.

  • Hi HOAP

    First i am very sorry you have had to writ to CL but as many others will advise correctly this is indeed an affair and you must leave the cheater .

    But one thing that stood out to me was how do you know the music professor is in a bad marriage ? Did your wife tell you this ?

    You probably don’t know anything about the music professor marriage ( maybe one side of it )

    Look through the archives and you will read thousands of stories of how affairs start, its mainly i am in a bad marriage / my spouse does’t understand me blah blah .

    Of course this is never mentioned to the spouse that the cheater is telling randoms and laying traps to start an affair with anybody that will bite .
    Please don’t take your cheating wife ( yes sorry she is cheating on you ) word for how bad anyone else’s marriage is when she can’t be faithful in her own .

    • The archives are pure gold, a trove of information to cull through during those sleepless nights when you realize your life as you knew is OVER. You were conned and are being abused. There are common narrative threads that run through the stories, showing cruelty and a lack of originality on the part of the cheaters.

    • Yep, that’s how affairs begin…one party lets it be known he/she is unhappy with the spouse. Mr. HOAP, your wife is primed for a sexual affair with that professor; it is already emotionally out-of-control. It stands to reason that she is badmouthing you to all the men “mentoring” her. That’s what cheaters do – they lie about the chumps, painting them as impossibly awful. When I was pick-me dancing, X badmouthed the OW to me! Calling her all sorts of filthy names. And doing the very same thing against me to her.
      So if she told you the professor is miserable, it’s like saying she is the solution for him. She is getting off on all this male attention; like CL said…NEEDY. You don’t have to put up with it.
      Rest assured, you are very chumpy. Please don’t continue this way.

  • I almost feel like this guy is a troll looking for cake. My radar is up.

    If you are real, Mr., and if you don’t like this marriage, I suggest you find a therapist who will help you detach. Al-Anon might help you as well.

    It wouldn’t work for me for one second.

    • I can’t help feeling the same way Motherchumper! Tell me this guy’s not for real please!

  • Under all this is your acceptance that you don’t deserve better. Why?
    My suggestion is to find a good therapist & talk to some bad asses (friends) who will help you be accountable & see shit very clearly. Is this what you want in a marriage? I think not but only you can decide that.
    Time to end this party.

  • Narcles the Porn Clown said it this way: “My dad, (dead for many years when I he started saying this so I couldn’t ask him if it was true) said it doesn’t count unless you get your dick wet.” I’m fairly sure that his deceased father never said such a thing to any of his sons. It was Narcles explanation as to his many, oh so many, emotional affairs and just the ones I knew about.

    Honey, shes cheating you and cheating on you. But you already know that by now.

  • Emotional affairs are just stepping stones to physical affairs. When my ex had his first emotional affair I didn’t know what that was. I used to refer to it as a “near affair”. He told me she was coming on to him. He was tempted. He spent a lot of time with her. I am pretty sure that one didn’t go physical (beyond a kiss) but who really knows. It doesn’t matter, however, because I now recognize that as a full blow affair even if it didn’t go physical. It did serious damage to our marriage and got him thinking about what it would be like to be with another woman. After that he had, I believe, at least two more emotional affairs that could have gone physical for all I know. He didn’t talk about those but he had “friends” he spent too much time with and they wrote questionable e-mails back and forth. I thought I was keeping an eye on things at the time and there were no red flags. After the first one, I should have just not allowed him to have female friends but I didn’t want to be that kind of wife. By the time he had the physical affairs I was completely blindsided. I had no idea. By the time I found out about the second one I was starting to wonder if he might be having an affair but I never suspected the woman it turned out to be. The first one went completely under the radar. I didn’t even know he knew her. I found out about her after I inadvertently confided my marital troubles related to the second one to the first one. Meanwhile Schmoopie 2.0 (the one ex left me for) was doing more or less the same thing to her husband. She had a series of emotional affairs until she finally found one to fuck (my ex). Anyway, my points are that even if she hasn’t gone physical yet, it’s still an affair and it is only a matter of time before she does go physical. My other point is that it might be the one you don’t know about she is fucking. The others are red herrings for you to chase so you don’t notice that one.

    • Bingo. 2011 emo affair. Marriage counseling. 2017 different dude physical affair. Now I wonder about the years in between.

      • It really doesn’t matter, either way, sex or no sex. You’re left triangulated and pick-me dancing, with all semblance of boundaries crushed in your rear view mirror.

        When you finally wake up and realise that you’re begging for semi decent behaviour from your spouse, the person who’s supposed – above all other – to have your back, you must conclude that there is nothing to work with.

    • I think it was a recent post in which CL asserted “adults fuck first and fall in love later”. Leaving aside whether this is true in every single case, and there is compelling evidence to suggest it is indeed true, let’s just assume it is for the majority of cases. Ergo, if there is emotionality between two individuals then it is more than likely physical contact has also occurred or will shortly. But regardless, this is how the muddying of the waters begins by the cheater who already cheating. The cheater does this by instead parsing the fine line of what the relationship / situation constitutes FOR THEM and then they push the narrative onto the chump. The chump has to step back and decide what is or isn’t. The real definition is what it constitutes for the chump.

      In the case under discussion, it’s simple. There are far too many people in this relationship. And no matter what, that means it’s time to go chump.

  • As always, the big question is Is this Acceptable to You?

    If it is, then fine. Keep up with the status quo.

    If not, then you have two choices: stay with what you know or try to change things.

    Staying with what you know is very tempting. Lots of people choose this option and stay in the marriage, even though they have to tiptoe through eggshells. The marriage is what they know. It’s not fulfilling, and sometimes their partner is cruel–but other times nice (and this, by the way, is a sign of emotional abuse).

    If you want to change things, you have to remember that you control only you. If she doesn’t want to share, or if she tells you that you need to be patient and trust her–you can’t force her.

    My own guess is that she really gets off on the secrecy. Look at what you wrote above: We never stopped loving each other and we actually secretly dated each other while we were both exploring other relationships.

    Who’s keeping the secret? If you were the one “exploring” another relationship, did you date the other person, let them know you’re married but separated, and did they think you were no longer seeing your wife? Or was she seeing another man but seeing you on the QT?

    I’m betting on the latter. Your wife likes secrets. Secrets are a power play. She knows something that you don’t. This is pathological.


  • My question is “what are YOU getting out of this dysfunctional relationship” ?
    Don’t you deserve better ? If you have an open marriage and both swing then why are you here and reading and writing to CL ?? More likely it sounds like you had a traditional marriage and the cheater forced an open marriage on you and since you were terrified of divorce and destroying your marriage, you foolishly agreed. Now you are in a dysfunctional mess and it bothers you otherwise you wouldn’t have written that letter to CL.

    I’m sorry but right now she sees you as a guy with his hat in his hand thankful for the crumbs she throws your way. Meanwhile I’ll bet $1 that while she is pursuing her “art”, you get the honor of working a real job and paying the bills. !

    GTFO and see a lawyer today and let your “artiste” go find another sucker to put up with her BS and pay her bills.

  • Slightly off topic – but where do cheaters meet all these people to cheat with ?

    I have never in my 45 years had an emotional affair ( or physical one ) Here is HOAP wife had at least ( that he knows of 4 EA)

    What you rock up at work or music club and BOOM !!

    I have never had that happen to me and i bet most of us haven’t . But these cheaters it just seems to be something that ” happens” to them .

    • Yes!! I have always wondered this myself!! Mine screwed numerous co-workers over the years and also had a penchant for f-ing strangers he picked up in upscale hotel bars n business trip. Now, he did work in the fitness industry where this type of thing is prolific, but still! He’s is not even that attractive or charismatic… I just don’t get it?!

      Now that I am single I even see very, very few opportunities to legit date out in the world… WTH.

      • I bet you would be really worried about if you were flirting with someone who is married, has partner, might reciprocate those feelings. Some people I think just love the attention and can’t help themselves. I have lots of friends and colleagues both female and male and did while I was with my partner and could quite happily manage those friendships without it tipping into something more. But I didn’t want it. They want it and want to be adored. Sad really. I agree though. Perhaps we all just hang out in different parallel universes? I suppose if you find what you seek.

    • They constantly flirt with everyone throwing out lines to see who bites. Non cheaters operate daily with a totally different decorum.

      • This^^^^

        Not that it happened often. But a few times when I was married, guys would flirt with me. I’m not a cheater, so when I would get those vibes, I would shut it down. I never flirted back and removed myself from the situation.

        I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that my XH was always “fishing” for an affair partner. He’d throw out the bait; flattery and attention via email, texts or in person. To this day, I have no idea how many women took the bait. I do know that the whore he’s with now took the bait when she went out on a drinks date with him until almost 1:30 in the morning. And I said to him the night I FINALLY caught him cheating (emotional affair of nine years), “She wants you.” And I was right as he’s with the whore now for almost five years. It was never “just friendship”. It was two cheaters looking to have an affair. They both deserve each other.

    • I agree with Zell and will add that cheaters are not that picky when it comes to supply. They’ll take whatever they can get. Humans are interchangeable objects to be used to the cheater’s benefit.

    • Karenb6702, I had a down home country friend tell me “Them dogs can hunt.” Cheaters are always on the hunt, they look for opportunities and their next supply. Chumps don’t. I truly believe it is that simple.

      • I never thought about it that way. Cheaters have a different way of living; completely dishonest, disrespectful and selfish. That is why they are called cheaters. I am SOOO very happy there is no longer anybody like that in my life!

  • She doesn’t love you. Cheaters aren’t capable of love- they only do infatuation. They don’t bond. You are however USEFUL to her. When she says she loves you, what she is really saying is that she loves that you make her life better. If she finds someone that puts up with her BS and gives her a “better” life- financially, etc… she will dump you in a second.

  • Your wife likes being married–the income, the house, the status. And she likes it because she has a husband who holds her to no standards other that her ability to declare: “You aren’t the boss of me.”

    The fact that you were separated and sneaking around with each other tells you she has no boundaries—and maybe you don’t either. That would be the first thing I would do, if I were you. Get to a good therapist and work on figuring out your boundaries. Nobody writes to CL if the marriage is good for them.

  • As Chump Lady has said numerous times, “adults fuck”.

    In this digital world we live in, adults can fuck over the Internet. Mr. Husband of a Flake, do you honestly believe in your heart and gut that she’s only writing poetry during those Skype sessions? She’s a cheater and you are cake to her.

    You are 51 years old and could easily spend 27+ years with a FAITHFUL woman who respects you. Spends her time investing in you and your relationship. Someone who truly loves you and doesn’t use you. She’s using you. I know that’s hard to hear, because she’s convinced you that she loves you. A wife that loves her husband does not do what she is doing to you.

    Right now she has the power in the relationship. You need to take your power back! Decide what’s acceptable to you and then act swiftly on whatever you decide to do. You are 51 years old and every day you spend sitting on the fence, waiting for her to pick you, is one less day you could be spending fixing your picker and getting a life with woman who truly loves you.

  • I’ve always shied away from calling a spade a spade and a fuckwit a fuckwit. So glad Chump Lady, you’re UBT works! Mine is in baby stages of development

  • “Bullshit. She’s a needy cow”

    Boy do I wish someone had said that to me when I started pick me dancing. He could NOT be alone. Even at work, especially at work. Once I started working full time, not “needing” him to call me every hour and then some, that’s when things changed. He’d live his double lives from his work. Who does that? Pure neediness. Pure low self esteem. Poor pride issues. Pure fuckwitness. So glad I’m done. Hope CL answered your questions. Oh and there’s no such thing as an emotional affair. Just more entitlement from fuckwits.

  • Dude, you’ve been married for 27 years and she wants you to be patient?
    The question you should be asking yourself is “Have I had enough yet?”.

  • “You can be a really great whatever AND a flaming asshole” THIS !

    Richard Wagner and his music. And a Nazi. One of my great uncles who was a prestigious prize winning mathematics genius and uni professor; his editorial obituary appeared in the Old Gray Lady. The uncle who discarded his wife of many years after meeting an opportunistic Eastern European on a plane. Ugly gold digger asked him flat out how much money he had (lots due to family money) yet he post divorce refused to pay uni fees for his three daughters. Goldie convinced him to adopt her adult daughter, a woman nicknamed “Balkan Bombshell”.

    Don’t be fooled by “talent” or impressive titles. Character matters.

  • When I started reading this letter I automatically started thinking, “is this the marriage he wants?” Then CL put it all into perspective. Dude – seriously ask yourself if this is the marriage you want to be in for the rest of your life? In reading through your letter it appears the answer is no. Time to leave and let your wife explore her artistic hedonism on her own. Several posts ago some men were recommending a book called The Rational Male. So I got it on streaming and have been listening to it. What a crock of shit! Don’t buy that book or that guy’s “feminization of man” bullshit. I keep laughing every time he tries to make a point about how men need to retake their power position in the dating world. I’m at the
    “spinning plates” section where the idea is to juggle as many women as you can and let them each in their own way beg for you. lol!!!! This guy makes money so who am I to say he is wrong? lol My advice to you is to get into your head a little and think through what is acceptable for you in your relationship right now with your wife. She is not going to change – you two have a fundemental difference on what a marriage should be. You will never feel comfortable with her – ever. You’re not quitting her or the marriage – she already did that to you. You are just saying you thought you had rules when you said your vows and she clearly either did not agree with them at the time or has decided to change them on you – like moving the foul poles. If you had a church wedding then coveting another’s spouse and adultry are all against the law from a biblical standpoint. It is okay to move on – you grew a part, she wants to be married-single and that is not acceptable to you. Leave her now and get a life. And when you do leave her take time before you start dating again and get comfortable with who YOU are so YOU don’t pick the same type of person the next time.

    • Spinning plates=let the cage match begin=try to get as many women as possible engage in the “Pick me !” dance. LOL !

  • Mr., over time her behavior was normalized. It became acceptable for her to share. Looks like the slow boil. Once you step away from the mind fuck you’ll have clarity.

    She enjoys the con. You need to move forward and file

  • You and your wife are both cheaters. If you were “dating her in secret” and telling some other woman that you were separated, you’re a cheater, dude.

    Sounds like you deserve each other. Peace.

  • You always learn something here at Chump Lady. To learn that Gauguin was a cheater is priceless. Back when I was the lead detective of the Marriage Police, I saw a Gauguin picture that my ex had sent to her AP. So a cheater’s art helped a cheater further her affair. I can laugh now at the silliness of this.

  • are you enjoying spending your days worrying about what your wife is up to? is it fun to feel like your partner’s “safe” option? the person they can fall back on to make them feel “normal”? maybe she relies on your presence in her life in order to make her more attractive to other men: she’s got a normal life ticking away in the background so she can’t be too bad, right?

    dude, i’m sorry, but she sounds like a fucking nightmare.

    do you really want to waste the second half of your life on this shit?

  • @Over40singleman,

    I agree that chumps need to clear the fog in their mind. However, I don’t agree with everything you have said.

    You said, ‘One final piece of advice is do NOT to fall for the first woman that shows kindness and empathy. Relish your newfound confidence and use the time to enjoy life. Especially with younger, hotter woman.’ Are you saying that male chumps should not fall in love with those of us women who show kindness and empathy? Especially if we are not ‘younger, hotter (however you define hotter)?’ Are you proposing ‘playing the field?’ (Would you advise us older women to avoid falling for the first man that shows us kindness and empathy and relish our newfound confidence and the use the time to enjoy life–as if falling in love with the first potential romantic partner that shows us kindness and empathy is NOT enjoying life? Would you say we should forgo the chance to form a romantic relationship with the first man who shows us kindness and empathy to enjoy life, especially with younger, hotter man? Something tells me that you wouldn’t say this.) Sounds quite sexist (objectifying) and shallow and inconsistent with the message Chump Lady is trying to promote. Character and consistency over ‘hotness’ and youth.

    • Take a look at his website. I agree it is definitely NOT consistent with our message. However, I did learn some interesting things by reading a bit there. Namely….it is ALL about getting laid.
      Maybe that’s what the letter writer needs. Become legally free and go wild.

      • it’s hard to tell if he was actually cheated on and the website is the result of all of that, or if the comment was just to spam this site and get click-thrus. who’s to say, who’s to say.

  • Being an “option” is never an answer. It sucks. Don’t be surprised if one day she announces “I’ve found someone else” and leaves you hanging like a wet dishrag.

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