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Stupid Shit I Thought About Infidelity Until It Happened to Me

In the past, we’ve catalogued Stupid Shit Other People Say about cheating. However, I feel it’s only fair to acknowledge that I was once capable of saying such stupid shit myself. Maybe you were too. One lasting gift of infidelity is that you’re never so smug again.

What did I learn? Well, I thought I’d make a list. Feel free to add your own.

1. Cheating is about a power imbalance. It’s about gaining advantage over someone to get your sexual jollies. It is an unjust situation with a user and a chump. I did not used to think this, insofar as I thought of it at all. I thought, oh things fall apart. It takes two. Who knows what goes on in a marriage? Blahblahfuckityblah. I knew one gay couple who broke up over infidelity and I tried to be “neutral.” The chump friend was very gracious, and didn’t tip his hand much about what had happened. And the cheater friend wanted me to think it was about money, and not that he went and had another boyfriend. So I didn’t try to parse it out at all, I just wanted the old Steve and Warren back. Which was about ME, wanting to relate to them in the old ways I enjoyed. I wish now that I had been a better friend and shown more compassion towards Steve, and cut off things with Warren soonest.

2. There is nothing romantic about cheating. Once your POV on infidelity changes, you can never enjoy crap like the Bridges of Madison County again. There was a time when I didn’t vomit when I read of cases where two people meet, there is an explosion of attraction, and their love is just too great and powerful. Because to make an omelette, you gotta break some eggs, you know? If people get hurt, hey, it’s because they didn’t recognize the genius potential of those star-crossed lovers. Of course, I didn’t know anyone like this in real life, but I sure liked to read about edgy, Bohemian lives. That colatteral damage from the affair? It’s worth it for the Great Pairing, to be the June Carter to their Johnny Cash. Her love is going to Save Him, and he’s going to write songs to celebrate their union! Left out of this pretty picture is that she gets a cheating drunk.

3. No one is “driven” to cheat. Before infidelity happened to me, I imagined that chumps knew they were chumps. How did they know this? By the drab sexlessness by which they led their lives. I imagined cheaters were not getting it at home (poor things), or they were obvious Lotharios, who could be identified by their cravats and the Playboy mudflaps on their truck. I didn’t think of women cheaters much at all, except perhaps as the Other Woman who is either pathetic, or astoundingly charismatic (see item 2) to lure some man from his wife. I thought in stereotypes. I thought there was causality in cheating — this happens, ergo this. People Had Reasons. It was hard for me to think cheating was just really about unbridled narcissism and cake eating. I always saw it in terms of a Great Contest. This person over that person. And when this person Realizes Where They Really Belong things sort themselves out. I know — (shudder). Cake was a foreign concept. If I thought of cheating, I thought of it as a gateway to Something Else, not as an end to itself.

4. Boundaries matter. I had sloppy boundaries before infidelity happened to me. In my first marriage, I did most everything without my husband. A lot of that had to do with him not wanting to do anything in tandem with me, but if I’d understood boundaries, that should’ve been a red flag. He didn’t have any, and I didn’t have any. For example, he would just inform me that he was buggering off to Atlanta to see friends, or Kentucky to do genealogy, or to a junk yard to look at car parts. There was no consensus. And I followed suit. I went everywhere without him too. Some acquaintance wants to tell me about his sad marriage? Okay. A girlfriend invited me on a roadtrip without him? Okay.

In my next brief (and doomed) marriage to the cheater, I tried too hard to be the Cool Wife. Not to appear needy, or coupled or anything. You gotta disappear for another weekend for business? Okay. You have this weird woman friend who keeps hanging around and offering to watch our dog? Uh… okay. She’s not an ex-girlfriend or anything? No? Okay.

Folks, I was Chumpy McChumperson. I was trying so hard to be cool with everything, I didn’t know where I began and the other person ended. I was accommodating to the enth degree. The payoff with that, was I suppose, I got to do what I wanted too. Some independence is nice, but I got married to be coupled. I should’ve realized I married two unavailable men who didn’t want to behave married AT ALL. Someone should’ve hit me with the clue bat. (I probably would’ve said okay, and please Sir may I have another?)

What did I learn from all this? To recognize if my boundaries are being violated and communicate my needs. It’s OKAY to expect things from other people. It’s essential! When you don’t have boundaries yourself, it’s hard to advocate for other people in your life and see when their boundaries are being violated. It can make you a lousy friend. People without boundaries don’t have their own backs, so how can they have yours?

Who were you before infidelity? Who are you now?

This one ran before. Look how far we’ve all come! Okay, so it took some agony and humiliation.

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.
  • Thank You CL for this

    I am so embarrassed to say i was smug . I thought this only happened in bad marriages and this would never happen to me . Not me and my loving husband NO WAY . As above i assumed sexless nagging wife’s/ husbands .

    I had never even thought for a second that a husband could abandon his wife without a look back ( i thought it was like the movies and there would be begging on hands and knees )

    I will get over my embarrassment and i will never be smug again .

    • I never thought for a second I would be abandoned without a look back either. I still have trouble believing it until I look around and guess what, I’m still alone so it must have happened.

      The abandonment was worse than his cheating for me. Still is.

      • Me too Jodi

        The thought of 19 years together ( its our 15 year wedding anniversary today ) that i meant nothing i mean not a thing to him .

        • Karenb6702,
          I am so sorry.
          At least you are not eating cake with him today.
          Let him eat his own damn cake, alone.
          You keep on being YOU!
          I know you are hurting, but YOU sure are Mighty!

          Xxxxxxx
          peacekeer

          • Thank You Peacekeeper

            Sending you lots of love and Hugs .

            Yeah the more i read I am sort of glad he ran away never to be seen or heard from again
            I am not mentally strong enough for a cake eater .

        • The WORST is his abandonment and replacement of not just me, but his/our kids. Worse than ten years of double life fucking a LOT of strange (men and women). Watching my kids suffer so much grief as they have been discarded and dispensed with in the 2 years after Dday. They adored their dad and assumed it was reciprocal.

          The little boys that my/our boys now call his surrogate kids (mine now being hurt and angry teenagers, awful at dispensing kibble) belong to just one of the women he kept up his sleeve/groomed. Lucky for him, they all know he’s just beenTragically Misunderstood and the whole cheating thing was Because Wife. (Dull, controlling sexless etc. All of them former “friends” of mine too).

          Anyhoo … topic.

          Before: carbon copy of CL, boundary-less rider with an accomodating okay for everything, trying so hard to be cool and totally not needy. Hanging around waiting for the rare kibble to be tossed my way – and being ever so grateful if they were. Not just with cheater … I built many so-called friendships on that crappy model.

          Now: it took a while but I’ve finally kicked into a whole new gear. Realistic, authentic, reciprocal relationships. (Not even talking about romantic ones here … yet). My mantra from CL: “is that acceptable to ME?” If it looks, talks and quacks like a boundary violation, even from a friend I’ve always cared about deeply … it’s a boundary violation. Letting those friends go. It’s hard but I feel so clear and calm about it.

          • Letting those friends go. That’s the hardest thing for me, even harder than realizing that, like you, I built a lot of so-called friendships on a warped model. In my case it was “what can I do for that person?” without believing I was due any reciprocity–or that friendship needs reciprocity. The result is that with a lot people I considered my friends I had “use value” only.

            Now I am in a situation in which I have to build new friendships, and I’m still very unsure about whether I yet have the ability to do along healthy lines. Work in progress.

            • Exactly Adelante.

              It really is hard but keep the faith. You’ll get there. Another chump told me almost a year ago “You have to just let go of those people. It will hurt like a motherfucker, like you are chopping off an arm, but it’s the only way”. I just simply did not believe it had to be so. So I did a bit of adjusting … and thought it was enough.

              No. The change has to be IN you. You are worth more than the crumbs and scraps they toss you, as you hang around trying to please them. Totally own your awesomeness and never live on other people’s terms again. There will be new friends, they will offer you a seat at their table gladly.

              • Yes to this and what’s more is healthy people expect to reciprocate, they don’t take advantage or use people so if you are not in a reciprocal relationship with them they will most likely move on to more balanced relationships.

        • Karenb6972, you can be smug that you are not a fucking cheater. I also have a STBX that has never attempted reconciliation, hovering or any form of communication beyond a demand that I sign away my rights to “his”money. I understand that pain.

          I’m working on being “MENTALLY divorced”. Thanks to Lovedajackass for that terminology! On this painful occasion of your anniversary I hope you can reframe the pain. Take it back, Karen! Time to be mentally divorced! I’m sending you love and support. You got this, you really do!

          • Thank You Thirtythreeyearsachump

            You are an inspiration to me . I will work on the mentally divorced aspect as well as the legal side ( which should be completed in a few short weeks )

            Big hugs to you xxxx

            • karenb6702, I hope you are anticipating your freedom. I remember feeling downright giddy the day I had the stamped judgment in hand. It was a license to move forward to a better place.

              And it will get better and better as you chart your own course. One day it will no longer be “our anniversary” but “that day I made a huge mistake,” silly me.

              In the meantime, be kind to yourself.

        • Karen,
          A lot of us can relate to the pain associated with, ‘Did I mean anything to him/her (my partner?’ I am sorry you got a dud in the marriage ‘lottery.’ Sending you wishes of good health and happiness.

      • Jodi,

        At this point in time, 2+ years out from Dday #1, the lying is harder for me to totally grasp. I still have parts of me that can’t believe he really did what he did – 30 yrs of cheating and getting away with it and, when he has taken any responsibility for what he did, he quickly follows up his statement with blame shifting.

        ‘Pity me that the heart is slow to learn what the swift mind beholds at every turn.’ E.S.V.Millay

    • Me too Karen. We spent most weekends at metal concerts. I was a fun wife. We had a great relationship. Our kids were finally old enough to join in. Life was good.

      Plus, 25 years…I assumed we were past all this.we were fun, older people who liked to rock but wore comfortable shoes…

      The abandonment of me and the kids has been shocking. Except to say it shows he has always been a weak coward. Runaway rather than face problems. Eyes opened.

      Happy anti versary. I am sending you a big hug.

      • Love it Marge Anti versary ha ha ha ha

        Same as us ( minus the children ) House almost paid off , great jobs , nice house , lots of friends and family, great holidays then vanished in to thin air .

        I thought i had married a big strong man , I really married Caspar the Ghost

      • Another 20+ year person here. For me it was 27 years of marriage plus 6 years of dating/living together prior. Just when the kids are going off the payroll (being independent) he decided to move in with OW that he had been seeing for 9 month and I knew nothing about. (trusting chump that I am)

        Every person that knows both of us is shocked that he chose to do this. They label it a ‘mid-life crisis’, which I think trivializes the depth of the betrayal.

        I NEVER thought I would be in this position. We were friends and friendly until D-day. ‘Bedroom activities’ had slowed, but not ceased. I thought it was a just a phase due to his being unhappy in his job. He is a pastor’s kid, grew up in a strict Christian home, always said family came first and that I was his best friend.

        My take away is, this can happen in any marriage that seems ‘happy’. If one person decides their happiness is more important than the relationship, they can justify terrible behavior. It is a selfish act. The person who does it somehow does mental gymnastics to make betrayal, lying and gas-lighting acceptable. I suspect he was alway a bit of a narcissist, but I ignored the signs. Then in the last year, he has tipped to being a raging narcissist.

        In his mind, he is still a ‘good guy’. However, our adult children see it otherwise, thank goodness. They do not buy is BS and are incredibly supportive of me. One even told me, ‘If you ever consider going back to him, call me immediately. I will talk you out of it!’

        Thanks to CL and you all, I am learning to stand on my own, go grey rock and envision a new future for myself. I’m 4 months out from d-day, starting the collaborative divorce process. I can’t be totally ‘meh’ while still in negotiations, but I can look forward to it. It is a struggle every day to NOT focus on what has happened every waking hour, but I am having whole hours where I don’t. Taking it a day at a time….

        • Yes yes yes, take your time and be gentle with yourself. Those pain-free hours will get longer and connect until they become days. Good luck to you

        • LearningNotToDance; you may not know it, but you are doing GREAT! Four months out from a decades long relationship and you have your head screwed on straight. Thank God for CL & CN!
          I had my D-Day 3 years before I found CL, and I was still very messed up trying to deal with it and move past it. I was shocked something like this would destroy me. Wish she had started her blog earlier because I was looking for info that made sense, and of course there was nothing but bad advice blaming the victim. She is a star for doing this for all of us without her clarity.
          Better late than never.
          You are doing much better than you think.

          • You are doing amazingly LearningNotToDance. Really. Regina you are so right … about that and how CL and CN have helped SO many of us not just to get back on our feet, but to be more steady and surefooted than ever. So many hugs to you all

        • Yes like you I think that ‘midlife crisis’ is an easy throw away comment which makes it seem ok and lets all let him get it out of his system and he will be back!!! No No No the betrayel, lying and the abandenment is crushing and life changing in which there is no going back. Thinking about him everyu minute of everyday is gradually going after a year. I still think about him everyday but he doesn’t consume my thoughts as much now.

          My divorce is nearly through, the house is sold and I’m in the process of buying another. I cycle or run everyday (which I’ve always done) and he is just getting a little bit chubbier. He has started hoovering and jealous of how well I’m doing. What did he expect? For me to be sdtill laying oin the floor crying?? One think women are good at and that’s adapting to their new surroundings.

          Unfortunately I now have anxiety in the form of someone choking me but I am having hypnotherepay which helps with the feeling of abondonment and the fear of the future.

          I now have my ‘big girl pants’ on and will have a great future without a narcasist as a husband xxx

    • I was smug too. I knew the statistics about divorce, but in my educational and socioeconomic bracket the divorce rate is in the low single digits, and I didn’t know anyone who was divorced, and I never had an inkling that there was so much infidelity swirling around me (I think because I just don’t give off that “I’m available” vibe) … I thought I was invulnerable. I was wrong.

      I guess I didn’t completely exclude the possibility of infidelity, but I simply could not conceive that someone having an affair, when caught, wouldn’t immediately apologize, plead for a second chance, and double down on the marriage. I couldn’t conceive that an adulterer would be happy, proud, even exuberantly defiant to be committing adultery.

      • This was so me, too! I thought we were protected by our demographics and by (only me, it turns out) my assumption that we both reviled divorce and thought of it as something kind of trailer parky.

        I also could not imagine a scenario where I confronted him and he wasn’t immediately groveling. Wow. I got the shock of my life that day, now didn’t I.

        Loud and proud cheater who met his married soul mate. And actually, wouldn’t you know, they connected over their piousness and Catholic faith!

      • Yep, I kept thinking wow, he didn’t even sit down next to me, no tears in his eyes, no apology. Instead, I got his discard and blame for marriage problems that led to his cheating. “You never put me first & she does.” Ironic given she is married with 3 kids! I read somewhere if the spouse has a belligerent attitude that they are only worried about saving themselves and not the marriage.

      • My first conversation after catching my XW’s one affair was “I will not beg for your forgiveness or beg for you to stay”. I couldn’t believe it. I filed 3 weeks later.

        • Good job filing quickly. I did the same, 3 weeks. When I busted her she was breathlessly telling me how great the sex was and told me she wanted to fuck 5 more guys (which she did) just to experience the variety. Yep, nothing to save here. She was shocked when I filed.

          • Omg these people are “WHORES” I also filed quickly after my son, 9 at the time caught his dad entangled in our home! Complete “FILTH”!🤮

    • So many abandonment stories. I found out about them and when I got home his clothes hangers were still swinging. He never apologized. He’s doing AA and wants to do his amends with me but I knew it would be all about him and want himself to feel better (classic narc move for him). Fuck if I’m ever doing that for him again. People who cheat on and abandon their wives are not worth my time anymore. karenb6702, do NOTbe embarrassed. No reason for you to be! You’re not the cheating abandoning ass hat!

    • “I had never even thought for a second that a husband could abandon his wife without a look back ( i thought it was like the movies and there would be begging on hands and knees )” YES! I couldn’t beleive there was no sequel after I found out. I couldn’t beleive that I would lose everything – apparently because of someone he didn’t even love. All those movies and love songs! Not ONE of them has an ending where the hero chumps the beloved and never returns. Sheeeesh did I have no boundaries? Boundless faith – most of it learned from Catholicism and TV.

    • I thought cheaters never left their wives for the OWs. Turns out they do, frequently. It just isn’t always for the first one so they leave a string of disappointed OWs in their wakes before one finally “wins”.

  • I was The Perfect Long-Suffering Christian Wife. He doesn’t want to go to church because I picked one I liked while he sat at home drinking and watching football on TV? That’s okay, I’ll just pack up the three kids and go myself (otherwise known as a being a Church Widow). He wants to go on a fishing trip (Every. Damn. Year) on my birthday week? OK, I’ll just struggle with the 3 kids by myself. Have fun. He wants to buy more fishing stuff, hunting gear, and maybe an ATV (that one he took out a loan on, and didn’t mention it to me)? Fine, I’ll keep clipping coupons, buying all my clothes at Goodwill, cooking at home every day, and suffering through “family vacations” that consist of him dragging everyone to a campground where he deserted us in the rain so he could go fishing/drinking by himself (ever camped with a toddler??? I wouldn’t recommend it).

    But it wasn’t mutual. HIM: How DARE you leave me here with the baby while you take the oldest to Girl Scouts!!! At the beginning of the advent of cell phones, one of my earliest calls that I took was him calling, and putting my crying baby on the phone so that I had to hear her crying for me while I dealt with snack at the Girl Scout meeting. How’s that for mutuality? Do everything I want you to do and do it perfectly and pay no attention to the things I’m doing over here (porn on the computer and magazines, fishing trips, spending money on things I didn’t know about).

    I was (or I tried to be, to my detriment) the Perfect Long-Suffering Christian Wife right up until I tried getting some boundaries once my two oldest kids had had enough and were grown and flown. I asked him if this was “the best we can do”, tried to fix things and then left when it turned out that yep, in fact that WAS the best he could do. I left church, the family home, and most of my stuff behind. Our youngest has not stayed a single night in that house since (because, ya know, he got pretty busy with the girlfriend he immediately got behind my back because hims was wonwy). Our divorce was final in 2017. Now when I think about movies like the Bridges of Madison County or that vomitfest, the Notebook, I’m like, wow! You got a cheater! Congrats on that. If someone writes a book about me, or reads about my life to someone else from a notebook I hope that they say things like “She was mighty and didn’t put up with anyone’s crap.”

    I would like to think that I learned that Perfection Is Impossible, and It Doesn’t Matter What You Do (because he’s going to do whatever he wants), and Boundaries Are Good (Vital Even). Also, There Are Some Good Ones Out There (I snagged one. He had been cheated on multiple times. He’s a keeper and loves me to death).

    • I was always told that if any one ever hits you, they are an abuser, and will not change so get out. He never hit me.
      I didn’t know cheating (lying) is abuse and should be dealt with the same way.

      I thought he just had poor communication, nope, it is called lying by omission and it is for the purpose of control. I laughed and told him 100 times, I don’t have esp. he know that.

      Verbal abuse is still abuse and I should have left long ago. Now I have to teach that to my kids.

      • you know that is a VERY good point and now that I think about it – why isn’t infidelity considered abuse??????????????? Chump Lady I think this deserves a post as to why infidelity should be considered abuse.

        • Isn’t it the case that infidelity WAS considered abuse, back in the old days?

          The way I understand it, the 1960s generation didn’t want to be bound by old-time moral values, and no-fault divorce would eliminate the stigma that came with fucking around on your partner.

          Governor Ronald Reagan, a divorced and remarried former movie actor, signed it into California law in 1970. It became a kind of a gateway drug to the marriage destruction that exists today.

        • It is abuse.
          It abuses the very vow you take when you got married.
          It abuses you emotionally.
          It abuses you sexually.
          It abuses your health.
          It abuses your children.
          It abuses your finances.
          It abuses your other relationships.
          The list goes on….

        • Hey Eureka, my therapist says “Adultery is abuse.” I started to heal when she told me that. It is abuse. Adultery is lying, deception, trickle truthing, gas lighting, betrayal. Adultery is abuse.

      • Emotional abuse is abuse. Took me a while to register this also.
        I would’ve dumped him sooner if he actually hit me.
        But abuse is abuse no matter how you slice it.
        We need to teach our kids that abuse comes in many forms. My mother accepted verbal abuse most of her marriage. It was a bad example for me. I wasn’t verbally abused so I thought my marriage was different. It was just as bad & even worse. My father actually was a provider for our family. My cheater not so much. I carried the load of FT employee & parent while cheater did whatever the fuck he wanted: college classes & work odd hours. I thought it was for our family’s future. Nope it was for him. Never again will I accept that type of relationship. Boundaries & reciprocity are important in every relationship.

        • I thought pre Chump that it would be impossible for someone to have multiple affairs and their spouse not know it or sense it. Well it happens as you all know. Cheaters are total con artists. I was married 45 years to a cheater and often wondered why he was always so angry and impossible to please. He blamed his FOO issues. When it all came to light it all made sense. Bullshit on the FOO. It was entitlement to the core. Scared me half to death knowing I had lived with someone that long and had no idea he was living a double life. October is three years out from DDay and I feel like I am living the dream. Beautiful home in a different state and an incredible husband who tells me every day how much he loves me and his actions show it too. My ex did me a favor slipping up because I would still be living with the barbed monkey and miserable.

      • Hello Toronto Chump!!

        Me too ! No boundaries I just spent all of my time trying to keep the man baby happy. I accepted so little for myself it was almost non existent. I’m still a work in progress. First boyfriend—2 year’s second one 7 months. Next time less I hope if he is using me.. hopefully I’ll recognize it early and turf the user toute suite..

    • I was exactly the same. Never spent a single birthday with him because he was always on a hunting trip. I would put cards, presents in his gear and he’d never acknowledge them. When he was finally called out by his friends for taking trips without me, he finally took me to Hawaii where he spent most of his time fishing/hunting, and when he was with me he was a asshole. The best time I had on that trip was walking the beach at dawn by myself.

      • Skunkcabbage – bummer! But I can relate. My X used to meet his business buddies on a week long trip of fishing in an old cabin in Alaska. How could I complain? It was for work, of course. I wish one of those buddies had of spoken up. He always met them over the 4th of July, and later that week, our anniversary and my birthday. He couldn’t have cared squat.

    • Mehtoo, where do you live because I think our cheaters must be related. We pretty much had the same husband. I think one of the best parts of divorce was watching Narkles the Clown move into a small house with his boat and other crap. That boat hasn’t seen water in years at this point. He bought it without telling me. I came home one day and we owned a boat. He just had to have it in the divorce and I was like, oh, yes, you should definitely have that piece of crap. He didn’t ask but I would hav paid him to take it off my land. I also found a lovely man who is amazing and the poster boy for reciprocity. I fixed my picker good.

  • Sadly……I never thought of infidelity. It existed out there in that other universe far, far away. I thought marriage and commitment were exactly like the same as the way my parents were.

    Actually…..I don’t ever remember my parents saying an ill word to one another nor ever raising their voice. They were an incredible team. I thought every married couple were just like them.

    • Same Super, same.

      My issues were really stupid stuff I thought about Monagamy and commitment, and I never considered infidelity.

    • Oh SuperDuper that was me too! My parents had a great marriage as did both their families. Trashy stuff like cheating didn’t happen to “people like us.” The first time STBX ran off was right after I had our first child. It never even occurred to me that he might have a girlfriend. I wouldn’t have done that nor would the men in my family so that wasn’t even a thought. Two years of him coming and going and the girlfriend contacted me. She didn’t know about me either. This was to become his MO. Single out there in the world, married at home. Double life much? Sadly, I “won” him back. And 30 more years of cheating ensued. I was the clumpiest of chumps. He was a pilot traveling the world as a “divorced” guy. He told his low life sluts I cheated on him! Through google translate since they mostly didn’t speak English. When I look back now there were major red flags from the beginning. There was his friendship with my best friend’s 16 year old little sister when we were in college (he was 22). The men in my family did not like him at all (my brothers were always conspicuously cleaning their guns when he came to pick me up). And his cheating father’s now ex wife warned me. For some reason I just couldn’t see it. Wow, now paying the price for a lifetime of blinders.

    • Marriage “Today” is different and with the eta of “CELL” phones these sleezebags are cheating everywhere men and women. If the phone is always locked, big RED FLAG!

  • I smugly thought that the creation and nurturing of a home and children together over 15 years counted for something, at least enough to uphold a modicum of respectful behavior.

    They don’t. Not with the types of people that lead us to find this blog.

      • I was SO smug. I was even saying to him “shes after you, she fancies a bit of rough”, I wholeheartedly believed that even if she offered herself up on a plate he would run a mile – people only have affairs if they are sex starved and married to a bitch, right? He lived and worked away Mon-Sat whilst building her house for her and her family. I was so sure I was safe as we had 23 shared years, amazing kids, a good life together, turns out he was a cake eater, I wonder how many others there have been…does that matter now? No.

          • Al K, you weren’t stupid. You were betrayed. “It is the easiest thing in the world to fool someone who loves you.” It wasn’t stupid to love with all your heart.

            Forgive yourself. You are not the stupid one.

      • Yes this is thing I still struggle the most with, We did countless things together that I believe we both enjoyed as well as raising our son together, but in the end that didn’t count for anything. It broke my heart to by lied to, cheated on and abandon by someone I thought shared the same values as me.

        • Dave K – I had that too – best friends in every way.

          The thing is, affairs are all about fantasy.

          Lately, now that they’ve been married a year, I think they’re getting to know each other.
          And, in my gut, I just know it won’t be pretty.
          You probably know that in your gut (if they’re together) and all of us married folk know the challenges marriage throws at us.
          Keep that in mind.
          I have a feeling she will know she missed out on leaving your life.
          Not to mention the regret of changing her child’s life forever.

          I am finally realizing who the man I married was and he was very stingy (moreso I’m sure, with the nice check he has to write me every month) as well as other things. This woman has kids and grandkids and he never wanted kids. Ha – wickedy, bippety, boo!

          • I agree, I often think was it worth it for her? Was it worth losing a husband who loved her, Was it worth losing the respect of “her” family, and more importantly was it worth losing her son!! Like you said its fantasy, They believe that this is going to be the answer to all their problems. I think all they do is create problems for themselves and unfortunately problems for people who get hurt from their selfish and horrible actions.

    • Mine said “I can’t remember anything good ever coming out of our marriage except the kids (added as an afterthought so he wouldn’t look like a dick)”. Really? After 22 years. We didn’t even have our fist child until year 6 so he should have figured it out by then if “nothing good” was coming out of it. How ever did he manage to hang on that long in a relationship that had “nothing good” coming out of it? How ever did he manage to write me those 20+ years worth of love letters, loving holiday card messages and even Christmas tags and why would he bother if “nothing good” was coming out of our relationship? And why was I responding in kind? In my case it was because I was under the obviously mistaken impression that something good was coming out of it. How silly of me.

  • After infidelity? Still in shock. Ghosted by his family. Attending last ditch efforts at marriage counseling and expecting more trickle truth. Ashamed. But I finally can articulate what I believe a marriage should be. An that his re-writing our history is not okay.

    • That rewriting of history is a real bitch….I think that is one reason I tell the real story…..maybe too much sometimes.

  • Before infidelity I was smug. Smug about other chumps and their spackling and their fear of divorce, of being alone and of losing position and comfort.

    A colleague was taken out of his office at gunpoint, raped with a bear bottle and beaten up by goonies hired by his AP’s chump husband, the AP being his grad student. Talk about cold and calculating cheaters, this colleague, a known harasser of graduate students, wins all the medals.

    This colleague’s wife was proud to “stand by her man” and be the cool wife, her “man” being a successful university professor. And I pitied her for being such a spackling, shallow wimp.

    Then I met CL and CN and I realized that I was doing almost the same as said colleague’s wife.

    The phrase from Chump Lady’s book LACGAL, “You will never be smug again”, sort of reprogrammed my brain and soul.

    I’m more patient with chumps’ failings (but never cheaters because of the power imbalance) and I’ve got more guts than I used to.

    I pity all chumps who do not know CL and CN.

    PS: and there a lot of movies I don’t care about anymore.

    • The cheater who was brutalized deserves sympathy. And it’s not mutually exclusive with divorcing him for cheating. One consequence is fair, the other is some sicko revenge.

      • This episode was awful in so many ways.

        Indeed, starting with the chump’s “solution” to his problems. Talking about entitlement, doing justice with your own hands…The chump spent one night in jail. Wealthy family, privilege, etc.

        To know that your workplace can be invaded by goonies in broad daylight.

        To see that the cheater did not learn anything.

        This is the culture in my country. My cheater wrote to the judge in our divorce: “it is natural to have extramarital affairs”.

  • The stupidest of the “Stupid Shit” I thought about infidelity until it happened to me—-was how I would react to it.
    I thought I would immediately leave or ask him to leave–I’d be strong and absolutely not tolerate an affair!
    Then I find out about his long term affair and I talk to an attorney and learned that my state is a 50/50 child sharing and I did the stupidest, most cringe worthy, embarrassing to admit things to keep my marriage. And I’m still trying to forgive me for that. Compassion for myself is hard.

    The stupidest of the “Stupid Shit” was I never thought I would engage in the “pick me” dance or anything as degrading as that…but I did to my shame.

    And I’ll never judge others facing the devastation and heart break of learning of the intimate betrayal of a loved one because I’ve been there and I know that pain.

    Just like after having kids, I no longer judge that parent in Target trying to deal with that toddler screaming but offer compassion and help when I can. And now, I tell others about Chump Lady.

  • I was the chump before I even married him, to prove I forgave him for cheating on me while I was in the hospital having his baby. He didn’t deserve to lose his family for that ‘mistake’. God I was such a chump for thinking that.
    I learned that I don’t have to “prove” I’m worth not cheating on. I spent 20 years failing to prove that and finally left after discovering the last affair.
    I’m worth being faithful to!!! We are ALL worth it.

    • FoundMyValue – My PMD was SO bad that –

      When we sat down to discuss this new revelation, he felt ‘like a small wild animal trapped in a cage’.
      He berated himself all day, even to the point of wanting to blow his head off.

      Sitting there listening to him, chump me said, ‘Hey- what’s the big deal? It’s only an affair’.

      Just ugh.
      Obviously I hadn’t processed it.

  • I thought it happens only to other people. How stupid can you get I think now…

    “You will never be smug again.”
    I wouldn’t say I was smug, maybe more ignorant and naive. It never really crossed my mind he would do something like that (cheating with a mutual friend…). I thought our relationship was something special, not married, no children, comfortable lifestyle, great adventure travels, expeditions even (I paid for everything, what a chump, I know…).
    I will never take anything for granted anymore.
    And a lot of movies are just rubbish now, I agree.
    I’m way more tolerant with (most) fellow chumps now and have practically zero tolerance for cheaters.

    My way of thinking now is “anything can happen to anybody” and “nobody is safe”. It’s hard to swallow this shit.

  • I grew up in a broken home. So I grew up as the mascot. The perfect child, the one who fixed everything for everyone.
    Red flags? What were they? They couldn’t be red flags if you painted over them. And boy was I a world class spackler.

    Oh he didn’t get me a birthday card? He has been so busy. The girl he was giggling with – just someone who saw him play a gig once. Oh of course it’s fine that you buy a one grand guitar. I’ll get new shoes next month.

    I made my needs so small as a child and continued as an adult. No boundaries, no consequences. Until I got sick. Then my gut kept telling me something was wrong. He kept saying I had too much time on my hands to think at I wasn’t going to work and I was over analyzing.
    Turns out I was right. The second I instilled boundaries, there were consequences. My boundaries are still firmly in place and that asshat is most definitely not.

    • So glad you are recovering from feeling you must be Mary Poppins. Magically fixing everything, Practically Perfect In Every Way!

  • Omg….I can’t stand pre cheated on me.
    I talked so much shit.
    My ex husband got drunk and had a one night stand with a work friend of mine before we were married and I was 3 mo pregnant with our now 22yrr old daughter.
    People at my job knew about it, they told him if he didn’t confess they would tell me. Fast forward, a few hours later he shows up in front of me to confess his infidelity. I forgave him, got married anyway. I was an idiot. But I talked so much shit after that, I told anybody that would listen that that would never happen to me again because I was going to be way too in front of it this time.
    Now divorced after 5 confirmed affairs.
    Lesson learned.I will never again assume that someone wont cheat on me, and I have zero patience for anybody I know that’s cheating on someone else. They are quickly evicted from my life.

  • I never gave cheating much thought. However, I always did think that men who cheated were scum. And the women they cheated with were either desperate, gold diggers or sluts. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be cheated on.
    While my ex was cheating with Skankella. I was so trusting and naive that I actually believed that he was going to play pool with Bill. That he was going to Bill’s hunting cabin for a night. I thought he always worked hard and he deserved to have fun. Oh, Chumpy me.

  • I watched Notting Hill with High Grant and Julia Roberts last weekend. I kept yelling at the TV for Hugh to get away! And then in the movie, EVEN HIS BEST FRIENDS ARE TELLING HIM TO GO AFTER HER AND I AM LOSING MY MIND!

    I have a totally different reaction to this movie, and many other like it now that I have been chumped. I do still like the one with Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann where they are all unaware and band together to kick the cheater’s ass.

    Notting Hill is a bunch of “cheating is romantic” propaganda and I put the DVD in my Goodwill bag.

    • I did the exact same thing over the weekend. Notting Hill was one of our old favorites. When I watched it again, I was thinking holy schmolly, she’s one piece of work!!

      • In real life Julia Roberts is the OW…her husband was married when she hooked up with him and I’ll never forget how mean she was to her…Julia wore a T shirt that said ‘A Low Vera’ Dannie Moder’s wife was named Vera. Julia rubbing the wife’s nose in shit. I’ve never liked her since.

    • I can’t stand seeing “Eat, Love, Pray”… it makes my skin absolutely crawl. And I’ve learned to not be friends with people who really like that movie.

    • I can’t stand Wild. Such a glorification of cheating as rebellion and adventure! My sister gave me the book, everyone was saying how brave the author was. I got rid of it. Later on, real hikers were saying she probably did not hike the PCT, some things were fishy…What a shock!

      • Yes. That book is such crap. The Eat Pray Love of the hiking/camping world. I forced myself to finish it’s kindle version, making kindle notes all along the way, dissecting the disordered levels of narcissism and their sources in her broken upbringing – I basically untangled the skein of that author. It made it kind of therapeutic to go through it this way. She’s almost certainly BPD.

        On another note, the Johnny Cash story, it’s interesting and not surprising to learn there’s a much fuller picture of his cheating to be found in Vivian Cash’s book (his first wife). It contradicts the cheater’s typical ogress wife narrative presented in Walk The Line so that everyone can keep their hero…

        https://www.vcstar.com/story/entertainment/2016/10/26/johnny-cashs-first-wife-tells-of-romance-heartbreak-june-carter-vivian-cash-/92772320/

  • A little off-topic, but since your #4 about lack of boundaries perfectly describes my former marriage too … I was wondering what this looks like in a healthy marriage??? (Seriously, I have no model for a healthy marriage.)

    • I don’t have a model for a healthy relationship boundaries either. If you get upset because he talks to other women then you are insecure? If you give him freedom to be himself, you gave him too much freedom? If you gave him your heart then you did it too soon? Your fault. I like to treat people the way I want to be treated. Is that unhealthy?

  • I was an idiot and saw everything through rose colored glasses🙄. What a dumbass I was! “It takes two”, “People love each other for life”, “My husband would NEVER do that to me”, “What did you do for this to happen to you?”, “How can I make things better”, “He’s just annoyed with me – I have to try harder, work more…..etc.”. Yeah! Sorry to say, I was an smug idiot. Now I tell it like it is, tactfully (when I can), and when I smell infidelity in the air I really have to catch myself because I’m brutally honest. If there is a movie or TV Show about infidelity….I can’t watch it. And, FUCK the asshats who write books about how to be a mistress. I want to rub the authors face in a pile a crap like my parents did to puppies so they wouldn’t poop in the house anymore.

  • I barely thought it about it at all, and I never in a million years thought it would happen to me :(.
    I thought that it was obvious to know who was going to cheat beforehand, that cheaters were players/sl*ts/exotic dancers/etc. before they got married. As long as you didn’t marry one of those, you’d be fine.
    And for some silly reason I assumed that women almost never cheated; only guys that married the town party girl would ever have to deal with that.
    I thought I was safe from all that by marrying someone who was (or appeared) good and wholesome, who came from a steady family.
    In fact, it was this belief that she would never do this that kept me on the hopium (that nothing was going on) for so long :(. “What kind of woman starts trolling for boyfriends 9 weeks after getting married? And surely she wouldn’t have 5 or so guys strung along?”
    Boy, was I wrong.

    • I should also mention that I also had a wife that didn’t want to do “couple things.” I couldn’t pay that woman to spend time with me. She was pretty much a zero on any other measure, not just fidelity.
      Forget date night. What woman doesn’t want to be taken out for a good meal?
      We both were active joggers, and she adamantly refused to ever run with me, no matter how well I planned it. Run with girlfriends? Sure. Run with male “friends?” Of course. Husband? No way.
      Oh, when I’d send her flowers, she’d never say a word, much less “thank you.” What woman doesn’t like to get flowers?
      I keep thinking of that post from last week, about the “real monkey vs. the barbed wire monkey.” I had a barbed wire monkey for so long, I wonder sometimes if I even know what a real one would look like.

      • I have the same feeling. I am dating a guy who was cheated on and I notice red and green flags. Red flag is that he is a people watcher and sees the “trainwreck ” in people and has friends that are female and male. Green flags “I’m the one for him” and he would never do what was done to him and myself. Hard to identify barbed wire monkeys from the real ones.

        • SweetChumpGirl, it sure is hard.
          I would say to just be careful; just because someone isn’t a cheater (or says he/she wouldn’t ever do that) doesn’t mean that person still isn’t bad news. Even saying “I’m totally devoted to you” can be a red flag, if it’s said too early or with too much devotion.
          I’ll probably get stones thrown at me by somebody, but I think having too many friends of the opposite gender can be a red flag, too. That’s often a sign of bad boundaries (see the CL’s description today), or awful insecurity.

          • I’ve gotta say that it is uncomfortable to see my bf get comfy with his female bff. He smacked her butt 2 times and made it seem like it wasn’t a big deal. Constantly saying he loves her. I’m starting to see things that are deal breakers for me and blur the lines on my boundaries. His excuse is he is a social butterfly and has always been this way. It’s confusing and wonder is it my insecurity because of my past?Thank you for responding xo sweet

            • “His excuse is he is a social butterfly and has always been this way.”

              I call horseshit on this lame excuse. I think he is intentionally trying to make you feel insecure and that makes him an asshole. Plus never, never confuse insecurity with not being comfortable tolerating total disrespect.

            • It’s so much easier to have clarity from the outside, isn’t it? I can second-guess seemingly forever whether something in my own life is “ok” or not. However, in your case, I can and do label that behavior as a screaming hot red flag! Saying he loves her and slaps her ass?? C’mon! Would you ever do that to a friend, let alone when you’re dating someone you claim is “the one”? I’m betting you would not find this behavior acceptable for yourself, and it sounds like you find it unacceptable in a partner as well. That’s ok, you are allowed to like what you like. The butterfly excuse sounds like gaslighting to me. (“It’s always been that way and that somehow magically makes it not wrong!”) Actions speak the truth much, much louder than words. Sending you good wishes to figure things out. ((Hugs))

              • Thank you. I am. I’m moving back to my hometown and he is staying behind. We haven’t broken up yet, having a hard time letting go. He’s talking about our future and buying a house and it’s too overwhelming to think about. I appreciate your advice. I’m usually the one telling people to leave a d yet, here I am listening to the words and hating the action s xoxo sweet

      • Traveling the World,
        I would feel as though I had died and gone to heaven to have a partner like you–a guy who wants to run with me instead of rebuffing me, informing me that he is going to attend social events without me or once we get to a party, telling me that he is embarrassed to be seen with me, after knowing me for 30 years (and I was dressed up and in great shape). I would love a guy who gives me flowers ‘just because,’ not because he is ‘supposed to because it’s Valentine’s Day’ and he hasn’t gotten up the nerve to directly dump me. I would love to have a partner who at least says ‘Thank you’ on our anniversary after I make him dinner and give him a carefully scripted message of devotion on a beautiful card instead of ‘Has it been that long?’ You deserved WAY better.

  • I stupidly thought that the longevity of our marriage (24 years at dday) and the ups and downs had made us stronger and almost invincible. We dealt with some pretty serious stuff early in the marriage with one of our kids; we struggled financially after that for a long time. By the time the affair came to light we were in a very comfortable place financially, taking a couple of very decent vacations 2 times a year and enjoying life or so I thought.

    I never thought much about infidelity and if I saw movies like Bridges of Madison County I saw the romance and not the cheating. I’m embarrassed to admit that. I thought affairs only happened to people with sucky marriages. I thought my ex would never cheat because he was always so paranoid about me doing it. I didn’t know about projection back then.

    When things started falling apart and he started going out every night to drink with work colleagues, I was the “cool” wife. I gave him a wide berth because his work place was changing drastically, people were getting laid off and fired and I wasn’t going to interfere with this process. The way I was being treated, I preferred him out of my hair anyway. I didn’t think I could set boundaries and I think I was a little afraid to it.

    Back in those days I saw the grey areas even for people I knew that cheated.

    Today there is no grey other than the strands of hair on my head that I get colored every 5 weeks. There is no reason to cheat and I find nothing humorous or romantic about cheating movies or TV shows. I am working on forgiving myself for putting up with the ex’s shit for as long as I did. I am learning about building boundaries and I am no longer afraid of being alone. I would say I’ve come a long way.

  • I believed that as a good Christian wife, I could forgive him for his affair and through most of the divorce proceedings I believed that too. If he only repented, I would take him back and forgive…

    Thankfully he never even pretended to repent and the divorce went through. And the bigger lesson is forgiveness does not mean forgetting or justifying his actions to be acceptable. And I am not God, so my forgiveness will never be perfect.

    CrapWeasel has to answer for his sins and unrepentance either in this life or the next, but not to me. To a God who has much higher standards and a perfect sense of justice. I’ll leave you to it, CrapWeasel.

    • “And I am not God, so my forgiveness will never be perfect.”

      Gentlechump…thank you for this statement.,,it speaks volumes for me. I am pretty much to meh and have even asked x to meet the OW/Now Wife…he refuses and smiles in sweetly in my face. I figure i might as well meet the woman who is around my daughter every other weekend. Alas, i am not going to get that. Whatevs…seriously…. and yes i have forgiven him and her…
      I am much happier now and I have my kids and my doggies and my health and my own home. I screw up every now and then but reading your post made me say “AMEN, AMEN, AMEN” repeatedly!! #thanksryan #dumpedwife #pendejo #onwardandupward #CLN

  • Once I lost my “he would never cheat” blinders, I realized that I assumed the best of him for YEARS without really looking analytically at his actions. After his death, a man at Church he had trusted with his secrets (and had promised confidence) let me know a little of what he knew. It was so extreme that I wondered if the man maybe had Alzheimers and confused him with someone else, but with my blinders off, I saw years of behavior differently and if the man recanted his story tomorrow, Im still convinced of the cheating.

    anyhoo…I really really really thought that because Cheater had made verbal statements about never cheating that his word was solid gold, that he would never betray that. Turns out his words were manipulations.

    My real smugness came in the form of being convinced that he would surely not cheat on work trips because we had sex just as he left.

    My honestly-come-by smugness was that I had always heard if your husband shows certain changes then he is cheating…and up until the big “Im in lurve” affair, there were no changes…he was steady is his quirky behavior because he was probably cheating all along.

    • “anyhoo…I really really really thought that because Cheater had made verbal statements about never cheating that his word was solid gold, that he would never betray that. Turns out his words were manipulations.”

      Yes, unicornomore — this. I believed words. I saw actions and failures-to-act, but I ignored them in favor of words. I deal in words, I trust words, words have always been my friends and I wanted to believe his words in spite of the cognitive dissonance I kept ignoring.

      Took me forever to learn to pay more attention to what he did (or didn’t do). Also to learn that he knew very well what words mean to me, and he exploited that on a daily basis.

      • Yes Straight, I relied on words too. I look back and I can’t understand how I totally ignored that his actions were utterly counter to his words. He was good with words and would offer all kinds of assurances of his fidelity- even when I wasn’t questioning it. I guess he was laying a foundation of lies to assure I’d never suspect him.

        Funny thing is, since being caught he’s lost most of his vocabulary – just “I don’t knows” and “I don’t remember” and “What’s the difference?” – all the pretty words he’d spun to convince me to marry him, to cast a romantic, delusion over me, to convince me he wasn’t cheating, would never cheat, would never hurt me – and now he’s nearly mute.

      • I always believed the words too and didn’t pay much attention to actions. This not only went for the cheater, but others as well. It’s been a slow process of looking at peoples actions, which started years before d-day. I didn’t realize I was starting to learn this lesson, as I started to distance myself from the users in my life.

        I’m proud of myself that I rarely spackle people’s bad behaviors/actions. A few months back, I brought in a box of doughnuts for the 7-3 shift that trained me for my job; a little ‘thank you’ gift. Well, unbeknownst to me, it was also someone’s birthday. My boss said, “Good, we have doughnuts, it’s Annie’s birthday.” My boss put a birthday card on top of the box of doughnuts and when everyone came in, she said, “Happy Birthday, Annie. We have doughnuts.” She presented the doughnuts as coming from her by omitting I brought them in. She “showed me who she was” through her actions”. I didn’t spackle. I see her now as a charmer and manipulator. Old Martha would have spackled and made up some reason why the boss did this. Not anymore!! Big life lessons have been learned by being chumped and also having lots of users as friends.

  • Arrogant. I was so arrogant. I’ve worked for famous, powerful men most of my career. All serial cheaters. Thought I knew everything there needed to be known about infidelity. Oftentimes it was my job to help them Lie, deceive and manipulate these women. I wasn’t happy about it, but always reminded it was my JOB. When I married my husband, I knew that cheating would never be in my life. Without considering that nicest, most honorable person I’d ever met, ended up being the most dangerous. Never-mind the red flags, he was definitely not them. The withholding, living independently, the quietude, just part of his humble demeanor, that’s all. I believed that I deserved this man, this life. So arrogant. So blissfully unaware that the karma bus was headed my way. Probably my ego that kept me angry so long for loving someone that freely. Now, I have those boundaries that were missing for so long. Now I have children. Now, when I see those women-ex girlfriends and wives, I apologize to them. This experience has certainly been humbling. It’s been an awakening, and I believe one day i’ll be better for it.

  • OMG…..#3. Well, the first thing my mother-in-law said to me when I told her what he did:

    “I don’t know what drove him to do this!”

    Ugh

    • Onward Chump,

      I am sorry that your spouse betrayed you.

      Regarding what your mother in law said–I wasn’t there–at least it doesn’t sound as though your in laws denied what your spouse did. Now, years after my husband (now ex-husband) confessed that he had committed adultery with multiple people and then filed for divorced, my former in laws now reject me and seem to ‘drink the Kool Aid’ my abusive, adulterous ex-husband generously dispenses to them, his friends, his co-workers, and the Court. Some of my former in laws have told me that I can drive my kids quite far to drop them off at in laws’ parties (to meet newborn relatives) but I may not attend the parties! Screw that. I’d rather NOT spend my precious time with people who are either that hostile/biased toward criminal -minded relatives (or others) or people foolish enough to believe the garbage my ex-husband spews out.

  • My selfish duck of an ex loved his football, fishing, beer, and he hated that I watched hgtv. (I know, wtf who cares???) anyway, one day I found The Bridges of Madison County hidden on the upper shelf of his closet. So I ask him why – it’s as far from his type movie ever! Well ‘the girls’ at work gave it to him. The girls meaning that fing whore he left me for cause ‘life is short’. They are still together so I guess it was true love. But I hate that fucking movie. But can you imagine the gall of OW giving a guy that movie to help him realize what he’d lose without her?

    • Are you sure that was the actual movie that was titled? I once came across a DVD on the shelf of Beaches. It was a late winter night, I was alone and bored. I thought, cool a chick flick. Put it in the player, hit play….and a wonderful cheap porn came on. When I asked about it – I was told that that DVD cover was used because he never thought anyone would actually want to watch that movie.

      • I was told that paedophiles would hide their porn in the middle of an innocuous video like Mary Poppins or Dumbo as no one looking for hideous porn would sit down and watch all the way through the sound of music or the railway children

  • I absolutely hate this line of thinking NOW, and it is embarrassing to admit…but the big one for me was thinking “well, no one gets hurt if it is never found out.” I knew people who ran the gamut from inappropriate boundaries/flirtation outside their relationship all the way to hookups. I didn’t think it was cool. I thought it was monumentally stupid and awful.

    But I also thought about how much the chump would be hurt IF he/she found out. I didn’t think about the harm happening every day while the chump remained “blissfully” ignorant. <<< That was my thinking then – that ignorance was bliss.

    I didn't realize that when a person is compartmentalizing to carry on an affair, they are robbing their committed partner everyday of the joys of a full partnership. Didn't realize a person putting their efforts and energies into deception and gaslighting MUST automatically devalue their unwitting chump constantly (unless the cheater is an actual sociopath, which is no bueno, either). Devaluing and invalidating someone hurts them daily, in countless ways – and often, they have no idea why. A death by 1,000 cuts, and it is exquisitely painful.

    I knew none of this, so I sat sideline and kept what I knew to myself, misguidedly thinking the chump was just fine as long as they never found out. I'm deeply ashamed of this now, and now that I know better, I do better. But I am shocked at my old self still, that I could ever think that way.

    • Yes! I’ve mentioned before I have a friend who talks all the time about his employees stealing from him by doing personal business while on the clock. The dick stole countless resources from me and our marriage. When I think what the kids and I lost through his lies and gaslighting, the confidence, stability, experiences we could have had! Instead of a lying thief who kept us off balance and scrambling. Fuck him.

    • Little Mighty Me, What was so bad after DD was finding out so many knew/suspected XW was having an affair but never said a thing. I was suspicious also but with the gaslighting, etc I was confused. I hate when people think it isn’t their business to tell the chump their partner is cheating.

      • Absolutely. I can’t believe I never realized there was all this COST to being with a cheater, even if you never have a clue they are cheating! Ugh. I hate it.

        In recompense for my idiocy, I am now militant about it.

      • Sirchumpalot – greetings. I’m one of the reasons why people need to think twice about exposing what they know about an affair their spouse is having, limited as it may be. You HAVE to be directly related and have diffinative proof.

        In my small fishing village on the coast, the town drunk, whom I avoided when at all possible, me and a friend took her out for lunch as she went thru a hysterectomy. She suddenly blurted out that everybody in town was dissing my well-respected and honorable citizen Husband for fucking his (and my)(and her) hairdresser, at the time. Since she was spouting 3rd hand rumors only, with no proof whatsoever, I was highly agitated by her sick drunk talk, over a nice lunch.

        I went bananas later and thought she was tryin to taint him. She came out of nowhere except for being the town drunk. A week later; I caught him in a 3 yr affair with an out of towner, but now I think he had an affair with the hairdresser who quickly left town. Just reliving that, boy, what a scuzzy time.

        I did apologize to her for her for 2 mins, until I realized how wrong she (and her ultra smart professor 25 yrs older husband told me I was shooting the messenger. Ha, a 3 page letter full of nonsense how his highly educated drunk wife couldn’t be blamed and he’d never seen such a case of such shooting of the messenger. I never read it. His wife was out of line as she was passing on 3rd hand info. They left town shortly after.

  • Great article-these are things I hadn’t really verbalized but do exist for me:
    1) no longer do I have any desire to read books/watch movies about cheating. It’s not romantic. Duh!
    2)I thought he was just stupid and merely made a bad mistake-and that that mistake would never happen again because it was just a momentary lapse in judgement due to the fact that we were going through a lot of stress in the marriage. How naive!
    3)Anytime you casually played “Never Would I Ever” with friends about the whole cheating topic-I would say, “Oh-hell no-I wouldn’t tolerate that!! His shit would all be dumped on the lawn and the locks to the house changed! I am woman-hear me roar!” Well-when it did happen to me-I wasn’t really a roaring lion-I was more like a meowing kitten.
    Thank you CL and CN for making me embrace stuff I wouldn’t have on my own ❤️

  • I didn’t realize how arrogant I was about cheating until it happened to me. I didn’t think much of it and I empathized with those who it happened to but I was gobsmacked when it happened to me. I realize now that I was in heavy denial after Dday 1. I always believed I would leave at the first sign of cheating but 20 years and two pre teen kids made me “forgive” and trust again (super chump here). I wasn’t controlling and I was proud of my flexibility. I now see that I spackled over a lot of poor partner behaviour. I find it sad when my kids (older teens now) said “Mom we knew your marriage was in trouble for the last 5 years and Dad wasn’t there for us during that time”. How did I not see my situation more clearly? I assumed he loved me (big mistake) and saw everything through that filter. I also really believed in marriage and commitment and thought he did too (saw us as a team who would fight together).

    I always saw myself as a strong person and I am but my lack of awareness about infidelity made me very naive (wish I had found CL earlier). My social network didn’t include anyone who had spoken about infidelity and no one in my close family/friends had been divorced (other than his family). This is why what CL does is so very important. If you go into relationships with eyes wide open and know how to try and have a reciprocal relationship perhaps you can better protect yourself.

    My worldview is very much changed. I also believe it has made me more empathetic (and that was already one of my strengths) and grateful. While I would never want this to happen and I feel like I have lost a lot, I have also learned and become a better person. I am still learning (especially how to try and put myself first).
    Hugs to all of CL nation and you know what they say “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” – eventually!!

  • I realize that I had to go through “something” to become a better person, daughter, mother & friend. But this “something” sucked & it hurt my kids too.
    At least we learned about what is acceptable behavior for all of us. Hard lesson learned.

  • When I first met Assholio, he been married once before, and his ex-wife had cheated on him. They divorced over it, and he was devastated by it, had trust issues, etc. We spent a lot of time early in our relationship talking about this as he worked through it. Okay, mostly him talking about it, and me being outraged on his behalf. How could someone do that to this wonderful man?? He swore up and down it was the worst thing that had every happened to him, and that he would never ever do that to someone else. So I was super-confident he would never cheat because he had been through it. Well, the joke was on me. When I confronted him, he had a million excuses about why he did it (hint: it was my fault) and how it was totally different from his ex cheating on him… So I will never believe that load of crap again.

    • I’ve noticed that plenty of people — both here in ChumpNation as well as out in the Wider World — assume that anyone who has been chumped is automatically an individual of high character and fine moral traits. However, I have seen enough cheating scenarios to realise that sometimes the cheated-upon partner is just a severely sick person who picked and co-created a dysfunctional relationship, and goes on to eventually become a cheater him/herself. There are no guarantees…

      • Well, TorontoChump, you may be right, but it’s depressing as hell to think that after being chumped by the XW after 24.5 yrs of faithful marriage (on my part, at least), three years of being together before the marriage (again, totally faithful on my part and living in sin for at least two of those three years), about five years of being friends before that, and three children together, I’m still going to have to prove my worth and fidelity to some new woman, if I want another romantic relationship.

        I know you’re right, that we can never take anything for granted in any new relationship. It just sucks. And I can’t help but think that this contributes to my reluctance to start a romantic relationship w/a new woman (of course, I’m only about 2.5 years out from D-day and a half year from being absolutely divorced, so there is that as well). At the same time, I know I have to overcome this reluctance somehow. I have to show myself and my children that you can bounce back after something as horrible as this shitfest that is infidelity (and abandonment, in my case).

        I do think you might be missing something, though. And that is, we’re all screwed up (I think you said sick), in one way or another. So we all never had or will have perfect relationships. The thing that separates most of us chumps out from the cheaters is we were loving, trusting, loyal partners in the relationship (and I do believe it’s a minority of chumps that go on to become cheaters, and that some in that minority lied about being the chump in their previous relationship as well). We didn’t see our vows and love for the other person as being disposable when the circumstances didn’t fit our needs or desires. And I now know that there’s no such thing as a perfect relationship. Every couple has problems. It’s your willingness to work together to sustain your relationship and love for each other that makes the relationship a success or not.

        I know I was guilty of being extremely naive in my relationship w/the XW, and that I’ve got my own set of problems to work on. The only therapist I got to see for a few months post D-day told me because I didn’t ever seriously question my XW’s fidelity to me throughout the marriage meant that I had narcissistic traits. Not that I was a narcissist, but had some of those traits. It still makes me doubt myself to this day as to whether I’m a narcissist, and how much I contributed to hurting the relationship.

        Ultimately though, I know in my heart and my head that what CL says is true. If the XW really was unhappy in our relationship (and she was dealing w/a husband that had serious depression for four years and was slipping into diabetes, but who loved her dearly), and wanted to act like a grownup, she could have just asked for a divorce. It would have devastated me, but at least I would have had some respect for her in the long run (not even trying to be funny). Now I have none. In a weird way, her affair w/her (now) former rich boss gave me the emotional tools to snap me out of my depression and realize that I deserve better treatment in a relationship than what she gave me. Her shitty behavior gave me a point to push off from, and I’m trying my best to use that to move forward. It hurt like hell, but I think if she had just left me, I might be having an even tougher time of moving forward. I very much get Christina Aguilera’s song Fighter now.

        Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that though everyone has to prove their worth in a relationship, I think most of us chumps are sincere and loving, and would never consider cheating on a future partner. The small minority of those that might go on to become a cheater themselves, or who misrepresented themselves as chumps in the first place? They have not grown or learned what makes a relationship truly wonderful: love and respect for your partner, especially in the tough times. That’s when you show your character to be made of good, solid stuff. That you’re not a sparkly turd.

        • I was married 25 and never cheated on my ex H, never really wanted to, even in a basically sexless marriage; it’s just not in my character.

          Like you I thought I would have to prove my character in a new relationship, but I’ve since come to the conclusion that I will never again try to prove my character. I’ve lived my integrity my entire life. His smear campaign destroyed all I’ve built. if people who’ve known me 50+ years believe his shit, trying to prove my character is a lost cause anyway. Too bad there’s not a central place for us chumps to meet. We seem to be loving, loyal, care takers of people. I just want to meet people with the love and integrity I’ve lived.

          Hold your head up. Dig deep and be the person of strength, courage, grace, and dignity you’ve always been. Dint let her Infidelity and selfishness define you. dont drive yourself, just live it. Somewhere there are people who will see your value, although personally it has not yet happened for me.

          • FED,
            I have found Al-Anon groups in my area to be very helpful since the people in the groups are dealing with alcoholism which generally involves cheating, $$$ issues, lying etc…or AKA drunk narcissists although, in my case the TFC was sober so he is what is classified as a ‘sober narcissist’ but if you find a GOOD Al-Anon meeting, those people get it – or at least that has been my experience but I emphasize – its gotta be a good meeting.

            Good Luck.

        • @thelongrun In regards to having narcissistic traits…we all do. It just depends the severity of them. Like a spectrum. I also think I was narcissistic in my NEVER ONCE THINKING ex would cheat on me. Like ever. If you want to hear from the narc sociopathic mouth, look up HG Tudor on YouTube. Not only does he break down and classify narcissists, he also does so for empathetic people (us their targets). He explains the spectrum and said something that held true for me, a super empath. We have more narcissistic traits than regular empaths or codependents, and will do an empath supernova once we’ve had enough! We make for very tasty fuel for the narcs, but are also a risk because once we are done we are DONE! He said to think of narc/empath spectrum more like a clock instead of a line…11 is far away from 12 if you go clockwise, not so much if you go counter clockwise. Also to consider the narcissistic traits in a super empath like the light from a candle and the empathic traits like the light from a headlight. They both exists but the candle traits dim in the headlights and we tend to use our narcissistic traits for good. We have to keep them in check because it was part of the reason I had such “faith” in him…my blind trust in the fact that I TRULY believed he would never do it because I gave him no reason to do so.

        • PS if you are even questioning if you are the narcissist, you’re not. They don’t self reflect. They would never ask themselves this question. I did that and find many of us do too. That you are even questioning yourself is proof enough that you are not the narc.

    • Have you ever considered that he might have been lying to you about his XW being the cheater? Is it possible he was the cheater? I’m only saying this as my ex boss told me a sad sausage story about how his ex wife cheated on him. A co-worker told me that he was lying and he was the cheater. She knew this, because she was friends with the ex wife. And also, the person who overheard him telling me this story knew the truth. Pretty much the whole building knew the truth that he was a cheater and I was the new employee, so I wasn’t working there when all the cheating came out. Cheaters are known to lie A LOT and also play the victim when they were the abuser.

      • They do like to project! Mine did similar things about his XW, how horrible she was and all that. I now know none of that was true.

        • Yup, mine said it was his wife’s idea to split up, that she had suggested it, and that she was verbally abusive to him. Uh, nope, I found out years later. And during the stage where he was screwing around behind my back, and was verbally abusing me (detaching and discarding phase), I said, “Do you WANT to split up?” because I was at my wit’s end trying to figure out why we weren’t working as a couple, and I thought maybe he wanted to (I didn’t … I loved him and wanted it to work). He said, “Noooooooo!!!! Everything’s fine.”

          So he lied to me about his first wife, he was the abusive one to me and probably to her, and she probably asked him the same thing … do you want to split up … which he twisted into “She suggested it”. I don’t know how you screen someone for shit like this.

      • I love the term learned here, DARVO. Since learning it, I’ve recognized it in people at Twelve Step meetings. My b.s. meter goes off more quickly these days. Thanks Tracy and Chump Nation !

    • My ex gave me the story he was divorced because his ex-wife cheated on him. I believed him because he was so wonderful and so sincere, and also because I called the courthouse and they told me that he was the one who filed, so it seemed to add up to me. He then went into over-drive to “seal the deal” in getting me to marry him. He rushed me, and my bad, I allowed it.

      D day was 5 years later and it was totally unexpected, and it was a doozy, complete with a very nasty stripper/prostitute calling me three times in a row, screaming at me like an idiot. Turns out she was mad at him and was blackmailing him and he didn’t pay her so she made good on her threat and she called me. I was beyond stunned and devastated. I have no idea how many strippers/prostitutes there were during our marriage. He was very adept at hiding his secret life. He did it during the day when I was at work. He was self-employed so he set his own schedule. He was home every evening and he handled our finances. I trusted him.

      I immediately realized HE had been the cheater in his first marriage and he was not at all the man he had pretended to be. I wanted out of the marriage from that moment forward and I got an attorney two days later. I kicked him out of the house on D day. He’s definitely a narcissist and I suspect he’s also a sociopath. He was hard to get rid of and I felt like I was living in a hideous circus for months.

      His ex-wife called me a few days later to tell me how sorry she was that he did this to me, too. I used that in court to get a legal annulment based on fraud, rather than a divorce because it was quicker and more advantageous financially for me. The fraud was his lie about his ex-wife being the cheater when he was the cheater. And a serial cheater at that. He’s a very sick puppy who looks and acts like a sweet and innocent boy scout.

      Today, if a guy I started dating told me he was cheated on by his ex, I’d tell him thanks for sharing that and I will get back with him as soon as I’ve talked to his ex-wife to confirm that. I am not kidding. One phone call to his ex wife way back would have spared me an incredible amount of pain. If the guy has nothing to hide, he shouldn’t have a problem with it.

      He did find another chump to marry him. If she had called me, I would have told her what happened. He hasn’t learned a thing and I’m sure he is still up to his tricks. I feel sorry for her.

  • I used to think that cheating might happen, but that the cheater would immediately regret it and work hard at his/her marriage from then on (because I knew some couples who did just that, my parents for one). I didn’t know there were degrees of cruelty, lying, gaslighting, intentional sabotage of a relationship, and coercion with the AP.

    I thought cheating was a drunken oopsie, a reflection of something wrong in the relationship or with his upbringing, and you’d both fix it together. I thought the cheater would fall in love again with me when he saw my tears, when I told him I loved him, when he knew that he was loved by me regardless of his mistake, and that things would work out. I thought that if a cheater told the counsellor, “I want the woman back that I fell in love with”, it meant that we both would work on what had gone stale in our relationship. I thought cheating, if it happened, could serve to make the marriage stronger. I actually still think that it can, but I now know it takes two to make it work.

    I didn’t know that saying I’m not still the woman he fell in love with was an insult, a criticism, a drama queen bullshit line for the counsellor, an invitation for me to work harder in a futile attempt to win him back, and a total unawareness or intentional disregard of his role in turning me into a sorry mess, gradually sabotaging me over the years so that there was no way in hell I WOULD be the woman he fell in love with.

    I didn’t know that when he said, “I’m sorry if I hurt you. Thank you for loving me” that it was any different than “I’m sorry THAT I hurt you. I love YOU.”

    But I sure as hell know that now. And I know that in everything I read and see … everything has taken on a cynical edge, and I’m trying hard to get back a quality I used to love about me, the ability to see the silver lining.

    I looked at reviews on airbnb of hosts that wrote about them when they stayed at their place … “Such a lovely couple” “So easy to talk to”, “Charming couple” and I know that these hosts weren’t there when the couple checked in, never met them during their stay, talked to them briefly on the phone, and had written a review of them so that the couple would write a great review of their hosts so they can keep their Superhost status intact. (It happened to me … my god, I was the greatest guest ever, and had never even met my host). I wanted to follow them around the world, as Peter Pan spends his money on a gold-digging 60-year-old skank, and set the record straight with these Superhosts.

    Airbnb, Facebook, false image, splitting, NPD, BPD … they never figured into my rosy picture of a man who made an oopsie, and who would love me even more than before because of it. Fuck the RIC … I spent years loving him and 3 years trying to win him back, and when I “lost” him for good, I told him, “I spent $50 on a book to help keep our marriage together” … and he said, “Well, at least I’m worth THAT much to you.”

    Not anymore, buddy … not anymore.

    • Oh, and I’m not slamming all airbnb hosts … just saying that this was the case with these hosts, making comments on their character when they hadn’t met them or had met them and believed their bullshit … it’s that culture of lying for personal gain and image management … opportunitism … that I was never privy to before I was cheated on. I’m not like that at all. It works both ways … my ex would be thrilled with the accolades he received from hosts because it makes it easier for him to book a place, and it strokes his ego.

  • I thought if you worked hard, kept your nose clean and lived for good that you would be rewarded with a partner that would feel the same.

    It was inconceivable that xh would cheat and dump entire family. We had that very RARE connection and unified vision. He was the only truth-teller in his entire family. Right?

    well……………..

  • I also learned that marriage counseling can be an effective weapon a cheater uses against a chump.

    With the counselor being either unwittingly or manipulated or an ally to the cheater.

    • Yep, and divorce lawyers weaponize counselors as a tool, and I believe some counselors allow this for their financial gain……jaded.

    • oh……this is sooooooo true. Some people cant make a decision on their own so they have to go to a counselor so someone will tell them they are doing the “right thing”. The problem with this is that it is not an objective opinion when you go in with a premeditated notion of what you want the counselor to “approve”, and steer them in that direction with manipulation and half truths.

  • One of my closest friends was a cheater before my world blew up. I think it was kind of like a frog boiling in water. I slowly, some how excepted him over time. I would often tell him, he had a family, and the grass usually sucked on the other side of fence. What are you thinking? So he just stopped telling me of his conquest and we remained friends. I am embarrassed to say, I would get into conversations with him, of why his wife would not have sex with him. I would analyze what could be wrong with her! Turns out her problem with sex was standing right in front of me. Him!
    I thought of myself as an objective deep thinker back then. Geez…..now with 3 plus years of infidelity under my belt and divorced. I truly can say and I understand what TRUE depth of thought is. I cut him loose now.
    My worldly perception as changed and I have found a place of maturity that I have never known.

  • Also while I was Martha Stewart level spackeling (mixing my own brand of plaster) I never realized that he made me emotionally a wreck by treating me like I was an abusive, expendable POS for years.

    I was not safe in my own home. I knew I was always on shake ground, that I was a terrible wife that he had to SUFFER to endure.

    I was not safe. Not due to anything he could be directly tied to, of course, he was the victim, but the slander was terrible. He was a pro at setting up/getting a reaction (Jesus Christ, himself, could not beat the truth out of him with a Louisville Slugger) – then using that reaction against me.

    This happened with our children, too.

    • Magneto,

      I know this feeling of which you speak (so eloquently).

      Looks as though my ex-husband is gearing up for more court action against me (I don’t understand why as he won the last round in court–he can quit paying me spousal support starting next year–I didn’t even tried to fight the termination of the support) and I don’t harass him, my abusive, adulterous ex-husband; I just try to forget that I ever met him). He is trying to force me to meet our kids (who are face-shaving age) at the curb when he drops them off, purportedly for their and his safety, as opposed to allowing them to walk up a few steps to my home. Gosh, how do our kids make it home from school, walking half a mile from campus and up a few steps to our front door, several days per week without getting lost or ambushed by terrorists? (Sarcasm) What a horrendous waste of time and money.

      I wish you much better times ahead!

  • I thought cheating only happened in marriages where it was really obvious that one partner was an asshole. The whole notion that love is a verb, I thought I had with my ex, he appeared to live by it. Ex hated my now deceased father because he had verbally abused my mother, as well as me and my siblings. He always tried to tell me not to listen to the voice in my head that told me I wasn’t good enough. That’s love right? He defended me to his religious father after he found his son had married (gasp!) an atheist. We agreed that was a personal thing, and people’s actions defined their character. We even agreed that it was up to my son to figure that stuff out for himself. We’re so cooperative and have true acceptance of each other! I quit my job to be a SAHM, and he told me how he marvelled at what I did, because he could never do it, he needed that outside sense of accomplishment. (This is not a critique of women who keep their jobs, the most important thing is that mom is satisfied so she can be the best parent possible. For some it’s continuing to work, for others it’s working in the home). Again, so supportive, and willing to cut our income literally in half to do it. The biggest “proof” that he loved me was after I really fucked up my knee and went through umpteen surgeries and complications, ending in a knee replacement with yet more complications and the implantation of a spinal cord stimulator to control the nerve pain that just wouldn’t go away. He took FMLA to physically care for me, he obviously had to do all the stuff around the house that I used to do for quite some time, long after the FMLA time ran out. The man bathed me when I couldn’t do it myself, and drove me to PT several times a week after each fucked up surgery. I used to tell people, “I knew my husband loved me before, but now there is no doubt in my mind.” He has since, even after DDay but not recently, admonished me for my lack of confidence, because I’m supposedly so brilliant in his eyes. Total mindfuckery, because that doesn’t line up with the litany of my faults that in his mind, caused him to cheat. You guessed it, some of them were that I wouldn’t go back to work (I was in PT and going to the gym to rehab my leg which had atrophied so much I couldn’t walk without a cane. Hell, I had to learn how to walk again three times. THAT WAS MY JOB). My atheism was now an issue for some reason, and he said that while he was running around my back he felt like, “I was at least doing something for myself for a change. ” I used to thank him profusely for all he did for me. I even made a chore board in between surgeries to try to divide up household maintenance when I felt I could handle certain things. I was still in immense pain at the time. Nope, I was the selfish one for needing all that care. In sickness and in health meant nothing to him apparently. This is why it fucks with me so badly. He did those things without complaint, yet threw them in my face. Even told me that partners in a marriage need to be able to care for themselves. Guess what asshole, I did and do after the worst of the aftermath of the knee debacle was over.

    So in conclusion, I now know that even if I watch someone’s actions, I still have no guarantee that they are done out of a sincere sense of love and devotion. You can have a partner who others would envy based on how they treat you, yet it can still be one big shit show if you were able to read their minds. I bet I’m not the only one here whose ex could win an Academy Award for best portrayal of simulated love.

    • That is a mind fuck isn’t it? The remembrance of seemingly altruistic behavior, of true love and affection for you an others from someone who your current self is telling you is a narcissist. How could he have done that if he was so much of an asshole? I must have done something, not been grateful enough. Or he was captured by aliens and they reprogrammed his soul to be that of a cheater. But no…you nailed it…Academy Award acting.

    • Yeah, after my XH read me The Divorce Letter and 100% turned into a totally different person for the fourth time since we met. I said to my sister, “He could easily win an Academy Award for Best Actor.” And now I can look back at our 23 years together, and can see when the mask slipped or something was “off” about him. He was and still is playing a role for whatever audience he’s with. I was always amazed how he could so easily fit into any group he came into contact with. No doubt if he ran into a known serial killer, he’d fit in with that person too!

      No wonder why one of his favorite Rush songs was “Limelight”.

      “All the world’s indeed a stage
      And we are merely players
      Performers and portrayers
      Each another’s audience
      Outside the gilded cage”

      • Before I found CL I was beginning to think of my husband as a chameleon. For many years he seemed to get along with everyone & be well liked by everyone. After having children, the “nice guy”started wearing off at home. But he could pull out patience, caring, & solicitousness when we were around friend or family. There was one very telling evening soon after DDay where we stayed overnight with another family. I couldn’t believe how much he imitated the other dad. At first I was happy, thinking he just needed a little jump start to remember how to be a great dad. But as soon as we left the next morning, he was back to ignoring us. It was such a shock to me that he could turn caring for us on & off just like the chameleon at the zoo changes color. He is so good at it no one catches on. Then I began reading CL, George Simon, & Lundy Bancroft. I always thought I’d be able to find a good guy & that it’d be easy to avoid the cheater type. Nope! Not true. And every time I overlooked a transgression, no matter how small, I’m sure he thanked his lucky stars.

        • “And every time I overlooked a transgression, no matter how small, I’m sure he thanked his lucky stars.” Yep! This is so true! I caught my XH in so many lies and also caught him being a predator of women. But every single time, he’d managed to get out of what I caught onto, because he always said the right thing or better yet, I believed the lies that were coming out of his mouth. And I’m sure he was happy that he dodged another bullet.

          My first counselor after D-day said to me after I described my husband, “He’s like a chameleon.” I didn’t really know what she meant at the time. I was just trying to explain to her how he could fit in anywhere. She was the first one to say to me, “He sounds like he’s a narcissist.” That was very shocking to hear as I was pretty familiar with narcissism at the time, but like you, after reading George Simon, Bancroft, CL and many others, I realized he was indeed a narc! A sneaky, dangerous one at that!

    • @Pepe – That sounds like a horrible jolt to hear everything you thought he believed about you turned on its head. But, are you sure that he’s telling the truth *now* (about how much he resented caring for you in your hour of need) instead of telling the truth then? Cheaters do a lot of rewriting of marital history to justify the affair, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he retroactively manufactured these grievances to justify his current behavior. He was either lying then, or he’s lying now. Don’t be so quick to trust that *now* he’s telling you the truth!

      In a way, I think it’s maybe easier for us to think that our marriages were crap from the get-go, because that makes the cheater’s destruction of the marriage somehow less of a tragedy. But maybe he really did love you then (as his words and actions seem to indicate). Somehow it’s sadder to think that they blew up good marriages than that they blew up bad marriages, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

      • Thanks for your kind words @InvoluntaryGeorgian. I’m ashamed to say he pulled the divorce trigger on our marriage, not me. He kept saying he didn’t want to make the biggest mistake of his life. I was very chumpy to leave that decision to him. He told me our whole marriage wasn’t a lie, he remembered a time when he came home from work and all that mattered to him was being a husband and a father. He’d look at me and tell me I was a good, good person. This was all during wreckonciliation. He even said that he messed up our marriage. Yet, he also said very cruel things to me interspersed with all of that,and blamed it all on me. His cheating never stopped, it went underground. I don’t think he cheated on me throughout our entire marriage. I do think his porn habit became an addiction, and that escalated into cheating on me. He’s said as much. He did narcissistic, entitled, selfish things but I’m not sure he’s a true narcissist. He’s avoidant and has problems with compulsive and addictive behavior. I realize now he is a high functioning alcoholic. He also complained of having trouble feeling things. He explained to our son that he had felt numb for years, and I have evidence that he was seeking psychiatric help for that, but he also never did the work I only know that because I found an journal of his. He never discussed this with me other than to say occasionally that he thought too much before getting on medication for OCD, but now he didn’t feel enough. Maybe I didn’t realize what he meant by that until I found his journal. He told me that when he was 20 he went into the woods and sliced up his wrists and legs. He felt responsible for fixing his mom, they were definitely enmeshed. Naive me didn’t see that these were huge red flags. I married a disordered person with virtually non-existent coping skills. If he ever really loved me at one time, it was not a healthy or enduring love. I think he looked to me to fix him, and no one is responsible for that, of course. When I became injured, I had to lean on him emotionally. He could let me at first, but that would never be sustainable because I couldn’t focus enough energy on him anymore. He said he lost his best friend after it happened. But, if you treat your supposed best friend like a piece of trash when they need you the most, it really was a lie, even if they never intended it to be. His mental issues are a reason, but not an excuse to use me as he did. And I suffer from some mental health issues myself. I have sought treatment and worked on myself for decades. That’s the difference between me and my ex. He compulsively lies as well, I now realize, (another admission), so I don’t really know how to feel than other than I married a disordered person who perhaps at one time “loved” me to the extent that he was capable. He did an excellent job of convincing me it was a healthy love, so here I am. In the end, he’s a liar, so as you said, I don’t know the truth and never will.

  • I was smug in a different way-I always thought I wouldn’t tolerate cheating. And then 12 years into marriage I discovered an affair, threatened to leave if he didn’t go to therapy and end it. He seemed so apologetic that I took him back, never really mentioned it much again outside of sometimes in therapy. We ended therapy because we were “fixed” and then I was smug about how we had weathered that storm together. Silently judgmental about people NOT giving their spouse a second chance. Meanwhile, just like Tracy, trying not to be clingy, I was boundary-less, living my own life as mom, dance-mom, chauffeur, social organizer and my professional job as a professor and joking about my jet-setting hubby traveling everywhere for work. I was actually convinced that he would never do it again because he did it once. I was convinced that his waning sex drive and impotence were just aging and constant jet lag. I was convinced we were stronger than all other couples. And yet sometimes he would flippantly dismiss some thing I said or some event he forgot and I would descend into abject misery and loneliness and ask if we were ok. And get a loving-but now I realize dismissive- assurance that we were good. I was about as chumpy as chump can be.

  • I never really thought about cheating until it happened to me. I definitely was on the smug train, thinking that kind of thing would never effect us. We had sex all the time, and I was the cool wife who didn’t nag or apparently have any boundaries. I think I still need to learn better about how to set boundaries because I definitely default to not wanting to impose myself on anyone, or inconvenience anyone with my silly existence. How do you teach yourself to set boundaries? What are examples of boundaries that should be set? Are there any chump lady posts already about this? I knew something was bothering me lately, and I think this may be it.

    • Waiting for Tuesday-Are you saying you are still with a person that cheated on you and trying to be cool? Because, if so, everyone here will tell you that won’t work. The only possible exception I could imagine is an actual, isolated single incident with no attempt to rationalize that never gets repeated. Tracy will likely say that is a unicorn. And the boundary I would set is with a divorce lawyer.

      If you are saying that you see yourself in a marriage/relationship where you are just playing it cool and worried that it could go the way of all those on this page, then the boundaries you set are like this, I think. As a couple, you expect that things that can be done together -that others do together- you do together. If you have family friends and they are having everyone over for dinner, you both go. That was one of the first red flags I missed. He suddenly didn’t want to hang out with any of our friends and they became “my friends” not his, even though they were couples that we met together, parents of our kids’ friends, people in similar professions with similar educations and interests. So I would go to these gatherings by myself. If he likes to drink beer with his buddies or do some guy activity regularly, sure he should do it, but you should know about it. You should be part of that activity in that you know “Oh it’s Tuesday, he’s out with the boys.” If he needs to be able to just plan it and not “ask permission”, that’s a big boundary breach. If he starts to treat suggestions for activities together as if you are a work friend inviting him to something pre-planned, you need to set a boundary. I remember trying to plan something fun to do for a date night and finding a band we used to go see together playing at a local venue, asking him if he wanted to do that and getting, “no, but you should go.” And trying to explain that spending time with him was more important than whatever the band was. And getting responses like, “why do you need me there?” So rather than look that in the eye, I started doing those things alone, because I was so cool. Maybe that would work if the reason for the lack of participation is made clear. I would probably still go to some of those things alone…but that should be balanced with something together. What is clear now is that he was creating a scenario of “drifting apart” to justify his cheating. And the lack of boundaries made that easy.

      But if you mean with post-cheater relationships you are boundary-less, that may be you more than them. I’ve been dating someone for nearly a year and I’m still not ready to commit. I’m having a hard time allowing someone else to be part of my planning and so the burden is often on him to be included in my plans. It’s because of having given up so much for someone who was leading a double life. I’m afraid to plan anything around someone else.

      hope that helps.

      • Hey MadKatie, thank you so much! It’s more the last one. I’m already divorced from my Xasshat, and I never really had issues until the end of it all (when he started the discard) of not doing things together, but I understand what you are saying when they start trying to paint that picture of “drifting apart”.

        I’m more nervous now, going forward in future relationships of just making sure I set boundaries, because I’m naturally a people pleaser who doesn’t like to inconvenience other people. I’ve only just started dating someone at the end of June, and I’m the one who doesn’t want to commit to anything either or make too much of an effort because I agree, I don’t know if I’m ready to let someone in that much yet. He definitely seems to be more of a principally driven person rather than an emotionally driven person, which I think is a good thing. Do you have any examples from this new relationship of where you have set boundaries?

        • WaitingForTuesday, I’m a people-pleaser with perforated boundaries. I’m shoring up my boundaries now, and will be reading The Disease To Please by Harriet Braiker in hopes it teaches me how to solidify them and be a me-pleaser : )

    • Chump Lady has written many posts about boundaries. Google “Chump Lady boundaries” and lots of blog posts about this topic will come up! 🙂

      Also, the book “Boundaries” by Townsend and Cloud is excellent to start learning what boundaries are.

      The Wikipedia definition of boundaries is “Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits.”

      Only you can define your boundaries. One could be about lying. Your boundary is that you don’t do relationships with pathological liars. First lie told, you could chalk it up to a mistake or misunderstanding. Second lie you forgive, because they said they were sorry. Third lie and now you enforce your boundary that you don’t do relationship with liars. You dole out the consequences for lying to you — no relationship with you. Only you can enforce your boundaries!

      • Martha,
        Thank you for reminding me why I should be glad that my last partner (post-separation boyfriend, guy I mistakenly thought was my friend for 30 years) left for good for his work subordinate. Sometimes Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (last partner) would tell the truth, but he also lied several times, even fabricating stories, especially toward the end of our relationship. I shouldn’t miss an opportunistic, cruel, controlling liar, even if he has a great life (while I am really struggling), he seems loved by virtually everyone, and he is great to his amazing new wife, right? Two years since abandonment, I should be healed by now, not thinking about last partner every day, right? I just feel as though I have been in free fall downward spiral in virtually every facet of life for SEVERAL YEARS! I just hope that the ending of this free fall (life) will be fairly abrupt and not extremely painful and that my family will be in decent financial and physical shape when I die.

        • RockStarWife,

          I’m so sorry you are struggling and I have read many of your posts, so I know how hard life has been for you these past years. As CL has said many times, these Jekyll and Hyde types don’t get character transplants after they abandon us. Your ex boyfriend is still they same person no matter how sparkly his life looks. You miss who you thought he was — your friend of 30 years. It’s only natural to miss the sparkly friend. It takes time to mourn the loss of someone, even if that person wasn’t 100% the person you thought they were. Try your best to cut off thoughts of your ex when they come up. Just say “STOP!” or get busy doing something. Even if that something is watching a movie, cleaning out a drawer, making dinner, reading a book — ANYTHING to get your mind trained in a new direction. And two years out is not a long time to mourn. You are mourning a 30 year relationship, with someone who you thought was your friend. I had to long term female friendships that I had to mourn. I cried and was depressed over them too as I thought they were truly my friends. It takes time and it’s okay to be sad. But one day you have to let go, because these false friends and boyfriends/husbands are still hurting us, but we are the one’s hurting our own selves by thinking about them. Do not believe the lie that you family would be better off without you, so no abrupt ending of one’s life! I’m not sure if you are antidepressants or getting some type of counseling, but one if not both will help. Help yourself by getting help — family, friends, doctors, therapists. Do whatever it takes. Don’t let this bastard ruin your life. He never deserved someone who was a Rock Star Wife. ((((HUGS))))

    • Waiting for Tuesday, there’s a book called “Boundaries” that’s helpful explaining how to enforce boundaries and what they are.

  • “…two unavailable men who didn’t want to be married at all.”

    That’s it in a nutshell. XAss actually hates women. He just needed the image and a wife appliance. Oh, and a son to be a mini-me. Which is going to get interesting in a few more years. Kid is a teenager now with his own separate identity. Guessing its not going to pretty when he starts asserting it.

  • There is something in the water on Alabama Street in Lawrence KS. Three chumps in a row. All men. All within two years. Not more than 2 houses apart each. Our kids played together.

    I was the last chump to go down. When the first to be chumped found out we were talking in my garage about it. At the time I had already figured out my now stbx was bpd/npd and always had been and was somewhere between wanting out and thinking it might could be worked out. I hadn’t been chumped yet. So idiotically I told my just chumped friend I would be glad if my wife ran off with another I’d be free.

    Fortunately my friend forgives my stupidity and we continue our conversations. He turned me onto CN and CL when I was chumped.

    Unfortunately when I was chumped she didn’t run off. That definitely would have had its advantages.

    Although I am on the road to freedom. It just isn’t as simple as I once thought.

    • Raises hand. Another KC chump here. We should get a group going.

      Were they all cheating with each other?
      I think people are always worried that divorce will spread, and then no one wants to talk about it, then cheaters get away with it and chumps have to carry the shame. At least you the neighbors could help you find CL and had some of the trail out created for you.

  • I THOUGHT that I knew about divorce and custody laws and the family court system — boy was pre-Dday me in for a shock.

    I THOUGHT that besides her foo issues that my Ex loved me, our life together and raising our 3 kids — except for the kids I was dead wrong and there was the whole cheating on me with 3 OMs at once.

    I THOUGHT that if you had a healthy sex life with your spouse, they would have no reason to look out side of the marriage — wrong again.

    I THOUGHT that spousal abuse was physical abuse — I later realized how abused I had been for years by my disordered Ex due to constant, lies, deception, verbal abuse and gas lighting.

    I THOUGHT that my church (Catholic) would be understanding and loving towards me after someone commits adultery and leaves you for someone else — WRONG again, people were judgemental, rude and the annulment process in the Church is right of the Middle Ages so since they turned their backs on me– I turned my back on them.

    Finally I learned how critical setting boundaries in ALL relationships is. I no longer will tolerate having negative or toxic people in my life. I also will call people instantly on any boundary violations. Recent example, I am remarried to a wonderful woman but her her Mom likes to come into her daughter’s homes and try to tell them what to do. “You need to move the piano — it looks awful there, you need to clean up your garage RIGHT NOW.
    In the past I would have taken it but now I nicely told her that as my wife’s mother she is always welcome in our home BUT telling us what to do is a violation of boundaries and she is to stop doing that or else that welcome mat to our house will be pulled up. There were some hard feelings but it was the right thing to do. I SO wish that I had set and enforced boundaries my whole life– I would have been so much happier.

  • The snugness that “cheating” is one moment in time, not an entire past stolen . Having to sort photos of a lifetime of memories that are really lies. That the cheater who abandoned you didn’t even think you had enough left in you to find the evidence and fight. Evidently they were all “the love of my life”. Loses a little credibility with overuse. And it was really about fucking strange and getting away with it. He’ll be bored again soon, and her bank balance will be a lot lower. But then again she’s just the female version of him. Not meh.

    • ChumpLady makes an excellent point in her book about the whole “rewriting” of history that takes place in the minds of the cheater. This isn’t the exact wording, but the chump has to reach a place of understanding that it was all real for you. Your love was there. You were happy. Everyone else in the picture was happy.

      And, I don’t care what the idiot cheater says, he/she was happy too. They loved us that day they married us. It just no longer suits their purpose to remember that. And, whatever that love was, it wasn’t a mature love. They don’t really get that. So, they loved us, in the only way they believe it to be. It just isn’t an enduring love.

      Last week, I went through my wedding planning box filled with all the items that I used to plan my wedding, including all the cards we received, the engagement party, wedding shower, stagette mementos. I had been putting this off. Threw most everything out and filtred it down to one file folder that I will keep in case my kids are ever curious later on in life. Added it to a small bin at the top of my closet of all the marriage-related materials I’ve kept for the kids (photos of our dating years, wedding, honeymoon, trips before kids, cards and letters). One day, they’ll decide to throw it out. They’ll go through it and determine for themselves who knew what love really was. They will hopefully come to the conclusion that it was real for them. And, if they feel the need, they can engage me or their father in any difficult conversations.

      You will be able to say, as I am able to say, that I know I loved. I know that I was happy. I know that I was not perfect. I know that I was willing to make things better. I worked hard. I did everything I could to build the family I wanted. I showed loyalty. I showed commitment. The sum of that box will demonstrate that. If there father wants to maintain that none of it was real, then he has a lot of explaining to do with his children. My explanation is clear, my experience was pure.

      • You’re brave for looking through that stuff. I couldn’t stomach it even now.

        Thankfully, (I think) I threw out my wedding planning box, copies of invites and congrats cards, my wedding album and all pics, and my wedding dress 3 days after Dday. Straight to the bin!

        Too bad it took me sooooo much longer to put his sorry ass on the curb.

      • My experience was totally pure at the time. My love was real. But everything seems unreal now because he cheated with his ex. If it had been someone new, I might be able to believe that things were real at least for the first few years. But with his ex, who was a regular part of his life every week because of handovers, because they shared Christmas with her family for the sake of their son, supposedly? No!
        They have robbed of 10 years of my life. I can’t look at old photos, I hate all the memories that surface. I have no fond memories of those years, even when I felt happy at the time. Every memory is a trigger. It’s kind of like being Truman in the Truman Show, every was playing a part around me and I didn’t know.

      • You are smart to keep some that stuff because of the rewriting history.
        For example, last Summer my daughters were visiting (they are teens) and while at my Moms, they saw a picture of my wedding held a few years ago to my now wife (which they were brides maids at). Anyway, they said that their Mom (my Ex) was boohoo’ing after my wedding that she had never had a wedding. She and OM#3 got married in their living room because he’s a bum and white trash don’t do weddings.
        Well my Mom looked funny and said “your mother had a fairy tale wedding” and pulled out my old wedding album that she thankfully kept and showed the girls my Ex & I’s wedding pictures with her and her expensive wedding dress, her whole family there, huge reception, etc.
        I then said that she and OM#3 can renew their vows and have a wedding anytime so I don’t know what she’s talking about.

        Especially if you have kids, always keep evidence in the back of the closet. Pictures cut through lies, BS and hostory rewrites like a hot knife through butter.

      • This>>>>”You will be able to say, as I am able to say, that I know I loved. I know that I was happy. I know that I was not perfect. I know that I was willing to make things better. I worked hard. I did everything I could to build the family I wanted. I showed loyalty. I showed commitment. The sum of that box will demonstrate that. If there father wants to maintain that none of it was real, then he has a lot of explaining to do with his children. My explanation is clear, my experience was pure.”

        I tossed out all the crap that I use to treasure from our wedding. I gave him the wedding album and honeymoon album. I tossed out every single photo that was taken before our children were born. I know this sounds extreme, but when I realized that he was indeed cheating even before we got engaged. And he never stopped dating after we got married. Well, I do not want any photo reminders of being a naive, overly trusting chump who didn’t protect herself even though red flags kept popping up.

        I know my XH was happy. I was there. I have hundreds and hundreds of photo evidence and thousands of memories. Only a disordered fuckwit would rewrite history and say he “hadn’t been happy in ten years, but didn’t know it.” No! He’s a serial cheater and predator of women. Always looking for the next hit of his drug of choice — attention and adoration from women, friends, church, work, his mommy, strippers, porn — narc’s need their supply. Having a faithful, hardworking, adoring wife is not enough for a narc. No matter how much I did and how hard I tried, I was never enough for him and no one woman will ever be enough for him. He can rewrite history all he wants, but God knows the truth. God was there the whole time watching it all. Everything I did, we did and everything the cheater did behind my back. There’s no fooling God, but my XH thinks he can do whatever the hell he wants and there will be no consequences because he’s just so “perfect and special”.

        Two days ago I was looking through memory bins of my kids stuff. Found two cards from the serial adulterer. One was about how he’ll “always love me forever”. Another had to do with what a great wife and mom I was. After D-day he said I sucked as a wife (rewriting of history). Found my garter from my wedding. All tossed in the garbage that night. Daughter saw the card and read it as it was turned over in the garbage. She didn’t say anything, but she saw for herself that what her dad said about our marriage wasn’t the truth. She was there when her dad verbally starting rewriting my kids history. I have no doubt in my mind that both of my kids have a wound deep down that will get exposed some day. There will always be uncertainty in their future relationships. They were full witnesses of what seemed like their parents very happy and loving marriage. And then one day their dad said he was not happy that whole time. And they will wonder the same about their own spouses. Will this happen to me too? I wonder if my spouse is happy? Do they really love me? My XH laughed and smirked when he said he had “just given them the Father Wound”. What a sick snake from Hell.

      • OptionNoMore,

        Yes. Hell, yes! I agree w/everything you’ve said here. And I just want to throw in that in the beginning or middle of this past summer, I burned the XW’s wedding dress that she saved for all those years, but had abandoned like everyone & everything else (definitely me, the kids, the cats, and a ton of shit from our life together). I thought I made a note of which day I did this, but I guess not. Burned it to ashes in the fire pit we co-created for our younger daughter, which we made to make her feel better about us having to downsize houses after I left the high paying job to save my sanity.

        It was just me at the house that night. My son was off at a camp she sent him to (to assuage her guilt and to get some free time for her and her selfish partner, I think. Two for one; isn’t that great?) My two older daughters were now living on their own in our local “big city,” a couple of towns over from their mother’s partner, their mother and me.

        It felt good. It felt like I was really giving voice to the FUCK YOU FOR ETERNITY towards her that is still vibrating in my soul. She’s living an eighth of a mile behind me w/her pathetic former boss; I wonder if they inhaled any of the ashes from it? That would have been poetic. It would have been more poetic if they had both choked to death on those ashes, but we can’t have it all, can we?

        I’ve still got the wedding albums & photos. It still hurts too much to look at them. Every once in a long while I do, and I end up a mess, so I usually go six months or more w/out doing that. I’m on the slow but steady road to meh. It’s just going to take a long time.

        I never thought I’d have to worry about us getting divorced. Totally smug and blind about it. We started out our relationship in hot water. I thought that since our relationship was forged in a crucible of sorts, we were stronger for it. Wrong. What an idiot I was (and still am, in different ways). The reason our relationship was forged in a crucible was because of her pushing our relationship forward quicker than we should have. She knew what she was doing. I was just an idiot for letting her push me along that path. It should have been a red flag to me.

        Instead, I chalked it up to true love creating problems for others, but that time would show how right we were for each other (no marriages or even engagements messed up, just to be clear. We were both single, but she was in a relationship w/one of my friends. And we were both 21 years old, and she became my second girlfriend. Ever).

        Wrong, wrong, wrong. It was only her concerted effort to convince me to get her narcissistic way. I just couldn’t see it. I was young, extremely inexperienced at love, and immature. Perfect prey for her. I would give her all the kibbles she wanted for a long time. Until I guess, I didn’t. [I can’t say the same of her current partner. He’s fifteen years older than her, and she’s 51 years old. He was more than old enough to know what he was doing w/her when they had their affair. My guess is he’s got a personality disorder of his own, probably some flavor of narcissism. Doesn’t change the fact that the two of them are pieces of shit, for betraying their spouses.]

        Twenty eight years later, when I confront her about her incredibly cold behavior towards me over a period of three to four months, she tells me she’s in love w/another man. Her rich, 40 years married, 15 years older, high flying former bigshot of a state politician boss, now a big name in our state’s college system. She claims she lied to me when she said she was working extra time on a few weekends for big projects he had her handling. I totally trusted her, so why would I question her when she says she needs to work extra on these big projects?

        I think I took our youngest (our son) w/me to work at least one of those times so he could be watched over by me while mom “did extra work.” Instead, she admitted she was following her boss to his house that sat five minutes away from their workplace and fucking him in his and his wife’s house (I had the temerity to ask her if she was fucking him at the office, and she wanted to make clear to me that she’s not that type of woman. HA!). The sheer gall of the two of them. No concern it seems for his wife, and obviously no concern for me, either. But it wasn’t just sex, she wanted me to know. They were bonding emotionally, and really getting to know each other and make sure they were right for each other.

        However, just to make sure I knew, she told me their passion during these times was incredible (my sister and a female friend in my support group couldn’t believe she had the poor taste to tell me this right after I had confronted her). I now know that this is again her rewriting things, because we had an extremely passionate start to our relationship. So this is just normal for her when she starts a new relationship. She doesn’t see that, but I do.

        A few weeks later, after she’s moved in w/him a half mile down the street from the house that became mine, we have some meetings to discuss things. I say to her that I guess I always had rose colored glasses on where she was concerned. She answered me by saying that she never did.

        Where I’m going w/all this is that again, I now know that that reply is bullshit. She did have rose colored glasses when it came to me for at least the first few years of our marriage. She’s rewriting history to fit her current feelings. But as you said, OptionNoMore, I know that I loved her, I cared deeply about her, I tried my best to do right by her, and yet I knew I was as flawed and fucked up as any other husband.

        But I was never unfaithful, totally committed to fixing our marriage, and still loved her dearly when she chose to drop any pretense of love for me. She abandoned me, our family, our children, and our marriage. She doesn’t like to hear that she abandoned our children. She thinks that since she continued to provide money for them, insurance for them and welcomed them to be w/her and her POS partner, she didn’t abandon them. To that I say, BULLSHIT. It quickly became apparent that not only was she leaving me, but she actually told me part of her decision in leaving me and our marriage was she was tired of dealing w/the kids always wanting and needing her. She didn’t say this, but I now realize she wanted to reinvent herself, and become the mom that can put a little distance between herself and her children. After all, it’s really all about her, isn’t it?

        Well, now my two over-twenty one year old daughters can’t stand her partner. Only my younger child, our soon to be 14 year old son, is on any good terms w/her partner. I suspect that’s mainly because he’s the only one of the kids now forced to spend significant amounts of time w/him, and also because he’s desperately trying to please his mother. In addition, the rich prick is sucking up to him. He never had a son, so I’m guessing he sees my son as a surrogate. Of course, my son is also now definitely into teenager territory, and some of his mild enthusiasm for her partner may also just be a teenage inclination of his to piss me off at times. Who knows for sure?

        All I can do is provide the example to him and my daughters that you don’t just make up and act like nothing’s happened like their mother wants me to do, after a treasonous act like infidelity. You don’t become friends w/someone who has abused you so severely, no matter their past pedigree. They don’t get most of why I am seriously grey rock w/their mother, but I hope they get it at some point in the future. I’m trying my best to be the most sane, reliable parent.

        I’m writing this on my “antiversary” (it’s my favorite new word), so I’m sorry, but I felt a need to spit this all out. Please forgive me, and best wishes for the future to you, OptionNoMore, and all of CN. Don’t let the scum we called our partners rewrite our history w/them. We were present, caring, loving, and loyal in our relationships. Yes, we’re flawed and fucked up like everyone else. But not in our resolve to be faithful and try to work out whatever problems our partners had w/us and our relationships. We were human, but loving, and determined to work things out. They were human, but judgmental, and decided to run away to where they think the grass is greener. It always is, over the septic tank. Let them have that shit. We’ve got better people to meet, and better things to do.

  • Yes, I thought all those things as an ignorant Chump. It is easy to be fooled by the person you trust completely and have feelings of normalized control within what looks like a sound, superior relationship based on this trust. To do something else in that context would be like trying to force yourself to unlearn how to swim. Why would you bother to see it differently when all is hunky dory? You only think of swimming differently when you have been held under the water by a cheater until you are certain they will drown you.

    What is important here is that my X Asshat still believes it all it is what leads him to believe he is entitled to it. The forbidden love, the unmet needs at home, that I have no right to boundaries; all of it, neatly lined up reasons he developed only after being busted but that now rule his thoughts.

    It leads him to blame me to this day and demand that his adult daughters get over it and fall in line as the dependable kibble dispensers they have always been (they will not, so he rages).

    He remains smug.

  • I was smug, because while we were preparing for our wedding 20+ years ago, we also bought a house. Planning a a wedding and buying a house even back then was stressful. But I took care of it all. Our first week in the house, we sat down and actually talked about married life etc.. one of the biggest discussions was cheating. We swore to each other that if our marriage got to the point of falling apart, the one thing we would NOT do was cheat. Never!! LOL we both despised people who cheated.

    Well, well, well and here I am. I never thought he would go down that route. I thought the same as other’s here. I thought raising kids, working, taking care of our own was life. Yep, we had problems, every single marriage does. But mine had the most common, I didn’t read minds or have esp…

    I help him find a better paying job, we discuss how even though we wanted to live where we were, it just wasn’t meant to be. Handle another huge transition of selling, buying moving and he finds a married slut co-worker who also has a “terrible” husband and they bond over their miserable spouses.

    Wait, what?? We promised each other!!

  • I was naive. I believed the “I love you”s, “your my soul mate”, the love letters, trusting her etc… I also didn’t think of women as cheaters. I would see the entertainment industry show men as cheaters so much I didn’t think much of the possibility of a lot women being like that also.

    Now I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum. I trust no one.

    • I want to trust but I don’t either. I think you can trust yourself and sometimes you will let yourself down. Now I working towards trust but verify. You have to earn my trust. I’ve been betrayed and my heart broken.

      I was never smug about my marriage. I was always walking on eggshells and trying to please him all of our marriage. I worked hard to be the perfect wife. I was instead, the perfect Chump.

      I did smugly announce “I will never file for divorce, I won’t give him the satisfaction.” Less than a year later I ate those words and filed.
      What changed my mindset? Chump Lady, Chump Nation and an earthbound angel of a therapist who helped me discover my own worth. Now I have the satisfaction of knowing I valued myself to leave and file for divorce.

      I was smug about my life. I thought it was a good life right up until I discovered he was cheating again, again, again, again, and again. It was a good life if you overlook emotional and financial abuse, stonewalling and withdrawal, withholding. I think if I’d stayed another day it would have become physical. He’d escalated his cruelties and threw a stack of folded laundry into my face because I “didn’t do the mending.” I had and nothing needed to be mended. He wouldn’t apologize for that because he said “It doesn’t matter.”.

      I would try to talk to him and he would get out a gun and start playing with it, dry firing it, pointing it at me. He would be angry when I told him to stop pointing a gun at me, yelling at me that it wasn’t loaded. He claimed there was no danger. I didn’t want to be another “gun cleaning” accident. He has also accused me of stealing a gun.

      I was smug enough to think I could tolerate his abuse to keep my family intact. I thought I could make him happy, but he didn’t want me to try.

      Now I’m smug that I’m divorcing him.

      • “I thought I could make him happy, but he didn’t want me to try”. I think they even hate us more for trying. And then we start to hate ourselves for putting up with it. I didn’t even know about the cheating yet, I just knew I must be unloveable.

        • Hope Springs, it was never you. I don’t even know you and I can assure you it wasn’t you. You are loveable. Ask yourself what did I do to be betrayed? Not one dang thing, nothing you did or didn’t do made them cheat. That is 100% on the cheater.

          I agree with you, “they hate us more for trying”. I frequently felt as if the harder I pick me danced the more he despised me. I think a little part of him felt guilty and my attempts to fix our marriage made him feel bad. He didn’t want me, he wanted strange. He wanted anything but me. I did hate myself for tolerating his abuse.

          Hope, we have to love ourselves more. I imagine myself as a vulnerable, hurt child and I take care of Little Thirtythreeyearsachump. She deserves a wholehearted love and I’m going to give it to her. I advocate for that abandoned child. I love her.

        • Hear, hear.

          I am certain that mine came to hate me for trying. He honestly believed that I would be the one to do the dirty work of breaking up once I found out about the affair. Then, while I was pick me dancing, I still didn’t break up when more “truths” emerged. He couldn’t do the work of calling things off.

          So, he flipped-flopped between appearing to be genuinely touched by my efforts, which I think resulted in some moments when he felt guilty and made some lame attempts at reconciliation. But, as he truthfully stated, he had just done too much to be able to go back now. That was too bad. Then, he would just become vile. Accusing me of hanging on to the marriage just because I never liked to fail at anything, and saying all sorts of other cruel things that were likely intended to make me do the work of ending things.

          Sometimes, I wonder if it was worth the price that my mental health paid to hang on. On the one hand, it’s been a huge journey in healing to repair the damage of the pick me dance. On the other hand, I came out of this experience with everyone’s support in my corner (including all of my in-laws who still stand by me 19 months later). How he conducted himself was truly awful and unjustifiable.

          I think he also hates me because no one has accepted his relationship with the OW. Every member of his family made it clear that she will never be accepted in their homes. I am friends with all the wives of his oldest buddies. All have confirmed that he has never brought her to any outings, and if he ever speaks about this woman with their husbands, the husbands just keep it to themselves. As far as I know, she’s only been seen with some of his older fringe friends and new people he has met at work. He’s even kept her from the kids (I have to give him credit for that). He tried in early August to take the kids on a beach day with her and her kids. My daughter had a complete meltdown, so he cancelled on the OW. Took the kids to another beach.

          The hate for me continues. Blamed me for poisoning the kids minds against the OW. Blamed me for ensuring that he can never be happy as I was the one who informed his family that he was having an affair. Blamed me for the “unhealthy” marriage that drove him to act as he did, as this is not who he normally is because he is just a good guy who acted badly due to the circumstances he was in. Blamed me for people not respecting this woman, whom I misunderstand because she is just a woman who was horribly abused by her husband and derailed in her unfortunate circumstances too.

          Whenever the relationship fizzles out, as I’m sure it will eventually, I’m sure that will be my fault too.

        • In the midst of confusion and denial, I went away for a long weekend and discussed my situation with some mutual friends. They convinced me that I couldn’t just give up on my marriage, so when I returned I told my wife that *I* was going to try to save the marriage, on my own if need be. That I wouldn’t just abandon 17 years and 3 kids just like that.

          I imagined she might say “No, I don’t want to”. I imagined she might say “OK, I’ll work with you”. What I didn’t imagine is her actual reaction: pure, unadulterated rage. She was literally angry with me for not giving up on her and our family.

  • 1.5 years after my divorce, a photo of my XW ran in the local paper, as she was facilitating a public meeting.

    A newer friend, who had never met my XW, said, “Wait. She looks so wholesome and kind. She doesn’t LOOK like a cheater!?!”

    He was confused. Because media had taught him that female cheaters must dress like sluts, wear too much makeup, and have lower-back tattoos.

    No no. Cheaters (and chumps!) come in all shapes and sizes and manners of dress. And almost every cheater believes himself/herself to be a good person, and their “side” of the story is full of “reasons” that they did what they did.

    Despite what the media portrays, villains are not easily identifiable. They don’t dress in goth, have maniacal laughs, and think only terrible thoughts.

    Regardless, they are villains. Don’t be fooled.

    • JC,

      I was just about to quote you a line from a former US President by saying, “I feel your pain.” Then I realized that that president is most likely a narcissistic bastard, and I want to apologize for bringing him into the conversation (not that I feel he even comes close in his narcissism to our current one, mind you. Just my POV). Let’s just say I understand a little of where you’re coming from instead.

      I see my XW now in our local paper on a weekly basis. Even if I don’t see a new picture of her every week in the local paper, odds are I’ll read some quotes of hers in it (there’s always a column in there w/her and her fellow local politicians stock pictures posted anyway for the last six to nine months at least). UGH.

      She was a very popular local politician before she left me, and she barely managed to get a new local political position about a year after leaving me, while retaining her original position. No joke, she asked me a few weeks ahead of the election last year, and months before finalizing our divorce stipulations, if I would be willing to put up a sign for her on our former lawn, now MY lawn, because the race for the position she now holds was proving a lot tighter than she had expected, and she wanted as much coverage in our area w/signs for her as possible. My brother told me to tell her yes, as long as it read, “Crazy woman running for office!” She wasn’t happy when I told her that it would have been better if she hadn’t asked. Even though she claimed when she originally texted me about it that she’d understand if I said no. Narcissist, anyone?

      I actually got told by a female employee of the township I’m in (right before that election), that I must know that the soon-to-be XW was the best candidate for the job. I couldn’t believe this woman. I’d just quietly told her what the future XW had done in having the affair and blowing mine and the family’s world completely apart. She stubbornly remained totally clueless, even in the face of all I’d related to her. But many people don’t want to think a villain can be someone they thought they knew. They’d rather stick their heads in the sand, than admit that maybe they didn’t know the person as well as you, the spouse, did. It’s sad. Thank God, I think a few of that woman’s coworkers took a much dimmer view of my XW’s actions than she did. Maybe they helped make the XW’s election a lot tougher race than she expected. One can only hope.

      Winning the new post (while holding on to her previous post) by less than ten votes was no mandate from the people. I’d like to think my refusal to keep quiet about her and her partner’s actions against me, our marriage, our family and our children’s future had something to do w/it, but who knows for sure? And because she’d impressed all her local political friends over the years (who probably all have some narcissistic or personality disorder traits of their own, I bet), they gave her the chairmanship in her new political realm as well. All hail the local Queen! Yeah, I don’t think so.

      She’s since given up the original position she held. Funny, I used to talk to her about how greedy it is for politicians, especially local ones, to hold or grab onto two political seats, when you know at least one of those positions will inevitably suffer because of time and energy constraints. Not to mention, you’re blocking someone else’s chance to get experience and possibly shine. After about a year of holding both positions, lo and behold she publicly announced that people were pointing out the same thing to her as I had when we were together, and so she relinquished the original position because of public pressure, and kept the new, more powerful chairmanship position instead. What a shocking surprise.

      Whether the workload was too much as well, I’ll probably never know. Although w/her new partner mentoring her and pushing her politically (one of her reasons for leaving me when I confronted her), he’d help her soar to new heights! Always a great reason to abandon your spouse and family. Can you say she’s a whore for power and influence? I can!

      I’ve gotten a lot of comments from people hearing my story that match what I’ve gathered in my, granted, limited research of narcissism, that politicians, especially those seen as “pillars of the community,” are frequently the poster children for narcissism. You’re right, though. She looks very wholesome; no tattoos, no piercings, and rarely needs to wear makeup. She’s that pretty. Although I take some satisfaction in noting that she’s suffered some in the looks department in the last few years.

      I can only hope that part of that is from me not going along w/her and her partner’s request to “keep it quiet” about the affair. Sorry, I’ve been discreet for the kids (they feel embarrassed by it all), but not quiet by any means. Not to mention I’m not behaving the way she wants, what w/me going greyrock on her and all, and she DEFINITELY doesn’t like that. I’m pretty sure my refusal to talk to her outside of texting or email, unless it’s absolutely necessary for the kids welfare, has served to be a constant reminder to her of what a shit she is and has been. At least, I can hope. Could it be she feels guilty? God only knows. Or cares, at this point. She’s inflicted maximum damage on me, our marriage, our family and our kids with her traitorous actions. It would be nice if she suffered as a result of that, but I’m not holding my breath.

      Anway, JC, hang in there. Meh is coming to those who wait. Be well, JC, and best wishes to you and all of CN in the march towards a better life w/out the fuckwits we paired with. Remember there’s someone out there (me, if nobody else) w/a very similar situation to you, but I also think all of CN can understand what we’re dealing w/as well. And once again, I’m apologizing for the length of this reply.

  • I thought that DDay #1 13 years ago (back when we were dating) made our relationship stronger. That once he found out that I left him when he cheated, he wouldn’t do it again. Well I shouldn’t have taken him back in the first place. This is how I know that Esther Perel’s stuff is horseshit.

    You can’t change someone’s character. If it’s bad in the beginning, it just gets worse over time.

  • Before being chumped by my now ex-husband, I was naive in a few notable ways:

    (1) When I used to hear news stories about an estranged or ex-spouse trying to kill or killing the other spouse, I used to think that the murderer/person who attempted to commit murder was virtually always the ‘wronged’ spouse (the one who had been cheated upon/abandoned). Now I realize based on my ex-husband’s behavior that sometimes the one who has been chumped/abandoned is ALSO the target of murder or other form of physical abuse.

    (2) Courts are logical and will see through false allegations and judge fairly accordingly and the attorneys you hire operate on your best interest. After being involved in twenty family court hearings of my own and sitting through numerous hearings of others (having to hear others’ hearings while waiting my turn–judges often alternate between cases in a day), I no longer generally believe those notions. If you get a logical, just outcome and your attorney acts in your best interest, then you are mostly just lucky!

    (3) Quality of attorney matters in determining outcome of (divorce) case. I need to qualify that notion–quality may matter but only very little. Judges are the ones who hold virtually all the power. They are God in the legal system and above the law! Some judges will try to abide by the law and interpret it in a just, reasonable way, but don’t count on it!

    I hope that by writing here about my life experience I can protect some innocents.

  • I was always disturbed by Bridges of Madison County and other similar movies featuring infidelity as anything but negative. I have gone back and forth on who’s to blame a number of times based on personal experience. I never blamed the chump, just the cheaters or/and eventually and their APs. In college I had numerous instances of other girls’ boyfriends trying to seduce me. I found this disturbing, somewhat for the sake of the girlfriends although I had no idea how devastating it really might be for them, but mostly for myself because I didn’t want to be anybody’s side piece (you say you love your girlfriend so why would I want to sleep with you). I also didn’t want to interfere in other people’s relationships, again mostly for myself because I didn’t want to be “that woman”. Some of these guys were really insistent, however and I had to go out of my way to avoid them to make it stop. It wasn’t always easy to resist because I was lonely, and insecure. As a result, I put the blame for infidelity squarely on the shoulders of the one cheating on a significant other as deliberate assholes. I had sympathy for APs breaking down and eventually giving in to the pressure and attention from wandering rogues. I saw them as victims too. Who, after all, would deliberately try to break up someone else’s relationship?

    Years later, my ex had the emotional affair. Instead of consummating it he told me that she was coming on to him so I could help him to resist. In that case she was very much the aggressor (based on what I observed, not just what he said). He was obviously tempted but in that case he did resist. After that experience I realized that the AP’s weren’t all innocent. Some really were intent on sleeping with someone else’s partner and then trying to tear them away. After that, I was putting all of the blame on the APs. Eventually, when ex did have two physical affairs and then left me for Schmoopie 2.0, I realized that there was plenty of blame to go around. Ex was clearly intending to cheat on me. He even said he regretted not having gone physical with the first one. He was looking for trouble and he found it. On the other hand, the AP’s aren’t innocent victims either. When ex and I tried to reconcile, Schmoopie 2.0 went all out to make sure that wasn’t going to happen. This was, evidently the third time (that I know of) that another woman made a deliberate attempt to poach my husband. Eventually one was bound to succeed because he was inviting that attention. They all suck.

    I had a few other misconceptions about infidelity. I never blamed chumps, but I still thought I could control whether or not infidelity happened in my own marriage. I thought that it was ok for him to have female friends and that not letting him do so would reflect badly on me as a controlling jealous wife (I too wanted to be the cool wife) and make him more likely to cheat. I thought that as long as ex and I were still having sex, he would have no reason to wander. After the emotional affair, I thought that I just needed to step up my game and be a better wife (really I wasn’t so terrible before that) so he wouldn’t cheat. Wrong again, I spent 8 years pick me dancing only to have him cheat and leave me for a loser anyway. I thought cheaters never voluntarily left their spouses and I just needed to let him know I would forgive him and talk him off the ledge and he would come to his senses, be grateful to me for not divorcing him, and work on our marriage. Nope, still wrong. I thought it should be easy for a victim of infidelity to walk away. Don’t I wish.

    • I went through a couple of rounds also with XW. After first emo affair she says “everybody just knows that I’ma flirt. I’m known for that !” I’m like- I wouldn’t have married you if I knew that- this is all a surprise to me.

      So I thought I could keep tabs on her- check the phone. Stuff you really don’t want your life to be. When cheaters ‘learn a lesson’ its to just get better at being bad. You can’t control them- its a lost cause.

  • I thought it was something some couples could get pass… Now I realise that those that stay just making do, resigned and that things are forever fractured.

    I thought that some people change but I realise that a cheat is a jerk and even without cheating they are generally selfish pricks.

    I thought that getting over the betrayal would be easier but it’s not.

    I never realise how much it messed up your body.

    • Mandie101 – I love this. Thank you. When I look at people who managed to “save” their marriages after cheating, I often feel wistful, sometimes even envious. Your post is a reminder that the grass is rarely green and well-watered on their side of the fence, either.

    • Mandie101,

      First, your comment on people who do stay together and the myth that the relationship is stronger than ever…..I would like to meet a couple like that. I think it is all a RIC fantasy. I have read books by women who have stayed.

      When I was RICing it and those are the only books I could find the women all sounded completely tormented by doubt and trying to change themselves – believing that they had to change which now I know is crap and that they are believing they were partly responsible for what their spouses did. I feel sorry for them and wonder if they will ever wake up.

      I know the x cheated almost as soon as we were married, confessed and I thought it was all over and done. I was very naive and very in love at the time and of course he wanted to move on and forget about it so it was never brought up post Dday.

      Fast forward 28 years and another Dday and the admission that he never stopped. Just went further underground.

      Anyway, I do know one woman who cheated on her x years ago 1 time and ‘woke up’, put an end to the affair and has worked on herself/recovery ever since. She remained in her marriage not out of love for her husband but because she can’t stand being alone – AKA abandonment issues.

      I am glad mine left. I would not want someone staying in relationship with me just to be in a relationship – in other words I would still be being used/AKA Plan B.

      I don’t know anyone else out there who has cheated, stopped and stayed so my experience is limited but I am curious if patched up relationships ever are better than ever.

      Unfortunately now I know I NEVER had ‘better’ and I am not about to wait around for ‘ever’. Too old and I am liking me now. A totally new experience and I am liking who I am finding.

      About the physical pain – I have experienced the opposite. I used to have a lot of physical pain and now I don’t. Began to fade almost instantly after he left.

  • That seeing the devastating destruction an affair can cause will keep them from ever doing it again.

    My ex-wife had a 4 month affair with her much older boss just a couple of years after we married. He had a history of mental problems that seemed to be flaring up; probably because he thought he could get my wife to leave me and she was acting like she was on the fence (gotta keep those kibbles coming). His wife confronted him and he only confessed to forcing a kiss on my poor innocent victim of a wife. His wife decided she’d had enough and was going to leave him. So, he killed himself.

    My wife kept up the lie he had made up, but I didn’t trust her. However, news came out that the AP had stopped taking his medication, so his erratic behavior seemed to fit. My wife played the part of innocent victim who didn’t know what to do with her bosses increasingly erratic behavior.

    I decided to stick with the marriage because even if it was all a lie, I thought there would be no way she would ever consider doing something like that again. Fast forward a few years and I catch her deleting hundreds of texts to a fellow church choir member. After grilling her, she admitted that she had cheated all of those years ago, but there’s nothing going on with the new guy.

    We start counseling to try to recover from her first affair. She starts up another affair…while we are in counseling! Eventually it all came out. Then she leaves me because of my “volatile emotions”! Even after that separation I took her back because of what really seemed like a completely changed attitude. Now I’m pretty sure the changed attitude was just to keep me from tracking her every move.

    It didn’t take long before I discover that she was in contact with her former affair partner. So now I’m out and have blissfully let go of it all.

    I couldn’t believe that someone committing suicide because of an affair won’t deter them! I wonder how high the body count has to go before it actually makes a difference!?

      • I’ve spent way too long trying to analyze what exactly she is. Is it BPD, NPD, Sociopath, Psychopath, etc. I have no idea and I finally realized that it doesn’t matter. She sucks and I trust that she sucks; that’s good enough.

        It was so weird. She could put on this completely believable persona of loving and caring. Even close family members have told me that they would have never guessed that she was capable of such horrible behavior. It was so convincing that I’d buy into it completely…that is, until the next “WTF event” happened.

        She still wants me to believe that she is a loving and caring person. She always makes a point to be friendly and (seemingly) compassionate. I smile and act gracious, but if I ever start to think that she’s changed I quickly set fire to that thought.

        I’d be permanently scarred for life if I knew my transgressions triggered someone’s suicide. I’d never even entertain those thoughts again. She jumped back into it while she claimed to be working on her marriage in counseling.

        Oh, and you can probably guess. Counseling was her not talking much and presenting herself as very passive. I was portrayed as the emotionally volatile one who would “see things that were perfectly innocent and twist them into something malicious”.

        I have to admit, I did go temporarily insane once I discovered her phone backups that graphically detailed everything she had done for the past few years. Everything that I supposedly “twisted” was, in fact, pretty much exactly what I had suspected.

        I now say my insanity was justified. She told me I was crazy. The marriage councilor was suggesting I see a psychiatrist and start medication for my delusions. The whole time my ex knew my suspicions were really close to what was going on. While she sat there crying and saying repeatedly “I don’t do that” and “I’m not capable of doing such things”.

        • SPF,

          Oh. My. God. Brother, that truly sucks. My heart goes out to you. Thank God you seem to have come through it w/your sanity intact. Best wishes to you going forward. You always think you have it bad until somebody tells their more wicked tale. Thanks for reminding me that it can always be worst. It reminds you that it’s time to stop feeling sorry for yourself.

          I hope your XW doesn’t inflict herself on anyone else, but based on what you’re saying, I won’t hold my breath. God, what a POS she is. I think we need to somehow come up w/a registry of these people, so if we happen to come in contact w/them, we can run away and sound the alarm. I know that’s not likely, but good Lord, what happens if one of us meets up w/her if we risk our hearts again? Not to mention all the people out there that aren’t on this site that might get taken in by her? Talk about scary…

          • Thank you very much for the kind words thelongrun!

            I think the best way to detect these people is to look for the “WTF event”. With my ex it happened after 6 months of dating.

            It’s not an argument or a disagreement that gets resolved. It is something that doesn’t make sense and seems to reek of manipulation. It’ll come out of the blue and seem to be for no reason. It’ll feel so strange because it will be the first time they try their tactics to manipulate you into getting what they want.

            Most likely afterwards they flip back to the wonderful person you knew. It was so easy for me to dismiss it. Until it happened again sometime later.

            After awhile I got used to it. I made excuses for it. It would get worse, then get better.

            However, that first time was a shock. Extremely easy to spot. Very easy to ignore. Don’t ignore it!

            I use 2 strikes now. One WTF event is their freebie and two is a pattern. They don’t get a third chance.

  • Before: A cheater is a misunderstood, complex man. Like the Alan Alda, playing Hawkeye Pierce in MASH.

    After: A cheater is a piece of shit narcissist. He is a little boy, running away from his ‘problems’, whining about the ‘terrible’ his spouse is. He is like Frank Burns in MASH. In the end, he cheats himself… out of respect and his own self – respect.

    Before: Affair Partner is dealing with a complex situation. Love doesn’t always come on time.

    After: An Affair Partner is a drama queen who likes to triangulate, break up mommies and daddies, and gets a sick thrill for being the “Chosen” one. Like the Glen Close character in Fatal Attraction, she’s been stalking the whole time. Jealous. Insecure.

  • I was smug about others who couldn’t “work things out” when something went wrong. It’s not that I believed one should always forgive cheating, but I thought that some attempt should be made to work things out before letting it go. However, I was also smug about women who kept a cheater when that cheater proved to be chronic.

    That’s why I allowed the pick-me dance to go on for so long. I believed all the RIC…that if I showed my love, compassion and commitment, it would touch his heart. He would turn back to me. He would realize that I am really amazing and want to work on the family we had together. It should have worked.

    But it didn’t.

    There are different kinds of cheaters. The ones that carry out double lives for a long period of time, blame you for not having met their needs, accuse you of being controlling, are not the ones that are redeemable. I didn’t understand that when I was “allowing him to mourn the loss of his affair partner,” or when I was showing patience through his “grieving process,” or trying to making the home “a place he wanted to come back to” that what I was really doing was feeding him kibbles. He continued to play both sides, and I was too blinded to know it.

    Now I know that if both people are not both committed to saving the marriage, GET OUT! If he can’t show you immediately that he is sorry, be completely forthright about the details of what he’s done and immediately start the work of re-building trust, GET OUT! If he isn’t willing to start with individual counselling that you sometimes get to be a part of (because marriage counselling is useless in the early stages of learning about infidelity), GET OUT! And, if you give him the chance to tell the truth, only to then get “trickled-truth” with drop after drop of truth that shatters you even more with each new discover, GET OUT!

    But, I also now understand why there are spouses that stay for so long and the process of trauma-bonding. That for every one of us that hung on and became further traumatized by the cheaters, we experienced emotional abuse. We demonstrated some of the same symptoms as battered women who stay (albeit to a lesser degree, but traumatic still). They are not stupid. They are not weak. It takes tremendous strength of character and great will of positive thinking to demonstrate that level of commitment to someone who has hurt you. It’s just that it’s being directed at the wrong source, a very selfish person who doesn’t appreciate what they have and feels entitled to dishonour it.

  • I remember those lazy Sunday afternoons lying in bed with the lifetime movies she liked. Did not care much for them myself. But later I remembered the ones where the couples found each other and it was all sparkles. The movies never showed the spouses left in ruins. Even with mounting evidence, I kept believing she would not actually cheat. I thought she was dismissing me to get me to change and be a better person! It is amazing what one can make themselves believe! 20 plus years! I was so easily disposed of! I admit over the years knowing a few guys who cheated. I fell for the bad wife story lines! Never helped them or encouraged them. But I also did not man up and stop them!

    • DavidB,

      I don’t think you could have stopped them. Other than telling their spouse what they were relating to you. That might have helped the spouse, but these people don’t stop just because they’ve gotten caught. It might be inconvenient to them, but it won’t likely change them. We’ve heard too many stories here on CL that prove that they are a different type of person from people like us. And hopefully, there’s more people like us than them.

  • I have never thought cheating was okay in any form. And I disagree that bad boundaries enable cheating. You should be allowed to have separate interests in a relationship. If someone is unhappy they should communicate and then you break up if needed. Cheating is never okay. Emotional or otherwise. No one should be shamed for trusting their spouse. My bad was spackling bad behavior and shitty treatment. I own that.

  • It is sad that the opposite of smug seems to be trusting no one. My daughters (26 & 24) are very damaged by what their father did. Everything was fine until it wasn’t, he lied and future-faked right up to the moment he abandoned me, and they got a front row seat to the whole show as he used them as little mini appliances after he left. Who are they supposed to believe if their own daddy is a total POS?

    I don’t have that problem. I do believe I can trust again but will never presume the person is incapable of horrible things. I learned my lessons well and have given point by point details to my girls on the red flags I ignored and the gallons of spackle I spread over his flaws. But I can’t make them truly open their hearts and be vulnerable. Their father’s abuse was too damaging.

  • I was super accommodating too, and always wanting to be the cool girlfriend/wife, never jealous, never suspicious, because it would mean I was insecure, wouldn’t it? And I never needed anything, never asked for anything, and I was proud of it. So naturally I ended up with a succession of needy losers who couldn’t earn a living by themselves and were only too happy to have such a competent, accommodating appliance to do all the work. The last one, the Traitor, even supplied me with a whole suite of people who needed something from me, his 4 children, his baby mother #2 (the Whore he cheated on me with), even baby mother #2’s grandma. I was so proud to be so useful.
    Until my childcare, grandma care services were no longer needed, I had no more pension to sell, and could not borrow more, and had wised up about the Whore using me as her ATM.
    But I still refused to be suspicious about why the Whore was getting everything she wanted, attention, help, money, and I wasn’t, because I was soooo cool and independent.

    I wasn’t smug about infidelity around me, but I imagined that wreckonciliation was always possible, and always best, and that if he ever cheated, it wouldn’t be out of disrespect for me; he would really try to reconcile. What I did not understand is that cheating on someone is purely about exerting power over them. It’s not about needs, or problems in the couple. It’s just about one person dominating the other.

  • I always thought cheating was a crappy thing to do to another human being (though I didn’t understand the full extent of the pain from being on the receiving end of it).

    And I used to RAIL against cheaters in politics or movie stars. Should have heard me go off about Hugh Grant caught with a prostitute. And there sat Hannibal, looking at me with amusement, knowing he was worse than Hugh.

  • I always drew the line at the cheater being the bad guy, but only imagined it as the straw that broke the camels back, as in a marriage with lots of yelling then one of them cheats. (even though I thought the cheating was wrong). I always had in my mind the Chump being no fun, a complainer, yelling a lot etc. I tried to be friends with both.

    I was the “cool wife” Tracy speaks of. SO COOL, dang, and I thought we had an AWESOME marriage, even better than most. I was so cool he went on all sorts of trips without me, and late nights at the bar etc.
    Hence my name, I always wondered where he was. I LOVE not wondering anymore! (Except now I have a teen son who will be driving soon—Ughhh, different kind of wondering/worry)

  • I thought I coined a term last year when I woke up about everything that was happening to me post-divorce: married people acting single. It was everywhere and anywhere I turned in the place I moved to for a job and new career. Married people acting single – people not wearing wedding rings, talking to me and inviting me to different things as if something was going to develop, or leaving a lingering feeling of possibilities. I was fooled in other places before but it was sporadic. Where I am now it is epidemic. “The modern marriage, the modern woman.” People don’t just lie to their spouses, boyfriends and partners to cheat and even those that tell “almost the truth” go far out of their way to make themselves way too available because they have no boundaries and insist their marriage operates that way or their spouses don’t care. After finding this cite, reading the book and other books, I’ve learned quite a lot about myself, what healthy and good boundaries are for everyone, and also how to spot the liars, cheaters and the ones with no boundaries. Whether they are married, living with someone or have a “boyfriend.” Can you imagine being like this into your 50s? I could not. Who knew? I read The Bridges of Madison County years ago, saw the movie. Over this past year I’ve come to realize what a crock of bullshit that story was – the reality is had real kids found those letters they would have questioned their entire childhood and most of their adulthood. Did mom really love dad? Did she really love us? Were we part of her regret that she did not get to lead the life she thought she deserved? Did mom really mean ‘I love you’ when she said it to dad, or us? Or was it all a fake, an act? Like many people I come from a fairly fucked up family. I’m pretty old now too and I still talk to my sister who is a year younger than me as we try desperately hard to piece together the truths of our childhood. Did dad behave that way because he was addicted to perscription pain medicine at a time when no one knew much about such addictions? CL reminds everyone here that we are not neanderthals, apes or wild thoughtless animals. We all have agency, we all have brains and we all should know the difference between right and wrong. Marriage is a contract. If one person or the other wants out then they need to say so before they break the contract. You don’t steal money from your company because you need a vacation and then wonder why you got arrested and went to jail and your co-workers hate you.

  • Two main things I learned, both more about myself than anything else. Before I thought that monogamy might be an unrealistic expectation for a lifetime, and I’d consider alternate arrangements down the road. Now I know that’s just not me. I’m absolutely a monogamous person, while recognizing that ethical non monogamy is a valid choice (I learned what ethical non monogamy was!) Second, I always thought that in a good marriage, love was unconditional. Now I know that’s just a lack of boundaries. Good, healthy, adult romantic love is always conditional, always in a space of being warned and being given. The only being I love unconditionally now is my dog.

  • Before infidelity happened, I thought I was immune. I thought it was something that happened to other people not me and my spouse. Because I thought I was as doing everything “right” and “perfect” in my relationship. I thought it was something that happened to relationships where someone was oppressed, or someone had unaddressed sexual needed like they were secretly gay.

    I saw a few marriages break up due to the husband having same sex affairs, so I thought infidelity happened due to repressed urges. I thought my marriage was bulletproof because I let my husband do what he wanted. How could he possibly be unhappy when I let him do whatever he wanted. I was the cool wife. The one that never nagged. I’m seeing now I didn’t set boundaries and I let him walk all over me.

    I truly understand now. There are more reasons why people have affairs than they were secretly gay. Also no amount of being nice and perfect will keep them from straying.

    • This sounds like me too, and many other posters also have echoed that sense of “but I tried to be the cool wife!” We all thought that we could be accommodating enough to ensure that there were no unmet needs and no reasons to cheat.

      I was a doormat and let him do whatever he wanted, including taking him back after the first affair. I cooked from scratch, made a ton of money, was very sexual with him anytime he wanted, and NEVER bitched or nagged. I was the adult and he was the petulant child.

      None of my efforts made any difference and I was declared inadequate, controlling and judgmental as he turned on his heel and went off to fuck a woman our daughter’s age. My nonexistent boundaries and for lack of a better word, permissiveness, did not yield respect or gratitude, but rather contempt for me. We see that in lots of other posts here.

      If you wipe butt as long as I did I guess I should not be surprised to be treated like toilet paper. Never again.

      • Yes! Same here, but a role reversal. Me, the “cool husband”; her, the petulant child. And, like toilet paper, when my wife was done using me for 17 years, I was promptly flushed!

      • I discovered that being permissive and not controlling made him think I just didn’t care. I am sure, however that if I had paid closer attention to his comings and goings and complained he would absolutely have accused me of being controlling. He was just going to interpret everything I did or didn’t do in the most negative way he could. There is no way to win this game.

    • IWMFT,

      I will add my name to all the others here as thinking I was being cool, accepting and bulletproof too.

      It was actually a relief to find out he was a serial cheater throughout our entire 30ish years together although I was still shocked because he is a TFC – covert narc.

      Yep, now I get it – I had no boundaries. Well, they went into effect once I learned about NC and grey rock. I have taken what I have learned here and now I apply it in other areas of my life as well. Feels good and I am discovering a new me that I didn’t know existed.

  • My cheating ex had been married previously and had cheated in that 1st marriage. I was spouse #2. I remember her explanation so well about her previous marriage’s end. which I completely accepted. Her line was that people cheat because they are not getting what they need in their marriage. Also, who’s to know about what happens in marriages, its complicated. Ugh.

    Cheatin’ ex is now going for a triple, she married her AP.

  • I thought if I gave and loved him, ‘one day’ he would give me what I need.

    I bowed down to him and then whined about it. Because he never listened to me, I used passive aggression.

    Never again.

    I had zero boundaries and just increased his disrespect.

    Now I will respect myself and NEVER be so inadequate again.

  • My experience is a bit different. I always assumed it would happen to me as I am ugly. Life as an ugly woman is a never ending fight to justify your existence. When it happened, I thought the world was ending. I’d be alone forever. Then it all went down, and I’m still here. If anything, it confirmed my judgement that I should not have tried in the first place. I’ve also come to trust my intuition regarding other people more and more since then.

    • Beauty doesn’t protect you from being chumped. (Cue Hollywood scandals.) Being average, plain, homely, or (as you call yourself) ugly doesn’t mean you deserve to be chumped. There are many plain, devoted couples. (Cue old hippie voice.) And that’s beautiful, man. End of sermon!

    • I am sorry you are so down on your appearance, DemHoez. Looks have nothing to do with your cheater’s character. Everyone says I am much better looking than the AP (and IMO far more intelligent and capable). None of that matters. Looks don’t matter where cheating is involved.
      However I fear that if you are such a harsh judge of yourself, your lack of self confidence will attract predators (cheaters). So please be mindful of that. Know your worth, your value: integrity, character, honesty, caring, loyalty, loving deeply. All your qualities make you worthy of a partner of the same calibre.

      • No worries, I’m aware of that issue and don’t date. My son is autisticanyway, so there’s not anything out there for me., I’m not saying I deserved it because I’m ugly, simply that I expected it. I’m happier uncoupled. I don’t think relationships are for me. I’m not equipped for it and dont have much to offer. I’d rather no deal with the kinds of options I have.

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