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Dear Chump Lady, But what if I leave him and he changes?

Dear Chump Lady,

How do I get past the feeling that divorcing him is going to be the consequence that actually propels him to change? We live in a small town and I imagine having to see him, new and improved, with someone else will kill me.

He’s acting very much like he’s ready and willing to change, but I don’t trust him. Firstly, because the ridiculous amount of infidelities and the Oscar-worthy acting he was capable of during that entire time. How will I even know? Play PI forever? Also, he’s continuing a work relationship on a personal level that has been a big problem for me (though not one of his affairs, just a flirtation). He teeters between taking responsibility/remorse and blaming me. For a few weeks he was firmly in the remorse category but he’s been slipping back to blameshifting, gaslighting and anger.

The worst thing is maybe that he hates the person I’ve become: a person I’ve become because my husband has been cheating on me since nearly day one of our marriage. I was a confidant, joyful independent and loving woman. Now, I’m jealous, suspicious, angry, anxious and depressed. I barely get out of bed most days and my greatest accomplishments are playing marriage police and unraveling the skein. I work only when it can’t be avoided.

But I feel like he’s started doing the work to change and seems to genuinely want to not be that cheating lying, porn addicted scumbag he’s been forever. However, he resents and blames me so much that I doubt he will recover while we are together. And, I doubt I’ll ever feel emotionally secure with him again. I DON’T want to live with a pit in my stomach for the rest of my life but nor do I want to live without the man I thought he was, that I hope he can become.

D-Day was very recent and I’m no doubt in some shock and mourning the dream terribly. I don’t have much of a support system because I’m mortified to tell too many people and also, I fear, should I stay with him, everyone will judge me and never again accept him into our social circles.

Is it okay to leave him even if he’s trying to get better? How do I steal myself to the possibility that he will be a better man for the next woman? How do I stop worrying that I’m making a huge mistake?

I know I’ll be alone after this, by choice. I’m older and he’s not my first cheater. I won’t risk wasting any more years on relationships. But he won’t be alone for a minute and I’m not ready for that.

Juliana

Dear Juliana,

You’ve got a classic Trust That They Suck problem. This happens when you don’t know your own mind, like whether what you’ve discovered is a deal breaker.

Because if you had clarity, that his cheating and mindfuckery were unacceptable, you would not care if he’s “trying to get better.”

If you’re in business with someone and they embezzle the pension fund, do you stay in business with them because they’re working on that sticky finger problem? “Hey, I’m 5 days clean of not stealing from the till!”

Sure, that person might go on with their life as a solid citizen, but you’re the last person who should be expected to invest in that outcome. Also… where’d the money go?

Let’s break down the Trust That They Suck dilemma.

1.) You’re still in shock. You just had a D-Day, so you’re trying to grapple with who your husband is, and all your sunk costs, weighed against fresh horror. Emotions don’t catch up with intellect right away. When my son was a teenager I told him — “Your brain isn’t fully formed. You have no executive functioning. At your age, you’re attracted to stupid.”

Juliana, I presume you’re over 30, so you’ve got a completely grown pre-frontal cortex, however, your decision-making is suspect.

The RIC weaponizes this confusion and encourages paralysis. I am NOT telling you to wait 6 months to make a decision. (Let’s drive a stake through that advice and bury it at a crossroads with a crucifix…)

I AM telling you this flood of emotion you’re feeling is NORMAL, and feelings about HIM are untrustworthy, and you need to be infinitely practical now and do things to protect yourself (lawyer, finances, etc.) and decide to shelf the emotional work for later.

Oh, you know who also weaponizes your confusion? Your cheater. All the better to manipulate you. He will do his darnedest to ramp up your emotions and keep you from imposing consequences.

2.) You have no way of knowing when he’s honest and when he’s lying. You want to trust that he Doesn’t suck. You want to give him the benefit of the doubt, and not protect yourself but invest instead in his marvelous potential. Well, think about it — if you couldn’t tell when he was sincere about loving you before, how will you ever know now?

You can’t. Hypervigilance is not sustainable (and is extremely unhealthy) — so that leaves trusting him. I seriously doubt you will ever feel safe with a practiced liar and serial cheat.

3.) Who he’s been and who he is now is an excellent predictor of who he will be. I’m not saying people can’t change. But that’s a long trajectory with iffy odds. Look at who he is — ridiculous amount of infidelities and the Oscar-worthy acting — and who he’s being now, found out — but he’s been slipping back to blameshifting, gaslighting and anger.

That’s his character on display. He’s someone capable of casual betrayal and deliberate mindfuckery. Those are the tools in his human kit.

Back to our embezzlement example — out of all the job candidates in the ENTIRE WORLD, do you want to invest in THIS guy? Sure, there’s worse out there. There’s also a lot better. And there’s also going into business for yourself.

Is it okay to leave him even if he’s trying to get better?

Yes. Your potential matters more than his potential.

How do I steal myself to the possibility that he will be a better man for the next woman?

A hundred chumps here today will tell you that he won’t be. I answered this before here.

It doesn’t matter if he’s better for the next one — it matters whether the relationship you’re in now is acceptable to you or not. Live your values and know your worth.

 

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.
  • And if he does appear better for the next woman it will be image management and he has to keep that up rememnber. I am sure it will look like that from the outside and from the outset so be prepared for that but that’s when TTTS comes in. Whatever they’ve been capable of and what they’ve done, not said, shows their true character.

    • Casinos know this and capitalize on this. They are in the business of OBFUSCATION. They use poker chips to cloud the amount of money you are actually spending. Food, removing markers for time, alcohol, shows. The HIGH ROLLER SUITES…in other words, BEING NICE. Credit cards also cloud financial reality. Cheaters and con artists modus operandi is OBFUSCATION, “being nice”….

      BF Skinner articulates very well another component of why we want to stay; those crumbs they give us are POWERFUL crumbs!!

      https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-wise/201311/use-unpredictable-rewards-keep-behavior-going

      I think gambling analogies are spot on when applied to cheating. Why we stay makes so much sense framed this way and helps me to feel less like an idiot.

      To win the game and beat the house you need to ignore the facade and keep your mind focused on REALITY. And cheating is the REALITY of who they are.

      If you become devoted to YOURSELF instead of trying to force them be devoted to you, when they clearly are not, then you will have the right focus.

      • Velvet Hammer.

        That is SUCH a great comment. That’s exactly right. They’re nothing more than con artists with varying schticks. Clouding reality.

        I love analogies. They seem to somehow bypass our defenses and hit the spot where they’re supposed to, don’t they?

        I love this one from above by ChumpLady: “If you’re in business with someone and they embezzle the pension fund, do you stay in business with them because they’re working on that sticky finger problem? “Hey, I’m 5 days clean of not stealing from the till!”

        I mean, come on … there simply IS no response to that one. It defies logic and good common sense, but that’s exactly what we want to do. We accuse men of thinking with parts below the belt, but often we woman think with our emotions … equally as dumb. At least it was for me.

      • Great post. And it’s why the best antidote to losing money at the casino is: STAY OUT OF THE CASINO.

        If you think divorcing him may help him change, then divorce him! He isn’t going to change while you are married and lying in bed crying over him. Those tears are delicious to him, by the way. All attention is good attention. The “I hate the person you’ve become is: 1) blame-shifting; 2) classic narcissistic devaluation. They can’t cheat unless they devalue us, perhaps to our faces but certainly in their mind. I say “divorce him” and work on changing YOU. Get back to being “a confidant, joyful independent and loving woman.” You don’t say how old you are, but I was 62 when I got chumped after leaving a marriage to a substance abuser. I’m here to tell you that life is better when you get your act together and learn to recognize people who are disordered, who lie and cheat and manipulate. You don’t need this man. You need to get your Self back.

        1. Protect yourself financially. Gather copies of all your financial papers (taxes, payroll, bank statements, property, investments, retirement, etc.) Secure any papers that are yours alone in a safe location. I would have it all copied as PDFs and put all document in a cloud account and on a thumb drive.
        2. See 2-3 of the best divorce attorneys in your area. Hear what they have to say.
        3. Who owns the house? If you do, what do you need to do to get him out? If he owns it, do you have a marital claim? Is it jointly owned? The lawyer can advise you if you lose leverage if you leave. Ask questions.
        4. Are you working? Move your paycheck into a separate account, if you currently use a joint one.
        5. Run a credit check. Cheating is expensive. A thief of your time is often a thief of money.
        6. Get STD testing. Please.
        7. Start telling people. Jiminy crickets. Why are you cutting yourself off from the people who care about you? Don’t worry about your “social circles,” girl. Worry about having FRIENDS who can support you. Tell your FRIENDS. That means the 2 or 3 women in your life who will forever have your back. My BFF flew 2.000 miles and spent 3 weeks with me during a polar vortex. It was seriously cold. Snow up to our butts. I was a crying mess. Fun times. But by the time she left, I was moving forward, one foot at a time. Tell any family members who have your back. My parents are gone but my sister was a rock for me and never once judged me.

        Look–you can’t protect him. People will rightly think poorly of him. He’s a jackass. Covering up for him won’t help him and certainly won’t help you. I’m telling you that as someone who was married to a life-long substance abuser and who spent years “not telling” about how bad the drinking was. The word for that is “enabling.” Don’t enable his abuse of you. Don’t enable his manipulation. Tell.

        Along those lines, find a therapist who understands narcissistic relationships. And do the reading about the narcissistic relationship cycle. That’s a major step in admitting to yourself that the problem is him. That his character is flawed.

        Get up. Get moving. Do it for the strong woman you’ve got buried inside of you. And let me tell you: I’m 6 years from D-Day. I’ve never been better. You don’t have to give up on relationships but you will have to fix your picker, first. Stick around. Read here. You’ll get it all figured out.

        • LAJ,
          You are a priceless asset to CN….SO WELL PUT.

          CN… I’m sorry…my comments are appearing…all over the place. I’m at a convention…so…it is what it is. Lol!

        • Thank you LAJ!

          I’ve begun the escape plan – luckily I went into this marriage protecting my assets so I’m in a good position.

          I’ve begun a bunch of new activities to rebuild my confidence and my life outside of the marriage. I’ve got a long way to go but all of the advice here is getting me there.

    • Oh yes. My cheater, for all appearances, looked like he was much better for the next woman (his eventual fiance). After several years she finally kicked him to the curb. We had talked a few times, turns out not only did he not get better, he was actually worse with her. So no, they don’t get better. They want you to think they do, though.

  • Cheaters suck the life out of you.
    I heard my son singing in the shower and I realised I used to do that too…

    • Exactly! I read through our chats and emails we sent when we first started dating. There was one where she talked about seeing her ex boyfriend and chatting with him. I knew the guy from school, so I asked how he was doing.

      I had absolutely zero jealousy, because I was confident in myself. I really was shocked, because I had forgotten all about it. Just reading the old message made me want to question if something happened between them at that time. It definitely stung to know I’m not who I used to be.

      • A fellow chump who is 3 years ahead of me (she left him after 20, had a great attorney, and he isn’t evil–just not husband material), showed me an old photo of me and she said:

        “I am waiting for the old XXXXX to return, with that mischievous smile and funny personality”

        Me too. There are no winners in divorce. The OW comes in last, as we know what’s ahead for her. Trust me, they do not change, but we do. I am going to be that fun loving generous person again…..meh is coming.

        “Just when the caterpillar thought her world was over, she turned into a butterfly.”

  • Stealing from Chump Lady herself, “Do you feel safe with this person”
    Re-read your letter. You’ve already answered this.

  • I am sorry he has not changed. He is just trying to make you think he changed. You mentioned that when you first married him you were a confident happy woman. Now you are jealous and depressed. If you stay with this man you will continue to slide deeper into depression. Is this what you want? If you divorce him and he latches on to another women. He most likely will cheat on her. Another women will not have magical powers and puff he is an upstanding guy. You will see that once the cheater is out of your life you will be the confident happy women you once were.

    • “You will see that once the cheater is out of your life you will be the confident happy women you once were.” – THIS in spades! Divorce this asshole, go no contact, and you will awaken as if from a nightmare to find your real, kind, kick-ass self loving your life. Trust me, you’ll wish you had left sooner

      “The worst thing is maybe that he hates the person I’ve become: a person I’ve become …” Oh REALLY? So let me get this straight: he gets to fuck around on you from day one, and he gets to HATE that you don’t like it? This is RIC bullshit at it’s finest: Don’t upset the cheater! Fuck that shit, leave this asshole, go rock a new life

  • I believe that we all wonder if he’ll be better to the OW. I think that once we realize the life that we were actually living (as opposed to the life that we thought we were living), we need to focus on making ourselves better. Forget trying to imagine who he is now. Just remember what he was to you. I kept a small journal when I thought that he was having a “mid life crisis”. All I need to do is read some of my entries to realize that I am glad that he is gone. No one deserve to live in such a crazy place.

    • My XW is certainly a better mother (and, as far as I can tell, wife) post-divorce. Now she makes playdates for the kids, puts them to bed, cooks for them, often comes to doctors’ visits: all things she never did while we were married. I think she didn’t need to do those things because *I* did all of them; plus she needs to look like the involved parent for her AP, and she her professional image (woman who has it all – kids, husband and career) took a hit when she divorced me to marry a coworker (breaking up his marriage), so she needs some image management. She also does many things with AP-now-husband that I wish she’d done during the marriage (going on trips, nights out, hiking, etc) though I don’t really know much about their relationship. Sometimes I’m a little bitter about it – I think how much stress it would have taken off me and the marriage if she’d been a full partner for all the kid and household stuff.

      But in the end, she was never going to do those things for me or for our marriage. I don’t know exactly *why *she couldn’t be a better wife and mother while she was married to me – perhaps I didn’t ask enough of her early in the relationship, and she got used to my doing everything for her; perhaps she just looks down on me because I’m less career-driven and earn less, so she thinks she deserves to be catered to – but whatever the underlying cause I *know* that she was never going to be that better person with me. It’s not realistic to look at how she acts with her current husband and think “I ought to have gotten that better person” because she never offered it to me. I don’t want the old her back (not that she’s ever offered it), and the new her was never an option. I bet my situation is not unique: the improvements for the AP (whether illusory or not) were never on offer for us in the first place.

      • Well, if she’s a narcissist (and the vast majority of cheaters are), her main concern is impression management. So she will put on the good-wife, good-mom mask and do that oh-so-subtle blame shift to you (I couldn’t be the good wife/mom married to Involuntary Georgian; only now, married to true love, can I be the wonderful person I was always meant to be).

        My X is dong this as well, but the kids and I know his tells and we know he hasn’t changed at all.
        He plays the part to perfection and of course the community at large buys it. It sounds like you are reaching meh which is great. But I’d bet a lot of money she hasn’t changed at all.

      • Hey Involuntary…

        Of course your ex and the man she cheated with have to do all the things together. For one thing it’s impression management. They have to make the world think their “love” was some great passion for the ages.

        ALSO, they don’t trust each other. They both know that their partner is a cheater.

        Before you’re certain that she has changed and become a good wife and mother, wait a few years. Impression management lasts for a time, but good character is a constant. One or both of them may not be able to sustain the “change”.

      • Agreed! My XH is still with his howorker, and she has him building goat pens, and doing all kinds of household things for her that he never did for me. I was like you IG, I never really asked it of him. I didn’t want to seem like a nag. He was always all talk with me. He told me he could change the car oil, but in 7 years, I have yet to see him do that. There was always an excuse.

      • Fear not… she is still in the love-bombing stage with her new hubby… and by marrying him, she opened up the role for AP… in time she will fill it. And, then her new hubby will get all the drama that comes with devalue and subsequently discard… classic NPD behavior. #youwin

        • Oh, I’m aware that she’s putting on an act for AP. I never see them together, of course, but my then-16-year-old daughter told me that she *likes* it when AP is there, because then “Mom doesn’t get angry”. (AP isn’t there all the time, since he lives 1000 miles away. They coordinated custody schedules during their divorces so they can fly back and forth at will. From what I’ve read about limerence, distance and obstacles tend to prolong it, so I figure they’ll keep up the love-bombing for quite a while.)

          I don’t like the idea of the AP, but I suspect I’d like it even less if she had a succession of strange men cycling through the house, so I guess it’s best for the kids that they drag it their marriage as long as possible. My poor 8-yo did tell me he had a dream that AP moved to be with his mom, then they got divorced, and my son then had to cycle between *three* houses.

          • Involuntary, G,
            My old friend! Good to see you here. 🙂

            You’re right about all of this, you know. The “better” mom role is now being played by ____. Your kids will benefit, but in a random kibbles sort of way that our Xes are so proficient at.

            Thanks for the vocab addition, IG. Limerance. I know that B well! It’s how Boss Hogg and I began our freakshow of a marriage.
            You know that “tragic” distance between your X & her AP – that romantic tension charged factor that paints them as the smarmy literature-worthy figures they see themselves? That’s the perfect vacuum into which sparkly new APs fill the character voids that implode 2 families for their personal pleasures.

            She’s NOT better, IG. She’s better AT IT. Playing the role for any audience for her personal benefit. Your kids are already processing some of her wreckage and for that they need YOU: sane, loving parent who doesn’t flake or play-act or use them as supporting characters. Keep doing YOU. She couldn’t be better “for” you because she ISN’T. There was nothing about you that elicited anything from her. Shut that narrative down, friend.

            Juliana, same thing: He WILL NOT BE better. Just take his shit deeper undercover necessitating next-level marriage police in estigation. UGH!

            My (irrational) fears from Ddays #1 & 2 were that he would learn from his mistakes and be the man I thought he was all along. If I had trusted that he sucked then, I might have had another type of life for the next 26 years. No regrets, now, because I deply love my children and granddaughter, and I went back to grad school after those 1st ddays, ensuring I have a career now rather than a job.

            And I now TRUST THAT HE SUCKS. People still tell me what they see – or THINK they see – about him, but I know my truth. He was a lousy, cheating husband who treated my love and commitment like trash. He *acts* like a better parent because more eyes are on him without me there to make him look good. My kids see him through their own eyes. I’m the sane parent there for them. I’ll take that. In fact, I love it.

      • They can wear that “good wife” mask for a long time. Remember, she entered this marriage at her own 1-yard line, to use a football metaphor. She married you young, without blowing up a couple of families, so she could just be herself. The best case scenario for your kids is that the mask stays up for a while.

        I recall my grandfather looked like father of the year when he married a woman younger than my mother (his daughter) and had little kids when I was in my 20s. That lasted until those kids hit adolescence. Then he ditched that wife and those kids just like he did the other two wives and 5 kids. They don’t change. They can just play a role for a while.

  • Trust that they suck
    Went by ambulance to resus, kids stayed with ex, never asked how I was. Diagnosed heart beat problem, still expected to do everything.
    Tried to con me out of money, I explained your not conning me.
    Asks why I don’t want to see him, your a idot.

  • The Twat was such a drunken asshole that maybe Schmoopie was a better fit for him and maybe, just maybe, he would never have cheated on her. After 3 years she cheated on him, but I heard through the grapevine that “she had to leave him because she was afraid he would kill her”. And this I believe as he was extremely violent to me. So in the end, even with a “better fit” he didnt change for her.

    • Well, as my narcissist mother used to say, “Water seeks its own level.” A disordered person can’t grow and keep up with a normally growing adult, who learns and grows from experience. So Schmoopies may well be a better fit if they too have character disorder. Cheaters with cheaters.

      • Exactly. My ex-husband married his AP (also a cheater). Their marriage has lasted longer than our marriage. My 2nd husband’s cheater ex-wife also married her AP (also a cheater) Their marriage also has lasted longer than the both their original marriages.

        Don’t know how happy my ex-husband’s marriage is, nor do I care. Even if the marriage was outright awful, he would never divorce his now-wife. That would be admitting he was wrong to marry his AP and he would rather fry in hell that admit he made a mistake.

  • It doesn’t matter how he treats anyone else. He knifed me in the back.

    Bernie Madoff was REALLY NICE to all those people he was embezzling from.

    Chris Watts was romantic and thoughtful and kind and funny and loving….to the woman he was cheating with. He killed his own family.

    Make your own experience with a person the deciding factor on whether you should spend your time, attention, and energy on them. My STBHX is a master manipulation, who lives to prove what a Nice Guy he is to everyone. Everyone except ME.

    I got the memo with the truth about him. Let everyone else take their chances.

    • This is FOMO stuff (Fear Of Missing Out).

      The most important thing I don’t want to miss out on is PEACE OF MIND. Which I would be missing out on 24/7, for the rest of my life, if I stayed with the traitor.

      And my revenge is that the OW doesn’t get to have it! The joke’s on her! 🤪

      • I thought the same thing manna. Matt Lauer, all American guy, family man, in reality a despicable, pathetic human being.
        Remember years ago when during an interview with Madonna he made some smug remark and she put him in his place?

        Ex and Matt Lauer have similar personality traits, all American guy, portrays himself as a man of integrity, charming. Too perfect.
        Funny, couldn’t stand Matt Lauer, maybe because they’re so much alike.

      • Wow – yes, my husband has a very Matt Later quality to him. He presents as boyish, naive, very interested in others as if he’s interviewing them. Meanwhile, he’s a raging, seasoned sex addict with his hands in every form of cheating there is. There’s not a naive bone in his body.

        • Juliana,

          The pit in my stomach began to dissolve when I discovered Chump Lady & CN. LACGAL gave me the breath of fresh air compared with the RIC sewage that covered ME in shame for responding rationally to cheater’s abuse. I drank in every word of this blog and its archives as if I had been in the desert. She saved my life, and that’s not an exaggeration. I am freer, happier, younger than I have been in decades (55 @ Dday #3, two years ago).

          Set yourself free, Juliana. He is no prize. You know that. The pit in your stomach tells you that. Trust that he sucks. Get free.
          You are in amazing company here – stick close to us. The rewards are more than you can imagine right now in your shock. Don’t let him use your instincts against you!
          (((((Hugs!)))))

    • PPS…

      And here’s a page from my own Book of Life..

      11/2017 I discovered the affair. I also discover he has been playing the field probably our entire relationship of 27 YEARS. While going to therapy with me THE ENTIRE TIME. And claiming to be in recovery (AA).
      2/2018 He moves out. To be by himself! To Get His Life Together! The affair is over! We are getting divorced!
      10/2018 My daughter intercepts a message from someone on Tinder while watching a video on his phone.
      2/2019 I find out he has been secretly living in a apartment with the OW, using money he stole from our business to pay for it, since before he moved out 2/2018. He set up the apartment WHILE he was faking reconciliation with shell-shocked traumatized chumpy Me. This means that he is simultaneously married, separated, getting divorced, ghosting his own daughter, living with the OW in an apartment with embezzled funds, on Tinder, which means he is cheating on the OW (hahaha!) and going to the massage parlors of his favorite cultural demographic.

      (When he moved out he told me he wanted a simple life.)

      This man is no prize. He is a train wreck. If he were to ever become the man I thought he was, it would take YEARS and very hard work that I do not see him capable of based on his current character. HE IS STILL LYING BTW! I want my dream, not a potential dream, and certainly not a mirage.

      I have no idea how much time I have left on this planet. I know I do not have any time to gamble and waste on him. If you went out to eat at a four-star restaurant, and they served you rotten, spoiled food with crappy service, would you eat it and come back daily? So why would we spend our precious non-refundable time on a situation where it’s so much more important that we do it well?

      IF YOU WANT A FIXER UPPER, BUY A HOUSE.

      IF YOU WANT TO FIX SOMEONE, FIX YOURSELF!

      • You are my hero!

        Good God what you say is true. I lived it too.

        Thank you for your comments. They resonate with me.

        Especially this ~ “…It doesn’t matter how he treats anyone else. He knifed me in the back…”

        Exactly how I feel. Exactly!

        • YES….there are MARRIED SERIAL KILLERS. Can you imagine how that mind works?

          “Oh, but he never tried to kill ME, so it’s all good…..”

          NOT.

          Hitler loved his dogs……and Eva Braun married him…..so does that prove he is good guy? Hell to the no!

          • “There are married serial killers.” Truth!

            Altemio Sanchez, The Bike Path Rapist, is a serial killer. He was well-liked by his neighbors and some even called him “Uncle Al” due to his charisma and interactions with him. He coached youth basketball and baseball teams. He was a “nice guy”.

            And all that was for image management. On the side he was raping and killing women. And then would come home to his wife and kids.

            Our cheaters are usually well-liked by most and are considered really “nice guys”! But on the side they are lying, cheating, fucking around with strippers and masturbating to porn.

      • This reminds me of a twitter comment in one of those “Funniest Tweets of the Week” lists (by a woman named Tami):

        *watching the Joker movie*

        (under breath) i could fix him

        -I saw my former self in that tweet, and in my head shouted, “NOOOOO!!”

  • I wish my ex was a better man now. His children, his grandson, his widowed mom, my parents, the social network I left to him… for their sakes, I wish he was the “better man” that I once dreaded seeing him become.

    Divorcing him and walking away changed both of us. I became a better me. You will too. And there will come a day, I SWEAR it, that you really won’t care about him. A day when you don’t tie your worth to his identity. A day when you don’t see your reflection in his choices. A day that you realize you untethered your raft from his.

    Whether he is a better man or worse is irrelevant in my view of who I am and how I live my life. You will experience that too.

    • I hope so.

      He’s not my first cheater, so I know this is possible. I don’t know why it’s been so hard. I guess I fear the process of separating more than the outcome: the legal battle, the inevitable dip into more depression as I’m faced with reinventing and rebuilding my life and identity, etc. I don’t feel ready to face that.

      • yes, but you dont have t face it all at once. Break it down into manageable chunks. I told myself absolutely no dating for the first year, and it took some of the pressure off ( i moved it to 2 when i was still enmeshed at 1 year out – i was still smoking that hopium even post divorce)

        – divorce first, heal second, rebuild third, maybe date? forth at least.

      • If you struggle with depression, therapy and perhaps medication is a must. Exercise (especially walking), clean diet, yoga, mediation–all of those things can help you combat depression.

        And you have work to do. This isn’t your first cheater. So job 1 (and not just for dating someday) is learning to recognize disordered people AND becoming someone they want to stay away from. It’s sort of magical, really–if you work on fixing the picker, on recognizing character disorder, and on ending your need for sparkly types who love bomb you, then you don’t need to worry about getting involved with another one. You’ll be attracted to kind people, honest people, with good character. It took me 2 years to fix my picker and become a woman happy to date someone but not at all interested in sharing a home with anyone but my cats.

        • You might check out a book called “the depression cure”. Sets out in plain English tangible steps to take sans RX to help including high dose omega 3s. Exercise, sunlight, omega 3s. Was helpful to me.

      • There are a number of us, including CL, who have been through the abuse wringer more than once. We know the compounded feels of starting again, again. We know the drill.

        You come from a position of discernment, of wisdom. Let that bring you strength. It’s a bit like dejavu. Like, wait?!? What?!? Hang on, why is this familiar?!? Knowledge is power.

        Now is the time to make a plan. The fear comes from being directionless. From not deciding. I see you as having a clear idea of why, but not how & when. Start to find a strategy. One that focusses entirely on self preservation and care. Be quiet and stealthy about it. Look to long term. Only keep those close who need to know.

        It’s ok to be shit scared, do it anyway!

        Xxx hugs!

  • I really can relate, because my ex-wife really is the model of kind and loving… outside the home. When I said I wanted a divorce, there was about 3 days of seething rage, then *poof* she reverted back to full on Mary Poppins mode. Thankfully, she does occasionally invalidate my decisions to remind me of why she still sucks. I don’t reply to those messages. Still, when she’s nice it’s very hard to not buy into it, because for many years I wanted to believe that was the real person.

    What has really helped is making a list of every possible shitty thing I can remember her ever doing. I’m still adding to it every time I remember something… it’s amazing how much shitty things I’ve forgotten about. I guess I got to a point where I spackled so liberally that many were blocked out.

    When I feel like I regret pushing for a divorce, I read the list. I usually don’t even have to get through the whole thing before I feel better about my decision.

    • SweetPotato this is such a hard thing, my EX (divorced 4 years) is also a “nice guy”. If fact I use to tell people that he was the nicest guy I know (I quit that about 3 years married). He was so good looking but such a “humble awwww shucks” type of guy (convert narc) He was always the victim of his life. He use to say he had the worse luck and could not catch a break…. He always went to work, school and took the garbage out. But never finished a project and blamed me for his boring life.

      He always ended the very civil emails with I hope you and the boys are well. such a nice guy. Meanwhile he was talking about me like I was a dog to anyone who would listen, violent and blaming in person. Would have great rages at home, that were my fault. I found out after the divorce that he never met a woman he did not cheat on and was engaged 4 more times then I knew.

      People liked him more then me, I have always been quiet, not a party girl and serious. Authentic and human. People like the glam better. I have my boys to remind me of what a jerk he was when I want to label him a nice guy. He cancelled their health insurance out of the blue after they turned 18, even though they really needed it still while in college. He just wrote my youngest a letter after 4 years of NC and told him he really did not know EXACTLY what he did that keeps them from talking to him?
      He is so very confused.

      He married just after the divorce was final, and did not tell his kids. His kids do not know where he lives, he puts his work address on the few pieces of mail they have received in 4 years. My point is that there are little actions that keep reminding you TRUST THAT THEY SUCK but the niceness breaks your heart and makes you doubt.

      • Your testimony helps me feel better. Mine was also a nice guy and to this day our old friends and the people of our church have great sympathy for him. Sigh.

      • My heart breaks for your sons. I hope they are able to build up their self-esteem through other means, and realize they are worth so much more, and valuable. I can relate (I have sons, too) These Narcs are so selfish and blind!
        Sometimes the kids really do rise above, though.

      • The Best Me – exactly this. “People liked him more then me, I have always been quiet, not a party girl and serious. Authentic and human. People like the glam better.” This bothers me so. I want to tell the world what an evil narcissistic person he really is but I know they are already invested. I will just be viewed as the mean crazy person he is painting me to be. Trust that they suck!!!

      • Don’t assume this.

        My ex was very imagine conscious and desperate to be seen as a nice guy. He was openly friendly and social.

        But it was all surface….he is as phony as they come. Kept his ex gf around our entire 13 years together, was a passive aggressive douchbag who played dumb after being an asshoke, and was just generally a nasty prick.

        I’m introverted and not as openly friendly as he is. But I’m also loyal and genuine….you never have to watch your back with me. And I value authenticity….not image. If I have something to say I own it…..I don’t make nasty comments under my breath and then play dumb like a coward.

        You generally don’t have to worry about your image unless you’re a douchbag…it’ll take care of itself.

        You know what I realized after I divorced him? More people then I thought were onto him and his phony shit.

        So don’t assume people like him more. There may be a few but they’re probably image conscious phonies like him. More people then you think know who he is.

        • “He was so good looking but such a “humble awwww shucks” type of guy (convert narc) He was always the victim of his life.”

          Yes, yes, yes!!

          I’m so sorry for your kids – what an asshole.

        • Yes, Kim! I am finding out that many people who are less naive than I am had their doubts about X but didn’t say anything because he was such a nice guy; friendly, self effacing, (covert narc). In fact a good friend told me just yesterday that when her husband found out about X’s double life, he said. “I’m not surprised.” And this was a man I thought was one of X’s closest friends.

          • This!!

            There are still people who think my covert narc x is “such a nice guy” and that is a red flag for me. They are either like him, naive, or indifferent to my pain – all of which make it easier for me to dismiss their opinion and trust my experience.

            My history includes childhood molestation that was bad enough in itself, but when I tried to tell an adult, I was told, “You had a dream. That never happened. Don’t ever tell anyone.”
            THAT response did more damage than the physical violations: I learned to distrust my own experience.

            Fast-forward 50 years and I look back on a lufetime of not believing what I KNOW to be true.
            CL, CN, & LACGAL have led me back to me, my truth, and trusting myself. And to calling BULLSHIT on the people of the lies.

    • Yup. I do the same! I wrote the shitty things he did on notecards and put them in my planner. When I start to miss him, I pull them out.

      It’s a long list. 🙁

    • The covert narcs are the worst; very tempting to get caught up in their lovely, kind, compassionate demeanor and it can be many years before you see their true selves.

      I had the advantage (hmm?) of divorcing a mega-overt-narcissist, Hannibal Lecher, because of infidelity, only to be shocked to the core when new BF (now XBF) dropped his “aw shucks” mask of kindness after 19 months together. Took me many months to wrap my head around who he is.

      SweetPotatoFlakes–your list of your STBX’s flaws is a great idea. Best wishes for a hasty retreat from her.

    • CL had a post on here a few years back about NICE vs. KIND. “Nice” is a face people wear for others (and that includes us chumps who are afraid not to be “nice,” not to be a “people pleaser.” “KIND” is about how you treat other living beings–about really seeing people, really hearing them, about care for the vulnerable, the sick, the weak.

  • Oh!! Pick me!
    Current situation….NO CONTACT.
    I was married 17years, together for 20. There were NUMEROUS affairs, not to mention the ones I didn’t know about.
    Long story short, he left for known mistress # 5 and our grown kids and I are no contact with him.
    But….there are sightings around town and when friends of mine see him they usually can’t help themselves and tell me.
    He’s still with the mistress, planning the wedding, raising her school age kids….the part that blows my mind is he traded his old life for what is now his old life.
    Chump lady taught me something, what I know to be true is life with me was no longer sustainable. I was on to him, and he could never operate like the player he is as long as I was in the loop. He had to move on and find a new host.
    Will he be better for her? I hope not, but that’s the human in me. I don’t think so, because he doesn’t have a track record of being a decent human unless people are watching.She’s a horrible human too, left her family for him. So, it’s a crapshoot how this whole thing shakes out.
    Here’s one thing I do know, is that he would never give me the satisfaction of showing that he did the same thing to somebody else. If he ends up being a horrible cheating asshole, I may never know. That’s gonna have to be OK, because I got my life back…with alimony.
    Move on my friend…nothing to work with and if you try now that you know who he is, it’ll eat you alive.

    • I’m pulling this out because it’s super important: “[W]hat I know to be true is life with me was no longer sustainable. I was on to him, and he could never operate like the player he is as long as I was in the loop. He had to move on and find a new host.”

    • “He’s trading his old life for his old life”! Ha ha, that’s great. They go back in time to the hard grind stage (not that they did much of it) and we get to move forward with the “I’m free as a bird” stage! Wouldn’t trade it for all the tea in China!

  • “He teeters between taking responsibility/remorse and blaming me.”

    Believe me, Juliana dear, he teeters towards “taking responsibility” for the wrong reasons.

    As a mother of three adults, who was 64 when she had her D-Day, I can tell you from my now ChumpLady-cleared view of the situation: it is not worth clinging to any hope that this moron will ever improve.

    After I made my decision to divorce, despite sparkledick’s pleas to reconcile, I got proof after proof that I had been married to a mediocre, shallow human being whose only talent in life was to maintain his coat of varnish. It is exhausting to be constantly worried about finances, crazy family members and, above all, about what I was doing wrong to annoy my husband.

    Now I just worry about how I could have been so stupid.

    Please leave this jerk and take care of yourself. Hugs

    • I also got “proof after proof”, that ex narcopath was a total con job. My friends and family begged me to forget about him and move on, but I was so stuck on him being better for the next woman, that it was like I was hypnotized, unable to look away from a trainwreck.

      But after a while, it becomes so very tiresome and it just made me angry, that he could get away scott free without any consequences and parade some new woman around town. But then I remembered that he is stuck being Him, and thinks everyone else is the problem, and that is punishment. Every single woman has left him. And plus, I talked to his ex wife, and we compared stories, and they were identical!

      And, sure, I was pretty hurt and enraged when I found out that all his new woman did all the same things that I did for him: love him up, bring him coffee at work, make his kids lunches, clean his house. But if we are doing all that FOR HIM, what was he doing for us? Oh yeah. Nothing. Cause he is a taker. And why, exactly, are we all doing that for him? Because he is a predator who targets lovely single mothers, who are loyal and are hard workers, and love children, and he crows on and on about what a “family man” he is, so we are willing to be a wifey to him.

      For a long time, I wanted his next relationship to fail, to feel the satisfaction that he is a loser that can’t keep a good woman. But I slowly realized, “Hey, I AM a good woman, and he couldn’t hold on to me!”. And that is when I stopped basing my worth on his failed relationships. Why did I even care. He has had a million failed relationships since I left him.

      Does he take a break and evaluate his life and why all these women leave him? Nope. He tries to hoover all of his ex’s back, and when that fails, he trolls his friends list on facebook hoping for a sucker. Which he always finds.

      And one last epiphany I had, was: why does it take me threatening him to leave him, for him to suddenly realize what a great women I am, and promise to change and make things work? Why didn’t he value me when he HAD me? His level of thinking (and mine had the same theatrical flair that yours does), hasn’t changed with any of the women he has been with.

      And he also lives in a small town, and thinks he is the nicest guy ever. Not many people share that opinion. You can’t be a shitty father, ex and son and be a “nice guy”.

      Best wishes for you to escape this guy and forge ahead with a better life!

  • Listen to CL. His behaviour is showing you he intends only to pretend to change in order to avoid consequences.
    Disordered oeople don’t change without years of therapy, and even then it’s not likely.
    I had one of those; he promised to change. He diligently went to therapy for a year. He tried to make his amends. He bought me a house, gave me all our assets, the whole works. Yet he’s still making excuses. He’s still rationalizing his behaviour. He’s still narking out and becoming angry at any percieved criticism or slight to his ego, no matter how true and how well-deserved it is.
    Not. Gonna. Change.

    Neither is your fuckwit. Let’s ask people here if their cheaters ever changed for the better and became honest, loving, faithful spouses.

    Anybody?

    • No, for me. And the proof is when they are inbetween girlfriends, and they try to hoover you back. And are shocked, SHOCKED!, that you aren’t interested.

      I even got the “oh, so that is how it is now?” I was beyond speechless that he even had the nerve to talk to me.

      And my therapist even warned me: he is a predator, he will hoover you back continually. And he tries. But they he is off! to find a new victim.

      They have no capacity to change because they do not self reflect on how their actions affect others.

    • “He’s still rationalizing his behaviour. He’s still narking out and becoming angry at any percieved criticism or slight to his ego, no matter how true and how well-deserved it is.”

      Yes, this!! I’m only a few months in but the rationalizing makes my head explode – how do you rationalize cheating about a jillion times??

  • Julianna,

    I’ve walked in your shoes. I discovered CL and CN five years ago because I had a cheater (arguably with NPD) for a husband… and I had a child with him so I still have to engage somewhat, but grey rock is my best friend.

    You’re asking “what ifs”… and that is normal. We all want a crystal ball that tells us what comes next because if we think we know, we can prepare accordingly. The only way you can know what the future will hold for you is to go create the future you want. Don’t wait on and don’t certainly invest time in what ifs… GO DO.

    Worrying about him changing for someone else doesn’t show me that you know your worth YET. He cheated on you. So, as far as I concerned… he doesn’t deserve YOU. End. Of. Story. Will he, won’t he for the next person isn’t relevant here. He did it to you and it is not OK. You deserve better.

    But, let’s look at some facts from my situation to help you get your mind around how unlikely it is that he will change for the next person by looking at my X, Mr. Sparkles.

    – He immediately got “monogamous” with the OW when he left me and our son and our marriage… at least that is what she thought… but because I was preparing for a divorce battle, I used my Marriage Police skills and found he was still on Adult Friend Finder looking for sidefucks with women/groups/couples. Did he change… nope. He abused her for two years until she dumped him.

    – Not one to let the grass grow under his penis, Mr. Sparkles already had the replacement ready to go, someone he knew from the gym. (Remember, stereotypes exist for a reason – predictable patterns). And again, I found myself asking… did he change… short answer: NOPE. He had a lovely little ad on Ashley Madison with a very recent picture.

    The thing is… change is hard… really hard… look at addiction… look at the weight loss industry… look at repeat offenders and the three strike rule for criminals… behavior change is HARD and you have do work at it every day… kind of a like a marriage.

    So, do I think you need to wonder “what if”… truly, I don’t. I only think you need to see and value your own worth and go create the life you want (without a cheater). And as far as still seeing him around town, (as I still do at school events)… walk with your head held high and own your truth about who he was in his marriage to you. No more, no less.

    • Really hard. My stepdad was a serial cheater in his first marriage. He didn’t date for 14 years after his divorce. He didn’t trust himself until he put the work in. Been faithful for 30 years to my mom.

  • I was wondering how far I had come on my journey. And then I read this. I was shouting out advice as I read it, like you do with a horror movie. No, do not go in the bssement.

    First, he isn’t remorseful. He is flipping through his rage charm pity channels to see what works best in you. He is just a mask. The guy you married was and is still wearing a mask. You fell on love with a mask. He said and did everything, to keep you unsuspecting for years so he could get his rocks off with strange. Now, you have found out, he is trying to stop the consequences. If he keeps you on an uneven footing, he has the upper hand. He is flirting at work? Is that okay with you? And it’s probably not just flirting. He is rubbing your nose in a big shit sandwich and you just sit there eating it. You do know you deserve better. You deserve better. YOU DESERVE BETTER.

  • You mentioned you had experience with a cheater before. I married two cheaters. I think they look for this trait of vulnerability, because you want to believe they won’t do that. Anyway, one of my ex’s finally changed. He will never cheat again. He died.

    I felt nothing, except maybe a little relief that I would never see him or hear from him again. That he would never contact my children again. No sorrow, no joy. Relief. That was more than enough.

    • It’ll be nice when the psychopath is pushing up daisies. I’ll file a simple lien against his estate for the money he owes me. I can wait.

  • The Worm was going to change. He wrote about it in his apology letter.
    Last week I was talking to my son, temporarily living with his father, on the phone and I heard the Worm say, “Tell Pookie someone broke into my storage locker and I’m going to check it out”.
    It was 10:30 pm…..right…..
    That is what is in your future if you stay Juliana,
    heading out at 10:30 to “check on the storage locker”. You don’t need that in your life.

    • Omg – Wormfree – that got me. Yep, a future of more likely stories to facilitate cheating. I’ve already had more than a lifetime’s worth of those. Every time he’s “running an errand” I panic. I do not want to live like that anymore.

      • Juliana, let the OW have that, always wondering.

        You will be the one who changes for the better once you’ve had enough and file. Looking back I wonder why I feared leaving him behind.

        You have the advantage right now because the entitled love cake and chaos. Set yourself up for a better life.

      • The excuses will only get stupider.
        Here are some of my favorites;
        “I was in the ER”
        “I was arrested for a few hours but they let me go”
        “I had a flat tire”
        “I ran out of gas”
        “My friend left those condoms in my car so his wife wouldn’t find them”
        “My friends gave me that box of condoms for my birthday as a gag”
        My personal favorite because it was the lamest and the straw that broke the camel’s back……his car was parked one street from Pookie house.
        “I had a work meeting at The Recovery Room”
        The Recovery Room is a restaurant almost a mile from where he parked.
        I hope you ditch that loser Juliana!

  • This post was so meaningful to me. Ive been separated for 18 months, moved across the country, have No Contact…… BUT my heart still longs for the truly good moments, and I miss him. I cant seem to force myself to file the divorce paperwork even though I know I should.

    Im in this weird mystical Alice-in-Wonderland place and I dont know how to get out.

    Anyone have any help? How did you get out?

    • Chump Lady hit the nail on the head. You figure out what is right for you and your life, what you are willing to accept and you move towards it, setting all emotion aside and do it. I remember going in and looking at the divorce papers and the emotions were overwhelming, I just told my self to sign them and get out, went home and grieved hard. But I never regretted my push to do it. It took me months to tell him I filed the papers, but I was protected financially because I filed status quo also. The pain was a clean slice, and healed once the divorce was over. Write it out until it looks like the right thing to do helped, all the pros and cons without the wishing he was what I had hope. #1 on list was I ok with his having a girlfriend!?!?

      Look at it this way, nothing in filing can not be changed. If you file the papers you still have time to change if needed, but what will happen is his response will change and it will make your path clear.

      Mine got so violent when he found out he broke my ribs, that was a big sign that I was right to file. Be careful and safe.

        • Don’t be afraid of feelings. Pain, grief, anger, sorrow. Feel it all. Living in limbo just keeps you from healing.

          And remember that you don’t have to forget or deny the happiness you once felt. That was real, too. You loved. You had fun. You had good times as well as bad ones. Filing for divorce won’t change any of that.

          You don’t miss the man who cheated and wounded you so terribly. You miss the man you thought he was. But nothing new can come into your life while you cling to a dead marriage.

        • Thank you Lulutoo! Dark days but much brighter now! I still grieve for my sons and their pain, but I am better off without a man who leaves his SAHM wife with two teenage sons, 3 old dogs, cancer and a very sick mother to go off to a job that doubled his salary and a new younger wife who works full time. We will not even talk about how long it took for the ribs to heal. I worked three part time jobs after recovery time from the surgeries, this for about a year, then I got a full time job with benefits 3 years ago and things have smoothed out.

          It sounds like I got the worse end of the deal but really I think I came out on top. #winning.

    • FEELINGS FOLLOW ACTIONS.

      Take action. Don’t make “feeling like it” your motivator.

      BTW….this is using a page from the Cheater Handbook for good instead of evil. Relationships and feelings followed their ACTIONS. They put time, energy, attention, and sex into another person….and voila! They “fell in love”. No surprise there. Relationships are not instantaneous or accidental. They are CULTIVATED.

    • I was smoking hopium up until the moment I filed. I think it was because x was on the charm channel, trying to avoid consequences, and it reminded me of our ‘good times’. One I filed, my x turned in to something worse than I had ever seen; the rage channel was very scary, but was the wake-up call I needed to begin protecting myself. I can’t even imagine what would have happened to me if I had wreckonciled with him and gone back to living in the same house. I’d probably be dead.

      Protect yourself. File.

      • My sister says the same thing! Get angry! Im trying, lol. All i feel is sad and hollow.

        But im reading these comments and becoming more bolstered. yes, feelings follow actions! No, I do bot want a relationship with a cheater!

        THANK YOU, CHUMP NATION 😍

    • Here’s how to get out:
      Are you going to waste another 10 or 12 years to find out the same thing you already know? Don’t be me. I am currently moving out of the family home and I have been married for 39 years and the asshole is the same fraud he was 12 years ago and the same fraud he was 39 years ago. The only difference is – now I know.
      There’s a lot more information out now then there was 12 years ago or 39 years ago.
      Don’t waste your life on that waste of life.

    • Time helps. But in the meantime think about alimony for ALL the years you were married, and money from him towards health and life insurance. Do you have kids?
      I’m 3 years post D-Day and let him hoover me for two plus. I’m only this past month not missing him. He was serial cheat, so mean and nasty sometimes, left me crying in the closet, car, bedroom… and still i missed him. Make lists of his horrible betrayl behavior and think finances. Shoot for the moon. Don’t start at 50/50. Think 100% and negotiate down from that. I so wish I could have let go sooner. I’m on a mission to try to help us betrayed get financial amends since there are NO emotional amends possible.

    • Disengage one step at a time.
      Go see a counselor.
      Talk to close friends about what is happening.
      Set up your own bank accounts, credit card, etc. Move half of the money into your account.
      Collect paperwork, proof of bank accounts, bills, taxes, etc.
      Maybe start moving your stuff into a storage locker.
      Just get started and do it little by little as you are ready.
      You’ll know when you’ve had enough.

      • Great advice but I’d say only leave enough money in accounts for him that is needed to make required payments (house, car, insurance…) you can argue that you didn’t want your joint money going towards you don’t know what exactly but you do know he has a relationship outside your marriage. You are protecting yourself. Don’t start out thinking 50/50. Thats for divorces that are mutually discussed and agreed upon. When you “grow apart”; not when your views are broken, the verbal and signed contract are broken and your blindsided with emotional and physical (std exposure) abuse. Start bold! You van always go down but much much harder to go up. A judge won’t penalize you for trying to protect marital assets from the potential of being spent on affairs. You may be ordered or negotiate to give back some but start bold!

  • Hi! Here’s a voice from your future giving you the five year perspective: he didn’t change. He’s been cheating on AP and bad mouthing her behind her back too now. He’s tried to hook up with you so you have irrefutable proof! He still uses rage, charm, self pity as his manipulation tools. His health at 51 is terrible! He’s aged 15 years in 5. He is more selfish than ever and rarely sees his kid— chooses to see her a couple hours a month. If you ask for court ordered reimbursement of extraordinary expenses he creates a huge drama and rages.

    Do you want to know how you are doing 5 years after leaving and investing in YOUR future? If so, here’s a glimpse: your ruminations and obsessive thoughts about him and the APs have stopped, you sleep well, you find joy in life, you have a peaceful home, that pit in your stomach is gone, your life has meaning and purpose, you have a lot of love and sex with a partner who loves you and only you and absolutely 100% wants to be with only you and shows it with actions, your career is beyond your dreams— all that effort you redirected from XH to work life really paid off and you cannot believe how well your finances are, you do what you want and no one abuses you or emotionally manipulates you. Your friends and family respect you and bring more joy to your wonderful existence. No contact is easy and necessary and you cannot imagine having that abusive dysfunction in your life – you won’t tolerate it. Yes, you are sad at times thinking of how much time you invested in XH, but you feel so grateful and relieved you woke up, left, divorced, and invest in yourself now.

    DDAY 12/27/14. Divorce 3/1/17. NC/grey rock since 7/15.

    • MotherChumoer99- Thank you!!!!!

      Lately I’ve slipped into a pretty serious depression and it’s all rooted in the future I see. I’m 54, divorced a year after 27 years of marriage. (He has multiple affairs over last 12 years and ran off And married the latest one.) My kids are almost out of the house. I already feel pretty alone and overwhelmed. I see that just getting worse. Kids will leave and then what? It’s me and my very sweet cat? It feels so sad. And yeah – I am currently active in a volunteer job and in a full time career and in my church and I have great friends and extended family. But it is still lonely. Profoundly lonely. I miss being married.

      So your post helped!! Your real future seems like such a better future than my imagined one. I’m going to try and believe yours. I’m going to copy and save it. Thank you.

      • Cloud, I can relate. It sounds as though we are in a very similar situation (although I currently have neither job nor cat).

      • Cloud,

        I was married for 25 years and I’m 52 years old with four children three of them that are grown. I absolutely promise you you will have a wonderful joy filled life. Each year that passes becomes better SNA better.

      • Cloud, explore the difference between “alone” and “‘lonely.” I was terrified of not being in a marriage or at minimum, not dating. At 68, I’m fine with dating a kind man who is a lot of fun and then coming home to my sweet cats. It’s a great life. I have no intentions of retiring, I love my work, I love playing on a sports team, I love my life.

        You’re younger. After a year, it’s time to work on fixing your picker and maybe starting to think about the kind of man you would be interested in. You can start by figuring out who you were when you married the Cheater, what attracted you? Were you needy at that time? did he love bomb you? did you come from a dysfunctional family? was he just part of your friend group? was that internal clock ticking about having a baby? had you just experienced a loss?

        Figuring out who you were and what made you choose him will help you figure out how to meet those needs in you that only you can fix. In my case, I grew up in a cold household with a narcissist mother capable of terrible rages and a workaholic father with a drinking problem. Even as a child, I dreamed of marriage as my chance to be loved. That set me up for settling for whatever came along. Over and over. I was 62 before I figured out that what I needed was to love myself. Then voila. Everything changed. I don’t know what your answer is; I just know that the journey to knowing your worth and loving yourself will change your life. And you can find someone worthy of your devotion.

      • Cloud, the Twat left me when I was 51. Both my kids left and are married so I’m alone. I retired at the end of 2018 and am still alone in the “not in a couple” sense but I love it. I have the advantage of being a chatterbox and will chat to anyone but I actually like my independent life (which is a million times better than being with the Twat). Yesterday at the market I sat down for a drink and an older lady sat with me. We got chatting and now she’s hauling me off bike riding as soon as the weather picks up (I foresee a sore arse in my future). Then 2 even older guys sat down (there were no spare seats) – one 85 and the other 89 – and we chatted to them for an hour and I had a wonderful time. We have a “date” next market day too! I’m 61 now and I love my life. Your former life was a mirage and you can and will be happy in the future (even happier), but it does take time! Who knows, maybe you’ll have a “sore arse” one day too (but for all the right reasons!!!)

        • I love this post and I love the better life than one with “poopy diaper face”
          adult toddler gold digger sad sausage stbxh.

  • Marriage police isn’t sexy, whether done by the wife or mistress.

    Being independent and getting your shit together with lawyers, banks, employments, school, health, and add on a new man when it’s time…. is very sexy. Manipulators hate it when they can’t manipulate. It will haunt his brain like Freddy Krueger movie. Get mighty. They want you back when they can’t have you. By then, you are strong enough to make your own decisions based on what’s best for you. So put on your big girl parties and boots, and start walking.

    • I think it’s easier for older women to find a new man, then say in your mid 30s. There’s more good guys available. By 30s, the good ones are married or gay. The ones five to ten years older are mid life crisis. But 50s and 60s seems to have more men who have lost their wives or who have finally matured and ready for companionship and travel.

      • From my experience, it is NOT easier to find a ‘good man’ who is of an older age.

        POP was 51 when I met him—he’d been a cheater since his early teen years (a fact his disgusted brother shared with me.) Once married, he cheated on wife No 1 with the woman who eventually became wife No 2 and then he cheated on her….and he cheated on every woman in between and thereafter.

        Now that he’s been out of my life for about 8 years and I’m finally willing to try to date, it’s apparent to me that again, NO, older decent men are NOT easy to find.

      • MeowMix,
        I was a gerontology researcher/lecturer. The number of single/divorced/widowed older (over 50 years old) women is significantly greater than the number of single men our age. And as the years go on the gap widens, which means that the probability of us older women finding a single man–any single man, not even talking about a decent compatible one, drops markedly as we age. (Men, on average, die younger than do women, and single men almost always pursue and get significantly younger women, especially if the men have some desirable characteristics. In convalescent homes I have visited, the ratio of women to men is 30:1!) In the over two years I have been unpartnered (since last partner discarded me for young work subordinate, who is now his wife), I have not had a date with any potential for a healthy long-term romance or even short-term romance. And I am in quite good shape for my age or even somewhat younger and do a lot of different activities, including ones that men do (e.g., bodybuilding as opposed to knitting). The only guys in the last five years (since my husband left) who offered me a ‘relations–t’ just wanted no-strings-attached sex (and seemed to expect it in spite of NOT being Don Juan) with me, deeming me unworthy of a committed relationship (e.g., marriage) or were creeps or cons. Friends want to set me up but don’t know any single guys who would date a fifty-something year old mom of pre-teens. In my experience even the much older guys don’t want to date a mother whose kids still live at home and will continue to do so for several more years. For me, online dating over the years has been a trainwreck. Looks as though, once my kids leave home, it’s gonna be just me and my invisible cats for the rest of my life. (I can’t keep pets in my apartment.) So I need to learn to fend for myself and my kids.

          • Not my experience at all. There are lovely men that are also looking for a partner who is honest, caring, interested in romantic relationships— in fact, many of them are on this site!

            Seriously, after GTFO day, I had several nice men express how they would like to date me when I was ready. One I knew from the neighborhood swim team parents (Chumped too), two I know from AA, one I know from Al-Anon, and a couple from the gym. My significant other and I met in a HIIT class at the YMCA. He is 4 years older and was also going through a terrible divorce (alcoholic wife). We got to know each other better as friends first hiking and running in YMCA group excursions. These are activities I love.

            My advice— don’t worry about a future partner. Take care of extracting yourself today. When you are ready and free you will meet all kinds of interesting people to spend time with.

            • To a 25-year old woman, things might appear easier, because she may be receiving interest from men aged 25-60 years (and possibly a few years younger than 25, too). However, how many of these men are worth their salt? I’d reckon that most older guys who regularly pursue much younger women are either serial cheaters, or dysfunctional in some other way. In addition to that, some of the 25-year old suitors may turn out to be serial cheaters as well. However, it’s harder to tell at such a young age, because most 25-year olds don’t have long histories of committed relationships, anyway. Therefore, the purported “advantage of youth” might not be such a huge advantage after all.

      • I don’t believe in mid-life crisis. What I do believe is that there are people out there of every age looking for others to “complete” them, sparkly people who love bomb but don’t love. A man who has discarded a women of his own age during his 50s? That’s someone who used up his spouse during the child rearing years and then kicked her to the curb once he no longer has to pay child support.

        A lot depends on who you are, too. It would certainly be harder to find a great man to be a step-parent than to find one when that is not a consideration. But really the world is full of humans. Set your picker at kind, mature, adult, sense of human, hard-working and sober. For every woman looking for someone like that, there is a man being overlooked because he’s not sparkly. I know, I found one. He just took me on a fabulous trip for my birthday.

        • There are so many kinds of mid-life crisis that it’s not a useful term. It’s like a fever – yes, it proves there’s something wrong, but so many completely different problems result in fever that it’s not very useful for diagnosis. Mid-life crises are similar – they could be regret about career, friendships, wealth, family, kids, spouse, aging; fear of dying, of loss of abilities, of pain or irrelevance. With so many possible causes and so many possible outcomes (ranging from taking up stamp collecting to discarding your spouse and moving to an ashram), just saying “mid-life crisis” doesn’t explain why, or predict what the result will be.

  • I worried myself about this a lot over my last cheater, and a few men I dated since him. But (not without a lot of hard work and therapy I will say) I learned a few important things and these things help get you through the pain:

    1) It doesn’t matter if he is “better for her” he was shit to YOU. Your experience with this man was that he was a terrible person to you. He lied, he cheated, he blameshifted, gaslight, and abused YOU. That was your reality with him. This is how he acted. He could be better for another woman, but that will not erase the fact that he did this to you. This isn’t something he can cover up or blot out of his history. No matter how many years he lives, this is something he did do. Like a viral video on the internet it is there forever. Moving on to a new person doesn’t change it. It doesn’t change it for you either. Him being with another person doesn’t erase the pain and the experience YOU went through. “Better for someone else” doesn’t change the reality that he was a liar and blew up your relationship with his lies.

    2) To be right for someone like him, you’d have to be a morally depraved person. Who wants to be “right” for a cheater? Show of hands who really wants to be the right partner for a confessed, caught red-handed, won’t-stop, blames you, keeps-doing-it-right-in-your-face cheater? *crickets* Yeah didn’t think so. His affair partners know he’s a cheater so they are basically showing they find this behavior acceptable on some level. Water finds its own level doesn’t it? This is the kind of person you would have to be to be the right person for a cheater. Either you would have to be as morally reprehensible and depraved as he is, or you would just have to completely subjugate yourself, your personality, and all your values and put up with everything he does no matter what for the rest of your life. So it’s more likely that he hasn’t changed at all, the APs just suck as much as he does.

    3) TRUST. THAT. HE. SUCKS. For real. They suck. They do. See no. 2. Your cheater somewhere along the line in their lives did the mental gymnastics necessary to decide that cheating and lying was an acceptable way to be. And gave himself permission to do it. For YEARS. This wasn’t a mistake, it wasn’t a random fuck up, this is a years long deliberate decision. That’s a person who sucks. What exactly is he going to change in a few months that he has been repeated for literally YEARS? Nothing. The OW isn’t magical who will wave a magic wand and *pop* new personality! No. Like I said, it’s likely he did not change, he just found people who suck as much as he does. And the fact that he did this with multiple APs over the years means it isn’t you. You’re not special, which is a good thing. You’re not this lame, sexless, shitty thing that deserves his abuse, you’re a normal person. It’s HIM. Nobody is special, they’re all of use to him. It’s his problem. It’s his shitty choices. It’s his terrible lack of morality.

    It isn’t you. He just sucks.

    • Thanks Kara. I needed this.

      When I really stop and think about what my ex did – and continues to do- I stop missing who he was when we were first married and remind myself that he devolved into a morally bankrupt person that I don’t even recognize anymore. And as you said – the AP is just as slimy.

      They do suck. Toxic, despicable live in the gutter people.

    • KARA KARA KARA!!

      👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

    • Trust that the cheater sucks. Trust that the AP sucks. Begin to believe that you don’t suck.

      I am telling myself: Begin to know your worth and your value. You are a loveable person.

  • “… seems to genuinely want to not be that cheating lying, porn addicted scumbag he’s been forever” – back up a minute – he seems to genuinely want ME TO BELIEVE that he wants not to be that cheating etc etc. Cake, baby, cake. Plan B, image management, stalling so he can clean out the bank accounts … whatever, he IS that cheating lying etc etc, and that is all you need to know. Lawyer up and file pronto. The good times were the image management illusion, the bad times were the real deal you were accepting and settling for. I’m nearly 3 years out, lots of ups and downs but heck, they are much easier to negotiate without Ratbag Blameypants McFink constantly shifting his happiness goalposts just beyond NewChump attainability and telling me if only I’d be basically someone else he would be happier. I still am gobsmacked that I ended up apologising ON TWO OCCASIONS for making him unhappy when I started out telling him how deeply devastatingly hurt and shocked I was by him telling me he didn’t want our fifth baby and to get rid of it. Classic Chumpdom.

  • My ex won’t cheat on his OW/wife because she does the things I wouldnt (which is why he left me): swinging lifestyle, sex in front of a crowd at sex clubs, BDSM workshops, and orgies. She is the one arranging sex partners for him. (They met on a sex website.) Last time he was in town visiting the kids, she was seeing her ex – sleeping with him, with my ex’s full knowledge and approval. She is supportive of him sleeping with me (um no, not in a million years) and in fact he once suggested a threesome with me, her and him. (I said when he’ll freezes over. To his dismay, I also won’t return her emails or let her on my property. He is so sad sausage about that.)

    Weirdly, he wears his wedding ring from her, but wouldn’t wear mine. That stings.

    Most days I can’t get my head around this. 25 yrs married. Three years since he started the affair; just under three years that he told me about the affair; a year since the divorce was final. Almost no contact – (have to have some because of kids).

    Still hurts like hell.

    • OW can indulge his “lifestyle” & give him all freedom he wants, till the cows come home. OW is still very susceptible to being dumped. I may get some backlash but strongly feel anyone engaging in that lifestyle has some deep psychological issues. Crazy may be very attracted to crazy for a bit but it won’t last. As for wearing the wedding ring……I’m guessing that move is for your benefit. Especially if he was aware it bothered you that he didn’t wear his ring while married to you. Besides I think we all know exactly what the ring means to him….nothing.

      • Oh I agree-! I don’t know what the psychological issues are in terms of formal diagnoses, but both of them seem delusional and just, well, messed up.

        I hope it doesn’t last. I hope they crash and burn. And then for my kids’ sake, I hope he reclaims his decency and his morals and his ability to parent. I’m not holding my breath though.

        • Very likely they will crash & burn. As for being a decent parent, he may for a time engage in that role but it won’t last. These types of people play roles, I’ve seen an unbalanced couple go from strong ties to a church group and being family oriented to all of a sudden sign on to swinger websites. They had six kids and lived in a tree house. Yup at tree house. She used to clean for me and I was in awe of her ability to keep a great house (in a tree) while home schooling six kids. Only she wasn’t home schooling the kids, they couldn’t read, she abused her dogs (I stole them, long story) and she was extremely unstable. Her twit of a husband went along with her agenda. They were on the TV show “Wife Swap”. She must have been going thru swinger websites when she found the TV site and signed on. Her and her husband used our rental properties for their hook ups. We were told this after the shit hit the fan. I confronted her about the kids not being educated (the oldest, age 11, couldn’t read) and her abusing her animals. We did not end on good terms to put it mildly and she called to threaten me, “I had better watch my back”. I don’t threaten easily and again long story short, they fled the state and moved to the mid west. Apparently they divorced and the husband has remarried. I did read she was arrested for domestic violence. So these dysfunctional types, when they get together it usually does not end well.

    • These psychopaths like to do meaningful things that they KNOW their ex’s will recognize, but that their new victim is unaware of. Wearing the ring is one of them. He knows it hurts you.

      Ex narcopath does this shit, all.of.the.time.

      New girlfriend of his, I have met her 2 x through a common acquaintance. She acts like she doesn’t know who I am. She probably doesn’t. Ex narcopath is sitting at his house, rubbing his hands together, giddy at the thought of the triangulation. He knows that I like to warn the new supply. I refuse to say anything to this one.

      She posted videos of them kayaking. Ex has never kayaked in his life, but knew that I took it up, and was super jealous, because I might have looked kinda cool, driving around with my kayaks. Now, they are kayaking together. Down white water, with no safety gear. And they will probably drown themselves.

      He takes her camping, to the same place he took his ex wife and I. She takes all these pics of him, looking forlorn, off into the distance. With his butt crack showing. And most of their camping pictures are the exact same pictures I have. I could probably superimpose mine overtop and they would match (except I deleted mine!).

      Next, they are off to a wedding. That was something he always talked to me about doing with his ex’s. He always had to share that him and his ex would sneak off for sexy time. I always asked him why did he tell me this stuff? I don’t want to picture that! A wedding was one of his bonding experiences with the supply after me.

      He always does significant things, that his ex’s know about, that he claimed was a fond memory with ex, and does it with the new supply. And they are totally ignorant of it.

      When I looked back, he did a ton of that with me. At the time? Had no idea. Now that I know, I feel humiliated that I was used that way.

      A year ago, I would have been heartsick over it. How could he do it?
      Now, it passes for amusement. And another example of how THEY. DON’T. CHANGE.

      • CinC,
        That is some messed up stuff…his recreating special moments with new partners. It’s proof that he sees people as intercgangeable props in his Groundhog Day of a life! But it also reminds me of psychopaths’ or serial killers’ ritual repititions. Eww.
        Also, it speaks to their epic lack of originality! Like rubber stamping or assembly-line relationship skills. “If I do X, then she will do Y”

    • Cloud, My STBX cheated on me with a friend that I was helping bc she was going thru her own divorce. There were parts of her divorce story that didn’t add up so after DDay, I went to her STBX and asked if he would talk with me and fill in some details. Boy was I in for a shock!

      I knew there were things about her I didn’t care for, like she was doing Tinder while here, meeting guys several times a week and would come back and tell me about it. She drank Every.day, was like a tornado blowing in leaving a mess behind. She didn’t pay much attention to her child (MY child’s best friend). And I knew she lacked character but she was my friend, they aren’t perfect and I felt like as friends you just overlook some things. Until.

      I came to find out some things about my friend of 4 yrs that I didn’t ever know before:

      *She was in a swinger type lifestyle. She slept around without the husband being ok with it.
      *She did drugs (pot, cocaine)
      *She wasn’t actually ‘cheated’ on by her husband. ‘They’ were in an arrangement with someone else, they both fell for the someone else but that person chose the husband and not her. I was actually cheated on!

      Not from him but my own discoveries about my wasband was:
      *He’d been smoking pot for a year and they did that a lot together. Bonded over miserable married lives, pot, drinking and apparently her sexcapades.
      *He’d been in counseling since August and I had no idea.
      *He’s always had money but I didn’t know how much. He was an AHole and didn’t share during our mediation. Greedy bastard.
      *He looked into divorce and she knew about it.
      *For years he purposely with held all affection from me, On Purpose.

      Anyway, she’s no winner but they’re drawn to each other. It crushed me at the beginning. Even though we weren’t in a good place. I was married, I wanted it to work out but over the past 8 months, I now know to TTTS, I didn’t deserve the treatment I received. I’m in a better place and don’t need him. I still have healing to do but know I will get there.

      Your post just clicked with my situation so I wanted to share. You were the better person and I know I was too.

  • “Is it okay to leave him even if he’s trying to get better?

    Yes. Your potential matters more than his potential.”

    This.

  • The bottom line is this: Is this situation acceptable to you?

    You can’t predict the future. Do you live your life as if you are destined to win the lottery? Probably not. The odds are against such a big win. Similarly, you can’t predict whether or not he’ll change. All you have is his past behavior, and with people, past is the best predictor of the future.

    Let’s look at this more analytically:

    1. He gives the impression that he’s ready and willing to change> BUT his past shows that he’s incredibly good at acting as if he’s loving and faithful even though he has a long track record of cheating on you. At present he is behaving inappropriately at work, even though this bothers you.

    These are not the behaviors of someone who wants to change. If he really wanted to change, he’d stop that flirting at work (and how do you know that it’s only flirtatious? Remember that he’s a great actor and an accomplished liar). He would also take responsibility, not blame/gaslight you.

    2. You “feel” he’s “started” to do the work needed, BUT he actively resents and blames you. Someone who is truly committed to change is not going to blame you for their problems. He’s been a lying POS since Day 1 of your marriage. What concrete behavioral changes have occurred that indicate actual change?

    If he’s told you that he’s trying to change, that’s not actual evidence of change. It’s not what they say; it’s what they do. Someone who’s spent the entire marriage as a lying, cheating porn-addicted scumbag doesn’t have the right to tell you that you’re being unfairly suspicious. As CL says, if you discovered an employee had been embezzling for the entire length of their employment, you would rightly be suspicious. You’d not accept their word that they’ll not embezzle again. You’d need for their actions to prove it, and frankly, they don’t have the right to get angry at you for checking out their every action. They need to show real evidence of reform, not faux outrage that you would dare question their protestations of innocence.

    Look, we all get it. This is early days and you have a lot to process. However, while you’re processing, here are some concrete steps to take:

    1. Talk to an experienced family practice lawyer–preferably someone experienced with high conflict divorce. If your town is small enough, you may find that it’s better to go to the next larger town so that you can have a range of lawyers to talk to. You need someone experienced in high conflict divorces because your STBX is a master at acting. Remember that cheating is abuse. Like all abusers, he’ll cycle from self-pity to charm to rage. If he gets wind of a divorce, expect Channel Rage. For this reason, do not even think about telling him you’re investigating legal representation.

    2. Seek therapy from someone experienced with trauma bonding and PTSD. You say you don’t have a lot of support. A therapist is in your corner and can help you establish and maintain barriers. A therapist can also help you see how your STBX is mindfucking you and how to deal with that. A therapist can also help you see why you equate being single with being alone and alone with being lonely. I don’t know how much older you are, but one of my friends dumped her cheater when she was in her mid-50s. She met and married a wonderful man whom she’d never have met if she’d still been shackled to her X.

    3. Line up your financial ducks. If he’s the primary earner, you need to take steps to protect your finances. Start gathering necessary documents. You might want to check out past tax returns (has he cheated on those? You’d not be the first Chump to find their spouse cheated on taxes). Talk with a divorce financial planner or at least some kind of financial professional who can help you with this stuff.

    4. Tell someone you trust. Remember that the shame of an affair is his to bear. Not yours. Additionally, he’s fired you from the task of protecting him. How much has he protected you over the years? Ever had any irregular PAP smears?

    Any social repercussions are surprisingly short-lived. The secret is to go No Contact and block him on social media. Then resist asking after him and if someone brings him up, practice your best Miss Manners bored look, yawn, and indicate that you simply haven’t bothered to keep up. Find some community activities you enjoy. Start a hobby or start checking things off your bucket list. The more content you seem, the less people are likely to comment on your relationship status.

    You have the rest of your life to live. Lose that cheater and gain a life!

  • Here is an important point: It doesn’t matter if he is better for her. He can’t undo the past. Hell, it doesn’t even matter if he were better for YOU. He can’t undo the past. Even if he becomes a perfect human. Even if he bathes in remorse and lives a philosophy of repentance and restitution for YOU, the actual person he harmed, it will not make it okay for you. This took me a long time to believe with my first cheater. I believe this because I actually know a unicorn. I have told this story before but it bears repeating. I know a couple where the man cheated early in the marriage (not a long term affair). He confessed and has been repentant and remorseful since. He treats his wife like gold. He does and gives everything for her. She herself has told me that he never once blamed or gaslighted her. He took full responsibility. She got what every reconciliation site tells you is possible. Guess what? She loves him ; she evens forgives him. She has never recovered. She still grieves over it. She still cannot trust him. My heart breaks for both of them. The harm cannot be undone. Neither person will ever have the real joy in the marriage again. Neither can really forget and move on from the destruction he caused.

    It doesn’t matter if he changes–for her or for you. What you had together is irretrievably broken.

    • I remember after the discard eating alone at restaurants, and thinking how painful it would be if he walked in with a young girlfriend, laughing and looking like a fabulous couple. I no longer imagine that. It has finally sunk in what a piece of human garbage I was married to, and I feel sorry for any of his new victims.

      After Dday 1, we reconciled. It took a long torturous year, and thousands of dollars in marriage counseling. I managed to get a post nup, just in case he did it again. I spent the next two years once again happily married. I forgave him in my heart and believed we were stronger people for having gone through this and recommitted.

      I remained very aware this relationship was a gamble, and I treated my finances accordingly, just in case. I marveled at the concept that it was very possible to love someone deeply and not fully trust them. I stopped policing him, and assumed he would be up front if things were moving off track. After all, the post nup was very punitive if the cause of the divorce was infidelity.

      He could have told me, respectfully, that he wanted out and we would have divorced on much better terms for him.

      But he was morally incapable of choosing honesty, even out of self interest.

      Your relationship with this man is going to end. Maybe today, maybe in three years, or maybe in 30. But it will end. Trust me that he sucks and that you don’t. There will be no happily ever after, he torched it.

      Instead of future fearing that your relationship ends with him winning and you losing, focus on you and how to get your needs met without him.

      Imagine a future without him where you don’t have to regret your pick-me-dance or spend thousands in therapy trying to process your anger after willingly agreeing to be humiliated by him.

      Imagine recovering from this much faster as a result, and having that much more time and energy to put into yourself and the people you love and trust. Imagine that every day you stay after the first dday will extend your fully recovery from his abuse by 3 days.

      Decision making right now is so difficult, but keep these warnings in mind as you move forward.

      I benefited financially from my gamble. But 3 years after dday 2, I still have a long way to go to Meh. I also gave away an opportunity to negotiate full custody, which is costing me much more in legal fees and emotional turmoil. Turns out he also sucks as a father.

      • Thank you for sharing your story, Gorillapoop.

        It’s exactly where I think I’m headed. I’m not moved out. I’m not snooping anymore. I don’t know if I don’t care enough to snoop or if I just can’t handle the anxiety that comes with the discoveries. Maybe both.

        I feel like it’s inevitable that this ends but I don’t have the wherewithal at the moment. Getting my affairs in order and positioning myself for the best outcome. Looking for a place to live and saving up for that while going through the motions of being together is very strange but I’m doing it. I wonder if I’m deluding myself – am I really going to go or am I allowing myself to get sucked back into his spell?

        • Juliana, it took me over two years to make my escape. I scrimped and saved and sold my personal belongings. All the whole hiding the cash. It took me multiple attempts to finally leave. I am a super chump.

          Make a plan. Stick to it. Document everything. Do not discuss this with anyone, but most of all do not TELL HIM anything. If he is all deep in the cheating he won’t even notice you. Mine didn’t.

          Don’t feel badly. He is betraying you in the worst ways. You are protecting yourself from abuse. Adultery is abuse.

          Good Luck. You deserve a better life. Get out and make that happen!

        • It is very difficult to be around that kind of energy so you might not have a lot of time, but at least get your financials and paperwork in order : all copies of tax returns important documents birth certificates passports etc. and know what material possessions you’re going to move out when you go – keep this all on the down low.

        • It took me 18 months to extract myself 60-70% from the combined life we had. Living together during this time was a nightmare. You’re doing the right thing to focus on lining up your ducks. My ex tried to suck me back in, sabotage my steps forward and baited me constantly so I’d look like a crazy person. I kept my eye on the escape plan. Practical things helped.

          I packed my most precious things first. I slowly removed all references to “us” from the house (photos, gifts he’d given me, things we’d bought together etc) and he didn’t seem to notice. I then packed my essentials – things I needed to survive- and was surprised at how little I needed. Then, I extracted myself from joint finance, bills etc. Then I set up shared care arrangements (without making an announcement) with our daughter, I made plans on every second weekend and I went and stayed with a couple of close friends on those nights.

          I used the time away from him to vent, plan, lose my shit, release my emotions pent up from his antics, self care and steele myself for the next fortnight.

          I stopped doing anything for him. It took him 6 weeks to realise I’d not done his laundry. He ran out of clean underwear, got pissy at me and his solution was to go buy new underwear. Inside I laughed at that because it showed me what I needed to see.

          I made lists of the assets I was going to take, and what was clearly his or mine. Things I wasn’t sure of went on the “to be negotiated” list.

          By the time I moved, 18 months later, almost everything was separated. I was getting better at grey rock by then too.

          Entanglement, entrapment, parasitic dynamics, being caught in a web, loss of self. I had to unbind each part of my life. It took time and it was painful.

          I’ve been out for just over 12 months now. The real healing began after I moved. I’m no longer anxious all the time. I have been rebuilding and I’m much more stable. I’m ready to sever the last tie and file.

          You can do this! The charming leeches are the hardest to extract from. You know you’re not being a sucker. You are just protecting yourself. No matter how long it takes, you will be free. Keep untying the tendrils. Keep loosening his grip. Keep taking steps. Keep focussed on the light at the end of the tunnel.

          You’re full of bravery, courage, strength and might! Remember CN has your back. Xxx hugs

  • OP’s last statement:
    “I know I’ll be alone after this, by choice. I’m older and he’s not my first cheater. I won’t risk wasting any more years on relationships. But he won’t be alone for a minute and I’m not ready for that.”

    He’s never been alone.
    So turn the dial on him down to zero, and turn the dial on you up to eleven.
    “Confident, joyful,independent,loving”…that is STILL you. YOU ARE STILL IN THERE. We all see it- just reading your letter.
    Don’t be afraid to be alone.
    Alone ≠ unlovable.
    All relationships ≠ pain.

    DDay 4/6/18
    No Contact 5/5/18

    • Thank you Chumptastic. I think I’m still in there 😉

      I stayed with the last cheater far too long but it didn’t take me too long to regain my mojo. I’m hoping this is the same outcome.

  • I struggled with this for a while because by all outward appearances the ex looks like he upgraded. He immediately got a new job earning him $40k more a year, his gf has a wealthy family, they immediately had 2 kids within 2 years and he seems to be more involved with them.

    The gf has told me that he knows his mistakes and what he needs to be for his family. The implication being that she changed him for the better and now he’s that family man he could never be with me. But at his core he’s a person who left his wife with cancer to take care of their 7 yo while he started a new family. He may be a better father to his new kids but he isn’t to his first born. He doesn’t take an interest in school, activities etc. So he can’t have really changed or it would permeate to everything. He’s still shifty and crappy to me—lashing out when caught in lies, calling me names, hiding money.
    Nope. He hasn’t changed. He just keeps up the facade because she’s keeping him afloat. It’s only a n MN after of time before she realizes that.

    • He couldn’t be decent through cancer. If someone I loved had cancer—I’d be there 24/7, whether friend, family, spouse or partner. I was more faithful to my cat with lymphoma.

      He sucks. Donkey balls.

  • I’m now 50 and one of the hard life lessons that I have learned is that “FEW people ever change for the better as they age, the reverse is true”.

    The disordered NEVER change. My ex was so wonderful and great to the OM when she was cheating on me with him and hooking him so he’d marry her after the divorce was final. Now 7 years later and married to him ??

    From my secret reports from the kids who still live with her, she is the exact same person that she was with me. Only difference is he’s a redneck and she’ll get a back hand from him if she starts her BS, so she has to keep it bottled up and she’s secretly miserable. Yet on FB everything is rainbows and ice cream in her fabulous life.

    As CL has said many times “Trust that the Suck”, realize that they will never change, get out and live your own life keeping negative people far away from you.

  • I have been reading everything I can on this blog. I have been so confused and finally last week confronted my husband about his need to have “female companions.” He insisted it is not for sex. He seemed contrite and for a few days I thought we were good. He was sooo attentive to me. By Monday my bullshit meter was flying all over the place. Last night he informed me he had met a young woman at the community college he is now attending with whom From now on every Monday and Wednesday he will be sharing meals because “we both need to gain weight” wtf????He is 57 by the way.
    He sure does not make any plans to share meals with me his wife of 28 years.

    This morning I made an appointment to see a lawyer next week. This is scary as hell but I am tired of the ache in the pit of my stomach and being the only one who even makes an attempt to have a marriage.

    • Please move forward with the divorce for your own health. He is flat out lying about these relationships not involving sex. If he is not having sex it’s because he is being turned down. After you file, he’ll panic and will promise you the world but I can guarantee he will resort right back to the same skirt chasing behavior. Plus these types never stop they just get better at hiding their dalliances. This is no way to live.
      Not to be nosy but why is he attending Community College at age 57? I know people go back to school all the time at all ages but unless he has a specific goal I’m thinking his main objective is to pick up young (er) women.

      • He never got to finish school. He wants a degree because I have two and DD has her bachelor’s degree. His parents did not support him going to college. He is very book smart. Ok I don’t mind going back to school but still act like a grown up. He even told me some one in one of his classes made the comment he is trying to act like a young kid. I told him that is exactly how I feel. Like I am raising another teenager. He did not really have an answer for that.

      • This!

        As CL has said in several posts, adults have sex because that’s what adults do. All he’s doing is giving you a trickle truth. You know about the other women, so he admits that but won’t admit to sex. If you happened to find out that he’d had sex with one, he’d admit it but tell you it was only (only???!!!) the one time–as if that makes a big difference.

        Also, as KB22 notes above, once he gets into full panic mode, he’ll try to reel you in. This is exactly what CheaterX tried to do to me. CheaterX carried on an affair with his coworker for several years. I believe I found out about it shortly after it had become physical. I refrained from confronting him until I’d lined up my ducks. They married about 6 months after the divorce, and within another 6 months, he was texting me to tell me that Schmoopie was divorcing him, that she was seeing someone else, and that after the divorce “we” could sit down and see where “we” could go.

        I didn’t respond. Then several months went by and he sent me a long, rambling voice memo about how he had dissociative identity disorder, that it wasn’t really him. It was “Richard,” the personality that Schmoopie always addressed. Oh, and could I forgive him.

        A newly-Chumped me would have thought that finally he’d come to his senses. A more wise Chumped me realized that he was trying to manipulate me. He never really owned his actions and despite wanting me to forgive him, he’d yet to apologize.

        Just be on guard.

    • Another Chump, until ALL of your ducks are in a row it is critical that you don’t let on what you are doing. Let him think you are clueless about what he is doing while you secretly meet with the lawyer and get copies of all the financial records as well as evidence of his cheating.

      Then get copies of all of those records out of the house somewhere safe that he has no access to.
      Once you pull the trigger and file then the cat will be out of the bag but never let him know what evidence you have. That is ammo for your lawyer if like most disordered he plays games during the divorce settlement.

      It sucks but as CL says “be mighty”.

    • He’s gaslighting you. You confront him about your feelings and he lies to you and then later comes up with bogus excuses. If he’s not already physically cheating, he’s probably emotionally cheating. Trust your gut! If he’s not already, next he’ll be sending Snapchat’s to his new found “friends.” Lawyer up and find a good therapist so you can also have someone to share your feelings with. I had no clue my wasband was manipulative on multiple occasions until my therapist pointed it out.

  • Oh yeah and he is a really nice guy to everyone else. Treats me like his mother. And one time told me I completely responsible for everything that has gone wrong in his life. Uhhh I did not know him his whole life. Not sure how I could do that. Why did I not leave him then?

    • Are the old question why did I not leave him then?
      That’s years of self introspection and getting to the root of your family of origin issues and the like.
      Don’t let that stop you from now getting away from a disordered crappy person who is using you.

  • I’m still stuck in the he did the wrong thing but has everything mindset. No consequences for him. His family ghosted me and supports him and he has a brand new house and nice job. Our daughter recently got married and he was treated like the honored guest even though he did nothing to help and paid for very little. I felt like I was still in my horrible marriage where I know his true nature not the facade he puts on. It’s been two years and I feel stuck. 😔

    • Never think that impression management is the truth !!
      He’s the same SOB you divorced, his family the same dysfunctional people but they are putting the “happy, rainbows and unicorns” spin on it.
      If you looked at my Ex’s FB, you’d thing that her life is fabulous. Per my kids who still live with her, the truth is not so much.

      I felt the same as you the first few years after the divorce but I finally realized that that was all impression management and BS. Live your life, be happy and always expect that you will get a steaming pile of BS when you deal with your Ex and their family.

  • Thank you Chump Lady and everyone for responding!

    So much of what you’ve all said resonates with me. How did I get so caught up in what he was saying versus what he was doing – that astounds me. He wasn’t walking the walk only talking the talk and yet I was completely snowed.

    I’m feeling a bit stronger than when I originally wrote in but I have a way to go.

    This website is a life saver – When I think about the RIC and the zillions of books and articles written about cheating – Chump Lady, you have cracked the code.

    I’m going to respond more individually to these replies – thank you all for giving me so much wisdom and support!

    • When the shock and dust have settled a bit, think about your childhood. There’s an “original wound” there you were trying to fix by being in a relationship with cheaters.

      For me, I was emotionally neglected as a child. So, being with someone who was emotionally checked out felt normal. I put up with the abuse because I didn’t know my worth and I saw his “potential”.

      I’ve learned to be the parent for myself my inner child needed. I’ve created boundaries and have been practicing enforcing them. I’m working on being a “me pleaser” instead of a people pleaser. I make sure my inner voice is positive, “I love you, Sisu”, “Great job, Sisu!”, etc. A lot of this feels odd, but the results are increased happiness and confidence.

      I think it was either Miss Bailey or Beth who posts here who said, “There were two people in the relationship worried about his happiness, and zero people worried about mine.” That stuck with me because I’ve never put me first. That has changed, so at least something good came from my 9 years wasted with Shit Stain.

      Dday 09.01.18
      NC 11.07.18

      • Thank you Sisu.

        My story is the similar. I was emotionally neglected and abused as a child. My parents took none of the delight in me that healthy parents take in their children. A good day was not being noticed. Being noticed meant I was in for it.

        At least my cheaters gave intermittent reinforcement, paid positive attention to me at times and love-bombed me to reel me in initially, far more than I got from my parents.

        I’m trying hard to focus on me and change my inner dialogue. I like your idea of re-parenting yourself this way.

        I thought I knew my worth. I really did. I thought he did too. But I think deep down I don’t expect to be anyone’s priority. Even the non-cheaters I’ve had serious relationships with were distant – focused on their careers for instance. I suppose I do so well alone because I can prioritize myself in the absence of a man.

        I’ve never thought about this in this way. Thank you so much.

  • I went through this same mindfuckery a year ago. I’ve since found out that the woman I caught him cheating with was just decoy bitch, and he had set himself up 6 months prior with someone else, who then reached out to me 6 months later after connecting some dots. Boy did she get a shock. Namely he had not left me when he said he had (was 8 months later) and also he was seeing someone else the whole time.

    My point is, they aren’t better with the next woman. My ex was even mid 5 year affair when we had our 2nd baby and got married 11 months later. Mid! Think about that. They don’t change. But they might appear to. That’s all a part of their ruse. Don’t be fooled.

    Number 1 rule of Chump club is speak your truth to friends and family. It keeps you accountable to you. It was the single most important thing I did this last time round (round 5 ding ding) that meant im free of the hypervigilance and gaslighting and raging day in day out. I’m a happy healthy parent to my kids and he isn’t. I’m wealthier than I was with 2 incomes coming in because he was living multiple double lives with my income as the primary gravy train express. Divorce sucks, but toxic marriages suck more. It really is better in the other side.

  • For thirteen excruciating months, I played the pick-me dance because I thought he was changing. It was over a year of screwing with my head that decimated my ability to make clear decisions and has taken more than a year of counselling to re-wire my though process.

    That’s what trauma does…and it’s happened to you.

    The question is not whether he’ll change. The answer is that you did. You described yourself as once lively, confident and carefree. Now you are not, all as a result of the way he has treated you. I get the impression that you don’t want to stay this way.

    So, reclaim yourself! He’s the one that needs to worry about how you will change for the better. Change for the better because you no longer have to deal with his crab. Be better because you rid yourself of the stench that was darkening your days.

    Absolutely claim your truth to your family and friends so that you have a proper support system and so that you own your narrative. He’ll try to pain you in a poor light, so get ahead of that train.

    I am now 21 months out. You better believe that my cheater sees that I am doing really well. I’ve kept the house and done repairs that I had waited years for (he sees some of this when he gets the kids or my kids are probably mentioning things). I am in better shape now than even in the days when I met him over 16 years ago. I hang out with his own family more than he does and have an amazing relationship. I still maintain friendships with the wives of his own friends and get together with them for a good time. I know that anyone who sees me and then talks to him tell him that I’m looking great and doing great…because I am. My kids are happy, and I am always doing fun things with them that I’m sure they share with their father, while they mostly watch tv all day at his place.

    In other words, he sees that my life has moved on and I am actually better off for it. And why? Because he is no longer in my life.

    Meanwhile, I grey rock him so that I barely ever give him the time of day. My kids are younger so that I still have to greet them at the door during drop-off or pick-ups but I have minimized that as much as possible. When they are picked up, their stuff is already waiting on the porch so that I just need to give them hugs/kisses and send them out the door. When they are dropped off, I grab their stuff, go into the house with a reminder for them to give their dad a hug, and they close the front door when they are done.

    Has he gotten better? I don’t care. And you will stop caring too once you gain your life.

    I don’t believe he has. You know why? Because he has yet to own up to what he’s done. He still lies to people about it all. He has never offered an apology to me. Sincere redemption and transformation would go hand-in-hand with owning up. He hasn’t done this with me, his family, nor his friends. In fact, he still keeps the other woman away from his family life (including the kids), so he doesn’t even have the courage to stand up for that relationship and she’s stupid enough to stick around.

    What matters is that I have changed. Yey me!!!

    Now, it’s your turn.

  • I’ve been telling people lately that a broken clock is right twice a day. Doesn’t matter though because the clock is still broken.

  • The core element of being a cheater is to be a LIAR.

    Rule #1 : Do not believe anything a cheater tells you. They are “sorry”. They are “getting help”. They “won’t do it again”.

    Lies, all lies.

    Jump out of the plane and pull the rip cord. It takes strength and guts, but you will be glad you did.

    • Thanks for the reminder – yes, underneath the cheating – mainly he’s just a liar. And if it’s not cheating it’s going to be lying about something else. He has no idea what’s true, even for himself. he doesn’t know what he feels, why he does what he does. He’s a disordered liar.

  • At the time I was super worried about the exact same thing you are Juliana, I remember beating myself up with constant thoughts of my (now ex-husband) will turn his life around and be a wonderful partner for schoompie once we are divorced. He wanted a poly relationship after I discovered the affair was going on (it took me five months before I figured things out). Neither schoompie nor I would have any of that, so we divorced, this was nearly 3 years.

    So what happened? Well within six months of our divorce schoompie left him because he “didn’t want to be monogamous”, uh huh shocking! Then I come to find out within the past year the police got a search warrant to search his apartment for hard-core drugs. They found meth and pills and he had been arrested. I’ve been no-contact with him for nearly three years but I know this because of switerzland friends, so I confirmed those rumors with the public court records on-line and it’s true! He’s in legal trouble now and I’m sure his job is hanging on a thread if he hasn’t lost it yet. I had no idea about the drug usage and I suspect it was going on behind my back during our marriage as well. Talk about him doing me a favor by divorcing me is the understatement of the year.

    So the point of my story is all that worry about him turning himself around for schoompie was all for nothing, it only got much worse for him after we divorced and he has no one to blame but himself! Talk about “you reap what you sow”.

    Very likely your husband will not turn himself around and change for her either Juliana, these people rarely change. Please hold on to that.

    • Why I even think this is possible, I’ll never know. He’s been cheating since he was old enough to have a girlfriend! He’s never not cheated in a relationship. This is what he does – he spends his money on paid sex and porn sites. He’s not capable of not doing these things.

      He has lost so much because of his behavior, including a relationship with his only child. And even that didn’t stop him. Why in the world would me divorcing him suddenly provide motivation to change?

      I think I’m just annoyed. He’s one of those guys who is very loved. He will come out of this looking like a great guy and I will come out of this looking like a woman who can’t keep a man or can’t have a healthy relationship. I know, it’s all surface image bs but on top of all he’s done to me, I’m going to walk through our small town looking like damaged goods.

      • Hey Juliana,

        Small town girl here too, and this is just a gentle nudge however I kind of feel your personal narrative needs to change somwhat.

        Rather than “I will come out of this looking like a woman who can’t keep a man or can’t have a healthy relationship” you might instead think:

        “I will come out of this looking like a woman who won’t put up with bullshit just to keep a man as I only want healthy relationships in my life, so this one has to go…”

        For “I’m going to walk through town looking like damaged goods” you might instead tell yourself:

        “I’m going to walk through town with my head held high, looking like the total package that I am.
        I am going to walk through town and rock this bitch!!”

  • I could have written this in may of 2018. I got a voicemail from the APs ex. Ur husband is fuck’n my partner. I went into a rage! I was a shell of my self too but that’s was. because I was being manipulated by a covert narcissist for 16 years. I made my needs smaller and smaller and he just kept taking and taking till their was nothing left and I was replaced. I know you don’t want to hear it but it’s time to throw in the towel. Your cheater has been manipulating u for a long time and I know you are physically and mentally ur done.

    It’s time to lawyer up, get a counselor who specializes in narcissist personality disorder, personal trainer, gym membership and come to CN for ur Emotional support. Get audible and purchase books on narcissism and overcoming narcissist abuse such as psychopath free jack MacKenzie, narcissist playbook Diana Morningstar, how to do no contact like a boss etc.

    it’s time to stop living through ur cheater it’s time to live for u. Get ur power back. In a year with low or no contact u will feel so much better. The crazy will stop and u will say to ur self what the fuck was I thinking being with this piece of shit! It will not be easy! Trauma bonds are hard to kick ur addicted to ur cheater! I still am grieving but each day gets better.

    Make that asshat remember who u are take back ur power, leave, go no contact and never look back! You deserve a life he deserves a kick to the curb!

    Hugs

  • Ahhhh, image management and the “changed cheater.”
    My ex has changed!
    He remarried, posted pics on Facebook. He isn’t controlling or abusive anymore. With me, he kept such a tight grip on the money that even toilet paper became an “optional expense” and I was reduced to tearing pages out of old books (as a book lover, this was an all time low for me).
    He has changed! As evidenced by the fancy wedding, the new car he drives. Also he sent me texts and even had his new wife (she’s not an affair partner- just the next chump) send me texts letting me know how much he’s changed. At visitation hand offs my ex’s family gush about the brand new awesome guy he has become.

    He even bakes now! Sends me gluten free treats via my daughter. The old him felt it was beneath him to cook or help out around the house.

    BUT- my daughter told me just after her last visitation this story (and no, I wasn’t digging- I’d rather not hear about her dad -but since he has a history of abuse I have to be open to listening to my daughter’s experience in case he crosses a line with her).
    She told me that her Daddy is so nice because when his current wife called him and begged permission to go out with her sister he allowed her to. His wife, who works full time, begged him to let her get lunch while out with her sister. He finally okayed her getting ONE SODA while out with her sister. My daughter said “Don’t you think daddy is so nice? He let her get a soda!”

    What a nightmare.
    He hasn’t changed.
    In a couple more years she will be begging him for toilet paper.
    But TRUST that their Facebook pics and flying monkeys will be on point, as usual.
    It’s so stupid I almost have to laugh. And no, I don’t eat the treats he sends. I honestly can’t rule out that they may be poisoned.
    He keeps trying to get me back, image management. I keep grey rocking it and living my best life with a guy who treats me like a queen.
    #heschangedbuthesexactlythesame

    • P.S. When my ex’s flying monkeys tell me he’s changed, I just smile and say “great!” or “good for him” and then change the subject back to the point (such as “can you make sure daughter doesn’t forget her coat while at visitation?).
      NEVER argue. It’s a trap. They are looking for an emotional outburst from me to prove my ex right (that I’m bitter, hysterical, unreasonable). I learned this lesson the hard way.

    • Boudicca, I thought this was a true change story it started out that way and get me depressed as you had a changed one so mine will change too for his AP. but viola nope! They are same old same old. Thank you for the story. My goodness, begging hubby for a soda What a sad sick life.

  • Juliana,
    1. “Also, he’s continuing a work relationship on a personal level that has been a big problem for me (though not one of his affairs, just a flirtation).” Umm, I would bet the entire contents of my bank account that either it almost certainly IS an affair, and if it isn’t one yet, he’s working on it.
    2. “How do I steal myself to the possibility that he will be a better man for the next woman?
    A hundred chumps here today will tell you that he won’t be.”
    ME, ME, ME! Count me in that hundred! He won’t be. He’ll revert to type. Changing from THAT level of scumbag is just too far to go.
    3. It’s too early to tell you this, but don’t give up on other people. There are plenty of good souls out there… think of all the hundreds or thousands just on this site!

    • My ex-husband has not morphed into a better man for any of his dozens (hundreds) of partners he has had since he left me.

      My last partner, though, HAS most likely turned into a much better man for the young work subordinate he left me for and married shortly after leaving me. I don’t know whether he physically or emotionally cheated on me during our relationship (I thought that I knew him for 30 years but obviously was wrong). He did, however, always seem to be looking over the fence for the greener grass, leaving me when he would find somebody more enticing to date and returning to me when the ‘relationship’ with another woman did not work out or even materialize. When he left me the last and final time, he wrote, ‘I am trying to do better’–for her. While he and I were ‘together,’ once publicly in front of our friends said, ‘I’m a bad boyfriend,’ and he also told me that he was embarrassed to be seen with me, so he knew that he treated me abominably, but he never wanted to apologize. He just wanted to be better for the very impressive woman he wanted to and did win, his second wife. It was a bit like kicking one’s loyal dog upon arriving home but then treating others splendidly to ‘make up for’ kicking the dog! Sometimes, I feel as though I don’t ‘get’ to be angry at my last partner as he ‘only’ lied to, invalidated, denigrated, criticized, and tried to control me–as opposed to cheating on me. People have said, ‘But you wouldn’t want him to stay with you unhappy, would you? You should be happy for him! He’s such a nice guy!’ It’s really hard for me to be happy for him, especially considering how he treated me. I think that he will remain faithful to her until he dies as he seems to greatly value, respect, and love her and they will create children together if they have not already, thus forming a stronger bond and ‘impediment’ to divorce. I would have been extremely grateful to be even half as valued, respected and loved as much as she is by him. (He will likely die long before she does as men’s average lifespan is shorter than women’s and he is significantly older than her.) I’m trying to remind myself that he might not disrespect, mistreat, and lie to her, his new wife, but he’s still an abusive, cowardly liar in general, so I’ve lost some bad along with the good. I need to stop looking through rose-colored glasses at my past relationships, especially the last one.

      We have no control over how others behave. I wish that I could provide more comforting feedback and useful advice on how to ‘win’ and ‘keep’ somebody.

      I wish Juliana the best. She deserves a much better life than the one she has with her husband.

      • Eh, for people like that, there’s always someone better, and there’s always flaws in the “perfect” person you have. Just because they look good on the surface doesn’t mean he isn’t disrespecting and wearing her down in a hundred ways behind the scenes.

    • Thank you – needed to hear this again! And I’m sure lots more!

      Yeah – I’ll tell you the minute I start sliding into thinking there’s hope his little work buddy pops into my head and I’m reminded of the truth. He’s not changing anything or if he’s temporarily stopped – it’s just the behaviors I can track like payments to hookers and booking hotel rooms for his trysts. Work affairs don’t cost a dime.

  • I think, for me, the underlying fear of “will cheater be better for the other person” is really wondering what was wrong with me that I didn’t deserve his best? It feeds into that sense of being unworthy and that he cheated because I failed him in some way. Example: She’s young and pretty so she deserves his love and fidelity.

    This site, time, and all of you, are helping me stop that line of thinking and realize even if he does behave better and remains faithful, he still is someone that had the capacity to cause such harm to the people he vowed to cherish and protect.

    He point blank said to me now he understands how bad cheating is and he will be a better husband for his next wife. But those are just words. I think he intends to be better but he made those types of promises to me and our son. Promises he only kept while convenient.

    • Fearful & Loathing,
      You succinctly, very clearly described how I have felt unworthy. I think that the feeling associated with my last partner telling me that I was unworthy of him, especially after he found his amazing second wife, hurts as much as the loss of his company. Along with losing him, I have lost me (my self-esteem and confidence). Other exes telling me how worthless I am doesn’t help. Thinking about dumpster diving for food also does not help.

  • Yes I have time before the meeting with the attorney to get all of our financial info gathered. First meeting with a counselor this evening.
    And no I am not telling him what I am doing, but like others said will play dumb because I think he will just keep giving me fuel for my fire that way. Cuz he says a lot of stupid things .
    And of course he can’t recall half of the stuff I confronted him with. Even when our daughter was right there.
    Anyway thanks for all the advice. I feel a strength I never had before to address this mess.

  • Juliana, there is a lot to read and plenty of chumps offering advice. We have all been there. Some of us multiple times, some just once and they were out. Some believed their partner cheated once, or it was an emotional affair or just had sex once. What I’m getting at, is at the end of the day, our stories are the same. We’ve all been chumped, duped, lied to etc. I’m sorry you’re here.

    I went 5 years after his affair (some here have gone many more years) hoping he would be a better man. And you know what, from what I could “gather” (and I mean that in a sarcastic, PI, marriage police, investigator, sick feeling, if not daily, at least every other day sort of way) he did not have another affair. Do I know that for a fact, nope! And even with my due diligence and my snooping skills, I could never find proof of another affair, or of his continuing with the nasty whore he screwed. I had all of his checks, access to everything. He pretty much rolled over and maybe became a unicorn. But it still didn’t change what he did. It changed me and how it affected our lives and my life. Is that how you want to live for the next 5, 10, 20 years? Everyone handles things differently. I, on the other hand, could never forgive. I really did try, because he did try. He was remorseful, didn’t blame me, counseling. I tracked his car, cell… all of it. Like I said, I became a professional investigator, and I found no evidence, but it was a shitty way to live. Really shitty.

    So I had to leave, I needed to leave to be a better person for me. Is he a better person? Did he change? Is he that unicorn? I don’t know. And for whatever it’s worth, I hope he did, I hope he is a better person, I hope he changed and realized what a fucked up thing he did, because the next woman in his life does not deserve to be treated that way.

    No one deserves that. It scars you for life. I moved on for me, because at this point, he made it all about him when he was fucking his skank. It was all about him, covering his lies and making himself happy with absolutely no thought about me and what it would do to me. Completely 100% selfish. So I made it all about me when I left. I needed it to be about me, and make myself happy.

    We can all give you tons of advice and point you in the right direction, but you will know when you know. It was like an epiphany for me, a light went off, thinking to myself, you know what, I don’t need him. I actually don’t love him. I love me more. Love yourself, and the rest will fall into place.

    • That is a great post, and great advice, Karma Train!! I agree with your basic point and to me, if someone fucks you over, even once, your relationship with that person can never be repaired or “right” again. It’s in your best interest to move along, always.

    • Karma,
      This makes so much sense. Mine has given me access to everything but of course, there’s always a way to sneak around. But either way, I don’t PI anymore. When it even crosses my mind I feel so sick to my stomach and anxious that I can’t bring myself to do it.

      I don’t think, even if he were a unicorn, I could ever trust him again to be faithful. I’ve wondered if I could just live with knowing he’s not going to be faithful but why? Like you, I don’t need him either, not for companionship or money or anything really. I’m not sure whether or not I still love him. Some days I do and other days I look at him and he’s just a stranger, a screwed up stranger that I don’t care about at all.

      I suppose because I’m only a few months past DDay, I just need more time to get where you got.

  • I don’t think it can be emphasized enough 2 think financially and long-term. My situation sounds so nearly like yours. I would suggest that you take a legal separation and write out every single expense. Things like, make sure he puts you and kids on life insurance policies and keeps health insurance and then pays a cash amount towards you getting your own since you can’t stay on once divorced. Make sure he pays 100% of the healthcare costs not split it fifty-fifty. same thing with anything having to do with kids. I guess i don’t know if you have kids. I wish I would have asked for more and negotiated down rather than starting at 50/50 and trying to negotiate up. I’ve lamented recently that I wish that you could get divorced for a year and then try to do your divorce decree because it is so so so so SO hard to think with anything but your broken dreams and heart at this point… but no matter what if you decide; If you think right now you might try to “work it out”, prepare as though you’re not going to. Erite down everything dealing with finances. Check out this site. Check out other sites. Reed top 10 lists about what women should know about divorce, go to a woman lawyer who has experience and can see it from the woman’s side. I feel for you and I’m just letting you know what I wish I would have done because I hoped for a long time and let him confuse me and keep on wishing that he would live up to his potential. At the beginning of being found out they’re usually more willing to “pay for their misdeeds” than later when time makes them feel like they don’t need to do anything anymore. Plus asking him to sign a post nup with an infidelity clause, while you figure things out for a few months, will make him put his money where his mouth is AND show his true colors. So, he says he won’t ever cheat again then no problem to sign it, right??

  • One thing popped out at me in this. His inappropriate work relationship that’s “not an affair, just a flirtation.”. Sorry, you don’t need to be married to someone who is even in a ” flirtation “. I’m sure it’s more a ” fucktation ” if you ask me. Your standard should be if your husband is pursuing other women while married, he is a turd. Flush his ass.

  • I’m sorry, anyone who treats his spouse or children like shit can never “turn” into a good person. That’s their character. They may manage to cover it up for a while, maybe even a long while in some cases, but whatever they really are is still in there , waiting for its next opportunity.

  • Nope. No change here. And I was dense enough to stay with him for 31 years, through 3 known affairs, thousands of dollars and dozens of hours of marital therapy, a LOT of change, work, and improvement on mySELF, but….
    No change in cheater.
    Nothing to work with here.
    Trust: They suck.

  • Don’t believe the hype! OW and X looked so happy (from afar) she got a house with him and a baby ~ and I did neither. But over time it was revealed the house was a rental, the baby had autism (more than ever treasure but not the idyllic and halcyon existence that was being presented); and he could not hold down a job; she was cleaning houses to make their mutual living and holding up their world. He committed suicide by making a left-hand turn into oncoming traffic. You never know somebody else’s looks-better may really be only on the surface. Go deep with yourself and don’t miss any of the good stuff you’ve gained by losing a loser. Seriously.

  • Truly good people aren’t capable of repeated lies and cheating. And once we are betrayed and burned we never feel at ease with the perpetrator. My experience anyway.

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