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Dear Chump Lady, How can I hurt him to the core?

Hi Chump Lady,

Do you have any tips on how I can hurt him to the core?

We were together 10 years. No kids. He cheated. I left straight away. We didn’t even talk about the details of the affair. I mostly felt anger and disgust. I moved to a different city. Cut off all mutual friends. I read a lot of books (including yours) trying to get over that loser.

Now, almost 18 months later he’s back. With ‘true remorse’. Apparently he’s been in therapy this whole time to become a better person. He dumped the OW immediately after I found out. So basically he spent 18 months healing, and working on himself, becoming a better person to win me back. (I know: puke).

There is no way I want him back. I’m finally realising that I wasn’t that happy with him. Single life is kinda great. Maybe he has changed, maybe he hasn’t, but I have certainly changed and I don’t want a cheater (non-negotiable). I don’t love him anymore. But it keeps me awake at night. I want to hurt him the way he has hurt me. I’m thinking of faking reconciliation and then dumping him in a cruel way. I want to rip his heart out. Any other tips???


Dear NoChump,

Cruelty and heart-ripping are not what meh look like, NoChump. That’s what I’m Still Hung Up On My Ex looks like. We aren’t about revenge here at Chump Lady — we’re about gaining a life (free of indictments and jail time). 

Sounds like you got a pretty good start with your “kinda great” single life. So why turn back for a loser?

Revenge is a very common chump fantasy, that somehow you can inflict as much hurt on the cheater as they inflicted on you. Chump revenge is predicated on a very flawed assumption — THEN the cheater will GET IT. Then they’ll realize HOW MUCH THEY HURT ME!

Yes, the heavens will part and sunlight will refract through the cheater’s bitter tears to bounce rainbows of repentance everywhere. With a heavy heart,  he’ll lament, “I am broken! Just the way I broke NoChump! How could I’ve been so SO so very CRUEL? This is my fate! Rejection is all I deserve! sob, sob, sob…”

What’s our flawed assumption here, chumps? Trick question — there are a couple.

a.) That this is an insight problem. Only by feeling this pain, (by being treated the way HE treated you) will he understand the gravity of betrayal.

The cheater doesn’t have an insight problem, he has an I don’t-give-a-shit problem.

He KNEW cheating on you would hurt you and he did it anyway. You want him to have a revelation that cheating hurts. (HA! YOU CHOKE ON THE HUMILIATION FOR ONCE, MOTHERFUCKER!) His pain will only register as HIS pain.

He’s not going to connect the dots that he hurt you first. He’s going to see this as one more way in which you suck, and he was right to abuse you, because you deserve it.

b.) That there is a heart in there to break. Similar to the first point, you assume he’s sorry and it keeps you up at night. So what if he’s sorry? If in fact, cheating is your deal breaker, then you should know your mind. Nothing more to engage with. It’s done. Kaput. Fini.

You want to circle back, why? Either cheating is a deal breaker for you, or it’s not.

It’s just as likely that he’s not one bit sorry, he just needs something. (No consequences? Where are you on that divorce?)  There is no heart there, the mindfuck channel just got flipped to charm and self-pity.

You assume you could break this heart. (It’s had therapy!) I doubt it. It’s more likely he’s got several mindfuck channels going at once. He’s the Nielson box in every home in America. You’re plan B, or Q, or Z. Stay tuned.

Taking him back for the purpose of dumping him, NoChump, is a really dumb idea. Let me count the dumb.

1.) You’re bullshitting us. It’s really the hopium talking. I’m going to eat this ONE cookie just to PROVE that cookies have no power over me! WATCH ME EAT THIS SNICKERDOODLE! Nom, nom, nom! I rebuke you, cookie! Do you doubt my powers? I will eat another! HAH!

Hopium says “He’s changed! I won the pick me dance!” Spackle says, “We gotta dress this shit up.”

2.) You’re risking your health. Reconciliation, fake or otherwise, comes with sex. Don’t trust where that thing has been. Get tested.

3.) You’re risking your mental health. Sanity is a precious thing. Don’t throw it overboard for a chance with a cheater. It took a lot to get you to leave, why put yourself through that meat grinder again? Oh right, because you’re so strong that you… stay up all night plotting revenge scenarios. #winning

The best revenge is meh.

Deny the fucker kibbles and get on with your life. If you want to hurt him, I promise your silence hurts him, and consequences will make him lose his ever-living mind. Exact your revenge at once. Go no contact.

This one ran before. 

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  • “Now, almost 18 months later he’s back. With ‘true remorse’.”

    Yeah, things didn’t work out with Shmoopie and he’s not getting a lot of right-swipes on tinder, so he’s remorseful.

    “Apparently he’s been in therapy this whole time to become a better person.”


    “He dumped the OW immediately after I found out.”

    Funny how this only comes up now and didn’t come up back then. Liar.

    Also, even if he isn’t – who cares? Does it really make it better if she was just some random dump-able screw to him? Does it make it better that he cared about you so little that he’d betray you for that?

    “So basically he spent 18 months healing, and working on himself, becoming a better person to win me back.”

    Liar. He spent the last 18 months exploring all his other options before deciding you might be good for some more money, emotional support, sex, and housekeeping.

    Don’t mudwrestle a pig – you both get dirty but the pig likes it.

    • The pig mudwrestle saying is my new favorite! (I grew up in a rural area but haven’t heard it before.)

    • He’s Hoovering. That’s what narcissists do.

      Maybe he needs a place to crash. A person to listen to his tales of woe.

      Would you do his laundry too while you’re at it?!??

      No – just NO.

      The best way to hurt him is to go No Contact.

      If you have no children – lose his number. Block him and move on. That will be the real way to hurt him and gain a new life.

      • Traffic_Spiral, that is a great response! Because it’s true. Go no-contact to hurt him & help you. Good luck & be strong.

      • Tell me again how No Contact hurts him, cuz I really wanna know.

        I’ve been No Contact, even though he has reached out a few times over a couple of years after the divorce. I give no response. No that I care, cuz I don’t, but it hurts him a little / lot you say? The No Contact is not only for my sanity and peace but it also hurts Asshole? Score!!! Double Bingo!!

    • More likely the OW dumped him and he is lying, of course, to make himself look good.

    • You have so for this, they dangle the carrot, but that carrot has gone more than a bit flaccid/rancid.

      I don’t think will happen to me but if it did go wrong with Honey Bee he might have a go. Bbut really – how dare they.

  • CL is right – you won’t be able to hurt him because there is no heart there to hurt. So “deny the fucker kibbles” – that’ll get under his skin more than any hurt you could hope to inflict. And I truly doubt he has spent the last however many months in therapy and reflection!

  • Not to mention you’re also probably just “re-victim” material. He’s probably thinking “hey, I miss what I had” and you might think that would be normal stuff like love and a wife that cares for him but NO! A disordered person who cheats is probably not missing your pancakes, they’re probably missing your chumpiness: “hey I miss that person who I could do anything to (behind their back) and had no consequences! Actually I don’t even miss the person, I miss that feeling!”

  • Do you have a decent income? Did he leave a job to move where you are? There you are with your shiny new life and there he is with his rusty one. Turned into Prince Charming, huh! Nah! Just follow the money trail.
    CL is right. Meh is when you have no interest in him in any way.

  • I agee with Chump Lady on this. Revenge is like holding a hot stone in your hand, expecting it to hurt your cheating ex when you finally throw it at him. Meanwhile your hand is burning from holding the hot stone. And what if you miss when you finally throw?

    The best revenge is to live well, very well. No contact. Erase cheater from live completely as if they didn’t exist.

    • took me a while to really understanding how my ongoing thoughts about Ex were making him the central figure in my life instead of me…. and he was gone / never to be seen again. So I was making a hallucination the central figure of my racing head. Once I cracked that one and made ME the central figure of my life, everything began to fall into place.
      And I realised how pointless it was to exact revenge or even talking to him ever again.
      CL No.1 – insight – it will come

  • I know someone who screwed around with a married man – when he left his family for her, she dumped him. Maybe when you left your ex, OW dumped him… maybe he didn’t initiate the breakup at all. I sure wouldn’t believe a cheater.

    • Also a possibility. For many of these OW and FW, all the fun and games end when there is not a Chump to laugh at.

      • I think this too. The x was dumped shortly after divorce….very telling and freeing for me.

    • Schmoopie dumped Ex asshat two weeks after we broke up. I told him, over and over again, that she was only interested in him because he was in a relationship. The whore had a reputation, had broken up a few relationships and a marriage before she set her sights on the dimwit. She was proud of herself, bragged about how she was able to steal all these men away to anyone who would listen and on Facebook. I warned him, but noooooo it was Twu Wuv. Until 2 weeks after he and I broke up.

    • Yes this seemed to be the case with the OW in my relationship too, from what I could gather she absolutely hates me even though we had never met and the affair seemed to be more about seeing her power over another woman and feeling like she was special enough to ‘steal’ a man away from his wife rather than any passion of the heart. Those type seem to be a special subset of the cheater female and from what I know now there seems to be a heaping helping of personality disorder and entitlement in those woman who find joy in going ‘ head to head’ with another woman over her man, ah except the spouse has no idea that there’s any competition in the first place.

  • Its your choice, but how he treated you. Why would you want him back. Why is he contacting you. People know how to behave. He made his choices. Therapy all well and good. Every body has bad experiences not everybody cheats.

  • Living well is the best revenge. I’ve never been cheated on, but I’ve been really badly mistreated by 2 men. But now I’m living a good life and I don’t give a shit what they’re up to.

  • And believe me, you not being in love with him anymore hurts him more than you can know. The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s INDIFFERENCE!

    • Ha! That statement about indifference was at the beginning of one of the wreckonciliation books I asked cheater to read (and of course, he never did.) The author intended it as a warning of sorts, that if any cheater ever hoped to make a repair then they’d better do it before the betrayed spouse’s feelings for them were completely extinguished. Love the irony.

  • Oh, man, you have no children. You are so lucky not to be tied to him. Forget revenge. Ignore, ignore, ignore, and run, run, run to your new life!

    • I know. I don’t understand why she wants revenge. I have children with my XW. A living hell. If adultery is a deal breaker, move on with your life.

  • I tried hard to exact revenge. I contacted all his third world women that he was professing his love for and proposing to and told them he was married. After their initial shock he hovered them back in. I contacted all our friends and family and told them what he did. They felt sorry for me and thought I was crazy. I spied on him, yelled and screamed and threw things. And on and on. And I just looked (and was) crazy. No contact was what drove him crazy. That and living my life with new friends and new adventures. You’re doing well. Work on getting to meh. You’re half way there. The anger is normal and takes time to process. It’s really grief.

  • As this is a repeat, I hope she (?) simply blocked his number and continued her journey to Mehca.

    I don’t think they were married, but 10 years invested is 10 years lost. Thank goodness no kids!

    “Now, almost 18 months later he’s back.”

    No, he’s not back unless you fail to raise the drawbridge and tell him to go away or arrows are next. Again, I hope you RAISED that drawbridge.

  • Oh how i DREAM about this exact scenario .

    I would never go near my STBX mainly due to the fact he is a runaway but ……

    How i dream he would knock on the door beg forgiveness tell me how sorry he is only for me to slam the door in his face .

    Not very Meh but i am no where near meh so in the meantime i allow myself this little fantasy .

    • I have this vision of you calmly opening the door, then without comment or expression
      calmly closing the door in his face saying, “Sorry, no soliciting”.

      • I have fantasies about mine coming back and asks me to “date”. I ask him, “ are you still with OW?” He says “ yes” and I say “ that’s a hard pass then” If he says “no”. I still say “that’s a hard pass”.

  • The best revenge comes from a source other than me. My job is to get out of the way, don’t interfere, withdraw my attention and energy. The worst thing you can do to a dog is to WITHDRAW ATTENTION. If I am paying attention to the loser, I’ll miss the cool stuff that is lined up to take his place. I took dangerous things away from my daughter when she was a toddler by giving her something BETTER! She was REALLY UPSET until she realized how much cooler the new thing was. Same deal here.

    The karma is actually MINE. It’s MY good karma that his true character was revealed and I am able to receive the gift of leaving and opening myself to a better life.

    When vengeance crosses my mind, I mentally assign the task to a power greater than myself whom I choose to call God. Just like The Godfather sits at his desk in his creepy dark office and issues the directives to his underbosses. Then I get on with the Velvet Hammer Life Improvement show. You can define it however you want….nature, The Force, the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But my experience has been, 100% of the time, that power does a way better job of handling the situation than I could ever have imagined. It’s been working for me so far with glorious results.

    Try it and see!

    • The shorthand of all that, and very easy to remember, is a phrase I love:


      Cheaters and the cheating cheaters who cheat with them are NOT winners! They are LOSERS!

      Let them have each other and thank The Flying Spaghetti Monster for taking them away from you until you believe it in your bones.

      • WOW Velvet Hammer!! You’re spot on with your two posts!!! At first, I wanted to do all sorts of vengeful things to my X and OW!!! But, I turned to my higher power, I call God, too and He said vengeance is Mine!!! So, I figured He will take care of them both much better than I can!! I like to think He drives that Karma bus!!!

        Oh and I love the, stick with the Winners!!! Sooooooo true!!! They ARE losers!!!

    • I LOVE your idea that this is actually our good karma. I am going to start framing it like that. Thank you for sharing that piece of wisdom <3

      • Did you have any idea what was happening. I didn’t . Were their flaws in our relatiosnhip? Yes. I can tell you ten of my other friends in long term relationships that you could call flawed. Their partners don’t lie and cheat. I had NO idea what the actual dynamic was and things did start to go weird and I did ask and I got a blank refusal of any problems. He was a bit bored and lonely and thought everything i his life was wrong and he managed to blame that all on ‘us’. Good luck you two, you are gonna need it. I watch your progress with great interest…. from a far far distance.

    • Love “My Good he has revealed his true character”. It is a huge paradigm shift but once realized, changes everything. …it is a difficult process and just takes time and continued attention to intentionally being the person you want to be, the ole’ Golden Rule! Moving into my renovated condo this week. So happy. Had it taken down to studs and designed/picked out every bit. What I learned is I had alot more fun than when I remodeled with fuckwit. It is great to have the contractor do what I want instead of getting pushback. hugs!

      • Ain’t that the truth about the pushback.
        There was no project that could be worked on without conflict.
        And exhausting way to live under the thumb of a petty tyrant who doesn’t have anything going for him in the first place – what was I thinking.

    • Love your entire post, you are spot on VH. However for me, this is gold:

      “The karma is actually MINE. It’s MY good karma that his true character was revealed and I am able to receive the gift of leaving and opening myself to a better life.”

  • No turning around when you’ve really only just begun heading down the “Get a Life” path.

    Truly leaving a cheater means shutting down the connection and the flow of information. When there are no children involved, total no contact can be achieved, and that’s a very good goal.

    Deep no contact means not allowing any info about the cheater into your world, shutting down all of cheater’s access to you, and doing the real work of getting the remaining cheater poison out of your head and heart.

    That can’t happen while connection remains.

    Interesting, isn’t it, that the chump skills that they can never understand—keeping the relationship private, prioritizing it, not allowing interlopers to cross its boundaries—are the same skills that ultimately save us if and when we finally decide to apply them to ourselves and our own lives.

    • “Interesting, isn’t it, that the chump skills that they can never understand—keeping the relationship private, prioritizing it, not allowing interlopers to cross its boundaries—are the same skills that ultimately save us if and when we finally decide to apply them to ourselves and our own lives “

      cashmere I am fascinated by this. It is a total psychic change. We can save ourselves just by being true to ourselves.

      To thine own self be true.

  • I am at meh–when I don’t see him or hear about him. I moved a thousand miles away, away from my adult son whom I live, left friends, and retired early–at a financial cost–all so that I could put as much physical and mental space between us as possible. I have other concerns in my life now, and I am slowly recovering from his abuse (which was cheating, plus) and rebuilding my life. My hope is to forget as much as I can of him and our life together as I can, but I will never forgive him.

    Unless someone butts in and tells me something I don’t need or want to know, I almost never think of him. My mother occasionally asks me a question about him, as if I should know or care what happens to him–even though she knows I just want to forget that part of my life. I never long for him, miss him, or want anything to do with him ever again. I wouldn’t go back if he came and prostrated himself before me and apologized and did all the things that show true remorse. That tie is cut, that die is cast.

    But when that unwanted question, that unwanted information, comes, I confess it awakens in me a desire to upend his life as much as he upended mine. I don’t care who he sees, what he does; I trust that he sucks. But I would still like to have him suffer as much as he made me suffer. I don’t dwell on this, inventing scenarios. But unless and until one of those unwanted pieces of information is that he has wrecked his own life well and good and truly, I will continue to want, fervently, whenever I know anything about him, that I could wreck his life. He deserves no less.

    • In the meantime, remember that he is denied the true contentment and happiness that comes with integrity and respecting others. That is truly a life wasted and wrecked even if he is ignorant of it.

      • Velvet Hammer, right there is another one I hadn’t thought of!! He can’t be happy with a woman who cheated on her husband and 4 young adult children, (although, she’s a liar and there’s no telling what lies she told the X), and she can’t be all that trusting of a man who cheated on his wife of 26 years!! Right???

    • You know, whatever a cheater’s life might look like to outsiders (and we don’t know even that, because we don’t waste our lives pressing our noses against that display window) the truth is that they already lost everything: marriage, kids, love and loyalty, moral compass and so forth.

      Often, though, they have long since lost or traded away whatever capacity they may have had to experience emotions the way an empathetic person does.

      What we think of as suffering—that deep emotional pain, heartbreak, mental anguish—really doesn’t compute for many a cheater.

      That’s karma enough. No point wasting energy wishing they could feel what we felt. They can’t. That’s what allows them to live as they do.

    • I thought I was almost at Meh (Divorce May 2018, no personal contact since October 2018 & no mutual realtor contact since March 2019 court date), but then I see him driving right by me yesterday (we live in a small town) and my revenge monster climbs out of the dark spaces of my brain I thought I had vanquished. He’s a particularly vile toxic Ex and I just want him out of my life. He and his HoWorker spouse are still attempting to make my life difficult. I realize that negative energy means I still have power of them, but it still takes it’s toll. I also went to a friend’s funeral for her mother which brought up the emotions of loosing my mother (November 2017) and father (May 2018). Just an unexpectedly emotional day.

      Fortunately, I realize how far I’ve come from the shell shocked victim I’m leaving behind. But it’s hard when days like that happen and I end up stepping backward. This is when I have to really work on the non-linear journey of grief. I’m finding conquering revenge takes time. And I need to re-direct ALL my energy on me. It’s all a process of self-care, one day at a time.

      • I’m so sorry that he can still trigger you. Worse, he and the HoWorker do it deliberately.

        I really hope that something happens so you never have to see either of them again. A nice big fat winning lottery ticket, for example!

      • NotbLUEinTC, thank you for the phrase “non-linear journey of grief”. It was a good reminder that grief circles back to remind me of my losses. I’ve lost the same things every other Chump has lost. Temporarily my sanity, my home, my family, my spackled up mirage of a husband, my source of income, Switzerland Friends, my personal belongings, my sense of humor, my dignity and trust. I even lost my beloved dog to cancer in August. I’ve lost so much.

        I’m going to embrace Velvet Hammer’s idea and your suggestion. It is going to be more of THE THIRTYTHREEYEARSACHUMP SELF IMPROVEMENT SHOW. I was in my Yoga class and it popped into my mind. I am free. Free of the fucker. Free to take care of me. Free to finally concentrate on little Thirtythreeyearsachump.

        Grief reminds me of my losses. Chump Lady and Chump Nation remind me of the possibility in a cheater free life. I am so grateful for you all. You’ve done so much for me.

      • I lost my dad just before all or this and he had the gall to describe to me ‘I was with you on that journey’. Such a double or triple whammy when you need your folks. So very hard that compounded loss. I take heart that my dad died thinking I was loved but he also loves my ex. Actually I am pleased . What is happening would have as devastating to my father as it is for me. I do think about what it’s like to be a partner who lied throughout a time when your partner was nursing a parent until deaths. To have showed up front row funeral knowing what you were about to do, to have had secret liaisons while somebody me in your sphere had to try to help a six foot man off the floor when they were too ill to stand. And you went home and made furtive calls to OW cause I ruined your night out . I do think often. How do you guys square that? I just couldnt. I mean it would eat me up.

        • I had the same thing. I’m so relieved that my beloved mother didn’t live to learn what my ex had been doing, and to see the hellish divorce I’m going through now. It would’ve killed her. She was more of a mother to him than his own mother was. And yet, while she was in hospice care in our home, my ex thought nothing of going out until all hours with other women. I found out about his cheating a mere 16 days after she died. Very much a double whammy, and I’m still not sure how I survived all that. How these assholes live with themselves, I’ll never know. And yes, non-linear journey of grief is so true.

  • The best thing is moving forward with your life while maintaining total no contact or as close to it as possible if there are kids involved. No kids? No need to ever speak to the cheater again.

    I managed to block my ex out of my life for three years and then twice in the past six months he’s attempted contact by finding me online and sending direct messages through apps.

    Why? Because he wants something. My guess is his age and unhealthy lifestyle is catching up with him and he hit the wall. He lost his sparkle and is having trouble finding new supply. So it’s time to go fishing for exes to see if anyone bites.

    Just ignore contact attempts. Nothing good comes from engaging with them. Not even to gloat. There’s no revenge. Revenge is giving them power. Revenge is giving them a load of kibbles on a silver platter.

    You respond to the contact attempts and that tells them they can still command your attention. It’s never for a good reason, it’s always a fishing expedition. For kibbles if nothing else. But usually to see if you will let them back in so they can use you again.

    You have to think of them as an infestation. And secure your boundaries against them. They creep their way back in and you don’t acknowledge them to see what they want. You sweep them back out the door and seal up the cracks

    When my ex gets a message through to me I feel the same revulsion as if a mouse ran across my kitchen floor. I’m not interested in what he wants, I just want to keep him out.

  • Everybody knows a fiery death In hell is what cheaters really deserve. But Isn’t laughing in his face when he showed up enough? You are now free to live in a cheater free zone. Karma will get him. It might have already. Go. be free. Clean your head, lady.

  • The most cruel, hurtful thing that you can do to your Cheater is to deny him (or her) centrality.

    This means that you need to work towards “meh.”

    You are right that you don’t want Cheater back in your life. It’s also natural to have revenge fantasies. We’ve all had them. But remember that they’re merely fantasies.

    After being together for about 25 years and married for 16 of those, it turned out that Cheater was cheating with Schmoopie, who was generally attracted to married men, preferably those who made significantly more money than she did and who could keep her in the lifestyle that she preferred.

    I realized that I did not want to be married to someone who had “Have an affair” as a tool in their Coping Skills box, and I certainly didn’t want to be married to someone so stupid as to get involved with such an obvious gold digger as Schmoopie! I also knew that Schmoopie would eventually bleed him dry and go on to her next mark.

    So the very worst thing I could do to Cheater was to divorce his ass and leave him to the tender mercies of Schmoopie. I knew that he was going deep into debt (he squandered his company’s tuition reimbursement on vacations with Schmoopie and paying her mortgage/utilities instead of paying off the loans that he took to pay the tuition). I also realized, thanks to CN, that he exhibited a lot of Borderline traits, including splitting. At that time, Schmoopie was 100% Angelic, which meant that I was Evil, and he felt entitled to treat me like dirt. But I also knew he had a hair-trigger temper, and that Schmoopie would fall from grace hard.

    I do know their marriage lasted a year, though she moved out within 6 months, as she was cheating on him with another married man, whom she’s since married (this being Husband #4). He tried to hoover me back, but I stuck with No Contact.

    So my revenge was merely to get my own life. It’s way better than the hell he’s created for himself.

  • You sound like me. Similar experience but the asswipe didn’t come crawling back. He did beg for forgiveness when i first left and i bought it for a while. But he didn’t have remorse. Just wanted his cake and eat it too. I’ve had many fantasies and thoughts of revenge. It takes a lot to not take action.

    Definitely don’t get back on that rollercoaster. Even if you think you’re the one with the on/off switch.

    Proud of you that after 18 months you’re gaining your life back and better than ever. Keep moving forward.

  • Mr. Sparkles “went back” to his first wife during our marriage and they had an affair for almost four years during my marriage. When he discarded me for the OW, she felt compelled to tell me everything (afterall, I had been so good to her kids through the years, she thought I deserved to know how horrible HE WAS).

    You cannot make this shit up. His first wife believed his “I want to come back to you” lines while he was married to me… if that ain’t sucking on the big hopium pipe, I don’t know what is. She just wanted him back… read that again… she wanted a man who was cheating on his wife… #winning.

    I have found that the best thing to do in ANY situation with a person who doesn’t share my values (whether it be romantic, professional, familial) is to step away (very slowly as to not startle anyone) and go no contact. There is nothing to be gained in arguing with a wall. You have already done the hard work of separating, divorcing, and moving on with your life. As CL often reminds us, you can swing a cat and find a better man than your X if only because he hasn’t cheated on you.

    Go no contact. Let another X take back his crazy. You got away!

  • Dear NoChump,

    You say you’re done, but it’s clear that you’re not. You need to re-examine why your thought process is going in his direction. Chump Lady called it right… no matter what you say or do to him, it will NOT have the intended effect (revenge), and if anything, it will serve to heighten his presence in your life. Stop the madness! The absolutely best and most effective remedy is to go Zero Contact! Z-E-R-O. Let him fade to black while you carry on with your pretty great single life.

    I am Deep Zero Contact with my serial cheater XH of 40 years. Our 3 grown sons and 2 DILs know I want NO information about their father and Married Howorker/New Wife Appliance flowing in my direction, and similarly, NO information about me flowing out. Erasing XH from my everyday routines, thoughts, and future plans has served me well, and given me the time and space I need to create and polish my new normal.

    However, every now and then, a once-in-a-lifetime unavoidable family event pops up, and I know that XH (and likely, Howorker), will also attend; this has happened 4 times since our divorce, with 3 of them being in the last 6 months. I always prepare myself mentally and emotionally for these encounters; I take my Kava Root pills (natural tranquilizer), adjust my travel plans/lodging to avoid any contact, and once we’re actually face-to-face, I follow the Grey Rock Technique to the letter. Just a week ago, I was in Texas, witnessing my son getting promoted to Lt. Colonel in the USAF, the happiest and proudest of occasions, to be sure. My other two sons flew in, as did XH (sans Howorker). I spent 4 hours in very close proximity to XH; I was calm and classy, always kept my gaze elsewhere, and exchanged just 4 words with him (“Hello”, and “Thanks For Lunch”) before heading to the airport. I call that a success!

    Since I’m not willing to play ball, XH still can’t take advantage of his charming “Let’s be friends“ schtick, try as he might. So he sits there, moping and hurt, looking down at his plate, acting like a forlorn puppy who’s not getting enough tickles behind the ear. And I sit there, just a few feet away, smiling, relaxed, enjoying the hell out of my kids and the day’s events, giving him no acknowledgment whatsoever. I’m sure it drives him completely crazy since he needs attention and affirmation like other people need air. Nope, no longer my problem.

    So NoChump, please pull the plug on your plan! Cut this cancer out of your life, go into remission, and don’t look back because that’s not where you’re headed.

      • NotbLUEinTC

        I think the amount of time it took for me to get to this place of peace (it’s been 4 years since my divorce, but if you start counting on D-Day, it’ll be 7 years on October 13) is commensurate with the amount of time we were together (almost 42 years). My entire adult life!

        We all know that the first few steps of any long and arduous journey are the most difficult… breaking in those new hiking boots (Oy, where is the moleskin?), finding your stride, gaining momentum, honing your campfire cooking skills, and let’s not forget the task of finding all the clean bathrooms along your route! It takes time, energy and commitment to become proficient. If you give up early on, or tell yourself that you just can’t do it, you’ll miss out on all the joys that lie further down the road: the beautiful mountain vistas, meeting other travelers on the trail, sleeping under the stars, or listening to the crackling of a roaring campfire.

        My journey is still under construction. Looking back, the first few steps (read: years) were hard. Really really hard. I suffered through the worst emotional pain in my entire life; oh, I’d experienced emotional pain before, having been through the deaths of my parents, grandparents and other loved ones, two second-trimester miscarriages, and more, but nothing like this. But haven’t we all been knocked around at least a time or two? If you have, then you know the kind of pain I’m talking about… the pain we know is coming, but once it gets here, it’s so much worse than we anticipated. The pain that knocks you off your feet. The pain that you’re sure will kill you.

        But then one day, I had an epiphany (thank you, Jesus)! As much as I was grieving the loss of my marriage, welcoming grandchildren into the family together, and living out a fulfilling retirement with him by my side, I realized it had been, most likely, all a lie, a façade, nothing but a papier-mâché existence. You know about papier-mâché, right? When you take a blown-up balloon, cover it with strips of wet newspaper, shape it, form it, paint it, let it dry, and then you pop the balloon inside? What you end up with is something that’s beautiful on the outside but completely devoid of depth on the inside. I realized that was my husband! On the outside, he had a magnetic personality, he was charming, generous, helpful, a committed husband and father. But in the inside, he was a disordered, damaged and destructive person. And this whole time, I’d been like the poor froggy in the boiling water; every day, every month, every year, he’d been slowly and methodically chipping away at my sense of security, my self-esteem, my self-confidence, my body image, my control, my identity. The water was getting hotter and hotter, and I never realized I was about to boil to death. This is why I’ve come to believe that my XH actually did me a big favor by leaving; it allowed me to jump out of the cooking pot just in the nick of time and find a nice cool lily pad upon which to sit and recover. A better man would have spoken his truth and despite deep sadness, we could’ve parted company amicably. But his superficiality and lack of substance as a person prevented him from doing so; it was easier to disrespect, devalue, deflect, deny, discard, and divorce me than to be honorable. But — are you still with me? — maybe, just maybe, him mercilessly ripping off the Band-Aid is what actually helped me to bounce back, get strong and detach! In other words, if he’d been all nice, sweet, loving, and considerate on his way out the door (and into the waiting arms of Howorker), I — generally, a happy, positive and optimistic person — might’ve believed, (1) Their affair wouldn’t last (she was AP #14 after all, and the previous 13 whores had come and gone like a fart in the wind), and (2) There was still hope for reconciliation and rebuilding, when in reality, there was none.

        So take heart! Keep working on you, keep taking care of you, keep orchestrating what comes next. You will get there!

        • MyRedSandals ^^^^^^ THIS

          I think you just wrote my life story and have given me faith that my best chapters are ahead of me. I was actually glad my bandaid was involuntarily ripped off in such a destructive way in April 2017 (I’ve known my husband since 1983 when we were 18). It has made me take a look in the mirror and realize I had minimized myself and literally stifled my voice for far too long. My therapist is amazing and is showing me that I have value. I now understand that gaining a life means taking your time and learning from the past while leaving the bad past behind you. I’ll extend your “orchestrating” thought to: I am now the symphony conductor and can fill the seats with true friends and play the music I want. I just need to appreciate that it takes time to gather the best musicians.

        • MyRedSandals,

          You have put this so eloquently and, like the poster above me – it resonates with my story- 30+ years and affairs happening the entire time – unbeknownst to me at the time until Dday.

          Only variance is that the x was nice, considerate etc as he flew out of the door and I did live on hopium for well over a year which was fueled by the RIC – only stuff I found out there on my own until I finally, somehow, found LACFAL and enrolled in a Divorce Care group – both men leading the group had been cheated on so they knew the territory well.

          I especially like the graphic descriptions you penned – the paper mâché motif hit home like nothing else has and I chuckled at your, ‘gone like a fart in the wind.’

          I admire people who can put concepts into words coherently. I am still struggling to define all this stuff and really get that this is MY life not someone else’s. A part of this still seems too surreal to be true.

          (I am about 2 years out from Dday and about a year out from divorce and NC although he still hoovers at times.)

          In appreciation of you taking the time to post here – I thank you!

        • So this. My STBX is damaged goods and his treatment of me killed off every love cell I had for him. Twenty seven years of love only took a few months of devalue, gaslighting, stonewalling, cheating, and lying to completely wither and die. He caused a lot of damage but now I am good riddance – adios motherfucker!

  • The best revenge:

    *No contact
    *No contact, seriously. These folks HATE to be ignored.
    *Living a great big happy life of your own.
    *But with NO CONTACT.

    What “no contact” and focusing on your own life does is wound a narcissistic type to the core. You’ve said that they don’t matter to you. Big wound. You won’t open the door to contact, and hence, manipulation. You’ve shut down the kibbles buffet. Permanent wound, as they prefer to keep old “supply” in the loop, to use in triangles, etc.

  • If they are capable of cheating on you they are capable of cheating on you.

    Revenge is moving on. Let him compare everyone else to you and see what he lost.

  • Revenge always works really well in your head but in real life…not so much. You can’t crush a narcissist like you could a normal functioning human being with feelings, so the revenge fantasy will not work. You might tick him off for a moment but he’ll quickly brush himself off and continue on his merry way looking for the next sap. The best revenge is to ignore his pleas, go no contact and get on with your life.

  • For me, its not about ‘now he’ll know what it feels/felt like’ its about just plain ol’ payback.
    I hurt, mother fucker, now it’s your turn. It doesn’t matter in what way he gets the payback, whether its relationship related, work related, financial related…….ANYTHING!
    Just feel pain you piece of shit!

  • I asked my therapist about the dark thoughts i was having about my ex. Trust me, they were as dark as they come.

    Her response was “are you planning on making any of those things happen?” (Note: they would have been life sentence material). To which I replied no (regret note nice). Hell I’d even fantasise about his funeral and the things I would reveal to all. But no, well maybe, no, just no.

    She advised me that as long as I wasn’t going to follow through on my dark thoughts they were perfectly normal thoughts to have.

    To be honest, his life is shit, mine isn’t. That’s the best revenge there is. He regrets screwing me over (whatever) I don’t regret leaving him. I just wish I’d done it sooner. That is the best revenge there is. Truly.

  • yeah, i’m 100% with ChumpLady on this one

    revenge simply for the sake of revenge is stupid

    particularly if it would require OP being dishonest and/or wasting her time

    (which are key for the plans she mentioned)

    key point: you don’t have kids together

    so why not just allow him to be like a nasty shit you took 18 months ago?

    gross, flushed, gone…and no need to think about it except very occasionally

    be thankful that you are not one of us who reproduced with these pieces of garbage

    which makes things somewhat more complicated (although not that much)

    in that we sometimes have to take unpleasant actions to control, incentivize

    and, on occasion, brutally punish the Ex

    so as to produce more favorable conditions in terms of custody

    and better parenting performance in general

    but even that’s pretty infrequent, if done with enough velocity

    …ChumpLady is right, they simply don’t have hearts to hurt

    like you and me and 96% of normal folks

    so it’s just more time wasted that you’ll never get back

  • The motto I’ve been living by for 10+ years:

    He’s NEVER going to get ‘IT.’

    Cheaters will never get ‘it’-what they’ve done, who they are, the pain they’ve caused, etc. etc.etc…..

    I was really struggling lately with wanting to have my STBX PUNISHED.

    1) Why does he still share custody of the kids?
    2) Why does he get to be with Shmoopie?
    3) Why does he get the house?

    Then-I quieted my mind-and realized:


    1) The kids are good kids-no reflection on him or his shittiness at all.
    2) Shmoopie is a loser as well-having cheated on her hubby with many men-including mine. And now she’s fat. (He used to tell me all the time that he NEVER wanted me to get fat). So all he could find was a fat liar like himself.
    3) I never wanted that house-it’s a piece of shit that he swore he would fix up himself. It’s been 14 years-still no where NEAR being done. Used to be embarrassing to have friends over….

    I have my own beautiful house that needs no work, an amazing boyfriend who is teaching me how to communicate instead of being silent and building up resentments, my kids and their friends love to be at our home, and I can finally be the person I’ve been wanting to be for years-no drama and FUN!!!!

  • During our few weeks of MC after DDay I told the counselor during our one on one session “the best revenge I could get on both of them would be to let them have each other”. I didn’t want revenge at the time, but I didn’t really have much choice.

  • Such a good column – the idea that a cheater doesn’t or won’t feel the pain of betrayal the same is so true. I needed to hear that again. It will only be about the cheater’s feelings and not a moment for them to grow empathy.

  • Desire for revenge that pushes beyond fleeting thoughts is often a sign of covert self-loathing. We subconsciously want to lash out at the source of the reminder that we feel ashamed of our own part in things.

    There is an opportunity here to dig in to the fear and shame and sorrow and feeling stupid and that whole side of being betrayed — the feeling like it is still somehow our fault. There’s healing available to us on that front if we spend time working through it.

    It took me such a long time to stop feeling stupid for falling for the lies. Such a long time to feel like it wasn’t somehow ultimately my fault. Now that I am here, I ache with sorrow for the me that lived so deluged in shame.

    Check out Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability and shame. When the revenge rage arises, try saying to yourself “I was hurt very badly by a bad person and that wasn’t my fault. I chose the things I chose because I was doing the best I knew how to do at the time. I couldn’t have known then what I know now because I had to live it to learn it. I have grown and I can do better with new learning. I was so sad and afraid, but I don’t have to be anymore.” Stuff like that.

    It sounds corny, but I swear, it helps. ????

    • Pema Chödrön’s “When Things Fall Apart” and “Start Where You Are” are along the same vein of thought. Pema’s husband was a serial cheater and left her for the AP. She had so much anger and had really dark thoughts about her husband. She has made it her lifetime’s work to find peace. Her work has helped me go deep inside my own issues and is helping me find inner peace. I am forever grateful that someone on this very blog recommended her books.

      • That’s great!

        Truly, every thing I spew comes from some smart person who said it before I spewed it. ???? She’s a true gift for sure.

  • He cheated on you. That means he also lied to you. Liars lie and cheaters cheat on top of lying. How can you believe anything he says? And a cheating liar who comes back around, trying to push your reset button? That’s someone who REALLY doesn’t respect you. Fool you once, shame on them; fool you twice, shame on you.

  • Own the fact he exposed himself to you by claiming to want you back. Allow yourself to this badge of honour and treat this as a win.
    Don’t feel guilty about wishing him harm. Allow yourself this emotion and don’t for a minute believe the ‘Reconciliation Industry’ that peddles forgiveness. Be aware that this negativity is part of your process and will diminish with time. It’s OK to be angry for what he has put you through, but do not act upon it.
    It’s natural to want some form of contact; even if you only want to witness him crash and burn. But do not allow yourself any form of contact. This will go against all of your instincts; but you must completely shut off any communication.
    One often repeated cliche you can believe is; the best form of revenge you can inflict upon a cheating partner is to live a good life. Feel free to use this as motivation to work upon yourself. You owe it to yourself to be the best you can be mentally and physically. One caveat I’ll urge you to keep in mind is that living a good life may not necessarily mean jumping into another relationship. Celebrate this time of your life that you can finally put yourself first 🙂

  • I don’t know. Meh is the goal but there are stepping stones along the way, right? Revenge has been vilified but i think that’s the trick of those who don’t want it exacted on them. We teach our kids to just ignore a bully instead of standing up to him/ her and look where our public education and young people and work ethic and etc… are now. If she doesn’t want him back why not let her try a thing or two to teach him a lesson? Not the same lesson she got but a lesson nonetheless. I understand the pull of rising above it or not sinking to his level and all those sayings but revenge is a dish best served cold and strike while the iron is hot are good ones, too. I wouldn’t waste tons of time or energy and it could certainly be twisted all around by the cheater, if he hasn’t proven psychiatrist Maslow correct, that “people can become better people with true work”. If she’s prepared for him to not get it but wants to try, I say go for it. Either way, there’s at least a small chance the cheater has some form of punishment for past behavior, she takes some control of her mental state back and then she moves on to Meh. She just has to resist the hoovering and hopium and be steely in her resolve.

  • Isn’t the no justice, no real consequences, no vengeful repercussions to cheater, just the ultimate shite sandwich we chumps are to eat?

    • No. Gaining a life means the opposite. It takes the focus off the cheater and puts it back on to you. Our whole lives and personalities were devoured by cheaters. We take them back.

      What happens to the cheater then no longer matters to us. But I can tell you that disordered people don’t end up happy, no matter what their Instagram says.

  • I understand the desire for revenge, especially for those of us who have seen our exes’ lives dramatically improve while ours have gotten worse over years, but attempts at revenge often backfire. I am sorry that life is unfair and feel the pain. I wish all good chumps well.

    • For years, I have been angry and sad about how my intimate relationships have gone. My financial situation (unemployed mother) is also quite worrisome. Recently, I have started trying to think one helpful thought after each angry/unhappy thought. For example, after thinking, ‘He’s a liar. Why do so many people respect him, and why does he get to have such a great life?’ I try to think about something that I can do, no matter how small, to positively affect the world, e.g., ‘This morning, I am going to make my kids a healthy breakfast’ or ‘This week, I am going to finish reading materials for my business course’ so that ideally I can get a permanent family-sustaining job’ or ‘Which items can I drop off at a shelter this week?’ At least this way, I feel better about me and possibly help someone deserving.

  • I live by this. My silence hurts most. Not rude. Co-operative when I can be with someone who isn’t. Always ask instead of presume. The ‘we’ when it comes to my child is him and I. This is horrendous for me but I can look myself in the eye. He thought we would play modern happy families at the time he was lying to me through my teeth. But as a proper narc my stance is an image management problem. This is why I truly fear what he would actually do to make that go away. My silence is golden. I have nothing to say. I have heard more than enough and it was mainly lies. Go away and just leave me be.

  • CL points out some very valid & valuable points. Hopium can disguise itself in covert ways, fantasy revenge thoughts keep the cheater in the mind space and therefore still “active” for the chump. It’s taken me a while to realise that him being “active” in my mind, keeps me stuck and not able to contribute fully to my own healing or movement forward.

    To be truly free, I aim to undo ALL the ties to my previous mirage way of thinking. Some ways of doing this have been to change the topic in my head. To completely focus on me, my activities, my goals and use my “spare” time to boost myself up. It’s often in little ways. Give myself a healthy meal, watch a show that I really like when the kids go to bed, catch up with a friend after work, read an interesting article on how to build my life, maintain stability by doing the day to day upkeep of my new home, have a bath, listen to a few songs.

    The narc spends their life exaggerating things, going for the quick fix, seeking extreme emotion highs, investing in whims, projecting an image of awesome. It’s false. It’s shallow. It has no substance. It can’t be maintained. It blows in and blows out. It’s fake. It doesn’t care. It is is not how I want to live.

    I want long term. I want aligned to my values. I want stable. I want reliable. I want real. I want committed. I want able to go the distance. I want guts & grit.

    The cheater only returns if he thinks I have something he wants. He returns if he thinks I am still under his spell. He returns to test my new found boundaries. He returns to try and use me for his own means again. His character is set, he is not 4 years old or 14. He cannot change who he is. He cannot be a different person. He proved that.

    I no longer believe the facade. I cannot unsee. I cannot un-feel. My best action is to detach and set myself free. I have wisdom now. The ball is in my court. I’m grabbing my ball and going to play with people who don’t cheat in this game of life. That, for me, is the best revenge.

  • In the end sorry you just need to track your inner ⛄️OLAF ❄️ AND ❄️LET ❄️IT ❄️GO ☃️

  • I’m not sure if this is helpful, but I have had an epiphany quite recently. I was married for 33 years and am now separated/divorced for 8 years. I went through stages of extreme grief for 2 years, anger for the next 2 years and then finally reached a place of acceptance and started to live the life I wanted. Like most people I have had positive relationships along the way and some that weren’t really good. What I have learned is that when someone has shown negative feelings towards me, it has never had anything to do with me. Their feelings and behaviour have come from a place of upset within themselves. I now realize that my XH’s behaviour had nothing to do with me. He would have treated anyone that way and I suspect still does ( no contact, so no knowledge). This has lightened the baggage from my marriage tremendously in my life. I don’t feel badly anymore about what happened. It was someone else’s pathology, not mine. I have learned that I’m a worthwhile person and hope that all chumps out there come to feel that way about themselves too. We don’t need revenge, we need to “gain a life.”

  • My X wanted me back nine months later – but I had already moved on and didn’t want to go through that kind of pain again. X subsequently went through two horrific, failed marriages (including abuse). I, on the other hand, have spent the last 40+ years with the love of my life! (Hence, the “Pumped” part of my name.)

    To this day, I have feelings for my X and would not want harm to come to her – but I have to feel that she got her “just desserts.” They say, “Karma is a bitch…” but that doesn’t mean YOU have to be.

  • Chumped&Pumped , your story parallels mine. We separated when she wouldn’t drop her AP , and I puffed on that hopium pipe for about 6 months. Then came meh… just out of the blue , I just didn’t care anymore. We divorced , and sitting outside the courtroom just prior to the proceedings I told her if she dismissed the divorce , we could seek counseling as I was sure whatever problems we had could be fixed. It would be hard work , but it could be done. I also said if she let it go , I was permanently out of reach. I’d move on , find another and start over. I don’t think she thought I was as serious. She let it go , and I met her in the hallway afterwards , took her hand , looked into those beautiful blue eyes , and simply said ” Have a good life ” , I turned and walked away and didn’t look back. Two weeks later I get a knock on the door , and there she is , all weepy eyed , and proceeds to tell me I was the best friend she ever had.
    Hardest decision of my life but one I do not regret. I simply said “No fucking way , get back in your car and go back to where you came from.” I had to be hard nosed to assure her of my resolve. It was OVER.
    She left , later married her affair partner , who left her for another woman some 4 years later. Karma does exist. I found another , a gem , and we’ve weathered rough times but never infidelity on either part. We’ve been together for over 36 years with no end in sight. My ex was married 3 times , 2 divorces , widowed by third ( but they were on the way to divorce when he passed). We had two children who I got custody of and they keep me abreast of her trainwreck of a life. Not that I care , but I somehow can’t help but feel sorry for her inability to maintain a real relationship . They’ve all been relationships of convenience , friends with benefits type of relationships. I would say she could clinically be described as a narcissistic sociopath. They will never ever change. And I have all I ever wanted , a loving wife , the respect of my kids , and a home , grandchildren and great contentment. No regrets.

  • Geden,

    Thanks for writing this. Your resolve sounds like the leader I had for my Divorce Care group. He divorced DP and has been leading DC groups for over 20 years EVERY week. What a gem.

    I was in hopium while attending the weekly meetings but now ‘get it’ and the beauty of NC.

    It means a lot to me that you respond here despite the fact that cheating is in the long distant past for you.
    Your ‘service’ is appreciated.

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