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Are ‘Emotional Friendships’ with Other Women Cheating?

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Dear Chump Lady,

I’m eternally grateful to my friends for directing me to your site, even though it complicates most of the advice I’ve been hearing about my marriage.

Here’s my situation: I’ve been married to John for 9 years. We have an infant son. About four months ago, John told me he and one of his teammates from softball were developing feelings for each other and had essentially spent the last two weeks in an emotional affair.

Shocked but fighty, I said he could take that moment to choose between her and his family, and if he chose his family, he was going to have to walk the walk.

As part of choosing us, he agreed to immediate and complete no-contact with the OW. He quit the softball team and doesn’t speak with their mutual friends. He gave me all his electronics and agreed to have a professional search his phone so I could see any deleted data. It’s been five months, he’s been strict with the no contact (I hired a PI… not too trusting), and he seems to be deeply reinvesting.

At times, it seems obvious that our marriage has a future. I know no one is perfect, he did confess very early, the phone search seems to confirm a lack of physical intimacy. He’s being really great now.

I think I really can get past the pain if he’s just an idiot who played with fire, let it get out of hand, and had to run back to his real life with his tail between his legs. However, there’s a sticking point. Although electronic records confirm the sexual texting with OW was only happening for about two weeks before D-day, they also show he’d sent this woman non-sexual text messages almost daily for the prior 8 months.

My husband is notorious for never remembering to reply to his friends, and his text ignoring has been a major issue in our marriage. I hate that for those 8 months, I wouldn’t get what time he’d be home for supper, but she’d get funny stories and thoughtful news items.

And then some history: there have been two other times in our marriage where he had friendships with women that made me uncomfortable. In both cases he reassured me and also completely cut off contact with the women in question. I was left doubting if there had been a real issue.

So now, what do I do with someone who has never truly cheated and will demonstrably toss all other women out the window when our marriage is threatened, but who has routinely spent time and energy on emotional *friendships* with women, and whose curiosity: boundary ratio is exhausting for me at best?

Yours,

Not Too Harsh in Colorado

Dear Colorado,

Don’t you have an infant to be exhausted by? Do you really need to be chasing your husband’s wandering dick friendships too? (Is there a way to child-proof that? Velcro tethers? Socket-plugs? Monitors?)

Big step back, Colorado. This is a pattern. While purportedly committed to you, he pursues other women. That’s where he invests his time. (And finds more time for softball too!) When busted, he promises to end it. Finds a new Schmoopie. Rinse. Repeat.

Google the abuse cycle. You’re living it.

But, but! Emotional affair!

You’re doing the pick-me dance for your husband’s attention. You’ve temporarily won the turd. Whether he consummates his affairs or not doesn’t lessen the toxic power dynamic here. He “invests” in you. You have deep sunk costs — a marriage and a baby — and he gambles that. Repeatedly. Essentially threatening abandonment and never letting you feel secure in your attachment to him, or his commitment to your shared life.

Enter private investigator, stage right.

Marriage policing is what frightened people do. It’s trying to control the uncontrollable. Trust But Verify is what foreign nations frenemies do to each other. This is fine when we’re dealing with copyright piracy or Soviet spies. It’s not okay between partners.

I’m not snoop judging you — chump’s gotta do what a chump’s gotta do. I’m saying — IS THIS HOW YOU WANT TO LIVE?

Well, obviously NO, Tracy. He’s being “really great” now!

Yeah. How’s that been working for you?

You can invest in his potential to be a grown-up loving partner — and our evidence of that is what? His dick is tethered to a bedpost? Someone took his Twitter away? He’s being nice to you? — or you can invest in yourself.

Examine what ties you to him and if you really need it that bad.

Fact is, this guy’s character is A-okay checking out on his young, vulnerable new-mom wife. That’s a shit stain that is very hard to rinse.

My husband is notorious for never remembering to reply to his friends, and his text ignoring has been a major issue in our marriage.

Red flag. Ignoring texts, dark periods of off the grid — CN, raise your hand if your cheater’s cell phone dropped in the craziest places.

Also, it’s a dynamic of You’re Not the Boss of Me. Lack of accountability is as delightful in friendships as it is in marriages.

agreed to have a professional search his phone so I could see any deleted data

For the phone you know about. This is a very easy work around. Ask a few thousand people here how they know.

YOU’RE SO GLOOMY, CHUMP LADY!

Bad character is what it looks like. You’re asking a unicorn-skeptic if you have a unicorn.

No, I don’t think you do. That’s as un-harsh as I can be.

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • “I must have left my phone in the crapper.”
    Actual excuse used by cheating ex when he was working out of town to explain not answering texts for 4 or 5 hours in the evening.

    • “My phone died,” said my ex who carried a portable charger with him all the time.

      Another good one was “I didn’t have cell service” when he was supposedly in an area with fine cell service.

      • I have experience of this. My ex supposedly never cheated physically. Unfortunately the emotional affairs kept coming. I realised that it was actually way more than just a need for something outside of the relationship but actually a rather clever control strategy.

        He won’t stop. Eventually it will go further and you will be blindsided because you have grown used to him conducting these weird little “friendships” with extras.

        Jump.

    • “Go ahead, check my computer!” Yep, he borrowed another from work and hid it in the basement. I would have never thought I’d be here after 28 years. please protect yourself and your little one, hugs!

      • My husband doesn’t have a computer he doesn’t have a cell phone either , he’s not very good with cell phones he says But he seems to be able to use other people phones just find So no checking up on him that way ,

  • Colorado, I’m so sorry. He has another phone. He is communicating through gaming apps. He can conmunicate in various in-line communities. You are not physically capable of screening all the ways he can illicitly communicate with his AP. He won’t stop. Ask me how I know?

    You only create a more proficient cheater with marriage policing. Cheaters live for duper’s delight, the furtive secretive thrill of fooling another. You are a new mother. You could be reveling in the joy of a new baby. But because of him you are screening his phone, doubting his word, second guessing every word.

    He told you it was an emotional affair. Nope, it was an affair. There is no lesser no-harm, no-foul affair. He chose to abandon his marriage when his pregnant wife needed him more than ever.

    My STBX used to claim he had left the phone in the truck. He could answer my texts THE PHONE WAS IN THE TRUCK. Right. At all other times that phone was glued to his hand. He would clutch it while sleeping. He was cheating and my texts and phone calls no doubt put him off his stroke.

    You don’t have anything to work with here. I deeply regret not leaving the first time I knew he cheated. I could have saved myself the pain of multiple affairs over decades. Saved myself the humiliation of discovering he gave me an STI. Saved myself from the abuse that is adultery. You can do that. You can save yourself.

    • Anything that people need to hide is an affair, by definition.

      Don’t matter if it’s water polo, why u hiding it Jack..?

      • Exactly. Ugh I remember combing my ex whores phone records, paying for phone number info on reverse phone number lookup sites etc etc..as hard as the breakup was and her leaving, living that life was a nightmare in comparison.

      • Sooo true. My ex had many “gal pals” through the years. I stifled my healthy jealousy through the years, telling myself that he worked in a female dominated profession, so of course his work friends were female. It turns out, my passive-aggressive ex was just waiting for the one gal pal who made the first move, then he was happy to fall into her arms. Listen to your jealousy meter.

    • Hi CN, it’s Colorado.

      I can’t figure out how to post a comment on the main thread so I am replying here… somebody let CL know I’m commenting, I know she requests it if she publishes our letters!!

      Ughhhhh, thank you for the comments back to this. Does anyone else hit a brick wall where the issue is that they just DO trust their partner though? Like I just don’t think he has a burner phone. I intellectually realize he might but I don’t believe it. But I guess I do partly believe it because as CL says… PI, “frenemy nations”. God. Got to love not even knowing what my own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are.
      Love you CN

      • Yes, I did trust him. Even when his phone blacked out at various times during wreckonciliation. I rationalized the trust so very confidently in a number of different ways. 99.99%

        It’s not even whether he is currently continuing on an affair of any kind in other ways or not though. When I read the first part of your letter, I was thinking “great, he did the right thing—” Maybe he was a good guy coming clean by discussing it with you and cutting all ties in hopes of building a great marriage from there on forward. —- But then the history—- and the disrespect of no response to many times—- That says it all. And the lack of you feeling emotionally solid with him.

        My final thought before filing for divorce, after a few months of taking it all in, was the realization that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering. It just wasn’t going to work for me. It wasn’t the cheating or the lies anymore. In the end, I just didn’t want to always wonder. Hence, my screen name: Wonder No More.

        • If it helps: coming clean, discussing it, being heartbroken, promising (and pulling through) were all things my “good guy cheater” did….THE FIRST TIME.

          He claimed a “friendship” had gotten too close and “scared” him, so he was supposed to cut all contact (he didnt). Then he got busted again. Then he just kept chasing other new, different women, started going out with them behind my back, even lied about going to a wedding, where he went alone!!

          These things escalate. When you have a pattern, Colorado, you have PROOF that they won’t change anytime soon, generally never. Now i would bolt the first time, not even wait for a a pattern, because i know better.

      • Colorado- it’s called cognitive dissonance. Your brain believes two things to be true at the same time. He cheated, yet he’s trustworthy.
        The real truth, that we all know, is he is not trustworthy.
        Believe me. I would have believed a purple penguin did the waltz in my living room before I ever would have thought my ex was a cheater. But he was.

        • I’d think the third time he went for an emotional attachment to another woman would prove, at the least, that he’s a sneak and a liar.

        • I found his phone deeply hidden in his car wheel well after coming upon him and seeing a look that sent warning meters off. I would NEVER have thought he would have a secret phone let alone a secret life after 30 yr married. Ugh. Run. He is lying. Good luck getting to the point you can believe it. I know it is very difficult.

          He stayed in denial until I finally left. Actually not sure he ever came out of it. I divorced him and am now so happy to be rid of the policing and gaslighting.

      • I also did not (want to) believe that my exH had a burner phone after I caught him in an affair. He was sobbing in marriage counseling! He was recommitted to the marriage! He was begging me for a second chance!

        Spoiler alert: Totally had a burner phone. Totally never ended the affair. Totally was banging his coworker right after bawling his eyes out in counseling.

        Many of us have been right where you are, wondering if we had the unicorn. Nobody does.

      • First, ((hugs)). Second, I was like you with OW#1, the “she’s just a friend” emotional affair. Lies, lies, gaslighting, blameshifting, hostility, and finally he admitted it. He had no problem lying and then staying he had to lie because I couldn’t handle the truth. I pick me danced and won that turd, if only because the OW was a cockroach who scampered away the moment I challenged her. What a delight for him to have 2 women fight over him! I was humiliated.

        9 years later he abandoned me completely, by e-mail, for OW#2. And blamed me for it.

        Every single day in between I trusted him, and every single day he was lying. We had “been through so much” that I just knew he would never do anything to harm us again. I was wrong because he was lying. Simple as that.

        He spent so much energy invested in other people, especially women he worked with. He ignored me and spent hours and hours with them, exchanging little quotes of the day and funny stories. I was just the Appliance at home raising his daughters. He loved the attention of other women and could paint me as crazy if I challenged him. “She is just friend.”

        In the end he left with one of the work women who latched on. She is 26 to his 51.

        I understand if you want to make a go of it and want to give him just one more chance. I have been there. Sadly I guarantee he will be back to doing this schtick of charming the ladies and will build a resentment toward you for being the police. His entitlement will grow and in the end he will tell you it is your fault. Eventually he will find a woman who is willing to set a match to your family along with him and they will talk about how awful you are and mock you behind your back as they make plans to skip off to happiness.

        If you want to live that life for a while you can do so but please line up your ducks by making sure you understand all of the household finances, have copies of all vital records and precious baby photos secured somewhere out of the house, and have some skill to support you and your child in the future.

        This sort of behavior from him is not going to get better, it only gets worse. He has you right where he needs you to be with his plausible deniability and sunk cost fallacy.

        In the end he will leave you and blame you for it.

        • I should add- I was married 28 years. It never gets better, there is no safe numbered anniversary that assumes they are finally over their wandering. It actually gets worse with their receding hairlines and expanding midsections. There are so many Chumps here who had DECADES of this crap wishing it would get better. So much invested, so much stolen.

          • Exactly, NowI.C.! It doesn’t get better with cheaters. It only gets worse.

            Everything he is doing is testing your boundaries of just how far can he go and get away with it. Each time he’ll push further and further. Ask me how I know.

            Don’t model this for your new child. Show your child what healthy boundaries mean and that you must always respect yourself in any relationship.

            Not to mention, he’ll probably drain the joint bank accounts and then skip town leaving you with nothing if you stay.

            • You are right Marissachump. They are like little children always testing boundaries to see how much they can get away with. The more you tolerate the more they keep pushing those boundaries to get what they want.

              It is NOT okay for your spouse to text other women. Daily. That’s bullshit. Shut that shit down.

          • Exactly. It doesn’t get better or easier – but, it can feel less painful, slightly, because you do end up sanding down your own boundaries, your individuality and your expectations for an honest, loyal, trustworthy partner. Beware of the slow disintegration from the inside. I walked away a shell of my former strong creative self after taking my x back for another round of years after his first affair.

            Also, I’m so sorry that this is happening in your life. He’s effectively altering the way you’ll remember your son’s infancy. Which is terrible. Take good care of yourself and respect yourself and your son above your husband. He’s sure not showing you or his son your deserved respect, unfortunately.

            • Yes what an amazing time this should be building memories of the beginning of parenthood, the love, commitment and togetherness. None of that is here.

            • Honestly. I’m probably not the best person to say something, because I’m still stuck in my own shit with a cheating husband. I’m trying to get out. It’s a long process. One thing I can say, is on the empty shell you end up. I am there. I used to be so happy, so free, so loving, trusting. He broke me, long time ago, little by little, I have myself to blame. Don’t let that happen to you. It’s a horrible place to be in, and to build yourself again…it’s going to be a long road. I miss my old self.
              Being so empty walking around like a zombie, is no fun. Don’t let anyone destroy you, like I did. Try and be strong, stand your ground. I was like a tower build of stone, now I’m chopped away and crumbling. Save yourself from that. It’s really not worth it.
              Hugs!!!!

              • Dude. No.

                I will not victim blame you because I know how bad and dark it is. But I will say that you can’t be a doormat if you don’t lie down. Stand back up. Go take a shower. Right now. Luxuriate in it. Do your hair. Put on make up. Look at yourself and play a different tape than you’ve been playing. You are a beautiful, capable, good person. You are worthy of love and will actively work on loving yourself again. I know this to be your true desire because you are here. Do Not own his crap. His choices do not define you but reveal his true character. Stop living to gain his approval. You don’t need it. And he’s not really paying attention to anybody but himself anyway. Stand. Up. Be.

        • Get a post-nuptial agreement if you stay. Spell out what you want and what you GET if he has another affair of any sort. You want full custody. He gets visitation. You get the house of the bulk of the equity. He pays max child support directly through the state.You get Christmas night and morning with your kiddo. He gets Christmas afternoon. You get 1/2 the cash, 1/2 of other assets. And so on.

          • Yes yes yes. Colorado, do this at a minimum. It protects you and your son, your future, your worry AND it wil show his true colirs whatever they may be. Do this. You’ll be so happy you did and I’d just be so proud of you for hearing all this advice and being able to take it in and did something logical in the midst of all the emotion. Don’t just think 50/50 either; think 100% of things and if necessary negotiate down from 100%, never up from 50%.

        • Absolutely! I dont have the experience of him leaving, but only because we were a decade into this mess.
          By all the stories and research I did, I am positive he would have left cold, and not before doing something horrible during a pregnancy, if there ever would be one.

          It’s not just a Pattern, it’s a Script, which is how terrorists operate.

      • I totally understand this. But if you did trust that everything he’s saying *now* is honest then why the PI and forensics on his phone? Part of your brain is telling you not to trust this guy, that his story is suspect.

        After catching my amazingly loving and attentive husband sexting/flirting on Facebook messenger I believed him when he said that’s all it was – a flirtation because he was having a ton of anxiety etc. I really believed him because it was clear he was head over heels for me and totally committed. He was apologetic etc.

        Well, 18 months later I found out that the entire duration of our 2 year marriage he was seeing escorts, massage parlors, on hook up sites, hitting on co-workers, consuming massive amounts of porn and about 20k in debt over all of it. During these 18 months, he was still acting very much in love and very committed.

        And yeah, my ex couldn’t be bothered to return a text to me because as I later found out he was at a massage parlor or sexting or at a hotel with an escort. Hell, he even ignored my texts one day because he’d posted something cute about himself on fb and was reveling in the likes and comments.

        Narcissistic and selfish.

        They may know they did something wrong and they may feel badly and vow to never do it again but it’s irresistible to them. They can both be compelled to cheat and their version of *in love* and committed to us at the same time. It’s easy for them.

        I remember old relationships in which I never worried, didn’t feel the need to snoop, didn’t have anxiety when the guy was on a business trip – it is possible to be in a relationship without constant fears and needing to surveil the person. We don’t have to live this way.

      • Hi Colorado–I understand that you feel like this isn’t perhaps divorce-worthy behavior at the moment, especially with the new baby. Hugs to you in this terribly difficult situation.

        I would say that apart from whether he does/doesn’t have a burner phone, or whether he has gone further with these women in the past…what, looking forward, is going to be one straw too many for YOU?

        If I were you, I would perhaps consider telling him that one more toe out of line will result in the end. One more female friendship (since he can’t handle them), one more instance of not handing over his phone, one more unanswered text (unless he has an emergency room receipt to go with it)…..let him know that it will result not in marriage counseling, not in professional phone analysis, but in divorce. This is due to the pattern. It gives him all the chances in the world to NOT step out of line, because emotional affairs (like all affairs) are a conscious choice. All he has to do is NOT be an asshole, and everything will be fine.

        I am also a big believer in the theory that marriage policing leads to a more subversive cheating spouse. But I know that your sunk costs and perhaps a little bit of denial about his patterns might make you want to stick it out. I get that. Just please be careful, and remember that what they disclose to you is often only the tip of the iceberg. I know you don’t want to overreact or leave a marriage on what you might see as scant evidence…but allow yourself to be skeptical at all turns.

        **This message is brought to you by a chump whose spouse had several suspicious female friendships over the years, that I ignored….and I knew of the AP for over a year as *just a friend* then *just a friend that likes to say I Love You to all her friends* Then I accidentally saw the sex photos, and he ended up being secretly engaged to AP before our divorce was close to final. They only disclose the tip of the iceberg.

      • Colorado, I feel for you. I lurked here for months and just posted for the first time yesterday. I, too, have a new baby with cheater. I, too, took him at his word when he said things were innocent between he and female friends or when he said he was going to stop an activity that was creating tension in our relationship (part of our wreckonciliation after Dday). His disappearing acts and utter disrespect (not responding to texts from the woman he loves who is carrying/delivered his child) were a constant battle. I didn’t have the proof you have in front of you. I longed for it so I could feel that I was making the right decision in finally walking away. Ultimately, it was a new playlist of music he put together that was the silver bullet. It was Father’s Day weekend, he was making a big dinner and said, ah, let me put my new playlist on. (When did he have time to do that – he hadn’t mentioned it…) And in that moment, I looked at him and thought “it will never be just him and I. I will never feel like there is not some other energy.” At the time, he was not affectionate at all and had no physical interest in me. He wouldn’t even lay next to me in bed. I was done in – that playlist was made with/for someone else. Saying that outside of this community would make me sound like a lunatic, but Chump Nation gets it.

        It has been a challenging and painful few months, especially seeing the patterns of behavior and the times when in our chumpiness, we give them the benefit of the doubt, when you see in hindsight, THEY WERE LYING! Cheater insists on video chatting with the baby, but is unavailable on the weekends to do so because he “deserves to live his life now that I’ve walked away from our family”. Cheater calls from his car during his commute because he’s going to turn in early (on business in New Orleans!!! Yeah, right.) Cheater calls visibly drunk and sends me abusive messages that there is something wrong with me when I hang up. It’s infuriating, gaslighting bullshit and makes me realize all the times I trusted him – because he asked me to – and he was lying.

        I will say this – as hard as it has been, the peace of mind I have regained is invaluable and if I could go back, I would have walked away so long ago and spent all of that time investing my energy in my baby and myself. These are energy vampires we are dealing with – they crave attention and go looking for it. New moms delve deep and find reserves of energy beyond the depths of what we thought we were capable of and they are there to take from us! At the same time, they resent that your focus is not on them and they are going to make you pay.

        One last thing – don’t discount the fact that someone will stick around because they want to avoid paying child support. They may seem newly rededicated to the family, but you have to ask – are they really looking out for themselves. I followed my instincts and they proved that I was right and being used. Today’s post reaffirmed that for me. I didn’t have the receipts as you do. You need to make the decision that is best for you and we are here to support you and have your back. It is complex, not black and white and just a terrible situation to be put in. You are a strong, capable, worthy and deserving person.

        • I’m as positive as I can be that my cheater does not have another phone and does not communicate with his ex-mistress. He has apologized endlessly and is trying to make amends. He does therapy. So sure, I trust he’s not up to anything right now. Do I trust he’ll never cheat again? I do not. He’s a fraud and a liar. He enjoyed duping me, knew he was hurting me and didn’t stop. He wanted power imbalance due to his personal insecurity and misogynistic hostility. So I dumped him. After 32 years together, it was hard, but not as hard as playing marriage police the rest of my life and living with constant dread and anxiety.

          Ask yourself not if you trust he’s not cheating right now, but do you trust that his pattern won’t repeat.
          Unless he gets a shit ton of therapy and really works on himself, the strong odds are it will. As for him being really great right now, Google intermittent reinforcement. It’s a tactic abusers use to keep you hooked and it’s part of the cycle of abuse CL mentioned.

      • Hon, even if actual sex wasn’t involved, do you want to be forced to be the affair police when you should be enjoying that tiny bundle of joy. Even if you can’t leave right now, you can detach. Focus your attention on the baby and yourself. Fuck him. Let him get his ego and dick stroked elsewhere. It is not a spouse’s job to make the other spouse be loyal. You will waste so much time and energy being the affair police instead of living and enjoying life. Right now you are just surviving in your marriage when you should be thriving as a wife and new mother. Today, stop the madness. Today, make your life thriving. And anyone that can’t keep up, or who holds you back from that, cut them loose.

      • Dear Colorado, my husband had an emotional affair- saw the pain he caused, promised if he felt that way again he would leave or tell me. 3 years later and I have found out about an affair. If CN could save one person the pain by getting out now even though you “hope” he changes we would.

        If he is capable of lying, deceit, investing in another person – it’s a sign to RUN! Please run!!!

      • I trusted mine – he left his high paying job to get an education to become a minister!!!

        I trusted, spackled and danced pretty for 10 years. I just could not imagine that My Husband would be that guy!

        I thought he was having a mid life crisis. Or a brain tumour. I felt sorry for him!!!

        I became a person I did not even recognize.
        The kids were NOT better off in their in-tact family.

        I kept ignoring my gut. I mad my needs so very very small.

        When he found his Soul Mate Tru Lurv he blew up our lives.

        Run from this man child!!!

      • Whether or not he has a burner phone or is continuing to communicate some other way with Schmoopie is irrelevant.

        He has a history of putting his desires above your needs.

        Forgets to text you back for hours – TOTAL B.S. He DID NOT forget, YOU JUST DON’T MATTER THAT MUCH to him. Let that sink in for a minute. He proved that he is not forgetful, because he responded to Schmoopie pretty quickly and sent her thoughtful texts and articles- but he can’t be bothered to let you know when he will be home for dinner? Come on now.

        Many cheaters and narcissists are very good at making people believe that they are bumbling, forgetful but lovable people. The harsh truth is they are neither bumbling or forgetful, they are manipulative.

        He confessed and that’s great, right? Well, not when he has a history of emotional affairs, and has no desire to change the behavior that led up to those affairs. What he is doing now, that is not real change. He is simply doing image management, and what I call get-aheading. Chances are he only told you about THIS emotional affair because either the OW was about tell you, or you were about to find out some other way. He didn’t tell you about the other 2, did he? No, you listened to your instinct about them.

        If he hadn’t told you about this one, then what would have happened? It is a thin line between an emotional affair and a physical one, and it only takes opportunity to cross that threshold. Emotional affairs make it easier to justify crossing boundaries. Emotional affairs are just as bad as physical ones, because they are among other things, a breach of trust, a breach of marital vows/promises to be exclusive, and most importantly, the spouse/SO involved in the affair takes precious love, attention and emotional intimacy away from their partner and instead of investing in their relationship, they give it to the affair partner. You were robbed of what is rightfully yours.

        This man put his marriage and family at risk for a fling, he put his selfish desires above his wife and infant child. He needed to be there for both of you and he wasn’t because he wasn’t happy/his needs weren’t being met/you ignored his needs/ or whatever excuse he gave.

        It is up to you to proceed. My suggestion is for you to follow Tracey’s list on “Is it real remorse, or Ginuwine Naugahyde remorse.” Do everything on that list, including getting a post nup- no it does not mean you will get divorced, but it will let him know you are serious, you can tell by his reaction if he really wants to change, and it will make things easier should you decide to divorce.

        Counseling is a must, for both of you.

        Good luck and let us know what happens. We are here if you need us.

        • Many cheaters and narcissists are very good at making people believe that they are bumbling, forgetful but lovable people – THIS.

          Mine said when I found out he was not overnight where he said he was that he slept on the sofa fully clothed and it was just ‘producers looking after calamitous directors’. They lie all the way, mine lies constantly for over a year and a half and when I thought things were off and mentioned it he told me some reasons why I had always made him feel bad but he stayed for love and all the good that outweighs the bad. They will say ANYTHING. Had it been the first time I MIGHT have said give it a go for the immediate confession but I would go. Actually I would get that pre-nup worked on first on the premise that if he is truly sorry he will see that with a young child you need to secure your position and I bet he doesn’t want to.

          • DoddersGetsChumped,

            Same description jumped out at me. His response when asked why he wasn’t honest in the beginning was that, ‘I was confused’.

            Said in, what I now know is, classic TFC fashion.

            I am no longer fooled by those plays now that I know what to look for thanks to CL and CN.

            Just this morning my son did a blameshift on me. I caught it. Knew not to react vocally although I wanted to. So nice to know that what I learn here is applicable in many other situations.

            Feels good to be able to see the moves now.

            Bloody hell getting here though. 🙂

          • This, too. They change the story when caught. “Oh, oh I forgot .. I must have been mixed up… you confused me… that’s not what I said…. I’m tired from work/dealing with you/kids… ”

            When I began to suspect that cheater mccheaterson was cheating on me again, I told him a little lie, to confirm if I was right. He told me some story about how power line fell on the car and that is why he was late picking me up from work and why he had been out of the house all day. Also why he just HAD to spend $250 (we were broke we needed that money for bills) on a new car stereo.

            I knew then that he was cheating on me again, because when he did the first time, he lied about stupid sh*t and made up these elaborate stories. My lie? I told him that I didn’t believe him (not a lie), because if that had really happened, if a power line fell on the car while he was in it, he most likely would have been electrocuted (not sure about that but he was kinda stupid), there would have been a power outage (not a lie) and that the electric company would have notified all the utility companies in the area (not a lie) and I would have been notified (lie, because although I worked for the gas company at the time, I worked in collections of delinquent accounts, so last to know if at all).

            He changed that story 3 or 4 times before I finally decided to tell a little lie.

            He cracked. He had nowhere else to go with that story. He knew it, too. Then, of course, when he couldn’t lie anymore, the blame shifting began.

            Colorado, if you are still reading this thread, be aware of this behavior. Ask him multiple times to repeat details to you. WHEN he falters or alters something, grab a hold of that and don’t let go. You will see then what he really is.

      • I didn’t think mine H would ever cheat on because of the way his dad cheated in his mother…well he did. I trusted him. Found out the affair went on for three years and yes he had a burner phone. I was the crazy bitch and the girlfriend was wonderful .. i was controlling and demanding – don’t know how because he was long haul truck driver. All i did was control everything at home. Go with your gut feeling. I wish I had earlier instead of being made the fool for three years. Best of luck to you Colorado.

        • Mine’s mother cheated on his dad, left and broke up the family and this was all the more reason he hated his physically abusive mother. So i thought he wouldnt cheat. Wrong. Not only is he like his mother in many ways, he has a thing for women who are the spitting image of his mother. It chills me to the bone I ever slept with him, so disgusting.

      • There’s a term for this. I can’t remember and Google didn’t help right now but it’s the opposite of confirmation bias. Basically you can’t imagine someone doing certain bad things because you would never do them (or even think of them) yourself. My X had PO Boxes, payday loans, participated in depositions that I had NO IDEA about. In my wildest dreams (nightmares) I couldn’t have thought up the stuff he was up to. After our first separation kid swap my kids came home telling me dad had a bunch of old phones they could play with. Like 7. That appeared within 2 weeks of him moving out.
        Colorado, I know where you are ’cause I was there myself. I discovered my husband’s at a pre-natal appointment for my 3rd pregnancy. It started as a wanted, joyful pregnancy cause I thought things were great. Happy marriage, devoted husband, cute kids. Some poor nurse had to tell me I had HPV (the cancerous kind) and Chlamydia. Dealing with the prospect of a cheater and an infant is terrifying and hard. I actually love the advice Mr. CL once gave: “You can work out exactly who he is later, what is evident right now is that his actions are harming you.” Marriage policing while dealing with a newborn is a psychological torture I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. If he’s all in, separate for a time and let him prove his unicorn status. I know I couldn’t face the prospect of divorce with a newborn and two young children so telling myself it was just a separation was the nudge I needed to do SOMETHING. Wish I’d have done it sooner.

      • Hey Colorado…. my STBX was computer, cell, internet illiterate, truly. But after I found out about the affair and his whore found out I knew, guess who helped him secure a burner? Whore was tech savvy, this wasn’t her first rodeo and she was all too happy to help. He kept the burner at work in his locker and I was none the wiser.

        Enter 4 years marriage police, some here have invested so much more. It was a crazy time, for me, not for him, he still had the whore. I pain shopped daily, it never left my thoughts and I always wondered. Why is he late from work, what store did he stop at, why is work calling? Unless you’re super human and have mind control powers, you’ll never forget.

        Everyone here will help you, will help you understand the years they invested. A majority had the ending of nightmares, and there may be people out there that actually had a unicorn (a spouse who only cheated once). This doesn’t change you. Your brain, your thoughts and feelings. CL is right, is this what you want for you? Your baby? Although he had consistently made this about him, with his selfish narcissistic behavior, what do you want?

        Please be kind to yourself, he should not even come into the equation when considering your mental health and self care. He didn’t think about those things when he was doing what he was doing. Take care and come here as often as necessary. There is also a Reddit forum. We are here to listen and help. Always!

      • My only advice is to trust your gut. You are feeling uneasy for reason. It all comes down trusting that voice that is telling you something is not right.

        • Amen Neverknew!
          I felt uneasy my entire marriage, heck even before my marriage but I kept making up stories to explain how it was my issue or that he was acting this or that way because of work stress. Nope. Cheating the entire marriage.

          Feeling uneasy and like you can’t trust someone is all you need to know.

      • I would’ve bet $1 million that my now exH never cheated on on me. That’s how much I believed in him and trusted our love for each other… until he and everyone we knew told me that he’d cheated on me about 1,000x over our 17 yrs together. They train you and gaslight you and manipulate you until they have you convinced that black is white and vice versa. Only when you get away from them, go no contact for a healthy period of time, and process the abuse through therapy or some other method is possible to regain the ability to see their true nature clearly.

      • Giant (((HUGS))). It’s your relationship and ultimately you decide if you stay or not. This is a great site and blog for *leaving* a cheater and moving on with your life. You may stay and eventually be happy. There are a number of FB groups for after the affair that have contributors and left their Cheaters and others that stayed.

        My best friend is in my guest room right now debating if her husbands emotional affairs were acceptable to her or not. I can see on her face she’s in hell. But she has so much invested. Years. An organization. A community in commons. Plus – the pressure to make a native relationship ‘work’.

        We’re seeing the few paragraphs of probably some of the worst bull shits he’s flung at you. And it’s not pretty. Sounds like crap to me. We are all likely to see our cheater in there somewhere. It’s totally up to you if you want to give a go at trusting him. If you keep coming back to this site it’s likely 1) you don’t actually trust him and need a little time and a LOT of support to finally leave 2) you’ll have a hard time moving on because you are not going to hear tips for reconciliation here – just more story of doubt and destruction.

        If you‘ve decided to trust him and the current relationship is acceptable to you there are other support resources such as marriage counciling and ‘after the affair’ online support groups.

        * we are not a group of psychics. We dont *know* that he has another phone.

        ** the last thing you said, ‘nothing like not even trusting your own thoughts and feelings’ – sounds like the definition of gaslighting

      • Hi Colorado, it’s great that you’ve found CN but it’s awful that you’ve had to. I’m so sorry for what your going thru. Your husband sounds very much like mine. Is he very needy for affection? Mine cheated through 9 of our 12 years together. Unfortunately when the pattern of going to others to get their emotional needs met is established it’s very hard for them to change. I know you want to believe him but take it from me, there’s probably a whole lot more you don’t know about. I so wanted to believe my cheater too, he is so unlike most of the narc cheaters described here. But then I looked up covert narcissists & discovered who he is. They are able to wear that good guy innocence like it’s a second skin. When you realise he’s got a whole other side that you never see, it will be heartbreaking & a mother of all mindfucks. It’s really hard but unfortunately you will probably go through a couple more d-days before you realise that you deserve better than what he can give. It sucks it really does. It’s going to hurt like a motherfucker but gather your support network around you & youll be ok.

      • Yes. This was me. I obstinately trusted my ex. I believed everything he said about the emotional affairs (how they were always instigated by the woman and how he felt neglected by me) and believed that my feelings were unjustified.

        However I don’t blame myself really, I couldn’t have known it would become a patten and I don’t want to be the partner who polices her other half.

        What I do regret is ignoring the elephant in the room. The one time I knew for sure it was him escalating the friendship I forgave him, told myself it was a one off mistake and just a friendship that got too close.

        I realise now that that was always his endgame. He likes to triangulate and having other women around willing to be there in that capacity gave him a massive buzz. He didn’t care one iota how it made me feel while it was going on and that should have been enough for self preservation to kick in.

        I ended up paranoid and full of self doubt because I didn’t listen to my better judgement.

      • You don’t believe or you don’t want to believe?

        My “family minded, conservative” ex had a burner phone and communicated through twitter mail. He didn’t give me access but knew I was studying the phone bills. The burner phone was to communicate within the hospital where the reception was worse with t-mobile. ..

        The big red flag to me was your husband handing over the phone for you to check out. Classic decoy distraction move.

        As a noninterested 3rd party, I smell a rat.

      • Hi Colorado. I am also a fellow Coloradoan, which I affectionately have labeled God’s Backyard 😋 I have been reading CL for 6 years.
        It starts w an emotional affair….pushing the boundaries…they just don’t choose you, keep you on your toes, have a fear of missing out and always looking around the corner…
        Mine, while we were dating, also told me he had a crush on a girl then asked me if they could be friends. I said no, and cut him off so he could be with her. Should have left it there and moved on permanently. 3 months later, his whirlwind affair ended badly and he came back to me, which I stupidly thought he learned his lesson the first time, (that I know of…found out about many others after final divorce…and yes, they fucked.)
        4 years later, married with toddler, and I found another one that ended in divorce.
        IT STARTS WITH AN EMOTIONAL AFFAIR.
        Trust me when I tell you that it’s exponentially better being a single mom, than being paranoid with self esteem dwindling. Just as you begin to trust them again, and let your guard down, they’re at it again. I’m not the jealous type, never been and wasn’t about to make him give me all his passwords, end all his female friendships and look through his phone. I wasn’t HIS mommy.
        I thought that since he was honest about having close female friendships, or admitting his crush, it meant he was sincere about saving our family or being trustworthy again…nope…sorry lady. No such thing as an honest cheat.
        Take the last of your self respect and kick his ass to the curb! I promise, in time, you will rejoice that you did and you will be more than ok! 💜

        • I might also add, emotional affair my ass! Guaranteed they slept together and he feels guilty about it; either because the bedroom sparks weren’t actually there, or, he stuck his dick in crazy, and needed to cut her off; but only told you it was an emotional affair, so that he could still have female friends, and also eat cake. No such thing as an honest cheat.

      • Colorado,

        I was particularly interested in your letter and story. My H had an intense 2 month emotional affair before admitting it. The way he admitted it was cowardly and abusive, however, that is another thread to my story. But the strong emotional connection did not begin with that one email or interaction. They both primed the pump, played with fire for a few months before admitting their feelings for each other. The emotional affair then really began long before they admitted feelings.

        Understand that sexual or not, he shared intimacy with this woman and not you. Your concern about the texts are only an illustration of this. He was intimate with her INSTEAD of you, sex or not. Choosing to share anecdotes with her and not texting you back or sharing those anecdotes with you is infidelity. Keeping secrets about a relationship is art of infidelity. Good for him for recognizing it and coming clean before it progressed. But you don’t get to breathe easy, yet. He has a problem. Does he recognize this? Is he willing to work with a professional to explore his poor boundaries and learn healthy boundaries? Does he care enough about the marriage to work on his issues?

        Lastly, don’t be the marriage police. Either you trust him or you don’t. He’s working on his boundary issues because he wants to or he’s not. Trust him on his actions and not his words. But trust your gut and that infidelity is not defined only by sex. It is also defined by secrets and intimacy. Don’t brush this under the rug. It IS a big deal.

    • Thirtythreeyearsachump – “He has another phone. He is communicating through gaming apps. He can conmunicate in various in-line communities. You are not physically capable of screening all the ways he can illicitly communicate with his AP. He won’t stop. Ask me how I know?” “At all other times that phone was glued to his hand. He would clutch it while sleeping.” “You don’t have anything to work with here. I deeply regret not leaving the first time I knew he cheated. Saved myself the humiliation of discovering he gave me an STI. Saved myself from the abuse that is adultery.” This.All.Of.This. Colorado, please use all of this advice to your advantage. Do not be like many of us and allow several discovery days (3 for me). Much love.

    • I didn’t know what a burner phone was until my now ex husband told me about them. It makes me sick to Fred this Bc I see things so clearly now after 2 years post leaving my ex. Everything your husband is going is mind games. He’s giving you access so you think he’s not f’ing up or f’ing around when he really is. Trust your gut. You know the answer but it’s devastating to admit it. I let my narcissistic ex after 10 years of marriage and 3 kids under the age of 5. I know the pain you’re going through and he won’t get better. He will only get worse and then blame you and make you feel crazy. Get out now while you can. I’m so sorry. It will save you years of unbelievable heartache and you can learn to live a life without the chaos and drama a narc brings into every situation.

  • Horrible to say, he likes the attention of other women. He can’t text his friends, but can text “ow”. What does that tell you. A emotional affair, is the start really, but how do you know the truth, unfortunately some people never find out the truth.
    He seems to know what he can get away with. Your vulnerable at the moment, young child, finances. He knows it as well.
    You deserve better, its about him and his inadequacies.
    Good luck
    How do you know where he is, really.

  • My ex made sure he had a burner phone to contact his prostitutes. This way, when he offered up his phone as proof that he wasn’t cheating, I found nothing. It left me right where you are until he got stupid. You don’t need that trauma in your life. If he’s *this close* to stepping out on you each time, he will cross the line.

    • My ex was too stupid to have a burner phone, but he didn’t need one at the time because I trusted him completely! That is until one day I got a phone call from a nasty prostitute who told me about their affair of several months.. She provided proof, too. The dates of a business trip he took. It hadn’t been a business trip at all. Her parting words to me were “there are others”.

      I realize now I was in a state of cognitive dissonance throughout all of my marriage. I was gas lighted horribly and thought he was a really great guy. He was extremely adept in knowing exactly how to act around me. He seemed so normal, decent and in love with me, that’s what was so hard to believe. He was home every night. He was self employed and it turns out he did his cheating during the week days, when I was at work. But my gut told me the prostitute was telling me the truth. She wasn’t trying to do me any favors. She was getting even with him. I later found out she had been blackmailing him and he couldn’t pay her the $15,000 she wanted to keep her mouth shut.

      I kicked him out on D day and got an attorney within days. His attempts at gas lighting didn’t stop and continued for months after the marriage was legally over via email and voice mail. His pity plays were incredible. During the legal process, I was still finding OW’s (he had more than one at any given time) and there were several dozen, and then I made what proved to be an incredible discovery. I was on our computer one night and for some reason, I typed his email address into the browser and I was taken into a new screen!

      The man who always needed MY help on the computer had set up a private desktop on our computer. I don’t even know how to do that or that a person could do that. I suddenly had access to all of his hidden emails (all OW’s), their communications, and to his folders and all of his files. It was quite interesting reading actually, to gain some real insight into the mind of a psychopath.

      His attempts at gas lighting me after that were almost comical because I just laughed at him and told him to f off. He dinged me financially during the marriage because his business was failing, and now I know why it was failing. He was having himself a great time at my expense. I got a legal annulment based on fraud. The judge didn’t even hesitate after hearing my story and hearing my proof. I had a 401 k and other assets that were mine and this prevented him from getting his hands on them. He got nothing but $50 from me so he could put gas in his car. I only gave it to him so he would get the hell away from me and I suggested he make it last or get a job. Poor muffin couldn’t afford a lawyer to fight me in court and he then had to declare bankruptcy because having a job was beneath him. Whenever he tried to contact me after that, I would remind him that I had proved fraud in family court and if he wanted me to take the case to criminal court, that would make my day.

      That said, I still developed PTSD. It’s the kind of thing that stays with you, even if you think you’ve recovered. A few months ago, I suffered a traumatic injury and the PTSD came back big time. It is much better now.

      Just like all of us here, I am a good woman and it is hard to keep a good woman down!

      • CHumpchange,

        Wow. What a story. How nice that you were able to maintain in control of finances. Courts in the state where I live don’t care who is at fault….a huge slam to those of us who have trusted so completely for so long.

        Anyway, I wanted to make a comment on PTSD. I was reading somewhere and the term,
        Post Traumatic Growth/PTG came up. I now use that in place of PTSD because it is more positive and does fit. At least for me it does because I sure have done some rapid growth in these past 2 years!

        • What a great and beneficial perspective on this, EC! Thanks for sharing it here and best future life to you. 🙂

  • My ex never could stop texting women, even after getting caught multiple times. He eventually got on Craigslist and had a physical affair. He used a second cell phone and Words with Friends chat function to stay in constant touch with the Craigslist whore. He did all this while pretending to be the devoted family man. Run.

      • Colorado, I came to realize the only women my X wanted to be “friends” with were women he wanted to have sex with. Period. All it took was for one of those women to give him the green light. A woman who is a “friend”? For MY X, that was cheater-speak for AP.

        A fellow chump friend of mine put it succinctly in describing her realization: “I will never be enough”. These cheater people seem to need constant affirmation of their attractiveness by other people. YOU are not enough, no matter how wonderful you are, no matter if you are a super-model, no matter how wealthy you are, no matter if you are a porn-star in the bedroom. My guess is your husband will always be seeking outside affirmation of his splendidness.

        But he doesn’t want to give you up because you probably are great at doing all the adulting, and at providing maintenance sex.

        How much marriage-policing do you want to do? If you decide to stay with him, get a post-nup post haste. If he is truly sincere in wanting to be an adult, in wanting to change his spots, he will essentially sign over ALL of your joint assets in case he ever screws up again, plus you get full custody, AND he pays a hefty monthly child-support. Lay out what YOU consider to be an emotional affair, a sexual affair. I would even go so far as to say, “don’t be talking personal stuff with another woman”. And if another woman comes on to him, he has to shut that shit down by going all grey rock on her.

        And get that post-nup notarized.

        • Yeah, I got that post-nup, notarized, all the shared assets to me, plus 75% of his income if I can confirm any illicit involvement with another woman, physical or emotional. I still don’t trust the bastard. I suspect he’d just consider it a challenge as to how to hide it better.
          So I told him I’d rather have 50% and not have to live in fear for the rest of my life.

          • That’s the thing. Even though a post-nup might offer some consolation, it will never, ever restore trust.

      • My ex made me feel like a horrible person,”she’s a friend….I should be able to be friends with the people I work with…..because she’s a nice person……” Found 2 years of emails, cards(they had a Valentine’sWEEK!), a 4 year affair where they took vacations( they were supposed to be in DC working). That was one of 4 affairs that I now know about. What has taken me the most time to get over after a 27 year marriage, 3 kids( how vulnerable having babies makes us)……. The LIES….. they look you in the eye and make you feel like shit, like a bitch for doubting them. And the whole time they are doing that and worse. What you are seeing is the tip of the iceberg and the tears are part of the game…..He won’t stop, this is who he is, and he has a lot of company willing to play the game with him. You are a part of the game that just keeps the adrenaline rush going. This is who he is……believe it.

        • Colorado, all of STBX’s whores were “just friends”, or “just a co-worker”. I didn’t Police his just friends or his just co-workers because I trusted him. Do you know what that got me? A sexually transmitted disease for one thing. Add a little severe anxiety and nearly immobilizing depression for fun and games at the hands of a narcissist. I wanted to die. Then I found a therapist and Chump Lady. I truly feel like Chump Lady saved my life. Thank you for the 2×4’s of brutal truth, Chump Lady.

          Trust yourself. You know he isn’t doing right by you. He hasn’t in the past and he won’t in the future. Why would he? You forgive him every time.

          This time chose you. It isn’t creepy at all to chose to live a cheater free life. It gets better every day.

      • Colorado sweetie, huge hugs to you and your son. Like your cheater, my ex was rubbish at keeping in contact. His only oldest friend virtually gave up on him when we moved away as he never heard from ex. He told me the ow (also an emotional affair like yours, though I have suspicions about that) was a friend. Then she was a good friend, then his best friend, then his best ever friend. Then when I told him I was worried about the amount of time he was spending with her and he said ‘If I don’t see her for a day I feel like my right hand’s been cut off’. Light dawned for me but it still took another 18 months of wreckonciliation and distress before I told him to leave for good.

        He hid his feelings from you knowing full well what they meant and the implications for you and your son. Don’t be fooled, he knows. He’s been dishonest and secretive more than once. You cannot trust him. You are spackling like I did. I really thought that once he realised how serious it was, he’d come to his senses. But he knew all the time and was only seeing how far he could push it, how much I would forgive and tolerate. No doubt he thought I was stupid not to see it. Colorado, I feel for you, but your gut is right.

      • I felt creepy for a minute but then I realized all of his “friends” are attractive younger women or rando skanky women on social media posing half nude.

        There weren’t any messages to male acquaintances offering to buy them lunch or drinks. There were no late night chats with anyone besides young, attractive, and preferably super slutty women, who were clearly looking for hook ups.

        Oh and then the 20 something colleague he was with on a business trip with – out drinking till all hours who he messaged at 1am.

        Yet, he continually gas lit me and made me feel pathological for questioning him about the appropriateness of this – even after his dozens of infidelities were discovered. Even then I was creepy for being suspicious.

      • Colorado, you said above that you DO trust him, however you also wrote to CL, hired a PI and a professional to check his phone. Ask yourself if those actions you’ve taken really indicate trust?

        He backed you into a corner, your gut spoke so loudly that you’ve taken action to seek the truth. Only when you uncovered some evidence did he come clean with a little bit of affirmation of what you’d already found. Only once you were exposing the lies did he start to act really great. Ask yourself again, would he have opened up and admitted fault and behaved in an honest loving way if you’d not gone hunting for answers?

        We ignore the red flags and obvious evidence because we don’t think we can face the pain. We are scared, we’ve been played and we wanted to believe the fairytale. But we know. We really do know what’s going on, or we wouldn’t be here. Ask yourself one more thing, if all my fears and the worst case scenario is the truth, what do I need to do about it?

        Now is the time to steele yourself. Get your ducks line up whilst he still thinks you’re an idiot who will continue believe his lies. Let him think you are accepting his play acting. Plan and prepare for your escape. Only tell a very close select few forever friends/family and seek their support. Start to observe his actions, ignore the words or emotional manipulation tactics. Slowly put in place your way out of this. Think practical things like a separate bank account, where you will live, custody, how you will support your child, part time work, who’s names are on what accounts, legal representation, therapy, who can you trust really.

        It took me 18 months of live in hell. I wish I had set myself up better in the beginning when I started to suspect. I wish I hadn’t given him the tip off so early because he got really cruel really quickly. I was stuck without my own income, without an escape route and with a young preschooler. He used my vulnerabilities to try and destroy me. He still, 2 years later, uses our daughter to play games. It is who he is.

        You can do this! Trust in the wisdom here, we have a collective experience and are sharing our strength to try and help you. We cannot take away the pain, but we can empathize and lend you our MIGHTY. We’ve taken off the rose colored glasses and we are giving you our clear vision. Let it be your guide.

        Many hugs!!!

        • This is very true too. He will turn very quickly. Can you make sure things are set up for you financially, that any income is going half into a bank account for you. Anything just do it and then even if you don’t need it it doesn’t matter but you need to get an exit plan. He will still play nice for a while as long as you don’t accuse him of anything or dig too deeply. Milk it.

      • Yes. “Just a friend from work” “a friend who needs some help with a resume” “an old friend (from their shared country of origin)”. Until the ow and I had a talk about what exactly was going on between them, he’d been concrete on the fact that I was simply “paranoid” and that he would never be able to lie to my face.

        “My little family” “my girls (me and our dog as we had no children)” “my best friend” I heard it all right up til Dday. Kissed me, slept with me, shared many fun times right up til Dday. He told me I insulted him by accusing him of such terrible things. After I figured out his 1.5yr VERY well-kept affair, he still denied the extent. Until I sucked it up and allowed his ho to come to our home to confront him together. That’s when he chose to run out of our house wearing nothing but boxers and flipflops, ran down the street until he realized that this was not some dream, but rather the sick reality HE alone had created. He finally broke and confessed. Well, confessed what I’d confronted him with. Much more trickled down for months after I told him to go be with her. Be ready for much trickle-truth. It’s a real punch to the heart. Anyway, yeah, “just friends”. Lol.

        PS to one of your other questions here – yes, a few of our mutual friends told me afterward that they never thought cheating was something that he was capable of. He had us all snowed, sadly.

      • Married or otherwise partnered heterosexuals should never have secret friends of either gender, but most especially not secret opposite sex friends. That’s a boundary you set when you commit to somebody- you have no such secrets. If he crosses that boundary, he’s the creep, not you. Think about it; if it’s just an innocent friendship, why would he feel the need to be secretive about it? 9.9 times out of ten it’s because he’s either already fucked them or he hopes to do so soon. Sorry, that’s just how it is. If you have seen sexts, it’s a confirmed affair.

      • I really didn’t police him, I just asked him to stop texting female acquaintances (he claimed it was harmless chatting.) It wasn’t until the very end that I realized he was sexting and then having physical affairs with these women and probably had been doing it for years. I did the deep dive and dug up a bunch of info. When I discovered the 2 yr affair, I was done.

      • Every OW my ex cheated on me with started out as “just friends”. He was just talking on the phone to a friend, texting a friend, playing cards with a friend, going to give a friend a ride to work, you name it.

        He would try to make me feel guilty about policing him, but then he would get caught behaving the same way. Then he would “behave” for a little while. Then he would start asking when I would forgive him and move on. HUGE RED FLAG. When someone truly loves you and regrets hurting you, and they want t change, they DO NOT ask you when you will forgive and move on. They move forward with you and are supportive of you. They certainly do not make statements like: I wouldn’t have to go behind your back if you weren’t so suspicious of me, or you can’t forgive me anyway, so why shouldn’t I cheat?

        Does any of that sound familiar to you?

        FYI, you shouldn’t have to police a grown up.

        • Also, he would move heaven and earth to make sure that I never met any of these so called “friends”! Seriously, he let the air out of a tire on the car on purpose, then took forever to change the tire, so that we couldn’t go to a party that one of them was attending. How do I know he did it on purpose? I found the little cap to the tire plug (don’t know if that is what is called) in his pocket when I did laundry the next day.

          Of course, there are plenty of cheaters/OM/OW who befriend the chump, some even long term decades long friendships that started before the cheating. But I’m inclined to believe that most cheaters don’t want their spouse/partner anywhere near the OM/OW, because they don’t want to be discovered. Because they thrive on the triangulation and thrill of cheating. It is kibbles for them.

    • OMG – my STBX computer records has shown visits to words with friends – even though I’ve never known him to play that! He’s obviously using the chat function!

      I didn’t think anything of it at the time but omg!!

      And, after his most recent DDay he handed over all his credit cards, only to get a new one as soon as I went out of town for work.

      They never stop!

      • Somebody mentioned Words with Friends to me a few months ago and I was blown away. I tend to only play with friends all over the world but I am now playing with a few women I don’t know and it works fine. One older chappie in NY who is a friend of a friend. When they play well I send a “good play” but that’s it. UNTIL a guy in Texas started a game with me. After a couple of moves he sent me a message asking for my email so we could “get to know each other better” – and here on his FB picture he has his arms around a lady. So I wrote back saying “I’m in France, you’re in Texas and seemingly married, why do you want to get to know me better?” And he stopped playing and disappeared. Got another one recently who played one moved and then sent me a “hi”. I didn’t respond and he poofed too. So no, I didn’t know words with friends was “a thing” either but seemingly it is! Snakes are gonna slither!

        • Attie, I’ve had the same experience with creepy guys on WWF. So disgusting…especially since my first experience with these creeps came months after my Dday (which was also my GTFO day).

          • Mr. Texas was my first but in a way I wish I had screen shot that message and sent it to the lady he had his arms around. Maybe I will next time.

  • “I am so lucky, she is my best friend and you are my wife”. GTFO. Yeah, no, emotional cheating is just as devastating as physical cheating. He is neglecting your emotional needs to fulfill his own. Not worth the toll it is taking. Trust me many of us have been there done that got the shit stained t-shirt.

  • Oh yea…..they always have multiple cells phones. The one he “surrendered ” to her was just part of the game to make her believe he is being sincere. It’s all just a game he is playing! Multiple cells phones, multiple email addresses, and etc. He outright tells her of his emotional affairs so he can get her to do the pickme dance. I’m also pretty sure he’s gone beyond the “emotional” part at this point since he has a history. I would get tested and lawyer up. No one should live policing their spouse. He broke the trust to the point of no return.

    • Jackass and the MOW didn’t use text. They used Facebook Messenger, probably because she didn’t want to get caught.

  • Get out now. Don’t wait til he finally decides after 25 years that he was “never happy”. If this has already happened before than it has already been physical. It will be hard but you are the only one investing In this marriage. He is faking it. I repeat get out now. You are worth more than this.

    • Tamara is SO correct here. If he doesn’t out and out say “I was never happy,” he will likely either put the onus on you (“I gave you every indication that there was a problem in our marriage, but you refused to see…”) or plead glorious self discovery by way of temporary insanity (“I didn’t know at the time …,” “My head was in a different place then …,” “I’ve discovered that I was really always meant to be…”)

      • OMG – what is with the swirly bs talk. My X has convinced himself he is the victim. Truly he is a more evolved species and it was his right to seek out sex, lie, steal from the family and he feels he is a better person. People tell me that maybe he is mentally ill because it just doesn’t make sense but I think he (and his little sex cult at work) have just convinced themselves that they are a super evolved awesome species (ya no thank-you).

        • That makes him both the victim AND the hero — at least within the safe community of his fellow fuckwits.

          Hey — sometimes you’ve gotta destroy in order to create something beautiful. (Gag.)

          • Yes, to all of this. And the “super-evolved”, self aggrandizing, love guru types are the absolute worst. They are just too cool for monogamy. Or basic decency. But nothing is their fault! Either the universe ordained them to fuck strange, or YOU are to blame.Your lack of understanding is stifling, Chumps! Etc.. etc…

            Barf.

      • I’m terrified of the “I gave every indication” in particular. I feel like I keep offering ways out for him because yes, clearly there are problems. But he keeps wanting to work things through so if he turns that story around on me and makes my years of working things through seem like a delusional plan I came up with on my own, my head will pop off.

        • You’re projecting your idea of “wanting to work things through” on him. You cannot read minds, so you cannot know what “wanting to work things through” means to him. Which puts you back to trust.

          Has he shown you by his past actions that he — in and of himself, as a husband, father, and man — is worthy of trust? Or are you counting on trust by nature of the fact that you have history, shared experiences and the foundations of a home and family?

          These are extraordinarily frightening times for you. It’s not easy accept the possibility of emotional betrayal and abuse after all you’ve invested in this person. We’ve all been there. Pay attention to your instincts and try as bet you can to use your brain more than your heart as you deliberate on the advice you’re reading here.

        • Better get some duct tape to wrap your head with then.

          They always shift the blame in the end. They will deny, attack, and try to become the victim in the story. They will declare that you are so controlling because you tried to come up with a plan to save the marriage. You are so judgmental! Etc.

          All the while you are feeling guilty for not trusting him, when he has repeated the same pattern now several times.

          If a known shoplifter keeps stealing but then feels remorse and brings the item to the counter and admit it on each occasion, (all sad sausage and weepy to boot), the shopkeeper should not feel bad that they have a sudden urge to check their pockets.

        • I’ve given mine a million ways out too. I evened offered a polyamorous relationship so he could get his jollies without all the lying but nope, he doesn’t want that.

          It’s not that they aren’t happy with us – he wants to be with you and he wants to dally with new *friends* at will. It’s really a perfect set up. Your marriage doesn’t need any work – he loves having his soft place to land and the comfort of a long term partnership and he needs the thrill of sneaking around and experiencing infatuation with fresh meat.

          That’s us projecting our normal brains onto disordered men. We would only find ourselves interested in other people over and over if we were deeply unhappy in our marriages – so we imagine that’s their process. It’s not.

          • I agreed to an open marriage for much the same reason. And, nope, she didn’t want that.

            She wanted to know things I didn’t know about. She wanted to have her cake and eat it too.

            When I discovered that she falsely accused me of domestic assault to one of her secret fuckbuddies, I finally realized it wasn’t about me, who I was as aperson, or what I brought to the relationship. She liked me just the way I was, as long as I was kept in the dark about who SHE really was.

            “Character is doing the right thing when you think nobody is looking.” Fuckwits like ours either don’t understand or don’t agree with that statement. Either way, we lose.

            • Yes, Ux – that’s it exactly – they want their cake and us in the dark.

              I think they stay after discovery because they don’t have another spouse-appliance in the offing. Seems like once they secure a replacement – they ditch us.

              Today I kicked my cheater out. I’m not sticking around for him to dump me because he couldn’t live with the aftermath of his betrayal anymore.

              • New food group:
                They want their cake and us in the dark…they want their cake and mushrooms!

              • You are mighty! This is a hard road to take, but much easier than years and years of wreckonciliation followed by discard.

                Stay strong, no matter what. No contact, gray rock, every time you think about allowing the cheater to come back, as yourself if it is worth it and look at them through clear, not rose colored, glasses.

        • It’s a game to him, and the only way out for you is to stop playing. Remove yourself. We compared it to the old movie War Games here. You are in a no win situation. He gets to do what he wants and if you leave to him you are the quitter. In reality he quit long ago. I would take it one step further and tell the truth…. they think we are too ashamed/will protect them. Nope the truth is only one of you is married, and you don’t like his girlfriends.

        • I told him several times to leave if he wanted, that I didn’t want to be with someone who didn’t want 100% to be with me. I felt like a pathetic needy woman doing that, asking for reassurance all the time. Yet after 4 months during which he failed at no contact with her, when I told him it was me or her, he left the house. His exact words were “I’m glad you said that, I think eventually you and me would hate each other and I’d be having an adulterous affair with her.” He was staying because of the fear of leaving and hoped to continue his cake-eating. The huniliation I felt asking him repeatedly if he really wanted to stay is one of the most painful memories I have of that time.

        • Hi Colorado,

          I’m afraid that giving him time to “work things through” will just give him time to screw you over financially as well as emotionally. You are being gas lighted by him – big time.

          Please consider this. This is not his first time at the rodeo. He claims it is “emotional”. That’s bad enough. I don ‘t believe it is just “emotional” for one minute and I also do not believe he ever cut off contact with the OW’s. He is a serial cheater. Based on my own personal experience, they are the worst. Absolutely diabolical. They are pathological liars and can be quite adept at fooling therapists and of course they are incredible experts at fooling their spouses.

          Guarantee you he has a burner phone and that’s why he is showing bravado in telling you that you can have his phone analyzed by a professional. You’ll never be able to keep up with him because he’ll figure out new ways to keep the truth from you. He’s gas lighting you and if you allow him to continue, your emotional well-being is going to take a huge hit, and you’ll probably end up with PTSD if you don’t already have it.

          For your sake and for your sanity, and for the sake of your child, get copies of all of your financial records, document everything he’s done with dates, names of the OW’s, and retain an attorney. You need to know your legal rights. Do not let him know you are doing any of this.

          You are entitled to living an authentic and beautiful life. You won’t have it with him. Ever. No matter what he promises. Another poster referred to “duping delight” and I agree with that. He gets huge ego kibbles from having multiple OW’s and he delights in duping you into believing and trusting him again. This is exactly the kind of person who will also ruin you financially and will walk away laughing to himself. Don’t let him do it. Get ahead of him and account for every penny now and get a lawyer. Line up all of your ducks. Don’t let him even suspect you are doing any of this.

          I’m so sorry for what you are going through. You deserve so much better.

          xoxo

        • My ex declared “You will never hurt me again” in the weeks after I found his mistress and was losing the plot over all his lies I’d uncovered. I was in such shock at the statement that I just stared at him like he was speaking Japanese. WTF?!? Me? Hurt you?!?

          They will all turn it around to be the victim. Look up DARVO.

          • Onethingeveryday.

            WE don’t have to hurt them….

            They hurt themselves.

            We get to grow and have healthy honest relationships while they grovel on using people who can’t commit and are only ‘in it for the sex’.

            I am certain that the xh will only have empty relationships for the remainder of his life because what woman with true integrity etc. would ever take a chance with a full blown serial cheater with a 40+ yr history behind them.

            I truly feel sorry for the man.

            He made his bed and now he gets to lie in it with whomever he chooses and he will always know in the back of his mind that he let the best woman in his life slip out of his life without even putting up a fight for me.

            • Yes, this is true. He harms himself and blames me. This is who he is.

              I am wary of feeling pity for him, as it is the channel he has used to suck me back in previously. He plays the pity card so I soften and come closer, then he stabs me again. I’ll not fall for his pity me I’m a victim boo hoo look how sorry my life is wah (please don’t inflict your cruel hurtful consequences on my poor sad self – you meanie) games.

              His “hurt” is also how he influenced others to back him and discard me, or flying monkey around to make sure I’m not going to hurt him further. It’s a ploy. It’s a tactic. It’s about power and mind fuckery. I will not play.

              He has made his bed, and he will never know what he has lost. He doesn’t care what he’s lost. He moves on to his next mark without a care or thought for the wreckage he leaves in his wake. Not my problem any more.

              My freedom is found in seeking MEH. In letting go and focussing on my healing and the light that shines ahead of me. In walking forward with my chin up and grateful I’m on my way without him. Onward toward Tuesday! Xxx

              • Onethingeveryday,

                I agree about not getting sucked in.

                I should have mentioned that I am NC.

                No more getting played although I didn’t know about the other women until Dday #1 and then trickle truth to another Dday several months later followed by divorce several months after that – all said and done rather quickly.

                Shocking on one hand, huge relief on anther now that I know what I know thanks for CL and CN.

        • The other thing that occurs to me is you should be reading up on character disorder. See Dr. George Simon’s website, “Manipulative People.” Lots to read there. You are surely dealing with a very entitled person, who puts his wants over your needs and his own commitments.

          And please–tell the people who love you what’s going on. Don’t keep this secret because you fear your family or friends will stop liking him. Them’s the consequences for being a jackass. But part of getting your ducks in a row is having a support system who can talk straight to you–a good therapist, your best friends, any family members who will “have your back.” Talk. Get support around you. Don’t rely on what he’s saying but rather on your own instincts nd the feedback of people who are totally in your corner.

        • “Though both partners may wish for reconciliation, their unspoken goals are often sharply in conflict. The abuser usually wishes to re-establish his pattern of coercive control, while the victim wishes to resist it.” Judith Herman MD

    • It will be so, so much better for your baby. If you wait until he’s 10, you’ll have to live through his hurt too.

  • Colorado, I am sad to say your husbands affair was not just emotional. He most likely had sex with her. The we were only friends line is a bunch of bull. Cheaters use this line to gaslight you. My ex had a 4 year we are just friends affair with my cousin. When I found out he said they were just friends. They only went out and played pool and to bars. If they were only friends then why did he lie and tell me he was going out with Bill? My Ex continues to deny having a sexual affair.

    Sexual or not. Your husband lied to you. Left you home alone with a baby. While he did who knows what with her. He also has a history of having female friends. Letting you into his phone etc. Is his way of gaslighting. He may have another phone or gmail number. He is waiting for you to let your guard down. Cheaters rarely change.

    • The emotional affair was the 8 months he was texting her daily. The physical affair was during the 2 weeks of sexual texts. This was his third emotional affair and may have been the first one that became physical. He is a cheater. Staying with this guy will lead to a years of pain for you and your child.

      • I agree Alizabeth Lee. He did have a physical affair. He is a coward and will not admit it. As for my ex. Thinking back when I estimate that the affair began with my cousin. My husband sent me a dick picture. Yuck. He never ever sent me anything like that. I suspect now that he accidently sent it to me instead of Skankella. I found his old facebook account on an old computer. Skankella sent him a picture via FB messenger of her on a toilet. Gross. I showed it to him and he pretended he did not remember it. His comment to her was that she was one sexy women even on a toilet, EWW. My ex never in the 34 years we were married that I was sexy, pretty etc.
        Do not waste your youth on a manchild. Colorado you deserve so much better.

        • When I discovered the emails b/w my ex and the OW, just before he left the marriage, I was also shocked by the things he said to her and what he thought was sexy. He said lewd things to her that he had never said to me. He emailed her at Xmas about whether she had put up her “testicle tree” (had to look that up). She sent him a music video about “taking it up the butt for Jesus” in order to be a good Catholic girl.

          In more than 14 years of being with this man, he was never like that. I was always the more passionate one who would test boundaries, whereas he would be more awkward. Suddenly he was trying to be a cross between a Harlequin romance and wanna-be porn star.

          And the texting? Mine never cared about his cell phone, plopped in in the bedroom whenever he got home. Friends were always annoyed with him for not responding, and I never bothered to text him at all. Suddenly, that thing would never leave his pocket and it was always vibrating. He had gone back to school full-time, and I always figured that he was hearing from classmates (all younger than him so he had to get hip).

          That’s the lure of the affair. It allows men and women to take on a persona that was probably always their desire to be but often not who they really were. Which one is the real them? Who knows?

          • People like this are deeply ashamed of their sexual desires and too afraid to open themselves up to their primary, safe partners. So they go looking for a secret, disposable partner to keep on the side and do/say the things they’re ashamed to bring up around the safe partner.

            My first long-term partner always maintained that he had no interest in anal sex or anal play of any kind. No judgment, it just never entered his imagination. But then we split up and continued sleeping together occasionally during a period of a few months before I was going to leave the country we lived in for good. We were never going to see each other again. Suddenly he started asking if we could have anal sex. Turns out he’d been curious about it the whole time but was too ashamed to admit it to me so long as I was his forever partner.

            Instead of taking it as an insult that our spouses do sexual things with their affair partners they never did with us, we should all take a step back. It’s not because the affair partner was more attractive, more adventurous, more trustworthy… it’s because they were disposable. We shouldn’t feel insulted, rather feel pity for our exes who could not and likely never will be able to express their sexuality fully with a committed, loving partner.

            • Nicole,

              My situation had a different twist. Sex couldn’t be about expressing love for him.

              He was the only one who could initiate.

              He would not discuss sex at all.

              It always felt impersonal to me. As though I was an object. Now I know I was.

              He eventually shut down sexually but I didn’t get it because I knew other women living with the same pattern as I was and their husbands were not cheating on them. Just asexual – weird stuff after children were born. Like they turn us into their mothers too.

              I didn’t see it then but now I sure do.

  • That 2 week sexting is a sexual activity. In any case, as a new parent you should be cherished and appreciated for all the work you’re doing,and above all, spared any unecessary stress. You aren’t. Also,if as a new father he’s got so much time as having emotional affairs and flirting with softball mates then he’s got far too much time on his hands. That’s why he’s got time for texting and other emotional nonsense.

    And BTW, I’m notorious for often not answering my friends (texting or calling back). I’ve got zillion excuses. Truth – if it’s not urgent or meaningful, I’m just not bothered.

    • New baby in the home ? Time for him to man up and start parenting (not “babysitting”) when mom needs a nap. No whinging when new mom needs him to run to the store for whatever. Etc.

      Sorry Colorado but don’t sink any more costs into this loser.

  • This happened to me, more than a decade and children. I never looked back. Don’t develop feelings for a “best friend” of mine and then try to make it better. A lifetime of constantly policing a grown man. No thanks!

  • I do not believe this guy for one split second.

    My “husband” was so difficult to get ahold of by text or phone that it became an issue I brought up in therapy. Then I find out after DDay that he’s probably been having affairs, patronizing massage parlors, “friending” other women on FB (gee, who is this young girl I have never met and why does she have only MEN friends of all ages?) for our entire relationship of 27 years….the entire time which was spent in therapy. At my request because we both came from crazy effed up alcoholic homes and I didn’t want to repeat what we grew up with. (Let my story be a warning to chumps who think starting therapy is a good sign that He Wants To Change!! What I got for 27 years of therapy, once a week or twice a month, was a bunch of time and money flushed down the toilet with zero possibility of a refund).

    A relationship can only be as healthy as the two people in it. You have to have TRUST and SAFETY to have a healthy relationship. That’s a YES or NO question. Black and white. There is no kinda-sorta when it comes to trust and safety.

    I want trust, safety, security. That’s why I got married. And if I monitoring my partner, hiring PI’s, wondering, worrying…..I DO NOT HAVE WHAT I GOT MARRIED TO HAVE.

    Current technology makes cheating easier than ever before in human history. There’s no way to ascertain, control, prevent anyone from doing whatever they want while they are sitting on the couch with you at home watching TV.

    Most importantly, I DON’T WANT TO BE WITH SOMEONE I HAVE TO MONITOR.

    One cockroach you can see means 40,000 in the walls. Especially when you keep finding them.

    • Yes, you read that right.

      THERAPY SINCE THE BEGINNING OF OUR RELATIONSHIP. ONCE A WEEK, TWICE A MONTH, FOR 27 YEARS.

      HE WAS CHEATING THE ENTIRE TIME.

      AND LYING ABOUT HIS SOBRIETY.

      HE HAS BEEN GOING TO THERAPY ON HIS OWN SINCE FEBRUARY OF 2018.

      HE IS STILL LYING.

    • Yep, me too. 15 years in therapy. It was the perfect cover for him – and he charmed the hell out of our therapist. She could see that he was entitled and selfish, but had no idea he was a pathological liar, NPD
      master manipulator. When she found out the truth (24 hours after I did), she was shocked to her core and has apologized many times since. I still see her (she is good with PTSD), and it is comforting to have her validation that it was almost impossible to see the truth through his master manipulation. He was likable. He would cry.
      Not too Harsh, these guys are hard to catch; it is pure luck that you get a real glimpse into his character at this point in your marriage.

      • Professionals who study PDs (personality disordered) full-time admit even they get fooled. PDs have been studying their scam since childhood. Oh, sweet duper’s delight!

        Nobody knows your SO (significant other) like you do.

    • Velvet-Except for the Facebook part (he was too “private” even for Facebook), he sounds like my ex. I think we’ve both said that before on this site. There were massage parlors shut down for prostitution in two towns in which we lived…

    • We were in therapy most of our marriage too. Multiple therapists, in Germany and America. He is was put in a hospital for four weeks to deal with is anger issues. Only one therapist told me the truth, that I was married to an abuser and I needed to leave.

      My X (still husband at the time) went and found a new therapist that promised he could fix things. Six years later, more abuse and 3rd DDay I finally left. The therapist I was seeing told me “Divorce is very difficult” when I announced I was divorcing him. Yep, it’s difficult, but not as bas as selling yourself out, becoming a doormat, literally waiting to die because life was just unbearable in such a toxic environment, thank God I finally got out.

      I was addicted to hopium too, but if it barks like a dog, looks like a dog, smells like a dog, it’s a dog!

  • Another thing to consider — what you’re missing out on if you stay with this guy — the chance, while you’re young — to be loved properly by someone else. To model a loving, reciprocal, respectful relationship to your child. To have another child with someone who cherishes you. To have a sane life free of chaos. To have the energy to invest in your child, your career, your education — and not chasing some wandering dick.

    It’s not what we’re giving up if we leave, it’s what we give up if we stay.

    • I would look at it this way: Whether or not he has actually cheated, he has a pattern of behavior that makes you unhappy. Do you want to feel this way for the rest of your life? Because you will. You will never feel that deep trust, never be 100% confident of his love, and you will always have a nagging, horrible feeling inside. You are young and can make a new start. You deserve to be happy and that is as good a reason as you need to leave him and start your new and better life without the ball and chain he is on your psyche. Best of luck to you.

    • The whole “sunk cost” fallacy keeps us stuck, afraid to lose what we think we have (but don’t), and keeping us from finding what we need and deserve.
      After 30 YEARS of marriage, it has taken 3 years of being on my own and developing a sense of myself to feel like I was ready to move forward.
      I’ve just started talking with a lovely man who lost his wife about 6 months ago, who has a value system more in line with mine than my ex ever did.
      And now I am so grateful to be far, far away from my ex and that awful reminder of betrayal. There is no comparison to the mindset I had going through that time of trauma and what I’m feeling now. So glad it’s Tuesday. 😉

    • Brilliant CL. She has lost her peace of mind. And her ability to enjoy this blessed time with her young family.

      He is an odd ball and a deceiver.

    • You don’t want to waste your life. I have lost 20 years of my life where I could have been loved and respected. At 52, I was comfortable. We were making lots of money, our pensions were good, I was thinking of what retirement would look like, I was building our home for the future. Days after turning 53, my husband dropped the bomb that he had a pregnant mistress. Blamed me, he was never happy, it was my fault because he chose to move to Switzerland when my daughter was 3 and commute on the weekend. He didn’t like being alone (so why move and abandon your family jerk?). So we worked on the relationship. He told the OW he wasn’t divorcing me but he attended the birth, went to Vienna every month to see new baby and hang out at the zoo with OW, and spent time with her family all so he could prove what a great dad he was and how he wouldn’t abandon the OW just because he had a wife and teenage daughter in London.

      I believed his crap and blamed my self. I played the pick me dance. I won! I was happy! I kissed him good by after a nice holiday together and went upstairs to work on the computer and found 20 years of emails detailing affairs. I WASTED MY ENTIRE LIFE! I am now 54 and have no job, he has no job, we have to split our pensions, my daughter has literally pulled out half her hair, is in counselling and wants no relationship with him again ever. I might lose my house, I have to rebuild my retirement. I am starting over.

      Here’s the rub. I actually did not find a full 20 years of emails. They stopped at 2014. Then we have pregnant schmoopie in 2018. I don’t believe for a minute that he didn’t cheat on me during those years. He just moved to a different platform. Also, in addition to all the known sexual affairs, he had plenty of inappropriate relationships with other women. He shared far more of himself with them than he ever did me. Those would have been enough to leave him for. I got nothing from him emotionally for 20 years and now I don’t even have the financial security. Be grateful you can get out now. Find a way. Save yourself. 20 years regret is unbearable. No matter what you fear now, if in 10 or 20 years you end up where I and others like me on this forum are, it will be worse.

      • Wombatmom,
        I am sorry that you have been treated so horribly. My story is somewhat similar to yours. I am also in my fifties and trying to ‘start over.’ Financially, emotionally wiped out, unemployed. My kids are still young. I am exhausted and traumatized–missed a very important phone appointment today due to fatigue, disorganization, PTSD? I apologized to the kind person I was supposed to talk to but will likely not be trusted now. G-d, now what?

        • RockStarWife, I hear you about how this has just made you feel so fatigued and not on top of things. I am v nearly 50 with 9 year old daughter. I am normally Ms Super Organised but I have been all over the shop since this. I forget things, don’t get things done, literally half the time don’t know which way I am turning. That is crazy making in itself. I now just laugh at how I can’t seem to stop losing things and just am not coping like I used to. It’s not surprising. I could really do without it though. Only then will I start to find some peace but feel there are custody and other legal battles ahead that I frankly can’t stomach.

          • Dudders,

            I consider this ‘normal’ in light of what has happened to us. Our brains have been turned upside down and mine sure needed time to re-adjust to the new reality I am now living in. Huge adjustment since I was married for about 30 years.

            Our brains need time to sort, file and toss out too and mine was doing all of that on top of me going about my daily life which is busy too.

            I am beginning to feel more ‘normal’ now though so there is hope.

            Hang in there and be kind to yourself!

    • You will miss out on so many things if you stay. I stayed for for 7 years finally left 2.5 years ago. 2 years ago I met an AMAZING man. I mean AMAZING. My little one LOVES him and he loves her like she is his own. We want a child together. However, I’m no 40 years old. Wasted so much time on the Cheater. Now, I pray to God that I can give this amazing man a child. Don’t miss out on your Amazing life. Even before I met this man my life was becoming amazing.

      One other thing. I now can be the mom I want to be. No more wasted time policing, no more criticizing comments on how I would parent. I get to be me. I love that.
      Leave now. find your amazing. Don’t be the floor mat.

    • “…it’s what we give up if we stay.” Lump in my throat, tears welling in my eyes, punch to the gut feeling as I read this over and over. Im free now, but can never have that time or my health, let alone all of the money invested, back.

    • Colorado, one more related thing to consider….A couple of weeks ago, my DS7 asked me what his first word was. I relayed the story. My DS12 was sitting in the room and asked about his first word. Again, I relayed the story. Both of them then asked what my DS3’s first word was. I couldn’t remember. My sons were AGHAST!! Aghast, I tell you, that I was getting so old that I couldn’t remember a first word from 2 years ago but could remember first words from before that. Lol. What’s not so funny, though, is this made me realize just one more thing that this shit show steals from chumps. DDay was just after DS3’s first birthday, followed by a year of living with now XW cheater while waiting for the divorce to finalize. I was so traumatized for that year, that I don’t remember any of the major development milestones from that time period.

      You are a new mom. You should be enjoying your baby, not policing a fuckwit. It’s pretty clear that your husband has already taken the safety of a loving relationship. Don’t let him steal the memories of your baby. That would be a real shame.

    • Yes. I made so many excuses, but when faced with reality….he was NEVER the person I told myself he was. At 54….. the grief …..
      Trying not to untangle anymore, but Colorado, moments from years,even decades ago, remembered with my knowledge of today…bring me to my knees. Stop giving him your self respect. This is not a marriage, this is cover to make it all more exciting for him. Plan B.

    • Yes 1000 times to this. It is what YOU – not him – give up when you stay. You give up any chance to have a true relationship with someone who truly loves you. 22 years down the drain for me and there is no chance of ever getting to experience raising a family with someone who truly wants to be there…someone who truly loves and respects you, someone who values their family more than anything in the world..someone who cherishes the little family he help create. That is gone for me…I’ll never get that chance again, but he could. And when you realize that choice was 100% your own, that is a tough one to deal with. I gave up the best years of my life for someone who acted sincere all because I had already invest in him and I wanted to believe. I lied to myself…I saw the red flags but I gave excuses. That is painful…I am in counseling now trying to deal with that resentment. It is tough when you realize you don’t value yourself enough to walk out the door.

      • mcfeisty,

        Well put.

        I sure hope Colorado does read what you have written. How I do envy my friends who are married to strongly committed relationships – not perfect by any means but they are HONEST and all have stayed honest through thick and thin. Decades worth of commitment.

        Too late for me too. 🙁

        I feel for my grown children. What they grew up with right under our noses. All a lie and the man they loved and admired is nothing more than a common slut, a horrific liar and now a dirty old man.

    • Look at my screen name, I became “expert” at policing. It truely was a horrible place to be, it sucked the very essence from my soul.

      If I could go back in time and give myself advice it would be: Walk at the first emotional affair, why would you want to be with someone so willing to risk everything for inappropriate friendships?

  • Mine would say he fell asleep, was watching news on his phone, left it in the car, was watching movies. Always something! But when I caught him txting the other woman, he txt her early in the morning like after 5am. I’m still in the same fucken bed with him!!!!! Omg! Telling her to wake up. Than I saw txt him saying “sexy” and than txting her saying he’s just getting off work. Like f… you!! He never had time for that with me and when he did it was not genuine. Anyway bunch of shitty people.

  • Colorado, I’ve lived your life. Don’t be the chump that I was. After D-Day, I found email addresses that I knew nothing about that he had been using and they weren’t innocent. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether or not it was a full-blown affair, he cheated on you and the pattern will continue. Cheaters lie – just remember that.

  • “My phone died.”
    “Really? Because it didn’t go straight to voicemail. In fact, it rang five times before voicemail picked up; and I called you multiple times. And my texts to you showed as delivered.”
    …morning of when he rolled up in our driveway at 5:23 a.m. – after being out all night, claiming to have slept in his fancy 2-door bmw (@ 6’ tall), in February, in Connecticut 🤣🤣🤣

    • OMG, I slept outside my (male) friends house in the car…… Yeah sure buddy, 6″ snow on the ground, in Corvette bucket seats?

      • LOL, mine said he slept in his truck outside a bar on a downtown street in Syracuse in January because he ‘drank too many beers to drive home.’ I believed him! asked why he didn’t call me he said he was so drunk he dropped his phone then fell asleep. Arrived home 8 a.m. Saturday morning, chumpy me was telling him I was just happy he was safe and sound as he smirked at me.

  • “Shocked but fighty, I said he could take that moment to choose between her and his family, and if he chose his family, he was going to have to walk the walk.”

    Nopity nope nope.

    You allowed this guy to “choose”? Why do you want a douche bag stupid enough to come to you and admit an emotional affair while you’re bouncing a baby on your hip? Do you want a man you have to restrain under house arrest so you know he’s not fucking someone else? Go get yourself a lawyer and start planning your future. I guarantee you he’ll pull this again if he’s not already. You said there is a pattern of this so . . . he’s not going to stop. You’ve shown him he doesn’t have to.

    Also, is the OW married? If so, did you give her partner a head’s up?

    • I second Rumblekitty. My husband was smart enough to stick with married or otherwise committed women for most of the twenty years he cheated. Those women take the necessary steps to avoid getting pregnant. He only got caught when he chose a 37 year old with a ticking biological clock who had left a long term relationship with someone who wouldn’t commit and have children.

      So now my daughter gets to share any inheritance and his income with another woman’s child. It makes me sick that some woman I have never seen, who lives in another country, can just blow up my family and reach in and make a claim on assets it has taken me decades to accumulate. It feels like rape. I feel completely violated. When I ask how much money he is sending this woman, he gets angry and lists what he “gives” our daughter and says new baby deserves the same. He has been cutting back the money he contributes to our lives each month and I can’t say anything about it.

      My lawyer says that there isn’t much I can do to protect myself as long as I am married. I have 9 to 12 months for this divorce to be final. Who knows what he will have done by then. Avoid this fate at all costs.

    • First, get tested for STI’s. Next lawyer up. Thirdly document everything. Any proof of him spending money when and where he shouldnt. Usually affairs are expensive. You shouldnt have to pay for his wandering dick.
      Lastly, you really have to stop projecting your morals onto him. He has been wearing a mask since the second you met him. Nothing he has ever said or done is sincere. He felt entitled for you to do all the hard work. The wife appliance work, while he got his rocks off with the softball team and coworkers. He definitely has a burner. Its not where you will find it, which is why he is so cocky about you getting it forensically tested. Its hidden at work, in his gym bag, in the trunk of the car, somewhere he knows you wont find it. If you dig enough, you will probably find a receipt or card statement with it listed. He is definitely having sex. And you know its all your fault because you got pregnant and was “too tired”, “unattractive”, “giving all your attention to the baby”. So asshat had to go elsewhere for his kicks, yeah right. Get your ducks lined up, bail out or kick him out and show your child what real love is. And for the love of god – trust your gut instincts

  • You’re allowed to leave the relationship for whatever reason you want. You don’t have to wait for ‘proof’ that he has crossed a line.

    I remember how much I disliked the person I was when I did all that policing stuff. I felt like a crazy person.

    • By the time I was thinking about confronting XAss with my suspicions he had already been working to make me crazy with all the gaslighting and devaluing behavior. I was being encouraged by my friends to start snooping – find the proof. I would get up and go sleep in a different room after he came to bed in the main bedroom late at night. The other bed room was where his computer was, that he left on and open all the time. I started to look, and then I just stopped. It wasn’t because I was afraid of what I might find, it was because by this time it just didn’t matter. A shit sandwich is a shit sandwich no matter how much, or what flavor of shit it is.

      Finding anything out about the who, what, where and when wouldn’t have helped me in any way in the long run. I just didn’t care anymore because the whole package wasn’t worth it. It was time to walk. And I did. Thank the Goddess!

  • And another penny drops with “cheater’s cell phone dropped in the craziest places”
    Multiple times, really unreal crazy places, and Chump me believed every story.
    Face palm.

    • Yep….he couldn’t bring himself to let me know when he left work( 45 min away), so I could prepare dinner and we could eat as a family because” that would be like admitting you’re the boss of me”…..huh?

  • How is this “emotional” cheating if the texts were sexual in nature?

    Emotional cheating would be being emotionally close, if you bring sex into the arena in any way, shape or form it’s fucking sexual – even without the fucking!

    If we have to draw the line at physical intimacy, that’s well over the cliff already.
    To each their boundaries, mine are strict.

  • I would catch mine texting his OW (or OW’s) sitting right on the couch in front of me….I would ask “who are you texting?’ His response would always be “I’m not texting, I’m reading the news.”, he would then turn his phone around and show Yahoo, or ABC news. I would always know this was BS, because there is a difference between a scrolling and tapping motion used to view the news (or any other website) and the tapping on a keyboard to text. Sometimes I would catch a glimpse of text bubbles as I would pass by him. The best was when one time when he turned his phone around to show me “the news”, he messed up and I could see the text bubbles! Dude was not nearly as bright as he thought and apparently thought I was an idiot.

    I also found a “burner phone” among his belongings when I purged my house of his stuff. He did not delete photos and texts from there, it was invaluable….

    My now 21-year-old son said that he had found my ex’s profile on some app called KIK. This was some kind of texting app that he was using to by-pass the phone-texting.

    If they want to keep in contact with OW, they will find a way, and with technology, the ways are almost limitless. .

    • Mine text in front of me all the time . I’d ask who do you keep texting that’s like 200 messages you’ve sent tonight .
      He say I’m not texting I’m using WhatsApp !!! Like there a different

      Oh and it was always Craig about the fantasy football Leaue – riiiggghhhttt slaps my own face what a chump and I believed him

  • MAYBE if this was a one-time thing, I would believe that he pulled himself off the precipice.

    But given his history, I think he confessed because he was threatened with exposure… maybe by OW or someone else on the team. He confessed to get the jump on anyone who would out him. He was more than happy to quit the team and cut off OW and his mutual friends because he needed to remove himself from anyone who knew what was going on.

    He doesn’t value your marriage, Colorado. He values saving his ass and saving his reputation.

    Your letter reminds me of an “emotional affair” post on SI recently where a “wayward wife” who was a school teacher was heaped with praise by the community for her remorse by immediately going no contact and quitting the school that she worked at to avoid the OM, who was the father of a student. This woman was so convincing and manipulative that other betrayed spouses were going on her husband’s thread to defend her and convince him to reconcile!

    Her betrayed husband suspected she wasn’t telling the truth, and sure enough, he found out (via polygraph) that his wife and OM were having sex… and most of it took place in her classroom after hours. She didn’t quit her job to save her marriage; she quit because she was terrified of her husband or OM’s wife reporting her to the school. Also, OM’s wife revealed that OM had herpes, a fact which the wife had also tried to conceal from her husband.

    Colorado, you wouldn’t be here in CL to begin with if this didn’t smell like rotten fish to you.

  • This is his 3rd strike (two too many but this is what Chumps do & you are in good company).

    Seek a divorce. It is only a matter of time before he infects you, announces he has a new baby with OW #15, “I was never happy” or any other variation on the theme.

    Cut those costs, seek legal help and file FIRST in order to establish custody.

    Don’t deny yourself the opportunity to find an honest committed partner in the future.

    Staying with this guy only predisposes your son to thinking abusing a partner is normal.

    Yes, it IS abuse.

  • Please listen to the advice here……leave just leave. I know you have an infant and I know it will not be an easy transition with all the work and crazy emotions. You married a weak jerk and being married to a weak jerk never ends well. Someone here said that this is a time you should be enjoying your infant, doesn’t sound like you are enjoying life right at the moment. It’s not fair to you and your child deserves better. A decent father would have all his attention on his newborn and delight in the new family unit. He wouldn’t be engaging in an affair with another woman. Don’t kid yourself it was and a good possibility it still is an affair. Also, someone else stated “do you want him to come to you 10, 20 years from now and say he is leaving, he was never happy. This is what weak jerks do and all the policing (effin exhausting) will not change who he is, a weak jerk.

    • I watch the VKM’s kiddo and spouse just over-the-moon about their new baby. They do EVERYTHING together. Lots of young couples are like that. Sometimes these big life events reveal major character flaws in people, but in this case, you see there is a pattern of him being a weak jerk. A jackass. And you get to choose whether a weak and selfish baby/man is good enough for you.

  • I’ve learned a lot from Chump Lady & Chump Nation. And it’s not about him. It’s about you. Is this kind of life acceptable to you? This won’t change. It will always be like this. You taking care of your family. And him doing what he wants & making excuses. You need to feel secure in a marriage. Does he make you feel secure? Is this the kind of relationship & marriage that you want? They do not change. I’ve lived it. I experienced the absent spouse whom you couldn’t get a hold of to bring home milk for the kids if you ran out.
    I wish I had CL & CN 28 years ago because I would’ve realized sooner & removed the stresser sooner. It’s stressful to live without a true partner raising kids when you think you have a true partner. You have expectations & they are often crushed by the missing unreliable spouse.
    You decide if this kind of life works for you or not.
    You’re still young. You deserve more.
    Best of luck.

  • We as chumpy adults put up with alot. But think about if this is what you want for your baby. When i was pick me dancing I knew how crappy it felt to always feel like the last priority, but slowly I realized my kids felt that way too. All of us living breathing present people were the least important. The phone was glued to his face no matter what and the rest of us could have been ON FIRE for all he cared. My daughter was 8 at the time told her therapist “my dad is in love with his phone”. Which was so true! You dont want your little one to always be fighting for his attention. You are already the only sane and present parent, may as well make it official.

    • Yes, the kids see it. My daughter was always asking my husband if he loved me. He refused to answer because “he didn’t want to lie” even though he had no qualms about lying to me for 20 years. I asked my daughter why she was asking him that and she said he didn’t seem to care about me at all. She saw it years before I did.

      As for security, I never suspected his infidelity but I was never truly secure. If I was under a great deal of emotional distress, I felt a huge amount of pressure to sort myself out to avoid being a burden and making life unpleasant for my husband. He was abusive but I didn’t realise it, likely because my dad wasn’t so great either.

      My husband does claim I am lucky because he never hit or yelled at me(WTF?!) The gaslighting and the new baby apparently don’t constitute abuse in his eyes.

      • Wombatmom, you are so spot on with how children see the facade for what it really is. Cheater said he couldn’t wait for the time when our daughter would be old enough for Daddy/daughter dates so he can show her “how a man should treat a woman”. HAHAHA! Are you kidding me? This after Dday and an unraveling history of disrespecting/using women. I told him, you model that by how you treat her mother. He treated me like a surrogate during the pregnancy and following her birth, like the nanny and housekeeper. It took a lot to get past the devaluing and depersonalizing, but I finally kicked his ass to the curb. When the time is right, I hope to be able to model for her what a healthy relationship looks like with a supportive, loving and loyal partner. In the meantime, I’m investing in creating a life of consistency, joy, and fulfillment in a happy home for her and me. It’s at times challenging, and lonely, but I know it’s better than it would be having stayed in that cycle of abuse. Here’s to being mighty and to today – I think it’s finally my Tuesday!

      • My young adult disabled son has started saying, I don’t think STBX is really at the gym etc – questioning his whereabouts for no reason other than that likely he’s picking up on the subtle clues that someone isn’t trustworthy – that the details don’t add up.

        Yeah, and I think he went to the gym and sat in the parking lot sexting whoever. He was only there 30 minutes and came back no sweaty.

        I feel gross modeling this bs.

      • Sparkledick tried explaining to my daughter (thankfully not his) why he, behaved like he did. She looked him straight in the eye and said “You don’t deserve a woman like my mother!”

        I dumped his lying ass the next day.

  • A lifetime of this can only ever suck, and it will get worse and worse over time.

    The whole “emotional friendship” thing is complete bullshit, of course. People don’t hide innocent things.

    From this side of things—divorce accomplished, freedom won, healing underway for every member of the beautiful little family the idiot was incapable of seeing as the treasure it is and always will be—I’m confident in saying that the moment you even ponder hiring a PI, the marriage is done and it’s time to go.

    Cheaters cheat, and it has zero to do with you. If your partner has a taste for many, and digs the subterfuge, there’s nothing to work with. You are one person, and an honest one. You won’t transform the cheater, and if you stay, it will only ever hurt.

    So sorry. PI, tech sleuths, months of hiding—time to go. You deserve better, and always have.

  • One, they all claim there was no sex. Two, they just get smarter with their cheating. Once I had full access to her phone and phone bill, she started using text apps. On the surface, looked like nothing was going on. Till she forgot to delete the app before coming home.

  • Well at least you are setting some boundaries. When ex had the emotional affair I thought the fact that he told me about it and carried on in front of my face meant he wouldn’t ever actually cheat. I took the invitation to pick me dance and danced for eight years, never really being good enough, always seemingly getting it wrong, until he eventually had two physical affairs with other women and left me in favor of Schmoopie 2.0 because she “cared” about him. At the time, I thought of the emotional affair as a near affair but no, it was still a full blown affair even if it didn’t go physical. It still hurt me emotionally and did irreparable damage to our marriage. As soon as he allowed himself to even be tempted it was the beginning of the end and his eventual straying was inevitable. I thought I could control it by being the perfect wife so he wouldn’t need to cheat. It turns out I had no control of the situation because it really wasn’t about me at all, it was him and his weakness, insecurity and selfishness and there was nothing I could do about that.

  • Colorado,
    I’m from Colorado, too, and I married a man who also engaged in serial emotional affairs. I didn’t understand that’s what it was the first time it happened; I only knew that I was hurt (and angry) that he was leaving me waiting for him while he was out making sure another woman was being taken care of. That pattern, of him not caring about whether I was being taken care of, but investing in another woman, repeated itself throughout the marriage, and over time, his devaluing of me increased. When we’d walk down the street, he’d walk yards ahead of me, as if I weren’t even there. He let more of the burden for house and yard work fall to me. And at the same time he was rushing off to talk to an ex-student about her father problems, he’d act as if I were not caring enough about him. We get tied up in knots because it’s not sex (or we think it isn’t), but the fact is, they are opting out of the marriage, and they are blaming us for that. I lived with the devaluing and the hurt for 35 years. Don’t do the same. That baby you think needs a father does not need that kind of father, or that kind of model for a marriage.

    • I am from Colorado also. My XW’s affairs started off as emotional affairs first. She preyed on illegal/green card Mexican’s. Always helping them get their citizenship and/or help them adapt to the USA. She would talk about them with me, while banging them. After DDay all she would say that they were emotional affairs. No trail of evidence as they would were after/during work. I only found out the truth by my lawyer after he did a Colorado State criminal background check. She had a whole double life set up. My lawyer said she was one of the most dishonest people he ever came across. They only tell you the bare minimum. The trickle truth… Please be careful.

    • This is so true…..and it hurts and devalues us one drop at a time. We even start to repeat it in our heads, think we are selfish because we hurt when they are so nice to others and ignore us.

  • He’s testing your boundaries or more specifically he’s testing the weakness of your boundaries. Kind of like the velociraptors tested the weakness in the electric fences in the original Jurassic Park.

    He is habitually forming inappropriate friendships and making sure you find out about it. He wants to know how you react when he gets ever closer to the line. Kind of like a toddler. It’s only a matter of time until he crosses it.

    I’ve now successfully compared you husband to a prehistoric carnivore and a baby. Not much to work with sorry to say.

    The only important question is “what is acceptable you?” If you think his friendships are inappropriate and you’ve told him they make you uncomfortable he’s already trouncing on your boundaries. Is that okay with you?

  • If they don’t tell you about their ‘friend’, it’s more than a friendship, sexual or not. I really don’t believe people have emotional affairs, for 8 months, without being physical. Heck, most people don’t even date that long without some form of intimacy.

    The fact that he lied, hid, betrayed, keeps doing it again, should tell you everything. You are not as important to him as a loving wife should be. Your feelings, your needs and wants come in second place and you should never be option B.

  • This guy “confesses” when he’s ready to exit the emotional affair and lays the blame with the wife. For him, it’s a win-win. He gets to kiss Schmoopie goodbye (maybe because she wants a commitment?) as well as the benefit of buying time with the wife by appearing loyal to his family. He is only Mr. Straight & Narrow until the next Scmoopie comes along. And it won’t be long.

  • And here is how he starts his “emotional affairs.” My wife and I aren’t getting along. She is mean and hateful and jealous of everything I do. She pisses me off and we are separated trying to figure out when to get divorced. Here is a love poem for you and other offerings of love. Yes, I love you and can’t wait until we are together. (string along, string along). God I want to kiss you, just one kiss – and how about a hug, wow you have a great body. My wife let herself go. I’m staying at a motel 6 until I can find a place. (string along, string along). Damn. She found my phone! Damn she is pissed off and threatening me! Damn we can’t do this anymore I have a baby at home. My mother has been calling me telling me to go home. Damn Damn Damn. Let me figure out how I’m going to get divorced, hang on (string along string along). Shit I can’t get divorced now the baby is teething, everyone is mad at me and I need to take the baby to the dentist. I’m sorry but we need to end this now because of the baby and everyone is really pissed at me. I’m checking out of motel 6 tonight. bye bye. till the next one comes along. They lie to everyone! my favorite is when they talk about how marriage is an outdated thing from the past when we were agrarians and needed safety and security to raise our offspring in the wild. The modern woman/man has many loves blah fucking blah. When you are middle aged, recently divorced and online dating you meet this shit at almost every fucking turn. men and women a like. And if it isn’t this then it is the man who lost his laptop and luggage at the airport who needs $5000 to get home. it is hard to not be a cynic and hateful. Colorado, hate to say it but he is a cheater and you are being played. who knows how many there really are or were. I think you know because you hired a PI! That’s all I needed to read. You know

  • The coward I was married to had a predilection for blondes at work. He was constantly falling in love with one and then another and then another. And whenever he was in love with some blond or another, he was a complete asshole and made me feel like total shit. I never believed that he slept with any of these women. I always believed that these were one sided emotional affairs. My husband didn’t play softball. He was into biking and hiking and fencing and sailing all by himself or with friends from work. All that time he was fantasizing about being with other women. All that time he was not at home helping me with the chores and the kids. “It’s my day off!” he would scream.

    Then he finally found an ex blond of his on Facebook And off he went when our kids were teenagers. He said he never loved me. And looking back it was easy to see that he was not lying about that at least. And he accused me of neglect and of his loneliness.

    That’s what I predict for you if you let this go on. Fact is, he feels entitled to have all these emotional affairs and to be away from home pursuing his interests instead of taking care of his home and his wife and his baby. He wants to be single except for the part where you are the wife appliance who washes his underwear and minds the annoying baby. Maybe you service him like a dear, blaming yourself for not feeling more sexy for him. And in the end he will blame you for only caring about the baby and not him, when he never ever cared for YOU and left everything having anything to do with responsibility in your lap.

    Ah, yes. I know this game well. Take good care of yourself.

    Would someone post the link to how to prepare for divorce? This fellow may be hiding money from you. Don’t be blind. Take steps now to protect yourself.

    I can also testify that there are really great guys out there who will show you what it is like to be married to someone who loves you. The cheating was my get out of jail free card.

    • “All that time he was not at home helping me with the chores and the kids. “It’s my day off!” he would scream.”

      I hope when he is old, feeble and needs help from his kids, they respond with “Hey its my day off!”

      I can also testify there are great people available out there that would make great partners.

  • Dear Colorado,

    He is lying to you ask me how i know ??

    I got to start with we have never even kissed , then it was OK we kissed but that’s it . Then it was we have had foreplay but no sex , then it was OK we had sex but only once , then it was the bonus of positive for herpes – lucky me !!!

    This was the man that said he never even kissed her to start with swore on his nieces life not 2 minutes before .
    They lie and cheat and just because he never text it on his phone doesn’t mean he hasn’t done it in real life .

  • I once read a book by Pat Love that made a huge impression on me, called “The Emotional Incest Syndrome,” about families in which one parent had a “golden child” who was preferred over the spouse and other children. That explained a lot about my own FOO, as my mother was in a major codependent mess with my brother. It wasn’t that he could do no wrong; it was that she was so up in his business that he never developed social skills. But I digress.

    One huge takeaway I got from that book was the idea that adult partners/spouses should have a shared life that is about each other. They should be each other’s
    1. Emotional partner (This person is whom you go to when you need a soft place to fall, as Dr. Phil would say.
    2. Financial partner (not one person in charge and the other dependent)
    3. Social partner
    4. Child-rearing partner

    There may be other points but you get my drift. If your spouse is having even an emotional affair, he’s checked out of being your emotional partner because his energy (and his affection and regard) is elsewhere, as you see from the text messages. He’s checked out of being your social partner, because his actual social life revolves around Softball Schmoopie. It’s not like you get to go out and play with a Schmoopie when you have an infant at home. Most likely, if he’s busy having an emotional affair, he’s not really PRESENT for you as a parenting partner. What kind of details of YOUR life is he sharing with his SoftballSchmoopie? How many things that you share as a mother with your husband end up in those text messages? Finally–financial. How many times has he taken her out for coffee? for lunch? for beers after the game? Do you really have any idea if any money has flowed her way?

    Brene Brown’s website has the following on its home page:
    “Trust is earned in the smallest of moments.
    It is earned not through heroic deeds, or even highly visible actions, but through paying attention, listening, and gestures of genuine care and connection.”

    She talks about “disengagement” as a fundamental betrayal in marriage: “There is a particular sort of betrayal that is more insidious and equally corrosive to trust. In fact, this betrayal usually happens long before the other ones. I’m talking about the betrayal of disengagement. Of not caring. Of letting the connection go. Of not being willing to devote time and effort to the relationship.”

    Your husband disengaged from your relationship (not returning texts/calls to a pregnant wife or one with an infant? Unforgivable, in my view). Not that I’d be willing to bet that these two haven’t had sex. I’d bet the ranch on it. That’s what adults do. He just won’t cop to it because that might mean divorce, splitting assets and child support. He’s a typical “baby cheater.” The wife is pregnant and dealing with incubating and pushing out of her body an 8-pound human. Then the infant takes up buckets of time. So he checks out because, hey, he’s entitled to his fun. You’re married to a Jackass.

    • To answer your question, if cheating is breaking the vow to love and cherish you, putting aside any attachments to other women—an emotional affair is cheating. It’s cheating YOU of a fully engaged partner. Sex always seems like the final frontier, eh? But for me, a spouse talking about me to another woman for whom he professes “love” is a true betrayal. Meanwhile, you’re at home with a baby.

      • Yes, it’s GROSS how much the OW ends up knowing about you! Sick conversations where you, the loyal wife, are mocked. Now that’s betrayal
        It amazes me that these women can’t see what bad and evil character this shows???
        Anyway, don’t play their game, remove your bad self!

  • There is no such thing as an “emotional affair “. especially with cheaters when turned on by another woman. I was told “she’s just a friend “ by my exH.
    I ignored many red flags that got me nowhere.
    34 years married to a lying deceitful man while I was the best wife I could be. Don’t waste your youth on a loser because that sounds exactly what he is. You deserve better! Stay strong 👍🏻

    • True, that. They are only emotional affairs because they haven’t opened their legs yet. The guy is working on it, you can absolutely believe that.

  • Colorado—

    Look up “trickle truth.” It’s what he’s given you. Then consider why he confessed to the emotional affair.

    If this had been a one-time thing, then maybe–just maybe–you could afford to believe him. I mean, it sounds like every Chump’s dream: “Honey, I have to tell you that I’m developing feelings for someone on my company softball team. It’s led to two weeks of an emotional whirlwind of friendship and feelings. I’m uncomfortable with those feelings because I love YOU and our baby and I’ll do anything to keep us together.”

    Wow! Who wouldn’t give their spouse a second chance? They sound so open, so sincere, so everything we would want–and they told us before they had sex!

    You’re right to question him. On two previous occasions, you’ve become aware that his friendships with other women are inappropriate at best. This is his third time. And he wasn’t honest with you even when he confessed the affair. He gave you two weeks, not the previous 8 months. This is where you need to ask yourself the next question: why tell you about the 2 weeks when there was another 8 months?

    Enter trickle truth. When you’re trickle truthing, you confess to what the other person already knows you did. Except you didn’t know about the 2-week emotional affair. Your husband could have kept that secret but he didn’t. Why? The great possibility is that OW threatened to let you know about the affair. Your husband was scared enough that he thought the best strategy was to let you know first so that if you were given the evidence of the sexts, you’d say that your husband already told you.

    Your gut is already telling you that things aren’t adding up. That’s why you hired a PI. If you have access to his financial records, then look for payments that you didn’t expect to find: credit cards that you didn’t know he had (what’s in his wallet?), payments on burner phones, etc.

    But more important than fishing around in his financials is asking yourself whether this kind of life is the life you want to live. If the jury is still out on that, then get him to sign a nice post-nupt that gives you a very nice settlement in case of a divorce, regardless of the cause. If he won’t sign it, then you know he’s cheating.

    Best of luck.

  • Colorado, look at this guy as though he is an addict. A particular type of addict. The substance he is addicted to is some cocktail mixture of adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, cortisol or something else. We are all in fact driven largely by the sensations, arousals, moods created by these substances. The question is what produces it in us versus someone like your husband. A big part of what we mean by “character” might be accurately described as the state of having permanently developed neurological wiring which provides this cocktail reward upon perceiving and being moved to behavior by the intangible transcendent value of another, or of absolutes like virtue or truth. So conversely, when such wiring doesn’t exist, it’s not that the chemical rewards don’t exist, they just get produced along different wiring routes and different cues.

    Your husband gets a high off of illicit sexualised interactions. He isn’t wired to feel anything close to that from the kinds of things chumps experience like the knowledge that your wife, this person who loves you, who alone has this intangible bond of trust and dependence in you, yes you, is honoring that bond right now and loves doing so, and so on. That kind of thing, even if it isn’t explicitly thought, is felt by chumps, but literally cannot be felt by cheaters. They can talk like it is so, and they know they should talk like it is so, but their wiring literally doesn’t lead to the same reward. We get a double scotch out of true meaningful connection, they maybe get a light beer.

    There are reasons for this difference. There was a time, long passed, when his developing brain could have connected executive function and higher concepts to enduring rewards. But he is culpable – he knows full well he’s lying to you that there’s a preference for the cocktail he receives from marriage and fatherhood – there isn’t. This is what he is. Know this. For whatever appearances have been, he isn’t existing on the same emotional plane as you. It doesn’t exist for him. He can only feel his most rewarding energised state when pulling one over on someone, when a touch of novelty, anxiety and triangulation makes it and him special. Remember, he literally can’t feel the special rewards that a chump feels from permanence and depth. He’ll always know his cocktail is out there and he’ll always want more, even if his lifetime supply of free light beer suffices for periods at a time.

    • This is really well-written and so darn helpful…such an excellently-clear overview of how the Cheater Brain is simply not wired like our brains and therefore will always produce the same results over and over.

      Google “Inverted Social Reward” to see more on this topic, but you really sum it up perfectly here, TKO.

      And as you point out, for Cheaters deceiving and abusing other people makes them feel amazing, all warm and special and happy, full of power and agency, they are literally at their happiest when lying to others…and they’re ALWAYS going to take that course of action when available.

      In a way, they are like the “Replicants” from BLADE RUNNER: lifelike in every way except human emotion, which they can simulate but never feel…and they will fight like hell to prevent you from exposing (and “retiring”) them.

      Great post, TKO…i’m printing and cutting it out for my “Narc Board” where i keep the wisdom i need to win this war!

    • So true, TKO, but it takes us forever to believe it! My X LOVES a good con. I didn’t know for decades that he also conned me! I knew he liked laughing at me, and being rude…a real charmer, huh? FOO issues trained me to accept that, and keep hoping. I’m glad that I, at least, can learn and evolve as a person. He will always be a con.

  • Here is what I think makes this topic confusing to us chumps. Everyone who is out there in the world has encountered people with whom they share something–even perhaps someone that you think you might have dated had you not been married. If we all had only one possible match, the chances of finding that person would be very low. But we don’t mistake witty banter with the guy who seems to think you’re sexy with true love that exceeds all you share with your spouse. Part of what strengthens the love over time are shared memories, life battles fought together, building a family and things like that-not stardust and fireworks. I worked in a very male-dominated profession and would go away to meetings where I was one of the only women. I had a colleague I would see at one of these meetings that grew up in the same area, went to the same university, played guitar and was very outdoorsy. He also had kids the same age as ours. And we both worked in the same scientific field. We’d always talk about the 49ers, eclectic music and great hiking/mountain biking trails and we exchanged emails somewhat regularly because we had a scientific collaboration. He lives 4 states away and is also married. If he were single now, given what I’ve seen out there, I would put him on the top of my possibilities list. But while married, neither one of us ever hinted at anything. I didn’t put an email exchange with this colleague above anything family related. Was there some sort of chemistry floating deep underneath the surface there? I think so. But you just don’t go there. It isn’t necessary. I had a husband who I thought possessed many traits that I loved, that were unique to him. Having these superficial things in common with people outside the marriage, actually enjoying their company, makes work more enjoyable. It doesn’t turn home life into some sort of prison keeping you from your soul mate. I think this is why we chumps get confused. Because we think that our cheater is talking about something like this and we think, “Well I think that guy I work with is kind of cute and I like talking to him so it’s probably just like that.” But it isn’t. The cheater sees these connections as his or her right. As something that he or she deserves to have. And the marriage is secondary. That’s the difference between harmless flirtation or friendly connections and an “emotional affair”. Just my two cents.

    • And I want to clarify that the email exchange would be something like. “Here is the latest data set. We are going to repeat it with these changes. Let me know what you think? Did you do the Bioluminescence Resonance Energy Transfer experiments met? Oh and how about those 49ers-what’s the deal with them.” Not sexy, unnecessary personal exchanges. Or maybe it would be, “I just saw Green Day last weekend-they were amazing.” instead of the football comment. Nothing more.

  • “…even though it complicates most of the advice I’ve been hearing about my marriage.”

    Sounds as though you have been infected by the RIC. Listen – they are NOT interested in YOUR HEALTH and a HEALTHY outcome. If YOU suffer from PTSD from this bullshit, they reap the rewards in the form of years of pointless therapy by not addressing the underlying issue. His abusive behavior.

    Save yourself and your son.

    Your husband is only it for the Spousal Appliance perks and to not have to share marital assets.

    • I don’t believe in unicorns but I do believe in ‘Gift Horses’ Finding out about the cheating scoundrel in my opinion is a Gift Horse. Saddle up and ride away from this loser you and your child deserve better.

  • Makes me wonder if HE is cutting these OWs off-or are THEY cutting him off?

    I used the “he was weak and stupid and we had a lot of stress at that time in our marriage” excuse.

    When it happened again with a different OW-I realized that they would flirt with the STBX-then he would come on WAY too strong-and then the OW would try to shake him off…..

  • So here’s how I see it:

    Those were full blown affairs, not “emotional affairs.” They got sexual over the messages. That’s consumation of said affair whether or not there was physical human contact.

    An emotional affair is maybe being a little too casually flirty, replacing a “friend” for one’s partner where the cheater goes to the “friend” rather than their spouse for big issues, talking a little too much. The emotional affair was the 8 months of prolonged contact. The full blown affair was when they started expressing real feelings for one another and took it to the sexual level.

    So in other words, husband has had multiple full blown affairs over the course of your marriage. You can never rest at ease because it is certain that a new one will pop up. Run. Get a lawyer and run.

  • Regardless of what we all share- you will leave when the pain of staying is greater than the fear of leaving.
    It’s a when situation, not an if.
    Know that you’re not alone.
    Has he started talking about having another baby yet? (Flags, whistles)
    Abuse comes in so many varieties.
    Attractive packaging, scorched earth inside.
    Go.

  • Some things I’ve found on this journey:

    – Disordered people will sniff out your wounds and poke at them. Let’s say you had a parent who favored another child or withheld attention. They will do things that aggravate this wound, because they know both that it will hurt and that you’ll put up with it because it feels familiar.
    – Disordered people amp it up when you’re most vulnerable and have the most to lose. They tend to be the ones that kick you when you’re down, but they deny their intention to hurt.
    – The most skilled abusers will often find tactics that hurt you, but are too subtle to appear to be dealbreakers.

  • Who do we have to thank for popularizing the asinine idea of “emotional affairs”? This idea is just ridiculous. I think it panders to women (mostly) and plays on some popular notion that “it’s not exactly cheating if it isn’t sex.” People- please call it what it is – foreplay. Would you be okay saying, “I found my partner enjoying foreplay with the pitcher but, ya know, they weren’t cheating, so I’m hurt, but their genitals didn’t touch so it isn’t as big a deal as if they did.” Seriously? WTF? And, after the slap on the wrist who is going to feel worse? The person who just enjoyed foreplay and learned the price is a wrist slap or the person who knows their partner is a faithless pos but can’t walk away because, you know, emotional affair.

    Your heart knows the truth. You don’t need a private investigator to confirm that it’s time to leave the clown show.

  • I doubt my stbx had a burner phone because, like you NTHIC, once I knew he had cheated I went back and I could see records of MANY texts he had sent to other women using his cell phone. Why use a burner phone when you have a trusting wife?

    And I could be wrong, but I think stbx was faithful for the first few years of our relationship.

    But then he started flirting with/chasing various women for a couple years before he finally decided to have sex with one. I had a bad feeling about a woman he had the balls to call his “work wife” – though he said I didn’t have to worry because she lived with her musclebound boyfriend, implying he’d get beat up if he hooked up with her. Did this reassure me? Hell no. I don’t think this particular relationship got physical, but if she’d locked a door at work and told him she wanted him then and there do I think he’d have done it? Hell yes.

    I believe they come in different degrees of disordered. A vestige of a moral compass may keep some of these people from having sex – crossing that line – for a number of years. But it’s only a hazy, foggy remnant of something that someone tried to instill in them (stbx had wacko parents but lived with grandparents for much of his childhood, and according to siblings, they were wise and decent people who tried to teach him right from wrong; unfortunately I think the parental influence prevailed).

    What I’m saying is that while your husband may not have actually screwed someone yet, I think when the opportunity and right circumstances are there, he will. That’s what happened with mine. I didn’t want to believe he was capable of it. I saw the slippery slope but wanted to think he’d never cross that line.

    “You have deep sunk costs… and he gambles that.” CL is absolutely spot on here. You are right to doubt him. You are right not to feel confident in his fidelity. You have a spouse you cannot trust – and I’ll wager, if you stay, it’s just a matter of time before he has sex with someone. Probably without protection (like mine) and he’ll put your health at risk because you’ll still be having sex with him for some time before you find out.

    We are warning you because we’ve been there. Sending you chumpy hugs.

  • Thanks CL and CN. I’ve read all these and will keep reading.
    Thanks for the stories, including the ones that FEEL insanely subtle (the new playlist, the blonde buddies and coworkers, the normal- to- have -crushes spiritually elevated dudes). I want to be the person that gets the playlists and the silly texts. To have the love of my life also consider me the (or at least a) true love of theirs too. You know. Romance and feelings and stuff. Thanks again CN!

    • And he’ll do those things if you ASK.

      Did the others have to ask?

      I know, sweetie. It’s horrible. It truly is.

      I bet he’s being sweet and nice and says the right things. He dotes IN YOUR PRESENCE. He smiles and beams and fetches you a tissue if you sneeze. THERE! See? It’s proof no one means a thing.

      Really? I can donate money to my favorite charity. Doesn’t mean I’m not robbing banks. I can help old ladies across the street, yet be an alcoholic and scream at my family day in and day out.

      He’ll ask how he can prove it to you. Not your job. It’s HIS mess. He needs to spend the energy to come up with a way. Bet he can’t. “I’ve tried and tried, and I just don’t know!”

      He wants YOU to clean up his mess. Just like he does when (if) he really is ‘scared of the floozy’ he worked so hard to give her the ‘impression’ he fuck her ’til Sunday. He hides behind your skirt and has you run them off. Then you cry and are hurt (which tells him how much you care in his twisted mind), and then you do everything for him and work harder at yourself to prove your worth… to him.

      See how it sounds? Is that okay with you?

      If you want to stay (I’d ask myself why and be brutally honest), then he needs work. Right now, he’s a child. A mean one.

    • Colorado,
      I saw this this morning at work and wanted to answer, but I had so much to do I couldn’t get to it. I do hope you read this. If I’ve ever felt my response was needed here at CN, this is it.

      My story sounds so much like yours I could’ve written it myself. Starting just a few months after we got married, my wife seemed to have all these male “friends” hanging around all the time. She was always doing things with these “buddies,” and apparently shared all kinds of intimate details with them that I thought had no place in a married woman’s conversation (like about her period). She was the classic case of “no boundaries.”
      We moved to different towns, she took different jobs, but it was always the same story: all these men around, always seeming to be suspiciously more than “friends.”
      Like your husband, at one point she even told me she had created an online dating profile in order to “help a (male) friend with his profile.” Even though she came to me with this info, it was still disturbing.

      So, a few years ago, I caught her in what she claimed was just an emotional affair. Like you, I immediately told her she had to surrender all electronics, cut off all contact with this other man, or I was out the door. She dutifully complied, apologized, and went to counseling. I had access to her phone and her online accounts. I even saw a text message to the other man where she told him she was “cutting him off.” He called with her mom around and she told him the same thing. The PI I hired went out for a couple of weeks and didn’t find anything. She made a point of telling me everywhere she went with friends to build trust.
      Being firm must’ve set her straight. She was just dumb and foolish, and we’ll be stronger together. Wow, I have a unicorn!

      Let me tell you what happened next, and what I would bet dollars to doughnuts will happen to you.
      I had access to all kinds of accounts and electronics… but apparently not everything. I knew about Facebook messenger and text messaging, so they just used Instragram messenger instead (bizarre and lame, but that’s what it was). The text message — as well as a phone call — were staged, to make it look like they were really ending things. They used work phones to communicate. The times she was honest about what she was doing were so she could throw it back in my face when she was lying. She lied through her teeth at our marriage counseling sessions, though the counselor picked up on it right away.
      Oh, it gets better. A couple of weeks in, she got tired of all the work involved, as well as all the trouble it took to hide things from me. So, she took off.
      On her way out the door, she revealed that I had been right to be suspicious all those years. Several of those close “friends” were affair partners. The ones with the ugly guys apparently were emotional affairs, while the others were full-on physical ones. Or so she said. I have no idea how many there really were, and I believe there were more than what she told me.
      Oh, and the best part: the PI continued surveillance (in our state it can be used to establish an affair and deny alimony). That “emotional affair” wasn’t just emotional. Her recorded them screwing in the back seat of the car I bought her next to the dumpster in an alley behind a restaurant.

      I say this as nicely as I can: this wasn’t the first affair, and it won’t be the last. It’s probably not over. If you owned a bank, would you let a convicted embezzler come work for you? No? What if he said he was sorry, and just made mistakes, and was willing to start over?
      There is no way being marriage police ever works. There are always ways a cheater can get around even the best watching. The bigger question is: do you really want to be married to someone you do not trust to have his own phone? Who wants to live that way?

  • “My husband is notorious for never remembering to reply to his friends, and his text ignoring has been a major issue in our marriage. I hate that for those 8 months, I wouldn’t get what time he’d be home for supper, but she’d get funny stories and thoughtful news items.”

    ^This bit here is unfortunately your giant clue that your husband is an irredeemable, disordered fuckwit and if you make the mistake of staying with him and buying his fake remorse, you are in for an increasibly bad time with him.

    This is subtle pathological behavior and a power play by him on everyone in his life. I will not return your calls, but I will secretly hurt you by talking to the OW. In his messed up psyche, it makes him the big boss, in charge….and you don’t even know…tee hee hee…..duper’s delight.

    You cannot fix this, even experienced psychologists can’t fix these people and can be duped themselves. I believe the current terminology is covert malignant narcissism. The tittle doesn’t really matter, what does matter is that these people are indeed intentionally malignant. Even his “confession” is actually a game, a psychological power play over you, fooling you into believing that you matter when he knows that you don’t and that he will fool you again in the future.

    Don’t focus on burner phones, understand that you are quite literally sleeping with an enemy who means to hurt you and enjoys doing it. RUN.

  • Colorado…………I tried to make my marriage to my cheating ex work out. I stayed and I tried to believe him. Trying was exhausting and frankly, no matter how hard I tried I was just miserable. Miserable thinking that I wasn’t enough. I wanted to have my best friend back. Once you experience something like this (emotional or physical affair) you can never not know it and you can never go back to the way it once was. You will always look at him as unfaithful. I looked at my ex a different way and it was sad. When it was his birthday, our anniversary or valentine’s day, I couldn’t even pick out a card for him. Every last one with those wonderful sentiments in them just seemed like a lie. I am so glad I finally got out. Even if he has changed (doubtful) for the OW who he has now married, he could never undo what he did in our marriage.

    Life is too short to waste time on someone who doesn’t see your value. He doesn’t see your value Colorado, because if he did, he would NEVER risk losing you!!!!

    Love yourself and leave him in your rear view!

  • Hi Colorado,

    I’m so very sorry you find yourself here. I just wanted to share my story with you.

    I have a husband that is just like yours. He’s always been a flirt and loves attention from women. Even while we were just dating, he had friendships with women that made me uncomfortable. Yet he claimed I was his soulmate and that he would never hurt me. I married him (10 years) and had 2 children with him. During our marriage, he would add coworkers to his FaceBook and post flirty comments on their posts. He had an annual work holiday party, and I swear every year I’d go home feeling weird because of an interaction I’d witness there–a coworker putting her arm around his shoulders, another coworker telling me how “tight” she was with my husband, etc etc.

    The final straw came when he confessed he had a 4 month emotional affair (all of this while I was still nursing our second child–only10 months old at the time), it made him realize that I “wasn’t meeting his needs” and that he was never “truly happy”, and that he wanted a divorce.

    Colorado, even if nothing physical happened, it’s terrible feeling uncomfortable about what’s going on at work, isn’t it? He will always have female coworkers, that’s a given. This behavior won’t stop. And I do fear that one day the marriage will end like mine has. It’s better to get out now then to invest 10, 20, 30 more years with his guy.

    It hurts like hell, I’m still hurting and my divorce isn’t final. I know have dark days ahead. But I know I deserve to feel secure in my relationship. Sending you strength!

  • COLORADO…

    Yes, I got the ‘just friends’ routine. I got all the lies – he was with a male coworker for dinner and movie while out of town. He didn’t see ‘friend’ every trip. He lied and lied and lied.

    I found he had called her within minutes of landing. He saw her EVERY trip. He still claimed he never touched her – it was a game of chicken.

    Now, what would you tell me?

    I’m not going to tell you to get out. What I am going to do is ask you why this person continues to enjoy hurting you and throwing the family into chaos because he wants to know other women would fuck him.

    I’m going to ask if this is the kind of character you want your child to learn from.

    If you decide to stay, even for now, what advice I will offer is this:

    1) get a post nup. If he balks, he knows he won’t change. He’s still of the cheater mindset. There’s no other excuse, no other principle here. The post nup will state that if he’s caught CHEATING, it’s over. You get whatever you’ve stated in that postnup. If he has no intention of ever doing it again, he has no worries.

    2) He goes to extensive therapy and for at least a year. He has some deep-rooted character issues he needs to resolve in order to fix what’s wrong with him. If he won’t go, he’s not serious.

    3) Meanwhile, detach. Do not dote on this man. Do a 180. It’s time HE grovel and kiss your feet. He needs to show you in every way that he’s serious. No female friends. Ever. No reason, no jusitifcation, no excues, nada. There will never be a time where you can’t check on him. He needs to know that.

    4) think of what would set you up to be okay if/when he pulls this crap again. That should be your goal. What’s the worst that happens? You don’t need it?

    And lastly, sure. He told you. What he WANTED to tell you. There’s always more. Always. But even that said, why did he tell you? To cause chaos? He’s done this before? Then this man likes your pain.

    Or did he tell you because something went down and HER husband/boyfriend found out and threatened to blow the whole thing wide open? Did he tell you because the OW threatened to tell you or let the cat out of the bag? Did someone on the team catch them and threaten to tell you what they saw/know if he didn’t fess up?

    I don’t think he did the right thing because of his family. He’s too childish and selfish for that.

    If you think you can change that, God bless. But I’d make him do the things above. If he balks, skulks, refuses, pouts, blows up or doesn’t do it, then he is refusing to put in the hard work. Now, what does THAT tell you?

    Hugs.

  • Colorado,

    You mentioned in an earlier comment: “I feel like I keep offering ways out for him because yes, clearly there are problems. But he keeps wanting to work things through. . . ” It sounds like you are unable to call it or have reservations.

    Just because he did not have a physical affair doesn’t mean you have to accept the emotional affair. What is violated here is trust, fidelity, and a covenant (promise).

    I guess what everyone is really trying to tell you is to stop leaving the decision up to him. Do you want to be married to him? It’s okay if you do. . . or don’t. But you have to accept the terms and conditions of either decision. The terms and conditions of being married to him means that you don’t trust him.

    He is willing to stay in the marriage because the dynamic works for him. Does it work for you?

    There isn’t a ratio or threshold. This is either acceptable for you or it isn’t. This may be fine for someone else, it isn’t for you. I also wonder why a disproportionate amount of the marriage work falls on you. All he had to do is give up talking to someone and give the perception he is being transparent. You have to be Columbo while new-parenting.

  • Another way to look at this Colorado is….when you think about marriage and what a happy life entails, does it include hiring a PI to tail your husband to make sure he isn’t cheating…again….?

    Does it include hiring professionals to data mine his phone….the one you know about anyway…..?

    Does it include sleepless nights and heart pounding in your chest every time he is out of your sight, not answering your text, traveling for business, etc, etc, etc.?

    How long are you willing to live like that and more importantly….don’t you think you deserve better?

    The catch is of course that there is no better with a proven serial cheater. If you want better, you have to leave him.

    • And be prepared for the double standard. He will be wanting to know where you are at all times and what you spend your money on. Because you are not his partner, you are his servant. Loving loyal spouses do not hide things, do not cheat, do not misinform, do not take without giving, do not denigrate, do not abuse….

  • Colorado,

    Apparently there are a lot of us Coloradans here today. Must be the altitude 🙂

    Oh sweetie, you have given me the opportunity to talk to my young self…if I had only know then what I know now 30 + years later.

    Lovely man I fell in live with back then. Now I know it was love-bombing.

    The red flags that I didn’t know were red flags until now began to appear almost instantly.

    Therapy. I did the work. He didn’t. I speckled because I ‘loved him so much and was sure he was sincere just too busy to do the work’.

    I lived for almost our entire marriage feeling as though he had one foot out the door. Now I know that my feelings, in fact, were right on and his foot was not the only body part he had out the door.

    Translated into CL speak – I pretty much picked-me-danced our entire marriage.

    I speckled and became a severe hopium addict because of my heavy investment in the relationship – kids and time invested and he played the part of the Perfect TFC.

    As a result of my inborn chumpiness I never questioned his commitment after he had admitted to affairs and had given his word that all was said and done and because, being my husband and person I trusted the most in my world, he had a free ticket to being beyond suspicion.

    Fast forward to a couple of years ago and Dday. The past was not all said and done. Affairs had continued throughout our relationship and the exit affair was in play which opened the door for him to walk away/discard me and our children.

    In other words he had become more devious in pursuing his sexual fantasies.

    Save yourself decades of torment sweetie and learn from those of us here. We are living proof.

    You are young and there are good men out there. I know them. Not perfect men but good ones who know about commitment and live according to their values.

    I am older. I won’t ever trust a man like I trusted him.

    I am still dealing with the wreckage left in his wake which includes grown children and letting go of a past that was all a lie. Your child is young. Please don’t expose him to such deception and crazy making. It is so hard to come to terms with later on in life.

    Divorce sucks at any age for children but when they discover that one of their parents is a practicing slut it is devastating for older children. The grief is compounded in unimaginable ways.

    Good Luck.

  • I went through the marriage police routine for years. The bottom line for me was that I *never* regained trust; and my XH, of course, resented what he perceived as my attempt to control him. Which fueled his acting out via destructive behavior and emotional/physical affairs with other women. Which fed my lack of trust. It’s a (poisonous) snake eating its tail, and the cycle doesn’t stop until you STEP AWAY FROM THE SNAKE.

    Please believe me when I say that you will always have a nagging question in the back of your mind about what (or who) he’s doing when he isn’t with you. You will always be fighting the urge to check his email, to look at his texts and apps, to see his call log. The anxiety is persistent and it’s destructive to your emotional well-being. The hardest and best decision I ever made was when I let go and ended my marriage. It was painful–I felt like I was killing a living thing, and I’ve also had to support my kids as they’ve struggled with the fallout. But I’ve gained a quiet mind, and am finally free of that soul-crushing worry. It’s worth it.

  • Colorado- I usually don’t write, but since you are out there, I thought I would add my two cents. I want to validate you that you *might* be right about him being honest with you right now. Sort of. I doubt he is being completely honest, but whatever. I know my ex had a slow decline into full blown affairs- but please think about being the marriage police, and how much you are being used as a wife appliance, and not a true partner. If you aren’t ready to leave yet, please continue to read Chump Lady, get yourself more career ready if you don’t already have one, get a post nup, anything you can do to break through the denial of the life you want, and deserve, and the life that you currently ha

  • CL states: “Essentially threatening abandonment and never letting you feel secure in your attachment to him, or his commitment to your shared life.”

    This.

    I’ve started delving into attachment theory in my own self-reflection and in counselling. My goal is to improve myself in relationship with others – trying to be the best me and deal with my own “foo” issues as part of my healing process.

    Of course, a lot of what I read takes my back to my broken marriage and my ex. I recall how quickly he attached when we first started going out. I was the one that he had to pursue and bring around (now the same with the OW magnified by 1000). However, when adulting got real with house and kids and work, he struggled. I struggled too. I was stressed. I nagged and complained. I got caught up with work and put him down on the priority list. I got tired of addressing issues and having every conversation end up the same no matter what strategy I used.

    But he went to other women. That was what he came to as a viable option. He didn’t do it once as a mistake, but did it for the last few years of our marriage. When he attempted to take an emotional affair to the next level, she rejected him. Her marriage was in turmoil and she was playing with fire. She cut him off and turned to her husband (they are still together four years later). Then, my ex found this woman and cultivated a “friendship” for 19-20 months of our marriage that I am aware of. I don’t know when it turned physical, but I know for sure it did (he still denies it). But, even when he was leaving me to be with her, Christmas season of 2017, I later learned that he had a one-night stand (maybe more than one night) with another woman at his friend’s place.

    This is not a man who knows attachment, except attachment to what feels good, attachment to what validates him, attachment that makes him feel he’s central.

    Not Too Harsh – Your husband does not understand attachment. He’s like a child with a toy. When another one catches his eye, he drops the one he has in his hand and runs over. He stays with you because there are benefits that he’s not willing to let go of yet. Those benefits don’t help you, but serve him. He likes playing, but doesn’t have the balls to just leave. You are comfy and secure. You provide a soft place for him to land when a “friendship” falls through. I bet you take care of almost everything while he does token contributions, but then gets offended when you tell him he isn’t doing enough.

    Yep, there is no security in the kind of attachment he offers. That’s a life of covert insecurity that you won’t realize undermines your peace of mind and self-esteem.

  • Please, Colorado, don’t believe that your fuckwit is the exception to the rule. He is not. He is an entitled asshole who is putting his time and energy into a relationship with a skank instead of his beautiful wife and baby. He is grossly disrespecting you and your marriage.

    Don’t stand for it! Be a woman who stands up for herself and declares this is not acceptable because it isn’t. You deserve better sweetie. You can do better.

  • Why does it matter if they never had sex with each other? They had an inappropriate relationship. Boundaries were crossed and partners were betrayed.

    Physical consummation isn’t the end game of all romantic relationships. Kibbles come in different flavors. Some people just want the ego boost and excitement of the wooing and romancing. And some people believe that if they abstain from physical sex acts with their OW or OM, they aren’t doing anything wrong and can deny it was an affair. And some would if they could but they can’t bridge the distance gap and make do with what they can get.

    Does the lack of physical contact really make it acceptable? Or is it a thread of hope to cling to?

    I believe that a betrayal is a betrayal. And if you’re basing staying with a cheater on the fact that he didn’t get his dick wet, then you’re saying that you’re okay with him cheating, just not with him fucking. But how will you ever know he wouldn’t cross that boundary too if he had the chance?

  • Colorado, you seem pretty conflicted. We understand because a lot of us spent too many years being conflicted ourselves.

    It is okay if you stay. But only if you set some clear boundaries. Write them down. Will you leave if he develops another female friend? Will you leave if doesn’t answer a routine text message twice in one week (again)? Will you leave if he calls you “crazy” or says your fears are “delusional”? If you have your non-negotiable boundaries in writing, it will be easier to remind yourself that if it happens again, you’ve been down this road before, and it made you feel horrible, and so you made yourself a promise to leave if the boundary was crossed. Written boundaries can help you keep a promise to yourself–they can remind you that just because he is treating you poorly does not mean you should treat yourself poorly.

    A lot of us stayed too long because we kept moving our boundaries back to accommodate crappy behavior. We don’t want you to do that.

    Don’t let him keep you in a state of painful conflict. Leave or stay with boundaries firmly in place. If things work out, great. If he crosses the line again, go straight to a lawyer–don’t allow yourself to be agonize any longer.

    He’s not a fool. He knows that as long as you are feeling conflicted, he is in danger of being left. The sooner you make a decision, the sooner he’ll show his true colors–either your marriage will flourish or he’ll start looking at new “friends.”

    I am not optimistic for you, but I am a firm believer that many of us need to give our partner several chances before we feel confident in leaving. But even super-responsible, forgiving people need to have boundaries!

    • Truthfully, I’d go one step further….find a lawyer and consult. Dont tell your husband and do NOT feel guilty about this. You owe it to yourself and your child to find out how to best protect yourselves. Financially, etc. Begin documenting now.

      • Yeah– I agree that it might be wise to start documenting things now. But if you want to trust someone, that can be a hard step to take. But if Colorado is not already on every bank account and fully participating in all monthly bills, doing the taxes, making any savings decisions, etc. it is definitely time to become a full participant in the familial household expenses. People who feel they are owed a special friend also tend to believe they are entitled to extra money too.

  • I think the spouses reaction is one of the best I’ve read. Dropped all social aspects, full accountability, etc.
    The bad news is that it has happened before.
    He needs to read Shirley Glass’s book – Not Just Friends.
    If there are kids here, let this play out…

  • Start looking for work that you support you fully, without child support. Just in case.

    Do that while you still have two incomes and can sock away your pay into an account in only your name, that he cannot access.

    This is no good, my friend. Maybe he hasn’t put his dick into any of them… maybe… but having girlfriends when you’re married and have promised fidelity (not “I vow to never stick my dick in someone else”) is not cool. It escalates. It chips you down. And you already know he’s a liar. Months of teasing. Months of ignoring you. With multiple women… this does not die down. He enjoys the danger and duplicity… being another character for them because they don’t know – cannot know – the guy he really is at home and in life.

    For goodness’ sake, do NOT get pregnant again. Have him wrap that shit up. Don’t have sex for weeks in the middle of your cycle, on top of that.

    Make it so you CAN throw his shit into garbage bags and feel fucking AMAZING about it, instead of scared. Don’t wait until the baby is in kindergarten. Start now. You’ll need the income history to buy him out of your home or buy one of your own. You’ll need the savings to not need his child support when he quits or gets fired from yet another job… or he just decides to stop sending them to teach you a lesson (advice a girlfriend will encourage him to act on)… or vanish so you can neither serve him nor garnish his wages.

    I wish someone had told me this in 2005, when I had only one child instead of three… and was only a year into staying home with our daughter/out of the sales force, not 3 years… 5 years… 10 years. Then with a mortgage and kids solidified into their schools.

    It would have made keeping my dignity possible, instead of having to scrape up tatters, keep on living and exist for my very-aware children and nothing else, and fight my way into Being A Whole Person again. He used me up and then blamed for being a shell of the person I was, as the excuse for needing “Friends.”

    FUCK THAT SHIT. Be mighty NOW. Don’t wait one more second.

  • Dear Colorado,

    I’m so sorry that you’re going through this, especially with a baby in the picture. I know how hard it is because I’ve just been through it. My husband had an affair for over 3 years, and after d-day, he insisted that it was only emotional and not physical. He continued to insist this for 9 months, and then suddenly admitted, last week, that it was physical. During those nine months, I begged him to tell me the truth, over and over, in every way imaginable, and he continued to lie.

    So, I am filing for divorce, and I think you should seriously consider the likelihood that his affairs were physical. Why would anyone risk their marriage for a friendship? And he has several male friends, right? Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I don’t think heterosexual men are truly interested in friendship with women; they are interested in sex with women.

    Keep reading ChumpLady, and listen to your gut. I wish you the best!

    PayalyzedNoMore

  • Title of Chumplady’s blog post:

    “Are ‘Emotional Friendships’ with Other Women Cheating?”

    Answer to Chumplady’s blog post:

    “Yes”

  • Dear Colorado,

    You have my sympathy. Your husband sounds really callous and cavalier–playing with your heart. (I felt this way when my last partner, post-separation boyfriend left for his work subordinate. He told me that he would reveal his relationship with her to people in his little company, ‘If it got serious.’ I felt thrown away for a fling. (He did get serious with her, though, immediately moving in with her and, within a year, marrying her, his second wife.) It must be especially tough experiencing the type of behavior from your husband you describe while a parent of a baby.

    I would not tell another person what to do, but I will share with you what I wish that the Current me could tell the Young me, a teenager, before dating/intimate partner abuse started. I would grab her by the shoulders and tell her, ‘Tread cautiously in (intimate) relationships, and if your partner starts treating you badly, although it may be excruciatingly painful to leave, leave, because staying will make things overall, much worse.’ I stayed in horrendous relationships for decades. Lost decades of my life, virtually all of my life savings, now in my fifties trying to figure out how, as an unemployed mother, I am going to support my young kids. Even though it looks as though I will never have another intimate relationship and never have a healthy, happy one (although I would love to have a healthy, happy, enduring intimate relationship), getting out earlier would have, at the very least, helped me retain a bit of self-esteem. It would have prevented really bad partners from inflicting even more damage upon me. I think that I have PTSD and have become numb and jaded (perhaps even cynical), even five years since my adulterous, abusive husband left and my last boyfriend (guy I thought was my friend for 30 years) discarded me. By leaving at the first (or at least second) sign of shabby, unacceptable treatment, I would have not been so traumatized and thus had an easier time getting a job, developing good relationships (intimate or not), made a better life for my kids if I had had kids in that ‘road not taken’ life. If I had gotten out years earlier, I might never have met anyone who would love me (at least not romantically, but at least I would have loved me.

    When one is in the thick of things, it is hard to realize how messed up the situation is. Looking back on my life now, I realize how messed up it was in terms of relationships. I felt hurt, neglected, and abused, and sometimes lashed out in unhealthy, inappropriate ways. By leaving earlier, one can prevent life from getting way, way worse. It’s hard to steer the ship toward a hospitable destination in middle age or older. I am guessing that you are still a fairly young woman. It might not be easy, but it will be easier to change course in a positive way now than decades from now.

    Colorado, do you think that your husband loves you? Is mutual love a requisite for marriage for you? How do you envision you and baby doing if you get divorced? And don’t downplay the harm of emotional abuse, lying, neglect, and lack of love. (In my case, those things from my exes hurt me even more than adultery and official abandonment, which were very painful). The answers to these questions might help you make important decisions. I stayed in my marriage because I was financially dependent upon my husband (I had been in grad school for several years and had not finished my doctoral program) and I wanted to physically protect kids from my physically as well as emotionally abusive husband, and I was afraid that, if we divorced, my husband would harm the kids when the kids were with him. (I could not get supervised visitation for our kids when they were with him.) If those two things had not been factors, I probably would have left my abusive, adulterous husband much earlier. Even several years before I learned of the chronic adultery, I felt unloved by my husband. Sadly, I hung on to my post-separation boyfriend, who I thought I knew for decades, long after he started emotionally abusing me. That was a really bad idea. It just made me feel worse about me after I realized that he never truly loved me. I was just a cheap object to him. I hope that, no matter what, Colorado, you won’t go through another minute of acting as though this situation is OK with you if it doesn’t feel that way! I wish you strength and happiness!

  • Colorado, I get it.

    You are reading all this and thinking, ‘But that would never happen in MY marriage – these people sound bitter and unsuccessful – I have a husband who’s only had an emotional affair, surely – I trust him – really I do.’

    Trust me that every single person commenting here has stood exactly where you are standing. Those people with cheating spouses must have done something wrong to cause it. I have done nothing wrong, therefore my spouse is not really cheating, and look how nice he’s being to me now.

    This is what we call hopium, and the pursuit of the unicorn. So far, no one at this blog has ever had a real unicorn – a spouse who REALLY changed after infidelity.

    But there are thousands upon thousands who thought they had one. Until they didn’t.

    Past behaviour is the best predictor of future behavior. Your husband is going to keep doing this, but he will get better at hiding it. It’s like his little fun thing that HE does, like an addiction.

    You are either OK with this for the next 30 years, or you aren’t.

    If you decide you aren’t, come straight back here and get GOOD ADVICE on how to proceed, eg. don’t tell him you’re leaving.

    Get a good therapist who understands infidelity, or just come here and talk it out with us. Either way, listen and learn. Really. It will save you so much pain in the future.

    • Not to discredit what the other lady’s saying, but in response to your post…I don’t think there’s anything we can say to make her see what really is happening. I was blind, or chose to be, like an idiot, until I was ready to see it for what it is. I bet right now she’s sitting there going “ these people are so negative, my husband loves me, he really wants to work on this, I love him, and he’s so remorseful” feeling like on a high right now. I know that place, until it blows up in your face, and every time it hurts so much more. But hey she has to go through her motions. I wasted 7 years of my life. 7! I’m 40 now and I rather be alone than in another terrible relationship.

  • Dear Colorado,

    I send my hugs to you and your young child. You don’t deserve to go through this. You deserve to focus your attention on your darling child and live peacefully and happily during this very important time for your family. I am glad that you have reached out to Chump Lady (CL) and Chump Nation (CN). We are here for you, and you are not alone in this! We here you. We understand you. We will do anything to help. This road it tough, and you need a power squad–CN is your power squad! You have already received a great response from CL and tons of wisdom from CN, but I should also share with you my story because the same thing happened to me, minus the child, but it was certainly going in that direction. My ex husband did the same things as your husband. He had inappropriate relationships with “female friends” and “female colleagues” through the entire relationship, from day one! There was one in particular who he triangulated me with. My exH actually admitted that it was his *fantasy* to have multiple women chasing after him. He said this so early in the relationship, and I was a chump. I spackled everything. He has a desperate need for validation from women, period! He would have these interactions with store clerks, colleagues, older women, younger women, underaged women. Anything with a vagina and a pulse! It took me so long to connect the dots because I am embarrassingly generous with giving the benefit of the doubt, even though all evidence leads to the contrary. Research the concept of “cognitive dissonance” most of us chumps have this because we rationalize blatantly bad behavior, behavior that our souls scream out to us is wrong. Your soul gives you the signs by feelings such as: unease, paranoia, jealousy, stress, and restlessness. You have tons of cognitive dissonance when you state that you “trust that he doesn’t have a second phone (i.e. I trust him)”. Yet you hired an entire professional entourage to investigate his infidelity. I can only wonder the financial and emotional cost that caused for you. You can have a life where you are allowed to enjoy and be happy and feel safe. I know for a fact he is cheating more than you think because of one thing: you just had a baby. There are countless stories of men like your husband and my ex-husband you do this kind of behavior as punishment for you not giving them your 100% attention at all times. They are black holes inside. Your husband is competing against his son for your attention, a grown, capable man competing against an infant child. My ex-husband’s father abandoned his mother and started affairs while she was pregnant and did his finally abandonment when he second child was barely 1 year old. This is in Italy, where divorce is extremely taboo for that generation. My ex-husband is identical to his father. IDENTICAL. My ex-husband was even jealous that I gave a lot of attention to my cat. A CAT!

    You see, Colorado, these types of men are black holes, empty vessels. They are characteristically unable to make themselves happy on the inside. Neither you nor any of his little “friends” will fill the essential emptiness of his soul. This is a matter of character. You have witnessed a clear pattern in his behavior. You are actually rewarding his behavior by not divorcing him or at least legally separating or giving him real world consequences. I know this sucks because you just gave birth. You need to get away from him ASAP, if for only because he is actively stealing resources, time, and energy from your son by draining you emotionally and financially like this. He deserves to pay dearly for this alone. Only you can give him the consequences he deserves for his behavior. I wish you so much healing and a better future for you and your son.

  • Colorado
    Men who have emotional affairs under the guise of being friends are cheaters. Does he have any male friends or are they acquaintances? Serial cheaters rarely have close friendships. Most are superficial. Your cheater’s actions tell the story. He’s spending his time texting another women.
    Set yourself up for a better life. He’s enjoying the duping. RUN.

  • What they confess to is ALWAYS the tip of the iceberg. It gives them psychic relief to ease their guilty burden just a smidge, plus it sets up a delightful pick me dance for you. You deserve better.

  • I was dumped in about 10 minutes by my stbx after 21 years of marriage so that he could pursue the emotional affair he started with a coworker. He up and left completely blindsiding me and never looked back. His cognitive dissonance has prompted him to completely rewrite history and label our entire marriage as crap and treat me as though I am his enemy, or a complete zero, ever since. I was deeply invested, loved him dearly, treated him well and never saw it coming. The way he turned on me and plunged that knife in my back is jaw dropping and probably “psychotic”.

    I never would have believed he had the capacity to do this. Our friends and family were just as shocked. I had to tell myself “he’d slit your throat and leave you for dead” repeatedly for months so my heart and head could integrate his actions to my conscious reality. That in itself was a monumental task, only possible because the truth was undeniable.

    I am concerned that your husband chose to flee intimacy, partnership, and commitment at a time that you not only needed him to be your partner but at a precious and quite frankly, sacred, point in life. He hasn’t only pissed on your marriage and disrespected you, he pissed on and disrespected his vulnerable and precious baby boy at his early beginnings. Do not underestimate how selfish and tell-tale that is of your husband’s capacity to effectively nurture both his marriage and his child and positively contribute to your lives.

    I’m also concerned about the “mommy” dynamic here. Is he your true partner or a project for you? He’s posturing you into the mommy role here, looking back the same happened to me, I didn’t ask for it or want it, it was insidious, circumstances dictated it and I will never participate in anything like it again. It’s easy to fall into when you want a good home for your child. I imagine your husband might have grown in a less than nurturing environment, essentially he emotionally abandoned both you and your son, that’s a learned behaviour and a pattern to watch out for.

    Essentially, it’s important that you figure out whether you married a man with equivalent adulting capacity to yours or if he’s a really man-child whose problems will cast a shadow over the potential joys life has to offer you and your son. Potential is alluring, but can he really deliver a decent life to you and your son?

    • XMrsMan-Child,
      Your first paragraph describes my ex-wife’s shenanigans, and the abrupt meltdown of our marriage, to a tee. Coincidentally, she’s in my phone as “WomanChild”.

    • Xmrsmanchild,

      I remember exactly where I was standing when he told me he had had contact with OW again.

      The sensation was exquisite – Felt as though my heart had been shattered into a million pieces while, simultaneously, I was being stabbed in the back.

      A huge turning point for me.

      I am one who had to have many turning points before I really ‘saw the light’ and moved into NC.

  • Dear Colorado,

    I know your child is an infant and you so desperately want to believe the best of your husband, but, please consider:

    He has *shown* you who he is, and that is, at best, an emotionally irresponsible toddler capable of “being good” only when all of your attention is focused on him. The intensity of your marriage policing itself is probably a kibble high for him, and is *intentionally* distracting you from your child. When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

    Your responsibility is no longer only to yourself. You have a responsibility to your child. Your responsibility to that child *must* trump your responsibility to your husband, because your child is incapable of defending himself or acting on his own. He is an infant, entirely dependent upon you. I am the child of a mother who knew before I was born that she had entered into a disastrous, deeply emotionally abusive relationship. She convinced herself that Dad could change. The refrain of my entire life was, “but he’s better now!” Maybe he was, though, to be frank, having lived through thirty-plus years of him, I can confidently say that he’s been just as shitty since I’ve been conscious, if not a bit worse now. But the three channels of mindfuck –rage, self-pity, charm– are there to make you both constantly afraid and constantly hopeful. You will be reduced to a skeleton, chattering past your broken teeth, “but he’s changed, but things are better now” for decades if you allow that mindfuck to dominate you.

    Let me be clear, even if he was *better* by some abstruse calculus, he was not in any way *good*. He fucked up my life in a way that honestly I have only barely begun to deal with in therapy, he’s left me with an intolerable load, and while I have a great deal of sympathy for my mother as a victim of his abuse, I cannot help but blame her because *she* was the adult in that situation and *she* chose to protect her idea my father’s potential instead of safeguarding my own development.

    You think I am exaggerating, but I’m not. Right now you are putting your husband over your child. WhenI was seven years old I begged my mom to divorce him, and I remember her telling me that she couldn’t, that it was important for her to keep the peace so that we could all be a family. I did not want to be a family if it meant living with that man. I love my father, you understand, but I wish every goddamn day that my mother had had the strength of will and valued herself and *us* (she had three children, in the end, each time sweating that he was better) enough to just leave him. Maybe your husband is remorseful for now. Maybe he’s reformed for now. But he’s shown you the pattern. At the very least, you will always have to prioritize his fragile emotional state over that of your vulnerable children.

    Please, please, please, take this as a missive from the future: don’t let your child grow up that way. Don’t let him watch you with pity and resentment twisted up with love because his mother never loved him enough to choose him, fully and unconditionally.

  • This sounds to me like he overstepped his bounds somewhere and felt the need to come clean before someone else told you. I find the willingness to immediately go no-contact with this person who’s been his BFF for 8 months rather unusual. Usually even genuinely remorseful cheaters go through an initial “It’s not about her! We can still be friends/I don’t want to be mean” phase. Makes me wonder whether going no-contact is to keep the OW from filling in some more unpleasant truths.

  • Even if your husband’s relationships aren’t physical, it’s still some epic triangulation straight out of the Narcissist’s Handbook to keep you off-balance. From the beginning of my relationship with ExHole, there was always a good female friend in his orbit. At first it was his ex-girlfriend* from high school who was in a bad marriage and needed advice, so they HAD to go out to dinner regularly to talk. When she moved away, he moved on to a woman at work that he would go out with after work just to “kick back and have a drink.” Next he met a woman at REI and they would go kayaking together. His justification was that I didn’t like to kayak. Well gosh, I wish I had time to kayak, but someone has to run the house and raise the children. Whenever I objected to any of these relationships, he would indignantly state that “nothing is going on!” and “we’re just friends!”, and I was overreacting and being jealous and controlling. So throw some gaslighting in there for good measure.

    Same scenario as you and most of CN: I never thought he would physically cheat, until he did. Even so he didn’t bother to hide it very well, because where’s the triangulation and pick me dancing if I didn’t know? So this is the same dynamic with your husband confessing these things to you. You see it as a good thing, but it’s really just kibbles for him and a message to you to step up your game. This man needs more attention than you can ever provide, and if he hasn’t physically cheated yet, he very probably will at some point.

    *Best (worst) story from this “friendship”: The ex-girlfriend from high school wanted to meet our infant daughter, so we met her at a shopping mall. She grabbed the baby out of the stroller and the two of them took off, walking together way ahead of me chatting. I walked behind them, pushing the empty stroller, thinking THIS IS SO WRONG! But chumpy me didn’t want to make a scene or anything…

  • I raise my hand on secret untraceable accounts! I raise my hand on not returning calls or texts ALOT!

    His excuses…I had no reception. My phone died. I didn’t hear it. I’m working. I was ………so many excuses. I also found hidden emotional relationships after I found him with the ow. Yeah, he was lying and cheating for a lot longer than I knew (even though he insists that was the first and ever time he cheated on me) bc I was home busy..taking care of our three kids, cleaning, cooking, laundry, working full time, ironing..essentially making him a nice life.

  • Wow, this was a tough post to read and an even tougher comment thread. This is my husband, this is what we’re going through. Emotional, sexual, and dick-pic messages on his phone caused us to separate in April this year. He had previous, with a drunken night texting an ex just before we got married 5 years ago. Part of me wants to believe we can reconcile, but the other part of me is scared that next time will be a physical affair. We have a 7yr old and 2 yr old and have been together 12 years. My heart is broken.

    • Let’s just say there is never, ever a physical affair. Is it okay with you that he is sending emotional, sexual, and dick-pick messages to other people? Please say no and get out. There are fabulous partners out there that will be very grateful you are single. Hugs.

  • if he told you that the “emotional affair” has been going on for two weeks, it’s likely been going on for much longer.

    he “developed feelings” for another woman…and told you about them. non-single people who value their relationships don’t tolerate flirting. it’s very easy to politely shut down. most people don’t like being rebuffed and will move on.

    as others have pointed out, i suspect his “dropping everything to prove i’m true” act could be a diversion. maybe he wants to throw you off the scent, maybe not.

    you two are married and have kids. it’s a tough call. putting myself in your shoes (i have one child of my own, and two step-kids), i would call it off. this is because i don’t see the point in trying to rebuild trust once it’s been broken. i can’t accept living with constant feelings of doubt about the one person i want to be able to trust completely.

    i guess it’s down to what you’ll tolerate.

  • I to was unsure if a Emotional affair was cheating , As I found out it is , and in my book it may be worst then a physical one , He’s hurting you emotionally The hurt , pain, broken heart , feeling u can’t go on , The lies , the rude remarks, The hurtful things they say to you to get what they want . They upset your world I found out a year ago about my husband Emotional affair after he went away with the OW for a weekend He lied to me about it , came back to tell me he cheated , no sex , but he was trying to figure out if he could maybe be with her . He has stopped seeing her , that’s what he said it was a lie again he just wanted me off his back I can now tell when he sees her cause he’s in a good mood after seeing her , or when he’s about to see her . He’s grumpy , almost mean when he hasn’t seen her So yes Emotional affairs are real We the wife get our whole world turned upside down , we don’t feel safe or secure anymore we’re in pain we cry we are broken It takes us a long time to recover Its been a year for me , and I just try to forget , lock it away But there are times I here certain music ,My husband who still here says or does something to remind me of what he did So I’m not fine yet but hope to be someday soon The hubby he’s over it all he was Feeling guilty for a few days but he’s fine Moving on with his life While I just try and make it though the day Good luck to u and all of us I’m glad ChumpLady is here and all of the rest of u Thanks

  • Can we talk about language here? An emotional affair is investing more emotional energy into another person you are interested in sexually than your current partner. He has been doing that for 8 months (this time). Sexting is sexual behaviour. I see that as a full blown affair. He is minimising what he is doing.

  • When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. ~ Maya Angelou

    Run for your fucking life Girl. I should have left 2 years into my marriage, not 26 years in. Emotional Affairs are a smokescreen for what is actually going on in their hearts, words and actions behind closed doors. I could write an essay on this based on my own experience but please get out ASAP. Every time you give ‘another chance’ you are giving permission to try harder not to get caught next time. Your guy does not have the capacity you project onto him to be faithful. He’s playing games with you and entirely different games with other women that go far beyond what you will catch on that phone you have searched. I’m sorry but please don’t lose anymore time to this husband of yours – you are more committed to your marriage than he is and you will kick yourself if you lose a bunch more years figuring this out. He’s not worth another day of your time and he’s proved that to you already on multiple occasions.

  • Dear Colorado,
    A scenario: He likes the chase, but it’s no fun once he’s caught her. Now the fun is making you suffer. Repeat a few times. Another scenario: The affair partner’s husband found out. Your husband fears they’ll tell you. That’s why he “came clean”, and that’s why he quit the softball team. Except he didn’t come clean. He only admitted to a two weeks affair. Remember: you found eight months of texts. Eight months. And there’ve been others.

    Protect yourself and your child. Get an STD test. Get your child an STD test. The danger is real. Hugs and prayers!

  • Colorado,

    I was the OW to a married man (a relationship that started as an inappropriately close friendship then went full blown PA). When his wife found out, he went no contact with me, begged forgiveness from her, etc etc. There was not a burner phone. We did not stay in contact. I did not attempt to contact him in any way. He did not attempt to contact me in any way. BUT, a year later, he resurfaced and started fishing — refriending me on social media, sending emails. By that time, I had gotten counseling, done the work to really take responsibility for my part in the affair, and was remorseful. I deleted all social media requests and emails from him.

    My point is this: patterns exist for a reason. It is possible that you are right that he doesn’t have a burner phone and that RIGHT NOW he is being honest. But there is something in him — some deep insecurity or brokenness or whatever — that compels him to seek validation outside of your marriage and he makes the choice to do it. I know that there are those who advocate that “if he/she gets to his/her “why”, then they can really change!” I don’t think it is that simple. He has been making these choices for a long time, and chances are, he will continue to make them — even if he understands WHY he is doing it and how unhealthy/abusive/self-destructive/etc it is. Once things settle down, once the itch comes back — whatever it is — chances are, he will scratch it.

    Soak in time with your new baby. Don’t trust your husband. Leave if you want to/can. But if you stay, don’t let him hold your heart. He has already proven to not be a good steward of it.

    • Wise words PastOW!
      There is a pattern and so it is only a matter of time.
      Colorado, it doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do. He is going to find someone to cheat with again, and repeat. He is the problem, not you. Get away and go no contact ASAP.

  • I know CL posted this back in 2019, but I agree that it is cheating! My husband has this “friend” at work who I now believe is more than just a friend.
    They have had inappropriate conversations about sex, who she dates, who asks her out, lots of personal details that should not be shared.
    The problem is that he knew her way before he met me. He’s worked with her for a long time.

    I’ve told him how I feel about this. I do not trust this person…and now I’m starting to feel that way about him, too.
    My opinion is that when a friendship starts to cross the line, you have the right to voice your discomfort.
    He was mad at me because I read some of their texts. The way I see it, “snooping” is a last-resort protective measure (for myself) because I know he isn’t telling the whole truth.
    A lot of little things have happened that are now making me question his loyalty and commitment. I will not be played for a fool.

    To answer the OP once more, yes…emotional “friendships” are still cheating even if nothing physical happens.
    One other poster in this thread said that her husband (like mine) seems to be looking for some type of validation outside of the marriage, including wanting contact with a former high school girlfriend (mine too!)
    I give him plenty of sex and plenty of attention. I’m attractive and fit at almost 40.
    But nope…he doesn’t seem to notice that, or to respect my feelings.
    I’ve tried to tell him that he needs to cut back on this “friendship” with the coworker, or if they have to be friends, stop talking with her about personal things.

    He doesn’t have boundaries with people and it took me a long time to see that.
    His workplace seems to allow this idea of them all being one big happy family, which (to me) is not good.
    I think you can be friendly with coworkers, but not too friendly. It’s a problem.

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