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‘None of My Choices Are Acceptable’

Dear Chump Lady,

Please help me with advice — I’m stuck.

I’ve been reading your blog for a year and it has kept me alive in my darkest moments. Thank you.

A year ago I threw my ex cheater out of our home. He wanted to come back, hence I’ve sent him to individual counseling, told him to speak to me again only if he fixes himself, and I went no contact.

I’ve hoped NC will help me. I’m NC approx. a year and it simply didn’t help me. I still love him, I still want to give us another chance (he is single and has left schmoopie), it still hurts like a mofo. Like we’d broken up yesterday, not a year ago.

I guess I have gained a life — got a new job, got a new second job, spending time with family and friends, met some new people, doing what I like — hobbies, etc. It doesn’t help. I am simply deeply unhappy.

I’ve asked myself your question — is his cheating acceptable to me? No, it isn’t. That’s why I’ve left him and went NC.

My problem is: Is finding a new love acceptable to me? No, it isn’t. I am very very old-fashioned, I don’t want to have more than one partner in my life. I know you remarried and I respect you, please don’t get me wrong. It just isn’t acceptable to me. You may ask: what about cheater, he obviously had more than one… well, that isn’t acceptable for me either, that’s why I left him.

Is being single for the rest of my life acceptable to me? Well, it isn’t. I enjoyed being committed. I don’t have kids and I’d like to have them. I have many great people around me, but still I feel deeply lonely. Unfortunately, fuckwit was the only one I ever felt realy close to.

You may ask: isn’t being single or having a new boyfriend/husband more acceptable than getting back together with a cheater? No, for me it isn’t. For me, all of 3 options I have are totally unacceptable. At the same level unacceptable. The only acceptable option for me was being in a committed and exclusive relationship with my ex, but that’s not on the menu anymore.

Well, I’m stuck and your advice about NC, gaining a life and asking myself what’s acceptable to me didn’t help. I got a great counselor — she totally gets that infidelity is abuse, encourages me, and is totally on my side. But I still cannot decide to stop thinking about getting back together with a cheater ex.

Please, give me some idea, how to get out of limbo.

I ask you for understanding — English is a foreign language for me.

Thank you for your advice already in advance.


Stuck Chump

Dear Stuck Chump,

Google translate “bitchslap.” I’m afraid that’s what’s coming.

Let me get this straight — you think infidelity is abuse, abuse is unacceptable, but you still love your abuser and if you can’t have your abuser, then it’s no one, because you don’t want to have more than one partner in life. You call this idea “old-fashioned.”

I call it medieval. By this logic (you only get ONE partner and after that you’re forever tainted and have no purpose beyond Consort to the Man) Indian widows once had to commit sati, showing their devotion by burning to death on their husbands’ funeral pyres.

I’m sorry that’s the example that comes to mind. Misogyny, of course, comes in many cultural and historic flavors. There’s also Miss Havisham, the Dickens character who continues to wear her wedding dress and moldy veil eons after being jilted at the altar. (Spoiler alert: she burns to death too.)

My point is — you’re suffering from your own mindfuck. Either you’ve got some culturally imposed, awful, woman-hating idea about purity (one partner only! FOREVER! or you’re BAD, damaged goods!) or some twisted (again, woman-hating) “romantic” notion that There’s Only One True Love and you have one chance only and if you blow it, you’re finished FOREVER!

Maybe it’s a combo plate. You’ve got cultural misogyny wrapped up in the Hallmark Christmas Channel. (Speaking of which, WHY IS THIS CHANNEL A THING?! Oh sure, Brent, the square-jawed cashmere-sweatered ad exec really wants to go ice-skating and pick out puppies with you after Christmas carols. Who WRITES this crap?)

Anywho… Stuck Chump, why on earth are you giving an ex-boyfriend cheater so much centrality in your own, precious life?! Why are you making his validation of you the ONLY validation in the whole, wide world that matters?

He’s not doing this to you. He’s exited stage left (apparently lost in his self-improvement campaign… [snort]… to which I’ll return momentarily.) You’re doing this to you. YOU are making yourself “deeply unhappy” by limiting your choices.

I have total sympathy with you for being heart-broken and cheated on. Big sisterly hugs of support. I have ZERO support, however, for the deliberate sabotage of your future on the funeral pyre of a fuckwit.

Moving on is DOING THE THINGS YOU DON’T WANT TO DO. The scary out-of-our-comfort-zone things. The didn’t-think-I-had-it-in-me feats of supernatural strength. That’s what gaining a life IS.

Sure, you can get a new job, a new set of surroundings, but if you carry that mental mindfuck with you everywhere (“Woe! A cheater didn’t find me worthy!”) you’re dooming yourself. No one is doing that to you. YOU are doing that to yourself.

Decolonize your mind.

I still love him, I still want to give us another chance (he is single and has left schmoopie)

Yeah, that doesn’t sound like No Contact. You’re aware of his relationship status how? Turn that channel OFF. Social media, gossipy friend — you don’t need to know. If you care, you’re still toking on the hopium pipe.

A year ago I threw my ex cheater out of our home. He wanted to come back, hence I’ve sent him to individual counseling, told him to speak to me again only if he fixes himself, and I went no contact.

Giving him permission to contact you again (if he improves himself) is NOT no contact. It’s keeping the door open. Again, this is hopium. This is not Trusting That He Sucks. It’s being invested in his potential and keep your life on hold waiting for him to recognize your worth and return. How’s that working for you?

It’s NOT YOUR JOB to send him to individual counseling! It’s HIS job to have a problem with HIS behavior. You imposed the consequence — you LEFT. Now it’s up to HIM to connect the dots. (“OMG, I did a bad thing!”) You should NOT do his homework for him.

When you’re doing that co-dependent Let Me Tell You How to Fix Yourself! cha-cha, you can’t focus on your own life. (Like, “Why am I spending so much time on a fuckwit?”) He’s a distraction.

I don’t want to have more than one partner in my life. I know you remarried and I respect you, please don’t get me wrong. It just isn’t acceptable to me.

What? The remarriage part or the more than one partner thing? I’ve had more partners than I’ve had husbands. Respect away. If I took your attitude, I’d never know the joys of a man who gets up and makes 40 breakfast tacos for his workplace, or loves my son like his own, or buys me pinecone elves even though he knows I don’t need another pinecone elf. Elves delight me and he delights in delighting me.

Do you think I WANTED to make every choice I made? Thank GOD for unanswered prayers, Stuck. I’m ashamed to think of the time I wasted on a cheating fuckwit, sobbing on a bathroom floor, suicidal, defrauded, not wanting to move into a scary future, totally starting over in a strange place. Praying instead that my abuser would transform and I would get the dream I invested in. THANK GOD THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN.

And thank GOD it didn’t happen to you either. Thank GOD this person stays away and thank God you left. That was mighty. And if you’re mighty enough to leave, you’re mighty enough to start over.

Life is risk. It’s not getting the well-ordered lives we planned. (They’re all on back order.) Life is trade-offs and prices of admission for better outcomes.

To build a life with Mr. CL, I moved to TEXAS. A God-forsaken state the color of dead grass with fire ants, snakes, and weather that wants to kill you. I did NOT like that choice. I made it. I made a LOT of other scary choices before that choice. It’s not like Mr. Right appeared on the horizon and beckoned me towards tornados and tacos.

You respect me? I didn’t stay on that bathroom floor. And you shouldn’t either. Get up and consider the wonderful possibilities of a life free from abuse.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • This is so timely for me. I’m going to visit old friends this week–friends that were so Switzerland they practically yodel. At the very, very end, they sort of came around to my side. But they still socialize with my ex from time to time. But we were friends for fifteen years, and I keep hoping they will do the right thing. I guess I’m a chump for friendships as well as for romantic relationships. I need to pick myself up and move on–invest in people who don’t tell me they are praying for me and my ex to get back together.

    I love the Hallmark comments by the way. Cheater watched the Hallmark channel endlessly while he was in the middle of the discard phase. He never said this, but I knew he was comparing me to all those perky young women in the shows who moon endlessly over their man. There are no dishes to wash or bills to pay in the Hallmark world. Everyone ends up rich and beautiful. The funny thing to me was realizing that he imagined himself as the rich, handsome young man, when in fact he was over fifty, fat, and in debt. But judging by the women and young girls he chased, he definitely didn’t believe he was a day over 18 years old.

      • I laughed out loud to that yodel joke for about 5 minutes….made my day! Hilarious indeed!

    • Giving another thumbs up ????to…

      “…so Switzerland they practiclly yodel”.

      LMAO! Best line I’ve heard in a long time! ♥️ it!

  • Texas is an awesome place to live.

    We pride ourselves on making awesome breakfast tacos and taking pictures of children in bluebonnet fields.

    • There are many awesome things about Texas. I’m just too weak and Northern to sufficiently appreciate them.

    • Fifth generation Texan here. Texas is not for weenies, that’s for sure lol ????

      • Totally agree, Texas is not for the faint of heart. It will cook your bacon in the summer and the whole state shuts down over a snowflake. 3rd Generation Texan.

  • Its normal to have more than one relationship, long term relationships, you don’t know really what happens in other peoples relationships. It someone truly loves you they wouldn’t cheat on you. Counselling is good, but as I said they didn’t have to cheat.
    I don’t know what culture you come from, but I realise that men especially get away with more, in certain cultures.
    I think you love him, and your loving the idea of a marriage.
    Do you think he thought he would get away with it.
    You deserve better
    And you know it

  • That hopium is some powerful shit. You get one life, but waste it away in the smokey sadness waiting for Mr. Allfixednow to come on home.

    I didn’t want this path either. I was all “old fashioned” around my views. But first I was pushed out, then had my DD. After a week or two of embarrassing pick-me dancing, I went NC. Real NC and I SOOO like it better here. I like ME better.

    I could die today, happy, even though I so did not want to be here.

    Put down the pipe. Take a deep breath, go real NC and start a better life.

    BTW— I work in advertising and about this time every year, the closets get full of puppies and holiday sweaters as the divorced/single execs return from their small family Xmas tree farms. The women usually return home for love: the farm hand guy who also does ceramics.

    • You forgot X-mas cookies. There’s always baking.

      Rock that cashmere sweater, there’s a goo-goo eyed, leggy blonde out there waiting for you at the copier machine.

      • I’ve got a whole musical idea around love in the agency world; it’s West Side Story meets The Music Man.

        Just need a budget

    • This may sound like a bad analogy, but the way I see it now, the less NC I have w/the EW, the less I give her an opportunity to shove and twist that knife deeper into my back.

      Kinda wish sometimes she’d just disappear (too bad she didn’t snap away like others did in Avengers: End Game), but I can dream, eh?

  • I speak from experience. If you take him back, he says he’s learned his lesson, will never do it again, your life and pain will be 1,000 times worse. You will have children, invest many years and guess what, no matter what you do he WILL cheat again!!!! You cannot stop it. Having children and divorcing after many more years together is so much more painful when he cheats again. Run while you can make a clean break!!!! You’ve already put distance, don’t look back, give yourself a chance at a happy future. A future with him will not be happy. Once a cheater ALWAYS a cheater.

    • This exactly. I’m 40 and moving into and apartment with my teenage son. It’s sad, and lonely, and not at all where I thought I would be at this point in my life.

      It’s taken me a long time to realize I never really loved him, I only ever loved a dream of what he could have been. In reality, he was a liar, a cheat, and a lazy bum. His actions always showed his character, I was just too attached to own delusion of a happy life with him to see it clearly.

      • I’m not too far into this whole thing but I’m beginning to think I never really loved mine either. He was self-centered, lazy, and always had me last on his list of things to do. The delusion is strong.
        Even the tiniest slip in NC is like taking some memory wiping drug.

      • I needed this too! I am somewhat stuck as well, moving each step forward is a struggle at times. I do clearly recognize that the choice to go back to X-cheater is the worst possible thing that I can do to myself, it is self sabotage in every way maybe even suicidal. And yet I sometimes long for him – being alone 50s in a little apartment is not what I expected my life to be. After 10 years I know it is a fact the cycle will begin, only the “honeymoon” period will be way shorter as it was every. single. time. He WILL cheat, he WILL lie, lead a double life, use me financially, and all the while I will become more tolerant of the blatant disrespect, emotional and verbal abuse. I do not want to be that small heap of a person crying on the floor or wondering who his latest “friend” or “boss” is.

        Everything he has done in our relationship he has done with someone else and for himself. There was never any us, love, loyalty or commitment. Nothing and I mean NOTHING was real. What was real was what I felt, and I mistakenly thought HE made me feel it – when it always came from me and I projected onto him all along. Knowing this keeps me away and moving forward. Even casual acquaintances ask me why I am alone after complimenting me. I try not to let this stigma bother me. I make myself happy and to feel loved and nobody else can. I see myself being in a wonderful relationship in 5 years, but right now my relationship is with myself.

    • He will cheat again. It’s not that they don’t understand they hurt us. It’s that They. Don’t. Care.

      His needs will always be more important to him than your feelings. Always.

      He has shown you who he is. Believe him the first time.

      My cheater cheated on me when we were engaged. I found out and confronted him. I am ashamed to admit that I spackled/believed his bullshit that he would never do it again. and married him. We had a child. Guess what happened? He cheated.

      He devalued me for years. I could never understand why our marriage sucked, even after he finally got sober. Even though I made my needs smaller and smaller while I carried the load of working full time, 90% of childcare, and running the household.

      When it got really bad and he barely spoke to me anymore, I found out about a long term affair with Schmoopie/ ho-worker. She was probably not the only one either.

      Please learn from our mistakes and trust that he sucks, before you breed with him and tie yourself to a lifetime of negative drama.

      You really Can’t Polish A Turd.

      • With the above comments – that he WILL cheat again

        Does this then lead to once a cheat always a cheat ?

        Cause i am 99.9% certain my Ex will never cheat on his AP . Why would he ?? He has finally got everything he dreamed of

        I am not sure i believe that comment any more TBH

        • when his AP gets old, or ill, or hits any type of rough patch, he’s not going to be there for her.

          He’s shown his character, and that doesn’t change. He’s the type of selfish person who would lie, cheat, and shatter other people’s hopes and dreams, all for fleeting moments of his own pleasure.

          • This goes along with the idea that anyone can be there & stay for better, for richer, in health. It’s what they do in worse times, for poorer & in sickness that shows their true character & their integrity. Sure he might stay, for as long as things are easy & going great. Hit a bump in the road & he will take the next exit on her too. It may be years but, just wait & see.

        • I doubt my X will cheat again. He is happy with his girlfriend (he’s 59, she’s 46). His main goal is impression management and making decisions that will work to his advantage. He needs this girlfriend for his image (I let the word out about his double life/ meeting men from CraigsList etc.) Cheat or not, he will have the same character he always has had – looks out for number one, no integrity, no moral compass, habitual liar… not a good guy who can enjoy being happy and being in a relationship the way normal functioning adults can. He’s a master manipulator and she may never ever see the truth.

          So Karenb6702, maybe consider reframing the question about once a cheater always a cheater.
          Remind yourself that he has the same character he always had. Character of a cheater. Who knows or cares if he will again. But it is who he is at his core.

          • Mine was up to the same activity, and soooooo concerned about image as well. He’s technically “single” now but has a “friend” he “hangs out” with, and goes on trips with. He is still sneaking around, hunting on Craigslist, because I have evidence of it (he is an idiot with computers, the last time I visited the house, it’s almost like he wanted me to find that info, right there on his laptop, open for all to see, great, thanks for confirming that you STILL SUCK). He has no respect for anyone, or any type of relationship. If he ever did start dating women again, it would only be to have someone to humiliate behind their back.

          • I don’t think they need to ‘cheat’ but they will continue to exhibit their lousy character in new and improved ways.

          • Kathleen K,

            I don’t know if your Ex will cheat again or not, but I do know that people have certain ways of coping with certain stimuli and it is their default setting. If that setting never gets altered in any way, there are still certain coping strategies that people tend to use because that’s what they’ve always used. Your Ex’s behavior and choices are not contingent upon who he is with, but who he is. As long as his current person provides the necessary stimulation and distractions required to keep your Ex occupied in a way that cheating involves more risk of him losing something he values more than what he gets cheating, he may not cheat. I just don’t know if that’s sustainable. At some point, he’s going to have those thoughts and feelings that motivate him to cheat because that’s internal, not external.

            If you told me he was in long-term counseling (that he chose on his own) working on serious behavior modification strategies and techniques I might think, oh okay, maybe. Otherwise, he took himself into that new relationship and as you said, he is who he is. Just my opinion.

        • Mine is a leaky bucket. Everything is great and he is happy for the moment.

          After a while he will get bored. He will not be there if Schmoops gets ill or needs support because her dad dies. He will resent her if she gets a promotion and raise at work. He will keep her on edge wondering how he feels about her. He will stop coming home for dinner as he tries to charm someone else. In the end he will tell her he never -ever- loved her and it is all her fault because she is so controlling and judgmental. He will pack up and leave without warning.

          Trust that they suck, they did not get a personality transplant to go with that new set of genitalia they are currently playing with.

          • Totall agree Now I.C. I am the second wife. I didn’t know how much he cheated on the first wife. I thought I was special. First wife may have had the impression that all was hunky dory because we seemed like the perfect couple. Hell I thought we were the perfect couple (image management) But he worked out of town, out of province, out of country and I am sure he had strings attached to many other women. After 25 years – yup- he had demeaned and diminished me until I hardly knew which way was up, but we maintained the facade until I had hard eveidence of his cheating. Then he turned into the cornered rat hissing and spitting and as malicious – unbeleiveable. He once told me first wife had tried to run him over with her car (they were together 13 years) and I felt all sorry for poor widdle him and his crayzeee wife. Well I am crazy wife number 2. And he has found a perfetc “nurse with a purse” for the next relationship. Looks like a perfect match except after 5 years (and her saving his life and spending a lot of money!) he still won’t live with her “because he’s not good at the marriage thing”. Poor (rat) bastard! HA!! He’s now 69 and alone with at least one woman still on a string…

          • Yes the boredom will set in. Always needing to be entertained, praised, etc. OW is 10 years older than him and I’m sure he’ll dump her once she turns 50 next year. He couldn’t celebrate my accomplishments or promotion, because it didn’t happen for him. He devalued me for about 1 year until I was blindsided by his affair admission. I now realize how I my needs were made so small and how much of the family workload I carried.

          • ^THIS OMG Now I.C. this hit home. I will add from my own experience – mine even re-wrote history. Said he never cheated. Like 30+ girls. Never.

            He said we were not dating when he was with all these women, the randoms, howorkers, on-line dating sites, etc. and all his secret texting and pic exchanges (on my sofa). So in his head he is the saint, and his conscious is clear. But attacks me, where was I that night when I said I worked an hour late?! To him, I am the evil cheater who deserved all he did. There is no happy ending. This is how easily he could twist and flip a 10 year relationship.

        • He’s the same man with her as he was with you. He didn’t change just because he got everything he dreamed of having. He’s a liar and a cheater. Remember how he made you feel ‘not enough’? Well, he is the exact same man. He’s making her feel ‘not enough’. And depending on his age and physical inabilities, though he may not physically go out and cheat on her, he will cheat on her when he gives his attention to another woman, and then he’ll tell her that she’s jealous and she has insecurity problems. She will be doing the pick-me dance as she’s trying to make him love her again. Let’s say he really did change and he’s the perfect husband for her, as CL says over and over again, “Is this acceptable for you?” He was not the perfect husband for you and he never would be. But honestly, people do not change. If he was a dick with you, he most assuredly is a dick to her. You just may never see it as she’s got that ‘happy face’ and ‘everything is oh-so-wonderful’ look. Whether he is or isn’t happy now, is no longer the issue. You’re free of his abuse.

          • I am in the same boat as Karen B—my ex-boyfriend left me for young work subordinate he soon married. He adores and values her, so I bought that he will mistreat her as he did mr (lying, insulting, invalidating). And as she is much younger than me (and him) and they work together, I cannot imagine him trading her in for a younger model. He will die before he has a chance, even if he changed his mind about his tremendously impressive new wife. I cannot compete. I can’t get even a ‘real’ date now, over two years later, no matter how hard I try to optimize myself.

            • I meant ‘doubt,’ not ‘bought—autocorrection.

              I feel bad that it my (emotionally abusive) ex-boyfriends marry, stick with, and sing the praises of the women they discarded me for for decades. Makes me wonder, ‘What’s wrong with me?’

            • Oh RockStarWife. I think you’re stuck still comparing yourself to the OW. If you’re like me, I looked at myself as old, with wrinkles and gray hair, and chubby with cellulite on my thighs. Who would ever want me? Well you know what? Once I learned to love myself with cellulite, gray hair, and wrinkles, I figured that I’d rather be single than ever deal with a dick again. If some man doesn’t come along and love me just exactly the way I am, then I don’t need a man. Once I got over the thought that I needed a man to be happy, I started being happy. And life is grand. Don’t worry about getting a ‘real’ date. Focus on you and your great qualities.

              • Thanks Amazon Chump, I guess that I don’t need a man (although being an unemployed, in spite of much effort not to be, old mother with a rapidly dwindling bank balance and no home would make some people think, ‘Yeah, she needs a man.’). However, I would very much LOVE to have a man. One can think that one is surviving or even thriving but acknowledge that life would be noticeably better with a good long-term partner. I am jealous and envious of my ex-boyfriends and their current wives, who seem to have fabulous lives. and have stayed together for decades. I try hard to support others and make friends, but I feel very lonely and hopeless. I am glad that you are happy, Amazon Chump.

          • My Ex may never cheat again, because that has worked out really poorly for him, in two long-term relationships (me and the previous 10 yr girlfriend).

            But even if he doesn’t, it’s because he didn’t like the consequences FOR HIM, not because he actually considers it wrong and hates how much he hurt people.

            Even if he never cheats again, he’ll still be the same irritable, critical, self-centered, lazy (about everything except his own career) asshole he’s always been. That won’t change, because HE doesn’t believe there’s a problem IN HIM.

            So I don’t even care if he never cheats again. I’m better off without him.

            • TRUTH!!!!

              “But even if he doesn’t (cheat again), it’s because he didn’t like the consequences FOR HIM, not because he actually considers it wrong and hates how much he hurt people.”

          • And even if he isn’t a dick to Schmoopie (image management, using her for money, whatever), he’s still a dick. He was a dick to his wife.

        • I am a seasoned chump, unfortunately. Two husband’s who both cheated on me. I wanted to be a good wife and forgave and took them back, only to have them cheat on me yet again years later. What I have painfully learned the hard way is this: while some fuckwits may never go on to cheat on their AP or in the future doesnt matter. THEY WILL ALWAYS CHEAT ON YOU.

        • karenb6702,
          I don’t think mine will cheat on the one he cheated with and married. I think she is what he wanted. I think they are remarkably well suited for one another.

          However, he cheated on me and that is unacceptable to me. He raped my soul (thanks for the phrase, DivorceMinister) and I do not care if he is happy or unhappy, I’m just delighted he’s gone.

        • “Trust that they suck, they did not get a personality transplant to go with that new set of genitalia they are currently playing with”—YES!!!!!!

          This was hard for me to untangle too, as I feel it’s part of the “she gets the future I thought I had after I made all the sacrifices”. Admitting it’s unfair has helped.

          I am now (DDay April 207) at the point where I understand his choices had nothing to do with me. So if Mr. Asshat does or doesn’t cheat on Mrs. Whore, it isn’t about her, but HIM. She’s not special–just an available vagina for his selfish needs at the moment. These cowards reach out for their next schmoopie before they can give up on us chumps. Of course they aren’t with their “soul mates”, because she has to pretend to be everything you aren’t. It’s impossible to know whether this moment will last or not, but the magic will wear off, and she is left with a man she can’t trust. And you know that he sucks.

          In my case, they are both extremely narcissistic, so making me the bad guy was the glue in the beginning. He had to lie to her from the start to make it all about the “evil wife”. She’s 52 year old with no children, so she could devote 100% of her time to him–love bombing.

          But… she has no idea he’s reached out to his first mistress. I’m sure he’s doing his other “activities”, because he has to live on the edge for excitement. He was fired as president of a company he co-owned with his brother & cousin. He’s a pariah at the hospital in town and works an hour away–two hours of commute time he isn’t spending with her. And she has no idea he used to tell me he wasn’t attracted to her as she looks like a 12 year old boy (so he probably was attracted to her personality).

          I’m moving forward and I’m finally putting myself first. This shit is hard, but rubber necking the sideshow freakshow, isn’t helpful. He hasn’t changed.

        • When we all married our Insert Name here. Did we ever think they would cheat on us? NO
          So the possibility that they are going to cheat on AP is pretty high-even if we don’t think so. Leopards don’t change their spots and Insert name here isn’t going to change his lying, cheating, deceiving.

        • Karen, he didn’t want a baby. She is having a baby. This is not going to end well for her.

        • For many cheaters, it’s not about love (they don’t know how). It’s not even about winning the way you or I would think it.

          To a narcissist, winning means triangulation. It means always having 2 (or more!) people fighting over you.

          He may act happy with Schmoopie (in the hopes it still upsets you). But mark my words, her day is coming. A narcissist without attention, preferably in the form of begging and suicidal ideation from their lovers, is like an alcoholic without a drink. These people’s entire lives revolve around terrorizing others.

        • Idk – I was thinking today that I know of two men who left their wives for their other women (both in their 40s at the time), and both cheated on the other women eventually.

          They are babies. If the don’t experience heights of passion and supremely desired, they feel deprived and justified in cheating. And no marriage sustains the high level of passion that new infatuations offer. So, maybe they get too old to reel in an AP but they can always hire a professionally, go to strip bars etc.

          It’s not like marrying someone new gives you a character transplant.

      • Jeez, I can relate to your story, especially to the “I made my needs smaller and smaller while I carried the load…and he barely spoke to me anymore.” Been there, done that.

        My ex also had a long term affair. Not sure if it was his first or his fifth, but at this point it no longer matters.

        Live your life. Be strong and be happy. The stronger you are, the faster you move through the shit phase, and can move into the happy part.

        Anyone up for a Chump Lady Cruise? I would certainly sign up!

        • OMG, I’d consider a meet-up but I loathe cruises. I did one once and puked from sea sickness. Also there was bad live music. And we couldn’t dock for bad weather. And it was humid. And there were horrible “art” auctions. And gambling. And feigned merriment. It was like Senior Prom on the Sea. Formal pictures! Seated dining! Awkward dancing!

          I know there are people who love cruises (Mr. CL likes cruises and all boats). I am not this person. Sorry, I had to spew my cruise feelings. I really appreciate the enthusiasm and fellow CN bonhomie, but I have to disappoint on the cruise front. I’m the world’s worst sailor.

          • A meet-up would be great. But, I’m w/CL, no cruises. I like boats, but only sailboats. And you always hear about the cruise that went bad (like CL’s).

      • YouCan’tPolishATurd,

        Are you CL’s sister? You sound just like her 🙂

        Love the clarity, specificity and succinctness of what you have written above. You wrote what I would have written IF I had that ability. As it is I as a long winded as the year is long.

        I sure hope the OP reads through all of this because I am one too who forgave and forgot – 3 children, 30+ years later….guess what? The x was sober and that didn’t stop him from being a serial cheater. Why should it when the ‘founder’ of AA was a serial cheater himself….

        I hope she finds books written by women who have taken their cheaters back. Their lives read like an unbelievable nightmare. None of them seem to be able to see that they are still the only ones 100% committed to their marriages while the cheaters still remain in power and don’t really have to commit at all – only faux commitment that can end at any time all the while the cheaters are maintaining their position of centrality. Their stories are painful to read.

        I hope she reads the hundreds of other postings here written by those of us who did take them back and finds that not a one of us ever got a stronger, happier marriage as a result of our cheaters trangressions.

        Sadly I suspect that she will have to go through what she has to go through in order to really be ready to claim her own life. In other words, she will have to hit her own bottom before she will be able to embrace true freedom – that state of Meh.

    • This.

      Stuck Chump, I think it’s about resilience in your case. That psychological trait they say is so central to mental health and well-being. Mind you, resilience is not a spineless lack of belief or conviction enabling you to simply bend with every challenging circumstance. But it is the absence of lock-down rigidity in one’s thinking.

      There could be a cultural misogyny you have seen and accepted which underlies your beliefs, but I tend to think your value system is based on a beauty and goodness you have seen and experienced. Maybe the most influential and formative relationship(s) you have experienced were truly healthy, selfless and committed examples of lifelong bonding. Maybe you formed a variety of understandings as you grew in this wonderful environment and squared it with what else you saw in the world. Taking that approach, please don’t view “resilience” as an enticement to set aside what you know to be good and right only to adopt something less but easy. Resilience, here, is the willingness to truly look at long held core beliefs, so core you don’t even consciously form them as worded concepts, and assess them for total accuracy. You could have the rifle crosshairs centered dead on your targeted value or standard, but now a breeze crosses the field and you will miss your mark. It isn’t that your target is wrong or the scope is off, maybe these things are truly superior in their quality. But perhaps your system for aiming is just slightly incomplete.

      Like all scientific knowledge, it’s settled fact until circumstances arise which contradict it to some degree. Then it needs investigation and refinement until it’s improved version better accounts for reality and brings us closer to truth. This is resilience in thinking. But the original knowledge often wasn’t wrong, only incomplete. Do you believe a standard or set of principles is fully complete and accurate in defining what is good if it results in the innocent being trapped in despair? You were handed a treasure map that brought riches to others and seemed to bring you too along the only high road to the treasure you sought, but then you fell into a pit someone dug. Your treasure isn’t wrong. Your map isn’t wrong. Maybe you simply need to refine your reading of it a bit, reassess what it actually is, what it actually is saying. Why is a lifelong partner also defined in your reading of the map as the first partner? Isn’t a lifelong partner better defined as the one to whom your entire life was sincerely directed? Likely there are completely other questions only you know to ask. Be willing to ask and test and refine. It doesn’t mean throwing out what you believe.

  • Please don’t stay stuck in a cage of self-imposed tradition. Part of gaining a life is being alive, and being alive is being open to new experiences. By closing yourself off to new love, you are also closing yourself off from life. The cheater isn’t worth any of this, and he is especially not worth the merry-go-round you have put yourself on. He cheated, he disrespected and he showed you that his love is not true.

    I say this often. For months after D-day and the divorce, I continued to romanticize him and my memories of him. The day I dropped the bucket of spackle and walked away was the day that I started walking toward my future.

    • It took me a while before I said to myself, “Not everything you love is good for you.” When that day came, I knew that even though I loved the dick, it was time to love me. And you know, in a way I still love the dick, but he’s a dick and he will always be a dick. I deserve better.

  • “Do you think I WANTED to make every choice I made? Thank GOD for unanswered prayers, Stuck. I’m ashamed to think of the time I wasted on a cheating fuckwit, sobbing on a bathroom floor, suicidal, defrauded, not wanting to move into a scary future, totally starting over in a strange place. Praying instead that my abuser would transform and I would get the dream I invested in. THANK GOD THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN.”

    Holy cow Tracy! You are our pillar of strength and wisdom and it’s so easy to forget that you came from a place as dark as any of us did. I too am grateful for that unanswered prayer. But when you’re going through it, the idea that you’ll be happier than you thought possible is incomprehensible

  • Here’s an option for you. In order to make yourself unhappy, start loving yourself! Give yourself the love you yearn for. Xx sweet

  • The one partner comment really struck me. Who put that shame onto Stuck Chump and why has she internalized it?

    We all wanted different situations. I wanted to be with my children’s father until death. I vowed and I meant it and conducted myself accordingly for over 2 decades. He vowed and reneged, and made a mess of his family’s lives…the biggest part of the mess is accepting the death of the dream and there has to be a plan B. You can’t just go through the motions, you have to accept that he literally isn’t worthy of the part he played in your life and adjust accordingly.

    • Agreed.
      What if he had died? Would she still think she was only entitled to one partner?

      • Also, one partner for life, but apparently they–you, letter writer–didn’t marry? Nary a word of divorce in that letter, only of co-habitation and their–your–both being currently “single.”

  • Oh dear.
    Why are you trying to live up to the ideal…? Which seems to serve men more than women. No offence. You seem to have internalised a form of the maddona whore complex.
    The guy doesn’t love you. But you care a great deal for him.
    CL gave you the unvarnished truth. It’s up to you to accept it and decide accordingly or to continue in denial.

  • First year of dating I discovered my now cheating ex
    slept with an old girlfriend. He denied it & I believed him because I was so in love with him.
    Now 35 years later his 2 year affair caused me to throw him out, then divorced him. I still loved him to this day but I wish I had the opportunity that you now have to leave him from day one. The pain I now feel is multiplied by the lifetime we shared.
    Please don’t make the mistake many of us here made.
    You may or may not find another, but at least you will have peace & your self respect will be intact. Run as fast as you can!

  • This was such a timely post for me. I still feel stuck, but really resonated with the part about doing the things you DON’T want to do. I know that I carry around all of this internalized misogyny (religious, cultural, family of origin, etc). But I also know that you (Stuck Chump) and I are stronger than we think.

    I relate so much to the but you don’t understand….he was the only person who ever knew me, he knew me best, he received all my secrets, he was my person, and I don’t want to be personless feelings. It fucking sucks to be personless. I have 15+ years left of negotiating parenting issues with him and have experiences all the time that remind me how much of a failure I feel like for not still being happily married.

    I’m no where near being over my husband. Being separated is devastating and I’ve still not drummed up the courage to actually file for divorce. You are not alone in being stuck. But take one more step whenever you can. That’s what I do. You can move on. He is not your only option and the fact that we still imagine that is true isn’t about piety or what’s best for the children. Its about fear. Resist it in small ways and big!

    • You have the worst of all worlds being separated — ties to him without the freedom to move forward. Limbo is so much harder than the future you imagine.

      • Chumplady I hope you are correct. I’ve been separated for 11 months and just filed.

        Mostly because reading this sight gave me clarity and courage.

        My husband was living an extensive secret double life while I was raising kids and being the good wife. I wasn’t perfect, but I loved my family.

        Filing was so hard, but I knew in my heart to have any kind of future I had to let go. It makes me angry to know all the sacrifices I made will be for naught as he trades me in for a younger model and rides off into the sunset. He’s a successful executive. I’m having to go back to school. It’s going to be years before I make money.

        • Get the very best lawyer you can get. Know the divorce laws in your state and what you’re entitled to and press for a good settlement. has the divorce laws in every state and is a good resource. Good luck! And congrats on your new beginning.

    • File. It’s been said here many times that you don’t begin to really heal until the divorce is final. At some level you understand that filing is “the end,” and you’re still fighting some kind of hopium in not doing so. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

    • This morning I saw a Facebook memory from seven years ago (2012). It was a picture of me and ex at my extended family’s Thanksgiving. I’m smiling, he’s smiling, my hand with my wedding and engagement rings is clutching his arm. Happy, happy, happy right? Not so much. It was post DDay #2 and we had been separated for almost 3 months at that point but NO ONE knew it except our kids (and my therapist). I wanted so badly for everything to be okay, for my family to be intact that I didn’t tell anyone what was going on because I didn’t want them to judge him and because he was my “best friend,” my only lover, my everything. That went on for two long years before I realized that it was never going to get better and I needed to save myself and my kids, not my marriage. It didn’t take long to realize it wasn’t being without him that was killing me, it was trying to cling to a relationship that only existed in my mind that was killing me. On this day three years later (2015) my divorce was final. Four years later I can say with all my heart that ending the marriage was the best decision I ever made. Do I have the life I thought I would have? No. But in almost every way it is a better life. And I can honestly say if I could go back to where and who I was before the cheating, I wouldn’t do it. You can’t ever get back that life you thought you would have with your partner but you can and should make a better life for yourself without them.

      • Well said Beth! Yep, I have lots of ‘happy’ photos with the dick. Those photos were me being so, so hopeful that we would have the happy family that was depicted in the photos. They don’t show the strain on my face prior to the photos as I was dealing with the dick and his throwing tantrums to be there for the photos. It took a long, long time to realize that that ‘happy’ family never existed. It was idealized. And I do have a better life. It’s not where I wanted to be, but oh well. I’m happy.

      • Beth,
        I always love your posts.
        You have such a big loving heart.
        I am so sorry for all you have been through, yet, I rejoice with you, in your strength, in how you have come out of all this, so much wiser and in your own heart, happy.
        Beth, You are so Mighty!

    • I understand how you feel. My soon to be ex wife left me and our now 13 years old twin sons November 2nd, 2018. I was and am still devastated. I didn’t find out until a month later she was having an affair and had moved 70 miles away to live with a guy she met online.

      I since learned it had been going on for close to a year before she left and it looks like there were others as well. I never suspected or thought she would do anything like that.

      After months of pick me dancing, I filed for divorce o June 26th of this year. She has went back and forth, one day telling me she hasn’t loved me for years, she wants a divorce and found her true love. The next she said she wasn’t sure what she wanted.

      She gave me full custody of our boys. She visits occasionally, but right now they have nothing but contempt for her. Her mother hasn’t spoken to her since this happened and her family has fully supported me.

      As of December 26th, I’ll be single again after 21 years of marriage. It hurts more than anything I’ve ever experienced and as bad as this sounds, I still love her and miss her . I’ll be the first to admit things weren’t perfect, but I truly loved her and always thought she felt the same. She told me so many times. Now I don’t know what was real and what wasn’t.

      • CaliChump- I understand this perfectly. She is messing with your mind, leaving you open as her option B.
        I was abandoned too, blindsided too. Found out a month later X had moved in with a chick from work and it had been going on for quite a while. Your wife has a double life, she cannot be trusted…you know this. She totally sucks.
        It is excruciating pain. I get it. It is weird to be single again after being in what we thought were forever marriages. Mine was a complete lie.
        It does get easier with time; that sounds so cliche, but it is true. However, you have minor children and she will undoubtedly try to continue with the mindfuck.
        I feel for you. I’m so happy you have custody and are the sane parent. Hang in there☺

      • Oh man this resonates. My wife too bailed on me and our daughter who was 17 at the time. I was destroyed, never in a million years thought that was possible after 24 years. It was several months later while I was desperately trying to “improve myself to win her back” I learned there had been someone the whole time, a “family friend” ..etc etc. This was over 5 years ago, our 31 year old son barely talks to her, (my stepson I raised since he was 2), and our daughter still talks to her but their relationship is not the same. My exes family however disowned me right away like I never existed. Maybe that’s for the best but it still hurt, I thought I was part of the “family” but they’ve embraced my replacement so whatever. But yes the holidays still get me down, can’t believe another one is coming down the pike again. But on the bright side I get my kids here and new grandson and she always has to see them the day or two after. They choose to spend them with me which helps tremendously. Take care man, I feel your pain and heartache.

      • It’s hard to admit so I’m glad I saw you say it here…I still love my stbxh but I don’t want him back. How F-d up is that? It makes no sense to me, so I don’t share that statement with anyone since I’d have to explain it.

  • Stuck chump I don’t know what culture or religion you are in. I get it. My ex was my first and only. I struggled with this too. I didn’t think it was ok to divorce until my Christian counselor showed me that he was an unbeliever and the Bible said it was ok to do so. You didn’t do this. He did. It’s ok to let him go and it’s ok to move on. I felt stuck like you because I really didn’t want a divorce. Like Tracy, I laid in the bathroom floor with a knife in my hand. Now, I am so glad I was forced to make that decision. You need clarity. Why would I stay married to a man who made me want to kill myself? It’s hopium. It’s grief and trauma bonding. You won’t get clarity until you have divorced and truly moved on. Don’t waste your life on this guy. Life is too short. Find a way to free yourself from these 3 choices. Would you be able to remarry if he died? As far as I am concerned, my spouse died.

  • I have a tractor with a front-end loader and it can’t move that mountain of bullshit you’ve sold yourself.

    Put it down. Walk away. Don’t look back. It’s not going to compost – it’s going to BURN and you don’t need to witness it or smell it.

  • PREACH CL!????????????. Stuck, you are mindfucking yourself out of a good life. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee or slap some sense in yourself. I would also say, you need to go to your therapist and do a lot of inner child forgive yourself sessions so you can move forward in a healthier manner. Being stuck in limbo over an asshat happens…..I get! I’ve been there too! But, it’s the getting unstuck that’s the hard part and that part is all about you. Your mindset right now is toxic. Hate to say it. When mine was in the same toxic mindset, my friends all distanced themselves from me. When they finally had the balls to tell me how toxic I was being by staying hung up over asshat and how they didn’t want to be a part of it anymore. They told me harsh truths like how they noticed how my physical health was deteriorating, I was rail thin from not being able to eat, my job was suffering, etc….this harsh reality was the switch that made my mind flip. I realized I was killing myself and all for what….a fucked up asshat?!?!??? It’s time Stuck! You need to get better and start doing to scary ass things that you don’t want to face to gain a life. If you do the hard work I promise on the other side it will be better than before.

  • I felt the same way as you, and I still ache for the “would could have been.” But listen to me- I stayed. I stayed for 30 years to a man who would not stop his wandering eyes, porn use, emotional affairs, and several planned rendezvous that he said he never went through with. I lived in a continual state of hypervigilance, distrust, and trauma because of his lies and abuse.

    If I could somehow go back to the young me, I would say RUN AWAY! Run away before you get tangled up with debts, kids, mortgage, his weirdo friends!!!

    It’s too late for me- at 53, my dreams are shattered and me and my kids are left picking up the pieces. I tried so hard but in the end I was the only one trying. Now, I have health problems and debt from those terrible years.

    Its not too late for you. Heres some good advice I found that I turn to when I am tempted to give him just one more chance:

    “When making a tough choice, ask yourself three questions: If I do this, (1) What’s the BEST possible outcome? (2) What’s the WORST possible outcome? (3) Am I emotionally prepared to deal with EITHER outcome?”

    That advice has helped me remember the agony of the past. I hope you make the choice for the best possible outcome. But in reality, once a man has cheated, it’s very likely he will continue. Can you live with that outcome?

    • CBL….I’m 52.5, living my best life after 26+ years with a serial cheater, unbeknownst to me until Dday 12/27/14, divorced 3/13/17. My Life 2.0 is ridiculously wonderful and I wish I could have told myself from 5 years ago how great this post-cheater life would be. My kids are doing well, I have a new specialty in my career, make more money than I ever thought possible with no debt (I was in terrible financial trouble 5 years ago), my health is better than ever having read Dr Fung’s work 2 years ago and doing 2 years of intermittent fasting and mostly keto, I have an amazing mensch of a significant other who loves me and has integrity…. I am happy, purposeful and at peace.

      Cheater pants XH is miserable with AP, actively dupes women on dating sites, and his health is terrible (smokes now, uses drugs, and has gained 80 lbs.)

      Sending much support and hope for your future best life????????????

      I hope that this thought you wrote: “ It’s too late for me- at 53, my dreams are shattered and me and my kids are left picking up the pieces. I tried so hard but in the end I was the only one trying. Now, I have health problems and debt from those terrible years…” changes as you payoff or discharge (through bankruptcy) thus debt and focus on your health.

      • MotherChumper,

        I am super happy for you! (If I recall correctly, you have a law degree. I don’t have such a worthwhile license/credentials.)

        I am your age but partnerless (five years since husband left and two years since last boyfriend left), jobless, still chronically injured (spine), and with an income that often leads to homelessness sooner rather than later, and minor children, one with special needs that he will not ‘grow out of,’ no matter how much friends and relatives say, ‘Maybe he’ll grow out of it.,’ to support. (Child support helps but doesn’t cover anything close to the amount needed to support even a small family in this very expensive area I cannot leave without risking losing my kids.)

        You mentioned declaring bankruptcy as a way to eliminate debt. I don’t want to declare bankruptcy. It feels morally wrong (in my and most cases). I was raised not to do that. Any concrete advice? How did you drastically improve your financial situation? How did you find your wonderful new significant other? How long has he been with you? (My last boyfriend stuck around for 2.5 years and then officially discarded me for the last time in 2.5 minutes, so I have lost faith in mankind, although intellectually I believe that some good, trustworthy men do exist.)
        Down and out in not quite Beverly Hills

        • You date, but you don’t move in with them, or let them move in with you. That keeps it safe. And fun.

          • Mitz,
            Not sure if you were responding to much question. I can’t do casual (sex). I am a bonder. WHe

            • I was. You can date without casual sex. I had a rule, no sex for at least two months of dating a guy. If they respect women they will wait.

        • RSW—- sending supportive thoughts. To fix money woes I studied for new credentials, got a new job making more $, worked a lot harder, kept to strict budget, paid off bills, reduced all expenses by selling home and moving to much cheaper rental In cheaper neighborhood with roommates for awhile. Met BF at the YMCA in a HIIT class. Actually met him right after I kicked XH out because he wouldn’t stop cheating. We were in the same hiking and running groups. After 6 months of watching him in that big friend group we went running just the two of us and that led to a quick meal, and then a dessert date a few weeks later. My advice would be to join clubs and activity groups for your passions— especially physical and outdoor activities — I meet quite a few single healthy 50+ year old men in my mountaineering group, for instance. I love the great outdoors and working out. I also volunteer a lot and meet others who are like-minded there as well. ????????????????

    • It’s not too late for you. What is it that you want that ‘it’s too late’? A happy intact family? 50-year wedding anniversary? Grandchildren on your knee as you sit on a rocker together? Getting old together in a house and all your children coming to your Thanksgiving dinners? Well…, you made a bad choice. You married a fuckwit. So did I. And I won’t get the happy intact family or the 50-year wedding anniversary. I’m 59 years old so there’s no chance of that happening with another man. But you know what. I’m not being mind-fucked anymore. I may be a bit overweight, but I love myself just the way I am. I deserve better than being mind-fucked. And while married to the dick I would have been mind-fucked the rest of my life. Had the dick not had a skank, I would have stayed married to him being mind-fucked in other ways like …not cleaning the house well enough, making unilateral decisions, taking unnecessary risks, not getting dinner prepared soon enough so he didn’t come home starving and grab things out of the cabinets to eat only not to be hungry when I put dinner on the table — all of 15 minutes after he showed up. He mind-fucked me over and over again making me feel like I could never be enough. You may not ever get that 50-year anniversary either, but you know what, freedom in your head is so precious. I thank God that He didn’t answer my prayers. I’m done being mind-fucked. Please enjoy your freedom.

      • Yup left 3 weeks before my 50th birthday, after far too many hours spent wrung out on the bathroom floor.

        I married late, had a kid late, and thought I had waited for the right man and the right time. I wasn’t going to have the broken marriage that my parents had! Took me 17 years to realize that I had married a fuckwit and the person I thought I loved didn’t exist. And yes, in order to save myself, I had to ditch the fantasy of any possibility of a healthy relationship/marriage with the XAss.

        Fuckwit lost the AP he thought he’d replace me with and has had no luck finding another. He’s alone and hating it. No one to do the dirty work for him, no one to take his displaced frustration, dissatisfaction and anger out on. I will never have the big happy family holiday dinners and that’s O.K. I won’t be made crazy every holiday because I “didn’t do it right”.

        I may be by myself at 54, but I am far from “alone”. I am happy in my singleness. I can have the Holiday exactly as I want it, with as many or as few people as I want- or not do a holiday at all. And that is wonderful. I’m dancing to the beat of my own drum, and no one else’s.

        • Sounds like your FW tried to hoover you. After all, somebody’s gotta do the dirty work!

          • He never tried to hoover me directly – he knows that sympathy bus has long cruised. But he does still try for sympathy and/or revenge passive / aggressive behavior. Such as taking my kid out of state for two weeks without telling me (and we’re supposed to be co-parenting -LMFAO). My son lets the cat out of the bag when I called the day before they were to leave. When confronted XAss played the ‘family problems’, gotto go deal, completely forgot to tell me, and “he’s so broke…..can hardly afford the trip” BS.

            Yeah, yeah, tell it to someone who cares….Yawn.

  • So let me get this straight, you weren’t even married to this man??? Yet you feel you are bound to him for life. What the hell ever for? You might THINK your therapist is helping, but she is enabling this kind of crazy thinking. My first step would be to fire her and get a therapist grounded in reality and who doesn’t let you stay in la la land where you’ve been hanging out.
    Then, do everything else CL says. By the way, she’s is correct. It is not true NC if you are still waiting for him to “fix” himself or if you are still actively taking peaks into his life.
    Most people in life pick a dud before marriage, hell some of us picked him to marry, but you have everything going for you to get away from him and heal. First, there are no children to make it harder to heal after seeing him during pick ups and drop offs. Second, no mutual investments to become disentangled from. Try selling a home with a fuckwit who refuses to help in ANY way. And third, no expensive attorneys, court costs, and fees to deal with. Nobody to do a mind game on your children, etc.
    You’ve done the hardest part by just leaving. Now fix your thinking patterns. Figure out why in earth your are imposing this mental self flagellation to die alone. That’s all you. No society in the world tells women to die alone because they screwed up and picked a cheater that they didn’t even marry.

    • Sugar Plum,

      I appreciate you showing OP what she avoided by not marrying her boyfriend. However, I understand why she is upset that he is no longer with her. Not having the piece of paper (marriage license) does not mean that the betrayal and abandonment won’t terribly hurt. (I felt more emotional anguish over the departure of some of my boyfriends than the departure of my abusive, adulterous husband.)

      Also, what makes you say that the OP should fire her therapist? It sounded as though OP’s therapist was providing much needed support without pushing OP toward unhealthy behavior or thoughts.

      And actually, unfortunately, I think that there may still be some societies and religions that promote permanent celibacy for women who are no longer virgins, whether they were ever married or not.

      • I never said her anguish was less, only that she can make a cleaner break without that piece of paper.
        I also agree that there are some third world countries that emphasize celibacy, but that’s a little late now. And again, no society says an unmarried woman has to die alone because she DATED an asswipe.
        As for her therapist, the poster said she was supporting her. She should have been helping her to come to the realization that she was putting herself in a box.

  • Stuck champ, a lot of us have thought the way you thought. But sometimes like in business you have to review things and understand not what is the best choice because they all seem to just suck. You need to find the least objectionable so looking at your options stay with the cheater live life alone and be lonely and miserable or get over your Cultural or religious lumps and bumps, and actually find the life you deserve I tend to think that one’s pretty much the least sucking. Think about this like having cancer do people want to do chemotherapy has no you’re filling your body full of poison. Do they want to cut themselves open and get rid of a piece of themselves know how low it hurts it’s painful and you have a long recovery Do they want to radiate themselves expose them selves to something that a also sometimes causes another cancer, is painful makes you weak, and makes you desperately ill and lose your hair? No none of these things are things that anyone would ever sign up for but you know what they’re better there? Dying. They are better than dying. I am dictating this in the car so there are probably errors but I think you’ll get the jest of what I’m saying and realistically I think you needed this truth by four to really think about what you’re denying yourself. Count this is a Mulligan this was a hoe I sneezed while I was golfing relationship. He doesn’t count he was not your one true love he was not your first he was your eye sneezed I hit the ball but it what doesn’t count you get a do over. In Christianity at least there is a lot of support for things likeBeing revirginize by asking God to restore your spiritual virginity for instance. If that is your faith let that be a thing. If that isn’t consider the concept of it. You are not tainted you were not broken you had a bad go with a false start with Broken equipment. You get a do over. That is what’s fair that is what’s right now you get to fix your picker, and find yourself someone who is worthy of your goodness of your wholesome desire to have a life and a family and I love. And your understanding if you really are no contact, of what he’s up to or whether he is still with The dummy, it’s based off of conjecture you don’t really know what he’s up to. You don’t know who he seeing or if there’s someone new and even if there wasn’t you deserve better fuck that noise. Get rid of the cancer don’t choose to give up and just waste away. Start over be brave stop sitting in limbo. You can be amazing

    • Oh wow driving and commenting by voice command is so hilarious…

      About the golf metaphor..:

      Take a mulligan.
      This man wasn’t your real shot. He was the really great set up you thought was going to be a hole in one, but you sneezed and the ball did it’s own thing, you get a do over. You mention all these things you want. You want kids. You want happiness. You want to be a partner. All those things come from getting over the idea that he was the only partner you can have. Then all of them are back on the table.

        • It’s just a phrase applied by some in some Christian groups when a person chooses to commit to waiting for marriage after they have had premarital sex. Some groups of Christianity hold purity and virginity really close to heart, and people who have chosen to have sex and then later feel led to want to undo it… go through whatever means they feel necessary to get their v-card back. Praying for forgiveness, recommitting to the idea of abstinence before marriage, working with God to stay pure of mind and body. It might be different depending on your church, some people announce it publicly, during their testimony or a baptism or whatnot. Other people it may be as simple as deciding that’s their choice and feeling like Gods good with it. I just know that some folks who have had sex in the past and then regret it will call themselves a born again virgin.

          • It sounds like denial, but I guess if it helps someone live with him/herself…
            I’d like to be a Born Again Never Married or have a ‘spiritual re-never married,’ but in the real world, that’s not gonna happen.

  • I am concerned that she wants to be stuck. She is coming up with lots of terrible justifications for staying. I am skeptical she is NC; the comment about his counseling was way off. She is talking herself into a corner, leaving herself with no option except to stay with a cheater.

    I believe she should immediately avail herself of counseling to see why she has closed herself off in such a fashion. A good therapist will help her get to the bottom of why she thinks so little of herself that she is willing to settle for crumbs while the feast of life awaits her.

    • I think she needs alanon or some 12 step group.

      Codependent no-more maybe good also. I know I’m terribly co-dependent. I’m better but you always have to work on it.

  • Therapist here. I am glad you have found a supportive, understanding therapist, but it sounds like you are stuck there, too. I would look for a therapist well-versed in IFS to help you understand and integrate those 3 diametrically-opposed-yet-all-equally-relevant parts that have your Self so stuck.

  • Stuck Chump,
    Like Conterverational says,
    What’s has this guy been doing all this time? Very good question!

    You have been going through hell.

    Keep re reading all of CL’s advice, and the replies of all the experienced Chumps.
    CL went through hell, twice, before she met someone who is so worthy of her. ( they are so worthy of each other, Mr. & Mrs, CL). ❤️
    Save yourself from another trip through hell with this person, who, because they cheated in the first place, has proven be so unworthy of a person with your ideals and expectations. He is a wasted project.

    Take the advice here, work on fixing your picker.
    You will find someone who RESPECTS and shares your ideals.
    The proof of this lives in the archives here in CN.
    And most important, in CL herself.
    You asked her. Please listen!

    • Peacekeeper,

      I appreciate you providing support and suggesting that OP read responses from CN. However, is it true that we’ll all find someone who respects us and shares your ideals. I know a lot of good, even great middle-aged and older women, including me, who would love to have a good, not perfect, devoted partner but have never found one ever again. I think that OP will find somebody, but how do we know whether we will get ‘that’ or any, male partner? I used to lecture on gerontology–Statistics show that the number of single women who want to have a good, loyal partner far surpasses the number of available (as in straight, want a woman their own age as opposed to much younger, truly single), decent men after 50. Sometimes I’ve almost wished I were gay (lesbian) as odds of finding a decent partner would be better (it seems to be for some of my friends), but I’m hopelessly straight–I am attracted to men too much. And who says that women lose their sex drive after they hit middle/old age? I WISH that were the case because life as a partnerless woman (mother) for several decades would be WAY more comfortable. Unfortunately, I think that I’m way too old for even the convent to take me. From what I hear, it seems as though even religious orders practice age discrimination. By the way, I think that Mr. and Mrs. CL both won the lottery in finding each other. Most people don’t win the lottery, though. Not trying to be pessimistic, but it seems as though being unrealistically optimistic might prevent growth. I am trying to be realistic in making life choices.

      • RockStarWife,
        I wish it were true that everyone will meet such a person.
        You are right, not everyone will, but many do.
        I follow your posts, and I become infuriated by how you have been treated by your husband, the father of your Children, and by your boyfriend. I truly believe that they lost a gem in you.
        There are few Chumps who show as much genuine caring as you do. You loved these guys with a rock solid love and you have never deserved how you have been treated.

        I never did find that special someone. The man I married broke my heart when he had his affair with the person ” he had never ever loved anyone like her, ever”, so I knew my place.
        Unfortunately, he never left, I never kicked him out. To my knowledge he did not cheat again, but his shitty, narc like character has left me wishing he had left or I had kicked him out. I faced it all alone, told no one, no CL, no CN at that time, and life has a habit of going on and a person can become stuck.

        I see you as a strong role model to your children Rock Star Wife.
        I hope with all my heart that a smart, loving, intelligent guy, with a big heart to match your’s, finds you one day.

        I apologize if I have offended you in any way in my previous post or in this post.
        I would never want to hurt you.
        You really are one of my favourite posters here in CN.

        • Aww, Peacekeeper. I was not offended. Thank you for your kind words. You deserve happiness and a healthy, respectful marriage. Tons of amazing people here, some of whom I have the honor of calling friends in real life and many more I have the privilege of calling my ‘virtual’ friends, who know me incredibly well! You made my day.

          • KathleenK & Rock Star Wife,
            I want to take the time to reach out to you sweet ladies.
            Today was especially horrible for me in what should just be part of everyday dealings with my cheater, but everything, absolutely everything, has to be his way, and his way only. Believe me, I know that I am not a dumb person.
            I use a lot of suggested ways of dealing with him like grey rock and customer service, but sometimes I just gotta try to get what is best accomplished. But, it is an endless struggle.
            That is why I come here, to encourage new Chumps to leave a cheater, gain a life. BECAUSE if they do not leave initially, or you do not kick them out initially,that opportunity usually does not come up again. For me, I was busy, being the good wife and mother, busy with a very rewarding career. Life went on. AND I even believed I still loved him, until I did not believe that any more. I just continued to do what was best for my precious daughters and for myself.
            There is still beauty and purpose in my life, in my world. I am blessed with beautiful family members, with many true friends. I have learned I am responsible for me, for myself,, no one else. It was never me, it was him. CN has taught me this.( and so much more).
            Thank you so much for your very kind words to me. You have no idea how uplifting you have been, how you have warmed my heart.
            Thank you for listening to me ramble, and for the smile you have put on my face as I bid this day farewell.
            Goodnight, and may tomorrow be a better day for each one of us, and for all of CN.

  • Currently still stuck in hopium – but reading your page everyday is truly empowering and I hope to get off the floor soon

    • Tanja
      I thought about my daughters and knew I had to set the example. Would I let a man treat my child like i am being treated? NO. If you believe your child would deserve better, then so do you. Get off the floor, It isn’t getting better. Hoping the best for you!

  • I think you’re confusing whether it’s *right* to love again with whether it’s *possible* to love again. My guess is that you think it’s not possible, so you’ve decided it’s not right. I would encourage you to accept that it is both, though you won’t feel that way in your heart for a while. You are stuck on this one attachment. It takes a good long while for us chumps to detach because we’re normal, loving humans. But just as you must trust that he sucks, you must also trust that love will be possible again when you are ready.

    It took me a good 3 years to heal. (I also had a toddler, which made healing take a lot longer because I was forced to deal with the ex and didn’t have time to care for myself.) But now, 5-1/2 years out, I’m re-married to an extraordinary man whom I adore with 2 lovely stepdaughters and I am HAPPY. I was convinced that I’d never love anyone as much as my ex, but that was just fear of the unknown gripping me. I’m capable of giving a lot of love, and so are you. Trust that your ex sucks and that love will happen again, and DO NOT let him back in the door. The only way forward is not turning back.

  • Are you even married to this guy? It doesn’t sound as though you are and for crying out loud – end the relationship. End the contact and give yourself PERMISSION to live life.

    The only way to never start any new relationship is to hide in your home for the rest of your life. You ARE going to meet new people and start new relationships – even a platonic or work relationship IS A RELATIONSHIP.

    Take it from there AFTER you have truly given him the heave-ho and then firmly locked the mental doors. No checking out his social media, no asking about him from mutual friends, no “reaching out” to his family.

    You are keeping yourself stuck in limbo. The only thing that will accomplish is sawing you in two.

  • “Dear Chump Lady, I have short hair and I want braids. Go.”

    This video may help with some levity.

    Tim Minchin “If I Didn’t Have You”

  • Stuck,
    I agree with everyone here. You might not see it now, but moving forward without him is your best choice. One day, you will be glad you did.
    Also, if he is aware of your old-fashioned values, he might use them against you and try to guilt you into giving him another chance. Be prepared for that tactic. Stay strong!

  • I remain throughly convinced that many specific religious beliefs are simply a means to control women and deny them their agency. we let the long dead bones of people dictate our lives – insanity.

  • Stuck Chump – I was with my cheater ex for 25 years. We never married, but we lived in what I believed to be a marriage equivalent relationship. He cheated on my early in our relationship. When he finally figured out the woman he was with was using him to make her baby daddy jealous, he wanted to come home. I let him come back, but my trust in him was forever broken. That was over 20 years ago. I had to go through two more Ddays before I finally called it quits. I’m going to be 53 years old tomorrow. I have no children. I don’t know if I’ll ever have another relationship. Not because I’m undesirable, but because I am developing a very stringent selection process for finding a new partner. If I’d got out of the relationship after the first cheating episode, I would have had a very good chance of finding a faithful, loving man and having a family. You can take him back, but unless you are willing to deceive yourself everyday, you will never be able to trust him. How many times would you need to catch him cheating before you reached your limit? How many years would you waste on him before you cut your losses? Even if he never cheated again, how can you look in his eyes and not be filled with anger and disgust for what he did? You can think of your relationship as a coffee mug that has been broken and glued back together. It may hold water for a while, but its strength and beauty are gone.

  • my advice is this person should get back together with her ex and experience how truly, utterly awful it is until she starts to feel like she’s going crazy. Only then she will realise that she might not like the choices she has but they are sane choices.

    • That’s absolutely one way to do it! Some of us have to learn the hard way! And since it seems there are no children involved, only she would pay the price for that lesson.

      I had to learn the hard way, took me a very long time (and CL wasn’t out there at first DDay, only the RIC…. sigh. I paid a very high price for that wisdom. Unfortunately, so did my kids ….

      • But getting back together could lead to children and then dragging children through the abuse that will inevitably happen….

        Also the lost of health and all the trauma. Getting back together could be a death sentence. I know it would have been in my case.

  • I think this ‘only one man for life’ is an excuse for her to get back with the cheater.

    Truth is she doesn’t need an excuse, plenty of people try again and that is their choice.

  • “(he is single and has left schmoopie)”

    This is NOT no contact if you know this detail.

  • I understand your feelings. I have been married for 34 years now, and am currently in year two of trying to get a divorce but the judge has allowed a full year of continuances. Chumplady is always right. Listen to her. I have done all the things that you should do to move on. I have a life, but I am unhappy and don’t feel like it is possible to have a relationship with another man. I have been struggling with the decision whether to date again. I am giving myself until the divorce is final to get mentally prepared, and then I plan to give it a try. Just like I have tried getting out of an unhappy home. Anything is better than being with a cheater is my motto. If I date a guy and it doesn’t work out, that’s better than being with a cheater. If I get sick and am vomiting alone, it’s better than being with a cheater. If I start over in a new city, it’s better than being with a cheater. I have done so much in the past year since I filed for divorce and all of it is better than being with a cheater. Try to consider trying a new relationship- it has to be better than being with a cheater, right?

    • Yes. It is better than being with a cheater. I have to get someone to watch my cat every time I travel. I have to handle all of the things that break to include taking off work to be there when the repairman shows. I had an appendectomy last year. Fortunately I was astute enough to know something wasn’t right so I fed the cat, packed an overnight bag and drove myself to the hospital. I spent one night and then drove myself back home. It’s better than being with a cheater. I’m so very fortunate to have friends and relatives to help me out when things turn upside down. And they do. There’s always something going wrong. But it’s still better than being with a cheater.

  • One of the hardest things about break ups and divorces is “letting the dream die”. You had a dream or maybe even experienced a time where you lived that dream but like all dreams, they eventually end.
    Your dream of this wonderful marriage with your Ex is dead and buried !! Don’t cheat yourself and settle for a horrible life with a cheater who neither loves nor respects you. Go out in the World and meet someone worthy of you !!

    I never thought that my marriage to my Ex of 16 years would end in divorce. We had our “issues” but we loved each other and all would be well. I then find out on Dday that our “issues” were vastly greater than I thought and by her actions, she did NOT really love me. Thus began a very painful separation and divorce. Fast forward 7 years and I met and married a woman 10 times better than my Ex and honestly never have been happier. Life moves on and so should you and if you can’t, I highly recommend finding a good therapist to help you. Good Luck !!

  • Oh Stuck! It sounds like you may be suffering from what I did, for years …. I didn’t want to accept the reality. I SO wanted to be happy with this man I loved. I saw so clearly how little it would take for that to happen. I SO wanted my kids to not have to turn their back on one parent to go to the other. I SO wanted to help him be happier and healthier ….

    So I spent a decade and a half trying to control reality. I was so loving, I made my needs so small, I was so understanding, I tried so many many different ways to MAKE IT SO. I forgave his first affair, I put up w/his threats of violence (very convincing threats), I put up with his moodiness and criticism, his laziness about our relationship, about the kids, about anything that wasn’t his career. I WOULD MAKE IT SO.

    And the only way I could keep on trying? By carefully not accepting the reality, not ever looking it in the face, keeping on turning my head so I didn’t have to see it.

    I told myself he loved us, but was just messed up in how to express it. I told myself he cared about the kids and I, but was immature. I told myself he WANTED to have a happy marriage and raise happy healthy kids, he just didn’t really know how, because his own FOO was so incredibly messed up. I told myself that he had a good heart; see, sometimes it shows! I told myself the negativity was because he was insecure, the violence because he couldn’t control himself. I told myself it would get better, as the kids got a little older and life got less hard for us.

    NONE of that was true.

    But it took Affair #2 to show me that.

    After I kicked him out? He showed and told me, again and again, who he really was, much more openly. And then I could see it, I let myself see the reality.

    I hated all the changes in my life, and even more so, the changes in my kids’ lives. I allowed myself to hate them, but to accept them anyway, and make them work out as best I could. I told myself SO MANY TIMES, ‘it is what it is’. I let myself feel the hurt, anger, frustration of facing that reality.

    You’re hanging on to Hopium, waiting for him to show up one day at your door, ‘all better’. You’re avoiding your reality by saying you can’t accept it.

    I have news; reality doesn’t care whether you accept it or not. It’s just there.

    But YOU will be happier if you can accept it. It takes practice and takes a while, though. Don’t expect yourself to be ‘over’ him fast or easily. But keep practicing. Right now you LOOK like you’re practicing, but you’re not.

    Good luck on this path. It’s not an easy one, but it’s the only real one.

  • Some people like wallowing in despair and self pity. It lets them avoid scary things, like taking the risk of meeting someone new, and gets them attention and sympathy from others. Nothing in the letter makes me think the writer is stuck due to religion or culture; she says she has a counselor who tells her cheating was abuse, she has a job, she gets out and about. Doesn’t sound like someone living in any sort of old-fashioned culture; she admits it is her OWN mindset that she only have one partner in life, it’s not being said by anyone else around her.

    While everyone recovers on their own schedule, there does come a point where it’s simply time to say, “Fuck it. I’m done with the self-imposed suffering and I’m moving on.” Unfortunately, there are some people who never reach that point, preferring instead to hold onto the self-imposed long-suffering victim role.

    To the letter writer: Time to shit or get off the pot. If you don’t want to be single, move on and meet someone new. Life is full of I-don’t-like-ANY-of-my-options forks in the road. Instead of waffling at the fork, take a big breath, pull up your big-girl panties, and start walking down either of the paths ahead of you, metaphorically speaking. Since you don’t like any of your choices right now, it doesn’t actually matter which one you settle on, right? So let us make the choice for you: You are done with your ex and it’s time to move on. Or go with the other side of the fork in the road, and continue to feel sad, so bad, that you can’t have your past as your future. Either way is scary, admittedly, and hard. But one potentially leads to a brighter future and one keeps you exactly where you are right now. It’s really up to you at this point.

    • Exactly! I don’t get the feeling there’s any kind of religious or social pressure on the OP that is telling her she’s only allowed one partner. Usually letter writers or CN people express when there’s some kind of external pressure on them to do, or not do, something. This sounds self-imposed.

      I totally agree that everyone grieves on their own time. But there is a point where it really is time to take a step forward. My best friend was dating someone for a while, but she was really, really unhappy and she finally dumped him. He freaked out. Followed her around, obsessively texted her, cried in public, totally fell apart. She was happy finally. Started seeing a new person who treats her wonderfully and loves her. Looks forward to a future with her (her ex kept putting it off. It was always “when x happens, oh after X happens. No, after X happens…” She was constantly disappointed, constantly begging for 5 minutes of his attention, finally got sick of wasting her time.)

      Her ex is STILL showing up where he knows where she’ll be. Still trying to insert himself back into her life, still social media stalking her (she’s blocked him multiple times) still “trying to be friends” still “trying to get answers.”

      She dumped him over a year and a half ago. It’s been that long and she’s been in a relationship for a while and her ex still won’t get that it’s DONE. He still thinks if he says the right thing, shows up wearing the right outfit, sends her the right text…

      Point is, breakups might suck and we’re allowed our period of grief, but at what point does it start becoming…well…unrealistic? It’s normal to stay a few nights in the heartbreak hotel, but you cannot unpack and live there.

    • Normally I dislike tough love. It does nothing for the core issues that underpin lots of shit in my life. But I kind of liked this advice. Just choose a fork in the road, don’t wallow in despair. I think that is true for me. I am totally despairing but maybe it’s a bit coz I am so f-ing scared.

  • GIO,
    You bring up some valuable points. However, I think that, although the OP may not live in an old-fashioned environment (country), she holds ‘old-fashioned’ (traditional) values about chastity, celibacy, etc. I was like her, too, when I was a teenager and in my twenties. I don’t get the feeling that she is wallowing in self-pity. I think that she DOES really just plain feel awful! I hope that she feels better soon.

    • Hrm. Not sure about that. She indicated she threw the cheater out of “our home.” Doesn’t sound very chaste or celibate, and most strict religions would have strong opinions about co-habitation without marriage. I can’t tell if OP is married or not, someone else said they weren’t but I missed that in the letter writer’s note. She uses “partner” and talks of commitment but is missing that specific detail on status.

      If not a religious mandate it might just be immaturity and that feeling of him being her ONE and ONLY. He obviously doesn’t agree and that is all she has to work with.

      • Replying to myself- My X Asshat was my one and only too. First love, HS sweetheart, only sexual partner. For 31 years.

        His abandonment showed me that he had zero problem throwing me away like used tissue. Forever is not a thing with these selfish, entitled asshats.

        So, I have enormous empathy OP but I have learned that there are many good people in the world and having been thrust into this situation I am accepting it fully. I hope OP can get unstuck.

        • I used to think I would only be with one person too. I’m not at all religious or traditional or anything. It was that toxic fairy tale “love” culture got stuck in my mind.

          But then real life happened. My one and only turned out to be a real controlling and misogynist asshole. So I found a new one and only and that one was a serial cheater and serial rapist…

          I went through absolute hell with self policing and internalized misogyny, even though I identify as a sex-positive feminist, because I had been with more than one or two people. The next one after that love bombed me, convinced me to have sex with him, and then ghosted me immediately afterwards. I went through sheer hell to work through all this given my bullshit fairy tale notions of love and purity.

          BUT I am now stronger because of all of it. My life is SO much better because I opened myself up to more options for love. I believe I have finally found the one now, but I think I had to go through hell to be in a place where I respected myself fully and could attract the right kind of person. The best part is that I am now finally fully comfortable within myself and know that I don’t need someone else to be okay. This realization and self love have only made my current relationship even better — we can communicate our needs and fully respect one another’s boundaries.

          If I had stayed with the first “one and only” my life would be so much hell right now and I would be sooooo deeply miserable. That asshole never respected me.

  • …Ok. Stuck. Look at what you have here.

    1) You want to be with your ex, but you can’t because he cheated and being with a cheater is unacceptable to you, as it should be. So that’s not an option.

    2) You want to be loved but you will only allow yourself one partner for your entire life, so that’s not an option.

    3) You want a family and children, but you can’t do that because it would have to be with someone besides your ex, and you, again, are only allowing yourself one partner for your whole life, so that’s not an option.

    4) You would like that family to have been with your ex, but he cheated so that’s not an option…

    …Do you see the box you’ve put yourself in here?

    Okay, I don’t believe that you’re no contact. Sorry but I don’t. If you know his current relationship status and that he left his OW, that’s not no contact. Just because you’re not talking to him every day doesn’t mean you’re in no contact. If you’re looking him up on social media, checking in on what he’s doing, that’s not no contact.

    I’m going to be the bringer of a bitchslap too. Sorry, but I think you need it.

    You haven’t moved on because you don’t want to. I think deep down, what you’re really doing is waiting for him to come crawling back after having finished his counseling (you sure he’s actually doing that? I wouldn’t hold my breath…) profess his love and loyalty to you, and live happily ever after. You’re holding out for that to happen. That’s why you’re tracking his relationship status. As long as he’s single, you’re taking that to mean that he is working on himself for you and will come back.

    No. He isn’t. I can promise you, he is not.

    He dumped his OW and did…what? He didn’t come back to you professing his love and desire to spend your lives together. What is he doing? Not talking to you. Not connecting to you. He is living out his life now. If he really, really wanted that life with you, he’d be there living it. He would never have cheated.

    But he knows that you’re waiting. And that makes you vulnerable to being USED. He knows he’s got you on the hook, putting your life on hold for him. So whenever he starts striking out on dating apps, or gets dumped by Schmoopie number hundred thousand, or gets bored, he can pull you out of his back pocket and take advantage of your emotions to get what he wants for a little bit before he cheats and exits your life again because he doesn’t actually CARE.

    Never leave yourself vulnerable to someone like that. It will only lead to more pain. We call it Hopium because hanging on to something like this is like a DRUG. You want that hit. Every time you open up his fb and see “single,” you get a hit. Every time you talk to him, it’s another hit. Every day you keep telling yourself he’ll come back, I just have to hang on…it drags out the addiction that much longer, and the detox will be that much harder.

    But think about it. What does a cocaine addict look like after a year of using? Five years? Ten? I’ll tell you they don’t look good. The hit isn’t worth the damage to their life.

    The Hopium hits aren’t worth the emotional damage and pain and limitations you put on your own life. If you want to be loved, you want that family, you want that fulfilled life with a trustworthy partner, you have to stop. You have to let go of him.

  • Resarchers are now treating heartbreak as addiction–similar brain areas (e.g., nucleus accumbens) light up when we think about our beloved, and continue to light up after a breakup. Addicts will initially do ANYthing to get another fix, and that includes continuing contact with the source of our addiction. However, that doesn’t mean that continued contact is healthy–either with an X or with cocaine or alcohol (if those are a person’s addictions).

    After a breakup (and also after the silent treatment or being ostracized from a group), the anterior cingulate gyrus is also very active–the very brain area that processes physical PAIN. Time and effort are needed to fall out of love so that the addiction areas no longer light up when you think of the ex.

    Here are a few relevant TED talks to help:

    The brain in love:

    • This makes sense. Thanks for posting. And like any addiction, the addict has to finally see that s(he) is the cause of the pain. Like someone else said, ‘shit or get off the pot’. The addict finally has to see that s(he) is also the only one that can fix the addiction.

      • This makes me think about what I have been wondering for a while now. I know this site is extremely helpful to all of us but this is starting to also seem like a “hit” every day or several times a day. I often think that this site keeps us from our long awaited and deserved Tuesday.

        • You know, Matt…, I sometimes think the same. I’m going along enjoying myself and then I get the urge to check out CL and find myself kind of angry yet again remembering the crap that I put up with. And yet I think that if I have input to someone’s turmoil, i.e., where I used to be, maybe that person will figure it out sooner than I did. Who knows?

        • There is some evidence that continuing to look up information about disorder may keep one stuck, but also evidence it takes two years to fully process all the emotions. There are also those of us who continue to come here 3, 4, 5, 6 years after our d-day/divorce in order to help others. Five years out, I’m not triggered in the slightest by reading ChumpLady, and most of my cohort (LAJ, DoingMe, Cheaterssuck, UX, Tessie) stay in the community to provide support to others. Everyone should do what best helps them heal.

  • Sorry to be so blunt, but just pretend the fuckwit died. You’re currently morning his death, or more precisely, you’re mourning the man you thought he was. That pretend man is never coming back because he never really existed. When you’re through mourning, you’ll be ready to move on with your life and consider dating again.

    I did the same with my fuckwit ex-wife. Once I realized she was never the person I thought she was, I pretended the woman I loved had died. I mourned her, knowing full well that I’ll never be with her again. The person who happens to be walking around in her body and using her voice is a family-destroying sociopath.

    • I have used this strategy with regard to the ex husband. I am so strict no contact that I have no idea what is going on in his life, nor do I care. If I happen to have to share the same space with him because my children get married or have a christening for their children, I suspect I will treat him like the stranger that he is to me. Civil and polite.

      • GDD, I also consider myself more or less a widow. I grieved. I realized that the person I loved was a narcissist in a human suit, sparkly and charming, but no authenticity – as you said, that “pretend man… never really existed.” I discovered so much deceitfulness from the very beginning – I’m astonished that someone can tell lies so well, because I was completely taken in and bought his b.s. for years. (Practice makes perfect!)

        These people are shiny but hollow. What we fall in love with is a facade. It helped me, too, to remind myself that the man I thought I had married was no more – he “died” along with the marriage.

  • A friendly reminder that one year is not alot of time to heal from trauma. Your feelings have been felt by many of us. I too only wanted one life partner. I still mourn that a little. And it took me nearly 2 years of dating a wonderful new guy to let that fade.

    Cultural indoctrination is powerful. As the saying goes, it’s ok to live a life others don’t understand. That goes for you too. Time to deprogram yourself.

  • Cheaters never change. My divorce was just finalized on November 1st. I still have limited contact with the ex since we are finishing division of some financial assets. So, while I haven’t blocked him yet, I still get the “I miss you, I love you, can we get back together” texts about once a week. Yesterday I learned from a family member of his that he has had a girlfriend for a while now. A girlfriend he’s clearly trying to cheat on. of course he’s told me many times he’s not dating anybody and not looking to other than me. I never listened or to reacted to that comment so I don’t care. It’s just proof that he sucks that he’s still lying and trying to cheat. I have an amazing boyfriend and I’ve informed him of that hoping it would stop the pleading texts. No luck there. Trust that he sucks. Hoping to go NC and step outside the circus tent for good soon.

  • Assuming that this letter is real, and after re-reading, I’m not so sure, I think the letter writer is very young. Her stated beliefs and her emotional predicament remind me of girls I knew in high school. Also, there is no way she’s truly NC, or she wouldn’t know the ex is now single. It’s a little unusual that there are zero details about the relationship, the guy, or how she found out he cheated in a letter from someone so devastated by the loss of all that, which is what makes me go “Hmmmmm,” and wonder if CL is being chumped herself by this letter.

    I also have no idea why so many of you are assuming she is religious or has cultural restrictions on dating/sex, because absolutely nothing in her letter indicates that other than her self-proclamation of being “old fashioned,” which I take to mean she reads a lot of Jane Eyre, chick fic, and fairy tales, and she’s taken to heart the “forever-after” happy ending and the unrealistic expectations of relationships. And then she ends by saying English is her second language. I actually think it’s kind of bigoted to assume that just because someone claims to be old fashioned and lives in another country, they must be in some backwards, restrictive, woman-hating society. There is no shortage of young women in quite secular countries who read and believe those romance novels with the heaving bosoms on the covers.

    There is no mention of a divorce in the letter, nor does it say how long they were together, just that they have been separated for a year, which makes me suspect that they were never married and this wasn’t a very long relationship. I think the letter writer mostly needs another/better therapist, true NC, and as much time as possible spent focusing on career/education, hobbies, other people, volunteer work, and physical exertion outdoors. Of course, I could be wrong about all of this, but that’s what I get out of this letter.

    • I also wondered about the assumptions. Just like the other day when a writer was worried about her religiously strict in-laws and the assumption was immediately that they were “Jesus Freaks.” They easily could have been Muslim or Orthodox Jew. But it is trendy and socially virtuous to attack Christians so there you go, they are all busy turning the other cheek anyway. Sigh.

      I figure some of the letters are not genuine when we never hear from the poster. I am glad CL does her best to answer them as if real because there is often some gem of wisdom in any case. This one is weird, I don’t get it and the missing info makes it frustrating.

      • To the best of my ability, I screen my letters, run emails and IP addresses and Google names where I can. I write to everyone whose letter I answer. Sometimes they don’t comment here. Sometimes they do days later. Sometimes they comment immediately. Sometimes they write to me in reply personally and not here in the comments.

        I’m certainly not immune from being fooled, but you also don’t have the perspective of reading my mail — which is often raw, scattershot, and weird. People write in crisis. Or on their phones. Or in long, long emotional vomit with zero paragraph breaks.

        I try to find letters that have a problem a lot of people can relate to — in this case, hopium. What is reconciliation but throwing yourself on a funeral pyre for a fuckwit?

        It’s unsatisfying when people don’t reply. I generally take that to mean they don’t like the advice given. That I didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear.

        In this particular letter, it checks out as someone from Eastern Europe. Every society has misogyny. As for Jesus Freaks — it’s a guess, given Christians are the majority religion in the US. Fundamentalists come in every religion. Also, I don’t bash Christianity — I’m a preacher’s kid, United Methodist minister father. Fundamentalism isn’t Christianity. It’s some tribal shit. And that’s all I’ll say on the matter, as I don’t want to get into politics on this site.

        • Agreed, that is what I suspected as best efforts on your part and at least we can glean things from whatever makes it through your filter. Thanks for the reply here.

  • Chumplady, thank you for calling out ‘old fashioned’ relationship ideas for what they are = mysoginist thinking, ‘couched’ in the warmth and coziness of bullshit nostalgia.

    Some 50something asshat recently shared on a dating site that he’s a just a good ol’ boy looking for a ‘gal’ who doesn’t take herself so seriously that she’s bothered by the word ‘gal.’ I put that through my own UBT.

  • My mindfuck is that he left and never looked back. I don’t want him back. He is a passive aggressive narcissist but when I’m tired and lonely it’s hard because he never had any consequences. New life, new house and all of his friends and family (Switzerland and ghosted me). People say I should date but I have no interest in online dating so how does it happen? I have taken classes joined clubs etc. Nothing. I do things alone and I try to enjoy life but some days are really hard. I have some friends but not really close ones because I made the mistake of not having friendships during my 23 year marriage. Sigh. Mid life divorce is hard.

  • Walk away. Leave this whole mess and the terrible idea that this cheating exhole was your ‘one and only’ behind you. Unless you always had the dream that your precious ‘one and only’ wouldn’t love you and would cheat on you and abuse you. *snort*

    This guy isn’t your ‘one and only’ and he certainly wasn’t the loving soul mate of all your hopes and dreams. He is a bum. A cheater. A liar. An abuser.

    The reason that this is hurting so much is because you are not letting go. You are clinging to the idea of the man and life you wanted – and he has SHOWN you that he is not that man. You have cognitive dissonance and haven’t really accepted the truth – that he is a liar, a cheater, an abuser. You still want to find a way for him to be your ‘one and only’.

    But here is the problem: While you are waiting for your ex cheater to become the wonderful prince you always wanted him to be – you’re actually missing out on living your life and being open to the possibility of meeting your REAL potential one and only.

    Why are you locking yourself in a loveless tomb to a guy that didn’t care about you enough to not go chasing after other women?

    Nothing worth doing comes easy. My life has been full of up and downs since I left my ex-cheater. Guess what? It’s better than being with someone that didn’t actually love me. Once you start to invest in other relationships and deepen bonds with friends, family or new love interests…you realise how pathetic you were for accepting a relationship with a cheater that didn’t love you. Being in real relationships with people who love you show you how little you actually settled for with your ex. It will embarrass you to realise that most of the good things you remember about the relationship were you projecting good qualities or understandings on the situation rather than facing the reality.

    Good luck. Holding onto the past steals the present and the future from you. You have a choice to make. Choose pain for a shorter period or choose pain for a longer period. I think a year of pain is already too long. Hopefully you do too.

  • Hey letter writer!

    I’ve no wisdom like chump lady. Here’s what I know.

    I got rid of a man who lied to me. Who sat at my dinner table and swore he was spending weekends taking care of his sick and dying father. He wasn’t.

    It’s taken me two years to see that a. His current shmoopie wasn’t the first, b. He’s destroyed every relationship he’s had (6 jobs in the last 10 years), and it’s always *their* fault, c. He’s simply not the person I thought he was when I married him.

    A and B are on him. C is on me and I own that.

    I’m 59 years old (tomorrow). Is there another relationship in my future? I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t care. I’m going to make everything I can out of what I have TODAY. a “man” doesn’t make you complete. YOU make yourself complete.

    I hope you take this opportunity to do everything in your life that you have wanted to do.

    That is all.

  • I totally relate to Stuck Chump’s dilemma. I felt much the same ten years ago. I had put too much into our love to let anyone or anything take that from me. I wanted to somehow heroically save my cheater from himself. Somehow my love would conquer all. This kept me stuck in place for 2 years or so while Cheater continued to lie, cheat, abuse drugs, drive drunk and fly into fits of rage.

    I had to let it go. I finally let myself get pissed and choose to look out for MY needs. I accepted that this was who he was and that I would never be happy with him. I took the leap, sold the house, moved into my own place for the first time ever. It took every ounce of courage I had, plus some that I borrowed. But I knew deep down that this was what I needed to do if I were ever to be able to be proud and content with myself.

    Seven years or so later, I have absolutely no regrets. I have moments when I want to reach back in time to give my past self a big hug for getting me to where I am. I am happy. I found a partner who is kind, sane, loving, fun and wonderful. He is what I deserved back then and didn’t get. My life is happy and it is mine. I didn’t give up on love, I just gave up on the loser who didn’t value the love I gave him.

    Best of luck, Stuck Chump. None of this is easy — we all know that.

  • Giving another thumbs up to

    “…so Switzerland they practically yodel”.

    LMAO! Fantastic!

  • I couldn’t help thinking that I felt sorry for this chump. Until I realized that I felt sorry because the Chump was not the star of the letter…it was the cheater. The chump doesn’t realize that they have knocked themself out of the spotlight of their own life!!

    Get back in there. It’s your life. Have a relationship. Or ten. Or a cat. Or a fixer-upper home, or a goal to write a novel or run a marathon. DO SOMETHING but do it for you!

    Why is this person who hurt you even figuring into the equation? BEGONE demon!

    Best wishes moving forward…

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