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Pick Me Dancing for Love

Dearest Chumplady,

Can you tackle this self-help notion I’ve been pondering for a while. Does anyone else feel like a lot of self-help books and well-intentioned advice still feels like pick-me dancing? Let me explain.

I left a cheater 8 years ago, and rebuilt myself and my life. Moved 3,000 miles with my cats and a few possessions. Completely started over. There is another side to the pain, and I am so glad to have found your blog to put words to what happened to me. I feel such camaraderie with everyone’s stories. I read the comments daily and can see myself all the time.

But, I’m still alone. No new love or relationship since. Most dates don’t get very far either. Feels like no one wants to be known. It’s depressing.

When I read books, blogs, etc., it ends up coming off like you’re not where you want to be, got what you want, had success in relationships, or whatever, because you’re not healed “enough” or “healed right.”

Only when you complete this healing journey will things be ok. You get the guy! The self-esteem! The karma bus! Like the reason I haven’t had a relationship in years is because I’m not healed, or I’m just still attracting toxic people, or I need to be more fun and join all these clubs, activities, go out all the time because you never know when you’ll meet someone. Put on makeup even if you’re just running out for coffee.

I’ve done a lot of healing work over the years, a therapist, gotten a better job, place to live, lost weight, and I do have an decent social life. I’m not hiding under a rock all the time. I’m proud I’ve come so far and realized what was happening to me was abuse. Yet, I am alone, and it’s getting harder to deal with every year. Is it so wrong to want my person? Maybe if I was “healed” I wouldn’t want someone? Who doesn’t want someone??

I feel like I’m pick-me dancing for the self-help bookshelf. I’m not saying healing is bad, or some of the get out there suggestions aren’t helpful, but sometimes it feels like a checklist and I don’t make the cut no matter what I do. That’s how I felt in my previous cheater relationships.

What gives?

Thank you.

Yours,

Does Anybody Really Fall in Love Anymore

Dear DARFILA,

Before I launch into my Drop The Single Shame sermon, let’s just set the record straight on the messaging here.

Only when you complete this healing journey will things be ok.

Healing journey? This isn’t Goop or Elizabeth Gilbert. I have no path of enchanted yoni crystals lighting your way to the perfect square-jawed gem merchant. My advice is utterly prosaic and specific — leave a cheater, gain a life.

Things WILL be okay after you leave a cheater. Because addition by subtraction. Things improve considerably when you remove abusers from your life.

Paradoxically, you do not feel “okay” when you leave — it’s an act of bravery, of self-determination. A vote of faith in yourself. Wobbliness is to be expected. A lot of it is raw grief. But you build a new life ANYWAY. Because you must. Because abuse is unacceptable.

“Complete this healing journey” sounds like there’s a manual with boxes to tick. We “complete” our journeys when we die. At any given point in life, things will be varying shades of okay and NOT okay. How we face that depends on our courage and our resiliency, and what sort of people we surround ourselves with. My message is — you are stronger than you know, you don’t need shitty people, and the pain stops. The crushing grief, the mind movies, the sense of utter rejection — it’s finite.

Meanwhile, pets die. Parents die. That asshole will cut you off on the expressway. Strange spots may turn into cancer. Bladders will occasionally malfunction and people will hurt your feelings. Because LIFE. How do we respond? We shall adult. With fellow adults.

You get the guy!

Or you might get a puppy. Or a new job. Or some really terrific peonies. We don’t get every blessing. Be happy anyway.

Oh, that’s easy for you to say Chump Lady, from your lofty perch of matrimony.

Dude, I spent hundreds of Saturdays alone. I single parented. I went on dates with people who looked like boiled potatoes — overcooked, lumpen potatoes who rejected me. And when I tripped over an absolutely lovely man — he was from TEXAS. Which is essentially a test from God asking you How Bad Do You Want It? There are no Hallmark Christmas specials about fire ants.

Anyway, I have absolutely no idea if you will pair up. I don’t want to be smug. My opinion is, however, that if you want it and you’re open to it, and you’re okay sorting through a lot of overcooked potatoes in polo shirts — it’s out there. Just don’t ever want coupledom so bad that you’ll settle for assholes.

I think it’s much more important to build a good life for yourself, and your kids, if you have any. NOT because you’re tappity-tap-tapping your way towards worthiness, (LOOK AT MY PRETTY DANCE! PICK ME!) — but because you have honest-to-God passions in life. You don’t have any passions? WORK ON THAT.

I am deadly serious. Adopt an orphan. Organize voter registrations. Fling yourself at hand-thrown pottery. If you have love to give — GIVE IT. Channel it towards worthy outlets. First of all, loneliness is best abated with activity. Second, the best activities have purpose. Pick-me dancing for potatoes? Not so much. Work from the supposition that you’re going to die alone (actuarially speaking, as a woman, you probably will) — so what kind of life do you want?

The karma bus!

Don’t wait for the karma bus. Seriously, get on with your life. The karmic scheduler is perverse. You’ll be wasting on your energies — which could be better expended on orphans, voter registrations, and pottery — on a fuckwit. That’s a terrible epitaph.

I’ve done a lot of healing work over the years, a therapist, gotten a better job, place to live, lost weight, and I do have an decent social life. I’m not hiding under a rock all the time. I’m proud I’ve come so far and realized what was happening to me was abuse. Yet, I am alone..

Yet you still measure yourself by your single status.

Did you really get a better job to find a man? How about, you’re just out there being mighty, living a good life, accomplishing shit and you’re ENOUGH.

There isn’t an award ceremony where after you’ve completed all the requisite weight loss and self-improvement, they award you a commemorative man. Life is gifts, we don’t earn these things. Just be open. I know there are a gazillion messages to Couple Up Again and You’re Nothing Without a Man (broadcasting on TWO Hallmark holiday channels right now!) — fuck those messages. You’re enough.

Frankly, I wish someone had told me that in my 30s as a single mom. I think it might’ve inoculated me against the cheating fuckwit I later married — peddling a message that he’d take away all my unworthy, horrid single-mother-ness and complete me. By the time I was past that nightmare, and met Mr. CL, I was like “See this house? They’re PLANTING me here. See these peonies? I’m DYING next to them. See this life? It’s MINE.” I had stakes.

Don’t even consider coupling up again until you have stakes. Invest in yourself. Don’t be so quick to hand it all over to some guy so you’re not (gasp) Single.

Is it so wrong to want my person?

It’s better to BE your own person.

It’s totally okay to want a partner. But you should never want it so bad that you’ll compromise your values and accept shit. It’s also not a force you control. Investing in your best self IS a force you control.

Maybe if I was “healed” I wouldn’t want someone? Who doesn’t want someone??

I think every human who isn’t a sociopath longs for connection. I’m just saying consider all the many, many ways to connect.

Having “someone” doesn’t cure life’s ills. The Wrong Someone is a curse. (And the subject of this blog.)

I’m probably the wrong person to answer these questions, because as I am no longer single, I am suspect. There will be a bunch of comments bemoaning the State of Dating Today. And how wretched it is for women over 40, or women over 120 lbs, or women with children. And I believe you.

Yet, I’d also like to point out that I used to live on a street in small town Texas — and on the SAME STREET, I knew TWO women who had remarried in mid-life, one had four kids, the other five kids. And it was like 30 years later, and everyone was still happily married. Maybe there’s something in the water in Texas. These were ordinary women. One guy is my friend’s stepdad. The other guy is the town historian. Nice men.

The danger of pointing out these every day miracles is cries of “NOW I FEEL MORE PATHETIC! My GOD! If some plus-sized mom in 1977 could do this, WHY CAN’T I?”

Gah. I don’t know. The Karmic Scheduler is probably on a date with the New Romance scheduler and they’re unavailable for comment.

I’m not saying healing is bad, or some of the get out there suggestions aren’t helpful, but sometimes it feels like a checklist and I don’t make the cut no matter what I do. That’s how I felt in my previous cheater relationships.

It’s now time for my Drop The Single Shame sermon.

Who says you “don’t make the cut”? Do you say that? Stop it. Did some overcooked potato in a polo shirt not swipe right? Fuck him. He’s a potato.

We aren’t a match for everyone. And that’s OKAY. It takes a very weird person to love me and I had to go all the way to Texas to find him. Mr. CL labels his pens and enjoys Texas yodeling and likes to lecture me about Stephen Pinker. I’m insufferable about organic produce, I won’t allow Mr. CL to decorate the living room, and I’m indifferent to baseball. This is not everyone’s idea of bliss. I am not a potato’s pat of butter. Maybe you are not either. But someone else probably is.

My point is — rejection isn’t all about you. It may feel that way, but what it usually means is — “This isn’t a good fit.” It could be a bad fit in the Perfectly-Nice-People-With-Nothing-In-Common way, or it could mean that the guy is a vapid nitwit with a hooker habit. In either case, their rejection IS NO MEASURE OF YOUR WORTH.

Stop giving other people power to validate you. Get that from better sources (like all those voters you are registering) than dating apps. Stop feeling Less Than because you’re single. Trust me, people can sniff this out.

Would you rather be with someone because they love YOU, or because they just want a warm body?

Stop pick me dancing. For self-help gurus. For dates. For your mother. Whoever you think is judging you, just STOP.

You’re enough. Relax.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I can relate to the feeling of wanting a relation. I got a cat – he is always ecstatically happy 😻when I wake up and we can start a brand new day together. And he snuggles up to me when we go to sleep. I really really like that he is always so glad to see me, takes me as I am, and is a steady and loving companion. I am an introvert, and so is cat. This ticks the relationship for me.

    • Same! I feel like my cat shows me what decency is. I can’t imagine my daily routines without her goofy input! 🙂

    • This is exactly true, and it pisses me off that single people with pets (especially, but not exclusively, single ladies with cats) are stereotyped as pathetic. We don’t fit in with the narrative of “properly” coupled people, so we have to be pitied or caricatured or erased.

    • I’m allergic to cats, but that didn’t stop God from sending me one soon after I divorced. I named him Ben.
      Ben Adryl (because that’s what enables us to cohabitate). Even after my youngest left the nest I don’t feel lonely in my house. He’s the most empathetic animal I’ve ever known. When a heartbroken newly single friend came over he made a beeline for her and climbed into her lap.

      I feel confident that having this cat has kept me from letting loneliness creep in and kept me from moving too quickly into another relationship. And now I’ve reached the point where a man would have to be over-the-top awesome before I would even consider having a cup of coffee with him.

      I’m a proud (and healthier for it) Single Cat Lady!

    • I’m in an abusive relationship with my cat. He’s often so neglectful and will sometimes take a swipe at me. He’s moody as hell and lets it be known.

      He is a rescue that had a hard first few weeks of life and has never really recovered. That said, he has been my companion for about 12 years now and I love him so much and sometimes he even loves me back. 😀 When I’m sick, he lays on my chest and purrs and is the best nurse anyone can ask for. I love kitties. Definitely get a cat. Just don’t expect them to always be cuddly and loving. 🙂

      • I’ve had animals all my life & my life is blessed to have them. It’s a proven medical fact that animals are good for our health. When I was abandoned by my ex the unconditional love from my 3 cats kept me staying strong. They love us without expectations & they honor us as we are are.
        Too bad some people don’t have that quality.

    • Today’s blog was so good for me I had to come back late at night.

      I am 67 and I only became a cat person 14 years ago. Before that I was just a dog person. In 2005 I was adopted by a starving cat, he was eating roaches to survive. And I will never be without a cat again. A metaphor for our plights.

  • Please take CL advice. I know it is hard at times not having a partner. But, you have to be careful. There are a lot of damaged goods out there. My Mother has been single since my dad died in 1973. She raised me alone. Mom had boyfriends throughout my childhood. But, she showed them the door. My Mom is now 85 and still lives alone. I asked her recently why she never remarried. She told me that after my Dad died. She realized that she did not need a man. That if she would have met a decent loving man she might have remarried. She said that the three men that she had a long-term relationship all pushed her to sell her home. And use her money to either pay off their home or invest her money in a joint account. Mom also told me that my father had an affair when she was pregnant with my sister(9 years older than me). She said that she was lonely at times. But, she has no regrets not getting remarried.
    Mom had a social life. Watched her grandchildren and great grandchildren. And for 85 she still takes care of her home. It is ok to be single. Do not settle for any man.

      • A nurse and a purse is so right! My cheater just called me and asked me to a) comfort him because he is Very Sad about getting divorced and b) take out a loan or lend him my savings so that he can get his own apartment. He says he is so very unhappy living with Schmoopie! This is 3 months after he left our two young kids and me to move in with her because “when you meet the right person you just know!”

        • Chump47
          “when you meet the right person you just know”
          Well, he is finding out now isn’t he!!!!

          Many hugs to you and your precious Children.
          Stay strong!

    • My mom is 70, and has been single since the late 80s, she is happy. She says that men her age just seem to want someone to take care of them and fawn all over them, and she can’t deal with them. My grandma (mom’s mom), was single for 38 years after my grandpa died in 69. She had several marriage proposals and 2 relationships that each lasted for about 18 years, but chose to remain single. When I asked her why, she said that she had been very happily married to grandpa, and she didn’t think that she could recreate that with anyone else. She lived in her house by herself for many years, she also worked and had a vibrant social life. I, myself, have been single for the better part of 14 years, not that I don’t want a relationship, its just that I like living alone for now and all the guys I meet want to move in or get married, and when I ask why they can’t seem to tell me. I honestly think that most men cannot stand to be single for long, but women can take it or leave it.

  • Thanks for the post and for the response. What Chump doesn’t need a pep talk on a deep and dark December Monday morning? Just that little bolstering helps so much.

    • It does, I really appreciate CL, CN and everything. That’s my letter. Please keep the comments rolling this rainy morning.

      • This (Tuesday) morning an hour south of Sydney is sweltering and cloaked in bushfire smoke (just thought I’d change up the scenery for you DARFILA).

        Can I point you to an excellent interview:
        https://onbeing.org/programs/pauline-boss-the-myth-of-closure-dec2018/
        (it’s on youtube too, and of course any podcast app). She came up with the concept of “ambiguous loss/complicated grief”.

        And also may I share with you the intention I came up with for myself earlier this year for an online Mindful in May thing:
        Less “Fiercely Independent but Lonely”
        More “Contentedly Alone and Self-Sufficient”.

        The intention-setting in mindfulness is half the power of it. I’ve been super-independent all my life (and yeah, that contributed to my chumpiness – “Needy? Me? Never!”). That intention has percolated inside me all year and quietly quietly … I got here. 2 1/2 years after DDay. Tuesday.

        Absolutely content on my own.
        And not in a Hey look at how INDEPENDENT I am everyone!! way.

        I reckon that many many folks just have a low bar. Potato-height bar. I’ve set and will keep my bar high, and it will be happenstance if someone comes along and makes it over. Note I don’t say luck – that’s the Karma thing again. I subscribe to Just Random … maybe yes maybe no. CL came across Mr CL through happenstance. But she may not have. Nothing to do with “Worth”.

        And yes yes yes, totally. CL and CN – always the lodestar. Stay on the path to Meh DARFILA, you are fabulous just as you are (((((BIG HUGS))))).

        Oh, and … puppy. Helps. Just saying.

      • DARFILA, I’m late to this party, but wanted to share this with you. You may stumble across your perfect life partner in time. You might not. But if you do, that is just icing on the cake. Make your life exactly what YOU want it to be. Get comfortable in that life. Do this while you feel no need to accommodate another person. Explore what makes you happy and content. It may take practice; we are chumps precisely because of our inclination to place the wellbeing of others before our own. Then, if a suitable candidate enters you orbit, take your time. Repeat: take your time. You get to decide the parameters of your relationships. I did eventually remarry. I never expected that I would, and I’d have been just fine continuing on my own. But it turned out that the current Mr. Survivor is a nice and thoughtful man, and a team player, and added happiness to my life without bringing along a load of grief. Did I get a prenup even after seven years of dating? You bet. If a partner isn’t in it for your money, they won’t have any problem putting that in writing. Former chumps need to be choosy; we are quality goods.

  • It can be lonely to be single. I used to respond to that loneliness with a story like this, about missing my person, about other people having something that I was lacking, and my lack of loveablity. It doesn’t help that I came from a family where the narrative around single people was pity for their lack of a partner. I now try to see it as a message about my need for connection, and act by doing something that serves that need. It’s not easy because loneliness is a difficult emotion and I have been so conditioned to link it to relationship status.

    Tara Brach does a ‘yes meditation that’s fantastic for this kind of difficult problem.

    • Throughout the de-chumping process my eyes have been opened to just how much social programming I’ve had undo to make peace with the new life I was building. It’s true that coupledom is a standard that’s tough to fight—both internally and externally. CL is right though—the more you pursue purposeful work that interests you, the easier it becomes to live that life that few people understand.

      I’m now “coupled” again with a great, delightfully weird guy, who’s totally imperfect but absolutely perfect for me. But, if he disappeared tomorrow I know I’d be ok because I did that deprogramming work. It was tough, long work. My life has value that I’m proud of—all on its own. I wish this for all chumps.

  • Dear Darfila, it pretty much seems to me that you have gained a life.

    And we here at CN are in good company: all of us have been rejected many times. Even CL has been rejected and what a human being she is!

    But I know how you feel: how many times do I see a couple my age (late sixties; D-Day was in my sixties) holding hands, having dinner out and then HOW I wish I were not alone. I know I deserve to have a good partner! How could I be alone at my age and with over 40 years of lost references to add insult to injury?

    Well, even if you are not religious, I think it helps to look at things this way: we will never understand God’s ways, we just have to trust that everything has a purpose and get on the best we can. No matter how bad things look and feel. I find comfort in this and can get out of bed every morning.

    I love my job, get to travel, have an adorable grandchild, two of my three sons are content and stable (sadly one still is attached to dickhead, who is a dead-weight in his life). It’s as good as it gets.

    Take care, DARFILA, you sound mighty!

    • There’s a cynical take on those happy couples and a non-cynical take. Cynical — you don’t know if they’re really happy. There’s some truth in that. And the non-cynical (which I actually prefer, even snarky me) which is — isn’t the world better for having more happy people in it? We need less suffering, not more suffering.

      • Yes, true! I always pay attention to see if the couples of my observations in restaurants are talking to each other. Sometimes they are just eating or only one does the talking and I think uh oh! I’ve been there: I was always the only one who talked, probably because dickhead was feeling too guilty and/or was too busy with other thoughts.

        And, yes, I LOVE to see happy couples. I feel a happy envy and bless them.

      • Yes! I like that. Although I have lapses with the cynical view, I love happy couples and love being around them, even though I absolutely have fallen in love with being single. Those couples do make the world a better place.

        I sort of see it as a tier system, (as far as being coupled goes, not value in life). Top tier, TWO people that mutually appreciate their relationship and are compatible. What a wonderful way to go through life. Second tier, (and not far behind as far as I am concerned), enjoying being single and the master of your destiny, still connecting with others, just no significant other. Third tier, being single but feeling ‘less than’ because of it. Fourth tier, a couple where only one person appreciates what they have, or are not fully compatible or the other is ho-hum but not a lying cheater, (ughh, so glad I am not stuck with that as well), next, two people that don’t appreciate each other and are just unhappy together, and then of course the bottom tier, staying connected to an unhappy/abusive partnership and not leaving.

        Being single and feeling unworthy goes deeper than the single situation and that can be overcome. I am a completely different person now than when this journey started when I felt lost and that I needed someone to partner up with. It will take an amazing compatibility and solid character of a man to get me to even think of giving this up.

        • Wonder, there is a saying in my language: better alone than in bad company. I shiver in disgust every time I think of scrubbing skid marks from someone’s underwear. Like I used to do. Purse and nurse at my age… God forbid! Like you I love being single, but I love those who made it!

    • @ClearWaters, thank you. I like to think so, haha at least as much as possible! True, especially at this time of year during the holidays, I feel more of it’s weight, wanting a partner to do all those things with, create those memories. The thing is though, when I did have someone, they were a shithead, and those memories where not what they seemed. So this is obviously much better! But I get the feeling of not wanting to do it all by yourself.

    • Clear Water, I so agree! I’m not super religious but I started going to church again and felt so welcome! I think helping others will help get me out of my own head and help with loneliness too. Hugs to you 😊

      • I met my new guy right after final divorce- both of us doing what we like to do. I was enjoying my new single life at 61 and thought this would be fun but I was not looking for a partner. Now I am not sure I want the weight of meeting him in my every “spare” moment. He is wonderful to talk to , supportive of my angst, fun to dance and go to shows with. I am concerned about having enough”free time” for friends and activities he is not interested in. I had a full life and don’t want to give up any of it. Relationships require making choices and giving up some of your alone time and girlfriend time. Making choices is a stressor. Not sure I will be enough for him in the long run.

  • Mr. CL also sings sea shanties. They are only sung at one volume: GUSTO! I have since become a fan of them myself. LOUDLY.

    DARFILA – live with gusto and while of course I hope you find a worthy companion, even if he looks like a boiled spud, there are ways to take the edge off that don’t require more than one participant.

    Big big hugs. I do hope someone worthy of your notice happens along and you have many mostly happy years together. In the meantime, would you like to sponsor my dog? Bladder stones to the tune of $1430 in time for the holidays. *sigh*

      • Thank you! I’m certain everything will turn out okay. I just wish it didn’t cost so darn much.

        Dog love may be priceless, but I can tell you how much it cost (thank you MasterCard).

      • LOL! I’ve told the dog, all 18 pounds of her, that she is to pull me out of a burning building someday to pay for this.

        Or at least bark so the other pricey pooch can pull. He’s 80 pounds and does what she tells him to do.

  • Only you can make yourself happy.
    During the early months of your relationship did you see any red flags. Develop skills, hobbies, beware of telling future partners of your past relationship because they may see you as vulnerable, and use it against you.
    You can enjoy yourself on dates, but don’t make it the most important thing in your life.
    Your in charge of your own happiness.

  • I needed this post this morning. I’m 3 years post-DD (today!), and I still don’t really feel like dating and have often wondered if that meant something is wrong with me. I do know my heart was utterly broken by my ex, although from the minute I realized what a charlatan he is, I stopped loving him. Definitely not hung up on the guy. But I wonder if I’m hiding from hurt or if I’m just ok living my life by myself and not feeling squashed by the toxicity of my ex-husband.

    Anyway, I like the reminder that life has ups and downs and we don’t always get everything we want in life. But that the goal is to gain a life, and I think I’m working on doing just that, single or not.

    • Glad: I recall thinking when I first got divorced that if I don’t partner up quick I will end up like those single ladies I knew. It happened, except being like the single ladies I knew is awesome! I date quite a bit but don’t feel I want to connect with any of them and loose this freedom. Ditto on asking the question of is there something wrong with us on some level, but it ‘feels’ right at this time in my life. We can’t win, either we feel something is missing if we are lonely being single, or we feel something may be wrong with us if we are happy being single. I figure I would rather worry about that than whether to end a relationship I am not meant to be in or worse, emotionally connecting with someone who brings discord to my life.

    • Yeah I know it will take me a loong time to trust again. And I feel that closes doors for me but that is just how it is. I also feel very much that ‘when you heal everything will start falling into place’ mantra but I know that is bullshit. I could meet the Gregory Peck walking down the road today and pass him up cause I am too hurt or it could happen in three years and it might seem feasible. Ok let’s get serious I am not in such a bad place I would meet Gregory Peck tomorrow and say I am not ready for a relationship sir. No siree! Everyone peddles the things will work out, you will meet someone, you will be happy. And frankly they don’t know but they do mean you deserve it. Ms while they sit in their seemingly cosy relationships they don’t know what might be around the corner for them. I see so many people who just jumpy into the next thing I am kind of in awe of them because law of averages says it can’t work out but they are chameleons with a gene I don’t have. I can’t fake it even for a comfortable life. And frankly when you get older and wiser I am less impressed and less fooled. I think anyone can find someone but it depends what you are prepared to overlook. For me a relationship has never been about latching on to the next in line and that won’t change now. Pottery, cats, wine, holidays and friends and if someone comes long, it’s a long shot but who knows. I am certainly not waiting for it even though having someone fighting my corner would be nice but hell I have got this far….

      • “And frankly when you get older and wiser I am less impressed and less fooled. I think anyone can find someone but it depends what you are prepared to overlook”

        Great line!

      • I am 5 years out and really have been content, though admittedly, it took me a few years to be content at being single. I “got a life”. I’d rather be single than have a dick in my life again. Well…, without me looking, a “seemingly” nice man has come into my life and appears to really want me in his life. I told him my story and my mantra, “I’d rather be single than have a dick in my life again.” I told him that I have trust issues. He has his own income and retirement. I do want to get married again, but only after a long time of vetting. I’m not in a rush. I told him that if he isn’t in for the long haul (marriage), then don’t waste my time. And I said that if we do move towards marriage, then I will do a background check on him and I will want to see his portfolio and tax returns for the last three years. He hasn’t been frightened off yet. But I have major trust issues. The dick-ex lied. Liars lie. How do you know if someone is telling the truth? I even bought a book on how to detect a liar. So hopefully, with time, he’ll either prove to be trustworthy or I’ll catch him in lies and will back out of a relationship. I’m so afraid to “trust”, but if I don’t take the chance, I could be denying myself an opportunity. What a dilemma. So I pray for the truth to be revealed.

        • Hey Amazon, maybe the truth that will be revealed is that he is all that and a bag of chips. I have a great partner now but I think it was years before I got over the feeling that the other shoe was going to drop. He’s a chump and I couldn’t understand why someone would do that to him. Despite my own experience, deep down I was afraid there was something fundamentally wrong. Nine years later and at some point I realized the problem was with the ex-wife. If I had had CL and CN back then it would have been less shocking 🙂
          But the point is, there are some good people out there. I think following the trust but verify model is a good one. No need to rush into anything and, in the meantime, enjoy the ride of a new relationship. Hope you find the truth you are looking for but if not, know that you are still awesome and you can still rock your own life.

          • What you described, waiting for the other shoe to drop, is exactly how I describe the feeling. Thank you for your response, and I hope he turns out to be “all that and a bag of chips”. Thanks!

    • I think working on gaining an awesome life regardless is the key.
      I am almost 3 years out and now love my single life. In fact there are huge pluses to being single that coupled people don’t realise. The freedom to do what when and where you choose. Not having to deal with someone else’s expectations, issues, moods etc etc. I have quite a few friends that spend a lot of time placating their entitled, grumpy, looking for adoration husbands. They walk on eggshells and learn to deal with their partners foibles. They are ‘Happy but they have been together so long they forget who they were and the fantastic feeling of self-determination. I am 62 so I realise it is probably different for a younger person. I will never trust someone again with my scarred heart.

      • If my dick-ex had not been screwing around, I would have continued to be one of those “happy” people being treated with condescension, unsuccessfully trying to make my husband happy the rest of my life. Iwas somehow lost for years. Once he was gone, I learned all about me and what makes me happy. Thank God the dick-ex dumped me. I’m no longer one of those “happy” wives in a crappy marriage. That’s all I knew. I didn’t know that marriage should be two people working together, not one trying her best to make the other one happy.

    • I share your experience. Maybe it’s a matter of degrees of abuse or personal sensitivity to it, but I was far too traumatized from my ex’s abusive and nasty treatments to even think about being with another man. For a long while I’d have panic attacks and claustrophobia dreams about it—being trapped in that abuse cycle.

      I’m coupled now but it only works because we lead relatively separate lives and I’ve known him since we were kids and know him to be an honest and loyal guy his entire life. But trusting a strange man with my life and heart again? No thanks. I’ll just enjoy my family, friends, work, pets, and hobbies.

      I think for many women of certain generations, our relationships left us feeling trapped because they were entered under the auspices of social pressure to marry. I’m happy to see the generation below me feels much less of this pressure.

  • Oh boy do i not think every single thing in your letter Does Anybody Really Fall in Love Anymore

    I am 45 so the chances of me meeting someone and falling in love and getting remarried or another long term relationship is very very very slim to none .

    I don’t want to be alone forever but i am slowly getting my head round i will be .

    The thing that sticks in my throat about that is why the cheaters just walk out of one long term relationship/ marriage straight in to another !! Are they better at relationships or something ? My Ex left me in March and i have not talked let alone kissed another man and he in the meantime has got his AP pregnant !!

    I know I don’t want to be with a liar and a cheat so i am trying to sort my head out and hope one day someone can actually really love me .

    Sending you hugs

    • There are lots of people in the world who settle. Cheaters, having no standards, have plenty of willing victims to hook up with.

      If I was cool with eating out of garbage cans I’d never have to go grocery shopping or spend money at restaurants.

      • @Velvet Hammer, yes I have to remind myself of this. When it seems like they (cheaters) can just sneeze and be in a relationship. They’re just easy at passing around their infection.

        • This makes me pity the poor duped women they deceive into being with them. Nobody wants a rebounds why be a cheaters rebound /dumping ground /any port in a storm /best of a bad unwitting bunch.
          The ladies my ex was with were all duped too so he’s shown his true form yet the stupidest one has stuck with him and they are now engaged. Engaged to a man who dumped his own children and has no contact with them.
          Nobody wins.

      • “If I was cool with eating out of garbage cans” this gave me a giggle! Thanks for that. Also, it’s the perfect analogy for the discerning (sarc) taste of the disorderd!

    • This sticks in my throat too. But I don’t think they’re better at relationships; they just don’t really bond. It seems that, for Cheaters, one partner is basically exchangeable for another. And (lucky them!) there’s always a new Chump who thinks they’ve won the lottery to have met such an awesome person–or who is willing to give the poor sad sausage the “time and space” they need to get over the mean/crazy Ex (i.e., you). Once the goodwill/delusion wears off with the new Chump, the cycle starts anew.

      It seems like such an exhausting way to live, but I guess if you’ve got big empty holes inside, as a lot of these folks do, there’s not a lot of self to fall back on. Since most of them aren’t introspective, or interested, enough to figure out how to rest in themselves, what else can they really do but mooch time/love/energy/attention/resources from a series of others?

    • Cheating is the proof that they are NOT good at relationships. And as I mentioned below, there are vast swaths of humans who will hook up with them.

      Scott Peterson is on Death Row inmates at San Quentin, ten minutes from my house, getting marriage proposals. Chris Watt has been deluged with mail from women wanting to be with him, marry him.

      No shortage of sick people in the world. Do all you can to stay away from them and not be one of them.

      • Great point, never ceases to amaze me who people find attractive. We can all latch on to someone if we are shallow, manipulative or deluded.

    • It’s not that they’re better at relationships, they’re good at finding people with low standards/low hanging fruit.

      They’re also real good at manipulation.

      It’s pretty easy to hop on something like Tinder and say exactly what you think someone wants to hear in order to get them in bed, then jump ship and repeat the cycle once they start showing actual human need. And people who are willing to sleep with someone who has a history of cheating or is currently cheating are the lowest hanging fruit.

      Velvet Hammer is right. If you were willing to eat trash from a garbage can you’d never need to go shopping. But you’d still have to be okay with eating trash.

      Believe me, I wondered that myself. HOW do they so easily get one relationship after another? Then I realized…they are in one. relationship. after. another. Quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality.

  • Years after I began my new life, I am also still alone, at least romantically. Sure, there are days I wish it weren’t so, particularly when I am forced to deal with life’s challenges without the support of a partner. To be honest, though, I like being alone. After years of putting everyone else’s wants ahead of my own needs, I enjoy the peace my solitude provides.

    I am very, very lucky in that my (mostly) grown children have been so loving to me, I have good friends, a job that brings a great joy and meaning to my life, and I am financially secure. Still, I have also faced much loss, and a great deal of pain connected to my birth family. Like everyone here, my life has had roses AND thorns.

    What I have chosen to do is find (and try to be) one of the “helpers” instead of one of the “takers”. There are so many people who need our help these days and so many ways to give that help. No effort is too small and, sadly, no effort is enough. When I look outside of myself, I find so ways to love. Instead of looking for a romantic partner to complete me, I complete myself.

    As for advice books, I understand they are great for leveling your bed frame when the support beams break. Other than that, I haven’t found much use for them. With, of course, the exception of Leave A Cheater, Gain A Life – not a week goes by that I do not recommend that book. It is especially helpful to women who have been indoctrinated to believe they must stay in an abusive relationship, no matter what. It is truly a gift from the universe for those who need it most.

    I am alone, but rarely lonely, and that is exactly where I choose to be. I am enough.

    • I’m with you Violet. I like being alone so losing the asshole was definitely no loss – a REAL plus in fact. I don’t know, maybe someone will come into my life sometime but I seriously don’t care if they don’t!

  • I could be wrong but…

    I feel like those of us that have gone through such a HUGE betrayal do the hard work of bettering ourselves and we are told that we will attract the energy we put out in the world, therefore attracting better caliber friends and love interests. What I have found is that the majority of people out there are not on our level. Look at the world…our president…it’s a sad state of affairs out there. Low character people are everywhere and people who are not self-aware are everywhere else.

    I don’t think that it’s we are not healed enough but rather we’ve leveled up so to speak and not very many other people have. We’re choosier about who we want to be with. Our standards and expectations have raised and not very many people fit that bill.

    And those people who say we haven’t “healed enough” or “right” are just asking us to lower our standards because they are not on our level.

    • CC, that is an interesting take. I’ve always felt like an outlier. Spent a lot of time trying to fit in and blend, change to another’s standards. That was never going to work, ever. Green eyed gingers don’t blend readily. I’m going with the “It’s not me.” I won’t lower my standards. I won’t settle for crumbs. I erased the word Doormat from my forehead. I’m going to be too busy living my life to worry about who I’m attracting. Gotta get the neighborhood cat out of my sanctuary and get to the gym!

        • Another blue eyes ginger here, and frankly, I really don’t give a rat’s patootie about fitting in. At this point in my life I own my own life, can do what I please and don’t have anyone trying to make me conform or dance pretty. I am loving the freedom to be myself. There are a few friends who get me and my furballs do of course. The rest of the world just thinks that I am weird.

          That’s fine, I am comfortable in my own skin. I am enough.

          • My new mantra is “I’m under no obligation to explain myself to you.” It makes me feel powerful.

            I’m 62 have dated and found that there are a lot of baby men out there. I feel like they just want someone to take care of them. I feel lonely sometimes. It was very hard at first. I have a good job and income, a house, lovely kids but it felt empty. So my magic was art school. I decided I would try to work for ten years then retire…but not to work at a Walmart job. I always wanted to be an artist so that’s what I’m doing evenings and week ends (it helps that MN has a program for cheap tuition after a certain age).

            I’m still lonely and feel panic at times but I remind myself about what I’m doing and it feels great. Holidays bring up the lonely some – but I go paint something.

    • If there’s one thing that reading CL has taught me, it’s that shallow, mean-spirited, selfish people are creating a steady stream of newly available honest, reliable, loving previously-married people. Maybe it’s a small trickle when compared to the large fetid pool of dysfunctional singles that’s out there permanently, but there seems to be an inexhaustible supply of fuckwits who are cutting loose their loyal spouses. In a perverse way, it’s a service to the rest of us that these people (who otherwise wouldn’t abandon their spouses, no matter how sub-par they were) are being liberated.

      • Involuntary Georgian, I am going to refer to this time as being “liberated” forevermore. Thank you for that.

    • @CC, that makes sense. We’ve had to go through some major growth (hopefully) in ways that others may never experience. It does change us, and maybe that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I know Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability reminds me how uncomfortable, but how necessary it is to lean into things that are messy.

    • Yeah, I’ve felt this so much as I start dating a little…

      the women are nice & attractive & flirty, but just dead-ass boring to the point where I want to stab my own eyes out with the salad fork

      Or to your point, perhaps it’s not really “boring” so much as “spiritually unimproved”

      They are lucky enough to have never had to make terrible, life-defining choices in the bizarre shadow world of betrayal…and so they say blandly-acceptable stuff like “I really like the ambiance here” and “I’m a people person”

      Sigh.

      • To be fair, it’s hard to get to know a person in a few dates. I know I probably seem pretty boring on dates 1-3 because it’s going to take me a little longer to be vulnerable and show all the depths of my personality. I’m guessing a lot of people are the same and there are also a whole lot of people who don’t know how to be vulnerable at all.

        • @CC,

          It can be hard yeah to get to know someone on a just few dates. And the real them takes time. I think the thing I keep running into it that if it makes 3 dates, it’s like I’ve won the lottery! Haha, most never even get that far, even when I think we got along pretty well, and enjoyed the date, ya know? It seems like if you can’t get all the answers in an hour if this person is “the one” and you’ll know how this will go, people just bail. I get no one wants to waste time, but yikes!

      • I find the initial encounter with new women to be cross between a job interview and a IRS audit! Within 15 minutes of chit chat they “casually” deduce the town in which I reside (an indicator of income), my vocation, education, if own my house, how many kids I have and if they live with me. All indicators of wealth and stability. It’s all they care about. Ironic they complain men only want “one thing”. Ha ha. I have all the right answers but it really kills the mood.

        • QuantumChump. I could have been one of those that “interviewed” you. I have a bit of my own assets and I’m afraid of losing my retirement, especially since I’m almost retired. I just don’t want to get involved with someone looking for a sugar mama. I figured if a man likes me, as brazen as I am, knowing up front that I want marriage down the road (certainly with lots of time living separately as we get to know each other) and that I will want to do a background check on him and see his last three years of tax returns (I’d reciprocate), then he must truly be interested. I don’t need a man to financially take care of me, but I certainly don’t want a man that plans on using me for my money. I figure if I scare him away, then he wasn’t worth my time. Perhaps those women that query you are similar to me. Maybe they’re not looking for a sugar daddy. Just looking for someone who’s secure with himself.

          • Of course, those wouldn’t be the questions asked in the first 15 minutes. I’d probably ask them after several dates of getting to know you finding out if we were even compatible. Those questions would only be asked if the relationship looked like it would develop into something serious. I’m at the point where if a man didn’t like it, if he felt I shouldn’t ask such questions (as I’m only trying to protect myself), then I don’t need that man in my life.

    • ABSOLUTELY!

      CC and 33years, we are outliers/rare statistically. I’m happy to say I’ve been “different” pretty much all my life. Because, hey, I’m pathologically honest and loyal. I consider it important to be authentic and kind and generous-spirited.Odd like that.

      Throw in the experiences of a 3yo daughter killed in an accident and BigLittleLies-size deceit and betrayal … yep, I am VERY different! Have had just one fling in 2 1/2 yrs, it was nice, the poor guy was a bit of a man-child and I think I freaked him out.

      Given that in middle age everyone has baggage, but most people are looking for someone with neat matching carry-on, with wheels and a pull-out handle. Mine’s making a mess all OVER the carousel. Zips are busted, held together with gaffer tape, customs his very sus of it …

  • Be on a few dating sites. Have a list ready: he must 1) have a job he likes 2) have friends 3) like his family 4) take reasonable care of his health 5) not abuse substances. Treat it as a ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ situation. Never bring up your abusive ex on the first 3 dates.

    Consider a relationship a bonus, but not a dire necessity.

  • Because I was raised by a single mother, I actually have come out of this feeling zero shame for my single state and I don’t have time for loneliness given all my friends from the neighborhood, my work and my large and supportive family – plus chasing around my 2 pre-school aged kids!

    I’m thinking it’s actually better with no man, especially in the later years, so I can just maintain independence and not be assigned the nurse role for anyone (except my own mother and others that have been there for me and deserve it).

    The downside to this is that, having been raised by a single mother, I know the pain that the children go through during divorce and honestly, the rest of their lives. And that fills me with rage and anger like no other. Dickwad didn’t care about his children or the impact on their lives at all. And for that I will never forgive him. Hurt me, fine. But don’t hurt my kids. I will crush you. Asshole.

    • I feel the same way about hurting my kids, especially when my daughter still cries going back and forth from dickbag’s house two years later. Pisses me off.

      I am, however, finally starting to gain a life and hopefully get to meh.

    • I’m with you. I will never ever forgive him for hurting our kids. For lying to them right in front of me. For gaslighting them. For rewriting their history. For purposely mentally and emotionally breaking down me and them having to witness their once very strong and capable mom being totally unstable and a mess. He did all this and he did it with a smirk, smile and laugh. At one point he said to me, “I guess I just gave our kids The Father Wound.” He said this to me while laughing. The Father Wound was something he learned about from a book by John Eldredge. What kind of man laughs about PURPOSELY hurting their own children? A sociopath.

      • Wow, our ex’s must be twins. Mine told me to my face before I filed for divorce “I have no feelings for you or the children” after I filed he stated that “the children are not affected by this”. 2 1/2 years later my youngest says she hates him. He continues to take them for every court ordered visit he got (because he is still trying to punish me for leaving). I am getting closer to meh with no contact. I will never forgive him for what he did to the children! As for me I don’t care anymore. BTW- He is a self proclaimed Narcissist Sociopath.

        • Finding Peace,

          I’m truly amazed your XH admitted to who he truly is — Narcissist Sociopath! My XH told me he’s “perfect”. Yes, really. He said and I quote, “I think I have the PERFECT personality to be in a relationship with.” His mommy told him his entire life that he was “perfect and special”, so I’m 100% certain she created the Narcopath! I feel so bad for your daughter and her having to visit with her dad. My girlfriends daughter is in the same position and they both are counting the days until she turns 18 and no longer has to visit him.

      • Martha (my grandma’s name & I adored her)

        “For lying to them right in front of me. For gaslighting them. For rewriting their history. For purposely mentally and emotionally breaking down me and them having to witness their once very strong and capable mom being totally unstable and a mess. He did all this and he did it with a smirk, smile and laugh.”

        Being the ultimate chump, I was willing to “buy” into the triangulation for the sake of the kids. He didn’t even have enough character for that. He laughed at me when he I asked if he’d like to see his daughter walk down the aisle with someone like him. It was a huge learning curve, but I now know my Ex is Jack Nicholson and the Howorker is Kathy Bates.

        She’s the complete opposite (in every way) of me. The differences will only become more apparent as my children grow into their lives and find themselves in their own relationships. I can wait.

        • NotbLUEinTC ,

          My mom used to call me Martha when I was a little girl, so that’s why I chose this name. It’s not even close to my real name. 🙂

          I asked my XH the same question about whether he would want our daughter to marry someone like himself. He said, “Yes.” That’s how disordered he is. He knows every single evil thing he did behind my back and yet he still thinks he’s marriage material. And he wants the same for his daughter. He’s sick and disgusting. I hope his whore’s daughters marry someone like him and then his whore can watch her daughters get destroyed by a sociopath. That would be a nice karma bus.

  • Eee!! This is my letter. Thank you CL, 2×4 accepted and the pep talk epic. Thank you, thank you.

    You’re right of course, by what we measure our worth by. If I do it by superficial things, I’ll get superficial returns. I’m not a space heater!

    • Don’t beat yourself up. Some of this may have been driven by all the forced saccharine-sweet holiday “we’re going to be a close-knit family if I have to chain you to the bed” cheer.

      No, you’re not a space heater. Not by a long shot.

      Your standards have gone up though. You won’t settle for Fuckwits!

      • @No Shit Cupcakes, yep! I may spend a few dates/months on someone who’s not right, (have to put in a little time to get to know people, no way around that) but at least it’s not years. I may be disappointed when it’s yet again another dud, but yes, standards! Def won’t settle.

    • This may sound ludicrous, but my guiding principle is that if a grown, capable adult has time to date then they’re not productive enough in the other important parts of their life. Date, partner up…sure. But I contend if you’re truly making yourself the priority, you’ll only have time to barely squeeze those things instead of ruminate on them. Another way to look at it is that the antidote to craving a relationship is not having time for one. So, when you feel the crushing weight of singledom, treat that as a canary in the coal mine that you’re not being productive enough with you time—you’re not pursuing your passions enough—you’re not working at being a total bad ass at what do or want to do. So, change that.

  • Standing ovation to all the Chumps who have left a cheater, gained a life.
    Darfila, YOU are Mighty, re read your post, look at all you have accomplished.
    Maybe you will find a genuine partner, but if you don’t you still have so very many positives in your life.

    (Both hands up here for being an amazing “pick me dancer.” Hell, I spackled so much every time I brushed my teeth I spit out bling).

    Darfila, you paid dearly for your freedom. There is no price on true love. I truly hope that one day you will find it.
    But today, and every day, be kind to yourself, you deserve this!
    Enjoy each cheater free day the best you can.

  • Dear does anyone..
    It’s early and i debated posting this but then i figured why not?
    I understand how you feel. You leave a cheater and go through all that unfair, terrible, sad injustice and your wants and needs still aren’t met, yet. You have done so much self care and self betterment. I get why you want the same thing you wanted when you got married. It’s hard to try to feel ok with filling a round hole (desire for a partner) with a square peg (adoptibg an orphan). Good for you for living your life and writing in about a real fear and for a real reality. I feel you and it is hard to keep on keeping on and stay upbeat and self assured and strong. There’s so much look on the bright side and it’s better than being with a liar and cheater but it’s also a bit flippant. Of course you’re enough but you also have wants and desires and want a mate/partner/husband AND honest people, truly honest with others and themselves who have tajen the time to look into themselves like a lot of us chumps have, aren’t plentiful. To be honest myself, I’ll say I’m scared about this, too. I think a lot of us on here are. In our real, society people get married in their 20s and 30s, usually. That’s just statics, like the statistic that women usually outlive men and therefore will die “alone”. See, that doesn’t mean without friends or pets in your life but still, everyone equates not having a human mate as being “alone” even in that argument.
    Doing things you enjoy is good for the soul, of course. We’ve got to keep doing them. So, I’ll go ahead and say it but not make it my main message, “you never know who you’ll meet along the way.” I tell myself that sometimes. It’s not my overriding reason for doing things, going out, hanging out… but that doesn’t make it a bad thing to hope for or just casually think about sometimes. We can keep being good to ourselves and others (that deserve it) and find new things that are good along the way and just keep thinking “who knows who will come into my life?* I’m setting up my preemptive strike here by saying that ill get a lot of blow back after this next comment and it doesn’t directly apply to you because you already left and I agree that’s mighty and is hard as hell but…
    I do often wish I’d stayed longer to get my kids raised/past shared custody drop off at gas stations, shared holidays times… while I worked more on me like went for my graduate degree or law school and engaged even more in my community and school boards… Yes i can do that now and am doing some of it but it would have been less stress and worry to do it while my husband did at least part of what we agreed and worked while I quit work to “stay home” with our special needs child. But I guess I could also say I wish I would have done better in my divorce negotiations. Custody, alimony, who pays for insurance, sports, how long… (he made 400k when i left and i was too sad and confused and intetviewef 5 lawyers inky you be unhappy with who i chose and felt like I made yet another bad decision) My message here is if and when you can’t take the lies and deceit and gaslighting and angry outburts that come, too, get all your ducks in a row, think of all you’ll NEED and want to spend time, effort and money doing and get that into your decree because it’s also a true statistic that the majority of the time womens’ financial status goes down after divorce and mens’ financial status goes up.

    • I’ve never met a man whose financial status went UP after divorce. By definition BOTH go down if you are splitting whatever you had in half.

      • My financial status went “up” simply because my income wasn’t used to help pay for new golf clubs, new cars, etc. I’m not living high on the hog, but I’m not in fear of having to use my IRA distributions to fund motorhomes or time shares.

  • Well, let’s see.

    Cheater and schmoops are ensconced in a mansion not far from here, undoubtedly living the sparkly life to the very impressively expensive hilt.

    But hard to say. I have never laid eyes on their house. The kids drove past to knock it together early on, but have declined to visit, and are increasingly no contact. Daughter has not seen cheater for bout a year. Son has not seen him for about six months. They did not see him at Thanksgiving. They will also give Christmas a pass.

    Lately, he has been texting them a flurry of pictures. He stalked their social media for some pics, which he peppers them with questions about. Other pics are of the fam he nuked. Those, he sends without commentary. Many of those pics include me which really gives the kids the creeps.

    He’s apparently, then, sitting there in the vast and mostly empty cheater manor with the very young schmoops who was going to make him blissfully happy every second forever, studying for the Good Dad Exam about 25 years too late, and poring over the pictures of what he gave away.

    I’m just over here with my big fluffy goof of a dog trying to figure out this crazy life day by day, helping my kids stay steady through the lates psycho dad moves, being as imperfect as ever, and nowhere near having a boyfriend.

    I wouldn’t trade places with the idiot ex for anything. So very glad to have made good my escape.

    • Cashmere, I could have written your reply! You are mighty! We are doing a great job. My big fluffy goof of a dog thinks so too!

  • I like being alone, making my own decisions, etc. But after 31 years of marriage, my spouse was my best friend. We went through so much together (including his cheating!) But as much as I am glad I dumped him, I really miss that camaraderie and friendship. It has been very difficult to find a bestie and kindred spirit at this point in my life. So while I am very happy to now be free of the abuse cycle from cheater, we did share some good times, especially early on, and that is what I miss. I’m not grieving the loss of the marriage as much as I am grieving the loss of a once-good friend.

    • And THIS is why infidelity is so evil. The blowing up of something otherwise good because one person thinks they’re entitled to strange.

      I was with a man who beat me up sometimes. But when he wasn’t beating me up, we were best friends.

      See how creepy it sounds? I miss the Lie. I miss the strung-together-good-bits pretending to be a whole relationship.

      But when I am being less nostalgic and more realistic, I know that he WASN’T a good friend, or even a good man, BECAUSE he cheated and hit me.

      Human memory is way less reliable than we like to believe. It’s very selective. And sometimes it’s a bit delusional because we can’t face the full reality.

    • I feel the same way. I’m as NC as possible and very actively and very successfully deleting every memory which containd her. The problem is, we were so close that just about every happy memory included her. So I’m left with a giant 30-year amnesia where a life once was.

    • I might push back a bit on this and challenge you to consider that your cheating ex was never, not once, your actual friend. He may have masqueraded as such for a period of time, you maybe have ascribed such qualities to him, but he never really was your friend. So, you’re missing a mirage. I call it my “chasing a ghost” grief. I say this because that realization was fundamental for me in moving forward. Only once I could look myself in the mirror and admit how F’d up I was about him and my own ideas about relationships and the power of projection, I could begin to change my outlook and build more authentic bonds. Best of luck.

  • I’m the last person to say I was some super wife and mother. I can be a beotch and yell like a banshee when annoyed past the point of no return. But I am loyal, loving, affectionate, and kind. I found marriage extremely hard. Harder than parenting. My husband was a very difficult man to love and, frankly, to live with. He was an alpha and bossy and smart and controlling. He had a ‘don’t let the door hit ya take it or leave it’ attitude and would withhold love, sex, attention or any sense of partnership unless it suited his plan. If he wasn’t frustrating the heck out of me or hurting me via a thousand tiny cuts, I was ignored. Eventually I just got bored with it all and created my own inner and outer life while yes, waiting for him to finally get real about us and our children. Most all the dark clouds that hit us were brought on by him – his wildness or his health issues or his aggressiveness at work. We weathered a lot of crisis with me holding the fort and having his back. So it was icing on the Shitcake that that shithead picks with with some skank from work and just humiliated the shit out of me. I wasted my best years on that fuckhead. Omg I can’t believe how utterly stupid and dense I was to have wasted my life loving such a weak individual who probably had cheated on me before but I thought it was work stress that was making him so beastly. So I have dated and ok I do have fantasies about a dream book boyfriend coming into my life. But I know I’m over sublimating my wishes for some guy. I’m way too impatient and selfish now and yes, lazy to put up with the relationship compromises we make in our relationship. I’m very busy. I do a lot of fun things. I do things my way. I’m not lonely and bored. At this point, I’d have to make a lot of changes to fit a man into my life. My biggest fear would be ending up again on the losing end of a relationship because my picker don’t work. So I don’t online date or go out of my way because I’m doing fine and if God wants me to meet a new man, He can do the work. I’ve already accepted cruising alone or with my friends for the next 30 years. Yeah, it might be pain and sadness and fear of getting into another dark hole with a bad man that’s blocked me from marrying again. But I am ok with that. I’m enough.

    • Ha! Trudy, this is what I would say if I was speaking freely. Love the “I might be able to fit you in if you prove to be worth it” attitude.

      It’s funny, when you wrote about him being frustrating, death by a 1000 cuts, or ignored, I realized that is where my marriage died. He was explosive, sometimes cruel, and coercive in the bedroom. But those I could see were about him.

      Being ignored? Little put downs daily? I realized that I’ve been carrying those as being about me and my lack of worthiness. Thanks for helping me see that. I know what my journaling work will be today!

      Also, dark clouds? Spot on. I think we had a very similar experience. Sorry you went through that.

    • Trudy, you spoke for me too! That type of man was my husband, and I also watched that behavior in my father towards my sweet, funny, and lovely Mom. You wrote this so perfectly, I got chills thinking about those days! So sick of this shit! Whatever the reason is, for instance mental illness, go get some help! Unless, of course, you like being a bastard. This is what I think it is, at least from the fools I had to put up with for decades.
      I’m only attracted to kind people, now. You can choose to be kind!

  • This post is what I needed to see when I was 25. This is a key question, and one to which I would answer “YES.”: “Did you really get a better job to find a man? How about, you’re just out there being mighty, living a good life, accomplishing shit and you’re ENOUGH.”

    Yes, I did think that having a great job and a house and size 6 pants would make me more attractive. I thought that “doing more” would be the thing that Mr. Right would find irresistible. But in truth, I hadn’t done my part—I wasn’t enough, for ME. I had the idea that these outer things were the same as self-worth. But if I lost the job or the house burned down, that wouldn’t change anything important about me. And just yesterday, I put some of those size 6 pants in a bag for the local thrift shop (clothes for women who need professional outfits) and a few in a storage bag because this time my weight might settle at size 8. Or 10. Whatever feels healthy and good. My pants size? Not an indicator of my worth.

    One thing I noticed when I cleaned my closet: the clothes I bought at the top of my weight (27 pounds ago) were utilitarian and ugly. I didn’t love them or feel good in them. Now I buy a few things to get me through each size reduction but I buy lovely things, with nice fabrics. And I’ll be ready to either give away these things or store them once I hit my goal weight. And the drive behind the weight loss? I was pre-diabetic. I want to LIVE. And be healthy. So getting my diet and weight under control was about life and death. The side benefit is learning how depression and self-loathing can become a spiral.

    Now, DARFILA, I’m 6 years into this “gain a life” thing. I’m 68. And I’ve finally figures out that while I like having a male companion, I don’t need one. I’m not going to bash online dating or whatever you’re doing to meet men, but you wouldn’t look for a female friend that way. You’d get out in the world and by working with someone or being neighborly or belonging to the same bowling league, you’d meet your BFF. So long as you hang onto the idea that you can’t DO anything that will guarantee you make a friend or find a partner. You have to live and to get your own love out there into the world–for pets, for the planet, for kids who need an adult mentor, for good books or movies or playing in a softball league, for cooking, for getting food to the needy, for preserving local history or supporting the opera.

    I found a very kind man to date. We have a lot of fun together. I can’t say I feel the same “love” for him that I felt for my XH the substance abuser–30+ years of codependent longing. What I can say is that my life is better, richer, for dating him and getting to know his family and friends. No, he won’t go to the ballet with me. (He says he’d rather stay home and paint his toenails pink, ha ha.) But we can watch football and movies. We can go bowling. We can make a meal and rake the leaves. I might not be “in love.” But I love the people in my life, including him. And all that starts with knowing myself and coming to believe in the deepest way that even if I wanted someone in my life, I understand that my primary relationship is with myself. And I didn’t do the healing to get to the end of the journey; I did the healing in order to get on the right road instead of the wrong one.

    • @LovedaJackass:

      “I didn’t do the healing to get to the end of the journey; I did the healing in order to get on the right road instead of the wrong one.”

      Thank you, I am adding this to my list of quotes.

      You are mighty!

    • LovedAJackass,
      I love your posts about your “very kind man”
      It sounds to me that you treat each other with love, kindness, and respect.
      Really, who could ask for anything more.
      You are blessed!
      💞

  • I think my point of view shifted as I grew older, which is the natural result of learning things. Whatever situation you are born into is what is normal to you at the time. Only when you are old enough to socialize with others do you realize that different families do things in different ways. I believe it is wonderful that you get to pick and choose, cafeteria style, from the many possibilities that are available, and that your life does not have to look like everyone else’s life to be a good life.

    When I was in high school and college I noticed that many of my girlfriends went to extraordinary lengths to be attractive to and available to “the boys” at all times. I did not think I needed to do this, so I might tumble out of bed and go to breakfast without make-up. I did wash my face, brush my teeth, and comb my hair. I didn’t want to scare someone, and I prefer having a clean face and teeth, and not having my hair standing up in all directions. But my effort was to please myself, not “the boys”, and my quest was for food and coffee, not a date. The irony was that my comfort level with being who I was and not worrying about “the boys” resulted in being asked out on dates, when some of those perfectly groomed girlfriends were not. One fellow told me he thought they looked like china dolls and he was afraid to touch them — they might get messed up, or break. I thought they tried too hard, and worried too much. They seemed to believe they had to be something they were naturally not to be attractive. If they were just who they really were no one would be interested. I think this anxiety projected out, and scared off “the boys” they were trying to attract.

    None of this saved me from making bad choices, or having failed marriages. Nothing saved me from having husbands with wandering ways. I still got hurt, and had to learn hard lessons about setting and maintaining boundaries. I am still committed to being who I am, and although I regularly bathe and groom myself, and sometimes wear make-up, I do it because I like myself better when I make the effort to be presentable. I still wash my face, brush my teeth, and comb my hair when I wake up, before I go into the kitchen to seek coffee and food. My cat is not impressed, no one else is there to be impressed, but I feel better.

    I have friends who are married, and friends who are not. Some are happy, some are not. It is not the marriage which makes them happy. People who are happy decide to be happy and seek out friends, activities, and entertainment which helps them to be happy. I do not close the door to meeting another person, or living in an intimate relationship again. Statistically it is unlikely, but not impossible. But I am not feeling incomplete or unhappy because I live alone. Some days that makes me very happy. Some days I would like a companion. But I don’t wait for happiness to knock on my door, and I don’t “improve” myself so that I will be worthy of happiness. I seek happiness by doing things I love to do, and I have made some good friends who are happy with who they are. This takes effort, but so does washing your face, brushing your teeth, and combing your hair.

    There is no magic formula which guarantees success. There is no magic cure-all for all life’s problems. There is only making your best effort to live an authentic life each day. A partner is not a reward for being “good”.

    • And this is where I agree the self help books don’t help, they talk as if there is a formula to success, happiness, wealth, self love, blah, blah, blah. It’s all just capitalist money-making. Selling you a promise. Based on ever someone slightly tangible stuff blown out of all proportion. Someone earlier said use these books to balance an uneven table or bedpost. About the best use for them. Everything these days is Be Your Best Self as long as you are super fit (like running marathons), phd educated, running your own business. Snake oil all of it.

  • Darfila, let me add this– I have moved on with my life, and it is a good one. I make decent money, own a little home that I love, have three great kids, and am grateful for friends and family who have been there for me and whom I enjoy spending time with. I am content, and I am grateful for what I have.

    However– I still experience longing for a partner. There’s nothing wrong with that. Other than going on dates (which I don’t do… three kids… not much time… didn’t love online dating when I tried it), there’s not much you can do to bring that partner into your life. I am not the least bit ashamed of being single, but I still desire the intimacy of a relationship with a man. It’s okay to feel that way. It doesn’t mean that you hate your life.

    I was talking to a single girlfriend about this (who is in the same boat– great life, still wishes for a relationship), and I said that I don’t think that human beings are meant to have everything in life. I know people in great relationships, but something else is lacking (financial hardship, sickness, terrible family dynamics). It’s hard, but I think we have to make peace with the idea that not everything will be in balance. Honestly, as much as it pains me to admit this, I will take the financial stability and contentedness of my life over meeting a great guy. If I never meet someone, I will be able to look back on my life and feel proud of the home I created for myself and my kids. I know I’ve worked hard at my job and provided the best education for my students as possible. I have done a bunch of traveling and plan to do more, and I love having those memories.

    In short– you’re not alone, your feelings are normal, and you can love being single while also hoping that you might meet a great person who will complement your already great life. 🙂

    • @MovingOn,

      I am trying not to feel bad about wanting a partner. Like you said, I can be happy, and still desire that in my life. It doesn’t cancel out the other, or make my desire something wrong.

      I don’t hate being single, at least the status never really seemed to matter UNTIL I started dating oddly enough. When I was just single, but not looking, it never bothered me. I guess I’m a “doer” and when I decided it was something I wanted again in my life, I put myself into it, and it gets frustrating that no matter how much effort you put into finding someone, it’s out of your control.

  • The thing about the self help industry is that there are two main sales points. One is, it must justify itself (which it often does by citing but at least partially misapplying vetted science). The other is, it must convince you that you are just messed up and uneducated enough to benefit from what it’s offering, but not so far down the path that you’re beyond what it’s selling.

    I’m not saying don’t read/watch it, but I AM saying to do so with a cautious eye and assume that the speaker/writer looks to benefit by selling you the ideas. Maybe it’s offered as pure altruism, but most of the time, it just isn’t.

    From there, you can boil it down to just what has been identified here — that the easy-picking-fruit is to imply (or state) that you’ll be happy as soon as you are evolved and educated enough to apply the seller’s particular offering perfectly in your life. It is its own gaslight, though often subtle.

    As many have identified, there are really two main ways to have a mate in life. One is to settle, a lot, for many things that don’t work well for us, all in the name of reasonable compromise. Now, some may be settling for dirty underwear on the floor while others settle for cheating or other harsher abuses, but it’s all still settling. The other is to team up with a person who doesn’t settle, and you refuse to settle, all compromises are negotiated via healthy and honest communication and mindfully agreed (which is intentional, not settling) – and that’s much more uncomfortable, much more rewarding, and pretty dang unusual.

    This is all just one person’s opinion, of course. It just seems to me that the only way I would ever really have the partnered relationship I truly want would be to refuse to have anything else. I would be able to joyfully embrace my life as it is, as I pilot myself through it, without particular concern for whether I have a partner. The partner would be a bonus, not a goal. (That’s probably a bit further down the line than I’ve gotten so far.)

    It’s kind of like how sometimes you work at a job you don’t like because you want things it offers you, like pay and benefits. You might stay there unless you find another job that works (at least as well or better) to keep your life the way you want it. If I would like a partner but I don’t know anyone who fits into the way I want my home to be, and I’m not willing to give up the way I want my home to be, then I won’t partner with anyone unless they already fit in.

    I’m just spitballing, here, but it’s worth contemplating.

  • please be open to online dating, if you aren’t already doing that. Yes, you will meet (and also get ghosted/stood up) by a lot of frogs, but that’s how I met my SO. He lives 20 minutes from me, and we would never have met if it hadn’t been for online dating.

    • Sue, that’s nice – but did you read the blog post? It’s actually not about meeting a significant other; it’s about gaining a life.

      I know you mean well, but I read your comment and it’s like we are back to Square One again.

      Internet dating has worked for you in that you wanted to meet someone and did. That doesn’t mean it will work for other people.

      It also doesn’t have to. The whole idea is that we get away from ‘How to meet a Man’ school of thinking and focus instead on being really happy and content with who we are.

  • So I have a bit of a different perspective than CL. I agree with some of what she says, but here’s my two cents.

    Most dating and self-help advice is shit for one reason: It’s predicated on the idea that you hate yourself. Any sign or mention that you wish to have a partner is taken to mean that you hate yourself for some reason and are trying to fill the hole with a relationship. And usually the overarching message is you need to “focus on yourself” or “love yourself before you can love someone else.” And the measure of how much “self care” or “self love” is required before you’re allowed to have a relationship is always arbitrary and constantly moving. I get what you mean when you say you feel like you don’t make the cut no matter what you do. A lot of “focus on yourself” dating advice undermines the things that you have well…done for yourself.

    Which is garbage. Sure, there ARE some people who have self-worth issues and are looking to “fix” it with a relationship. I’m not talking about them. That’s a whole other ball of wax, so that’s not part of this conversation. Lemme tell you a story:

    I used to be friends with (operative phrase here being “used to”) a guy that would hand me unsolicited self-help and dating advice like I was Oliver Twist at the breakfast table. And it was always the same, no matter what my situation was. “Focus on Yourself.” When he met me, I had just gotten out of a really abusive relationship and my mental and emotional state was a mess. At the time, because I was so desperate for human connection, I didn’t see how predatory he was. He wanted sex, but oh gosh, commitment? No, no, you’re too insecure, you need to “focus on yourself.”

    This guy was constantly shoving self-help books at me. Read this, read that, you should do this online quiz, have you read this book? Yadda, yadda. Yet this man, who claimed to be a pillar of stability and in a position to tell me that I was “too insecure” for commitment and needed to “learn to love myself” couldn’t hold down a relationship himself. Every week it was a new girl that had ghosted him. He went through women like they were single-use masturbation toys from a cheap porn shop, then bemoaned his own “singleness.” But with me, still, it was always the same. He wanted sex, but he just couldn’t commit “right now” because of my “insecurity” and “codependence.” Oh, have I read this new book??

    During the course of this “friendship,” I got a new job, got a new apartment, moved out of that apartment because I found my roommate pocketing the utility money, got another apartment to myself, ran a 13.5 mile Spartan race in Colorado that peaked at 14,000 ft, made a new group of friends, got back into dance, and decided on a career change. And it seemed like the more I did to improve my life, the more he doubled-down on how “insecure” I was. There was literally NOTHING that I could do that was good enough. He kept telling me to “focus on myself.” But, he still would bug me for sex, make sexual comments, etc. even when I said no. He would try to worm his way into turning any situation into one where he could possibly get sex. I eventually had to outright YELL at him that unless he was going to commit, there would be no sex. Period. Ever.

    It made me angry. It made me absolutely furious. I was seconds away from punching him in the dick if he said “Focus on yourself” to me one more dang time, and I made it clear that if he wanted any kind of physical intimacy at all, it meant he would be committing to a relationship.

    Then I told him I had made the decision to become a firefighter, and what was the first thing he said to me “I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it because you’re a woman, but…you’re a tiny woman.” When I signed up for the CPAT, he told me I should make sure the weight of my breasts wouldn’t throw off my balance on the job. This was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back for me.

    This man did not really think that I was insecure or codependent. He did not think that I hadn’t done enough for myself, he did not think that my self esteem was nonexistent, nor did he really believe that I hate myself. The opposite. When he met me, I was very broken and hurt and vulnerable, but through the course of knowing me, I climbed out of that depression, became an independent, self-sufficient, and confident woman.

    And self-sufficient, confident, independent women are very, very difficult to manipulate. He was constantly undermining things that I did, ignoring my accomplishments, calling me insecure, and pushing my boundaries because that’s what he needed me to be so he could leverage that for sex. If I’m confident enough to say no, then he can’t use “insecurity” as a reason to never commit. I finally told him to F off. That was over 8 months ago. I do not miss him.

    My point though, is the person who pushed the “focus on yourself” narrative the most, the person who had stacks of self-help and dating advice books, was the least helpful. There were some other people in my life who also said things like “focus on yourself” for a while, but eventually stopped because at some point, they recognized that I HAD taken care of myself, and continuing to tell me to focus on myself when I said I was seeking a partner was unfair and dismissive. In other words, they stopped moving the goal posts.

    So what I would say is: Stop reading the self-help stuff. Drop the dating advice books, the blogs (not this one, this one is good) and throw away the things that tell you it’s because you haven’t checked all the boxes. It’s garbage and will only continue to make you feel like the things you’ve achieved aren’t good enough yet. Almost all of it is predicated on you not being enough. (Especially throw out and burn the ones that tell you that it’s because you put out “bad energy” that you attract toxic people. There are predatory and cruel people who specifically target those who practice kindness. Books/advice that says it’s because you put out bad energy is some victim-blamey bullshit.)

    And be wary of people who tell you it’s because you need to “focus on yourself.” The people who see what you do and appreciate your achievements and see you as a worthy, independent, and strong person won’t say that shit to you. They’ll actually listen to you when you say you’d like to have a partner, and they don’t make it about what you haven’t done or what you’re lacking. They’ll see your feelings as valid human emotion.

    Throw the rest of the advice crap away.

    • @Kara, you are mighty! Good riddance to that guy. He was totally using that “love yourself” stuff to manipulate you. Maybe once you “loved” yourself enough he’d take you. BARF! NEXT!

      Yeah, the ones that talk about attracting the wrong people because you’re leaking, or not being “insert thing,” love yourself enough, I toss those real fast. I don’t have to be PERFECT to deserve love and respect. Just because I may struggle doesn’t mean I don’t deserve decency. Some of that advice sounds like if you are struggling, it’s ok to accept crap treatment. I’d never think it was ok to kick someone when they are down. It’s not.

      Def feel like victim blaming. I am loyal, honest, giving, consistent, a go-getter, and what I have learned (an still learning to do better) is discern who those gifts should be given to.

      • Exactly. I used to dig through a lot of dating advice blogs and self help books and they all seemed to have this subtext of “you want a relationship because you hate yourself and once you ‘love yourself’ it will be fixed.” But the criteria for adequate “self-love” was always moving, and it started feeling like the message was you are not allowed to have a relationship/don’t deserve one unless you are emotionally, mentally, financially, and physically PERFECT.

        I threw it all away and felt a hell of a lot better. It is entirely possible to love and feel confident in yourself and still want to have a partner. So whenever I see advice for singles that begins with “focus on yourself” or “love yourself first” it goes in the trash, because it is almost always followed with some crap about how you’re not doing enough. (I’m not single now, but I do still have some single friends who get just as frustrated as I did with the idea that they can’t be loved if they are struggling with something, or that they haven’t ticked enough boxes to deserve human connection.)

        Not everyone who wants a partner is in the same position emotionally or mentally. And everyone’s life story is different. I found it far more helpful to talk to friends, and therapists, who listened to what I was saying rather than slapped a “focus on yourself” platitude on it and called it a day. From what I read in your letter, you DO love yourself. And it’s because of that self-worth you feel you deserve a partner that’s going to value the things you bring to the table. You already kicked a jackass to the curb, so you don’t want to put up with more of that. It’s just really, sometimes enragingly, frustrating to be looking to ways to connect and find a partner and be met with the message that you’re not good enough.

        • Also life gets a lot less insufferable when you kick out horny pinheads who need to undermine you at every turn in order to feel better about themselves.

        • @Kara,

          “But the criteria for adequate “self-love” was always moving, and it started feeling like the message was you are not allowed to have a relationship/don’t deserve one unless you are emotionally, mentally, financially, and physically PERFECT.”

          OMG THIS exactly. How horrible is it to say to someone, no one will love you until you love yourself. I’ve had friends struggle with mental illness, financial struggles, abandonment, etc, and at those times they did not love themselves very much. They were hurting, and I loved them ANYWAY. That’s what good people do. They didn’t need to be in some enlightening state, they were people I cared about, struggles and all.

          And the thing is, things always change. Cancer, job loss, parent passing, recession…. at any point our lives can be turned up side down, so we’re never going to always be on our A-Game. But we deserve real love anyways. I think that’s my problem with some of the self-help, that you put better than I. That it assumes you don’t have someone because you’re not on your A-Game. Kinda the same false notion that being rich, beautiful successful will insulate you from being cheated on/left.

          I’ll say that some of the men I dated who weren’t for me (for a variety of reasons), were far from perfect, but that wasn’t what I was looking for. I could tell some of them were struggling maybe with self-esteem, confidence, job, ect, but it didn’t make me treat them any less. I empathized. I get it. Finding someone is hard, and the fact you took a few hours to have a beer and convo with a stranger says a lot. You’re trying.

  • When weel meaning friends start treating me like their is something wrong because I’m STILL single after my divorce 6 years ago, I point out how much happier I am than most of the married couples. Oh, every 9nce in a while I’d have a pity party the first few years, but now I’m totally convinced that I’m enough. The ONLY way I’d want a partner now is if he could add to my kickass life. Otherwise, coupledom is society’s biggest con. Too many friends posting on Facebook with the happy family pictures, especially around the holidays when I know for a fact that one of the partners is putting up with way too much abuse and smiling while eating that shit sandwich. And they’re doing it because they’ve bought into the propaganda that being single means that there is something fundamentally wrong with you. You’re not enough if you’re not with someone. Horseshit. That’s all I have to say. I’m no longer going to feel bad about something that feels right for me right now. Maybe down the road an amazing man may come around who fits me. But I’m not holding my breath. There is too much life to be lived and I’m not missing any of it.

    • @Sugar Plum, I agree, so much of the social media is “my awesome life highlight reel.” It’s manufacturing something, at least taking all of the “authentic” out of life I think. I have happiness in my life, but a lot of struggle, anxiety, messiness too. And I don’t post much on FB, but I have found when I do, I share something hard/messy/not easy, and find that more rewarding than perfectly posed beach photos. I do share good things too, but everything in moderation.

      It’s the worst around the holidays and in the spring wedding madness time. Thanks Hallmark Channel. It’s true, I see some of those posts too, and know minutes before that “happy” picture was taken, someone was being bitched out, or like you said, someone is eating a shit sandwich.

  • I have a real problem with Gilbert. Even her name is a trigger. She’s a cheater narc, in my opinion. Plus my hoovering X sent me a quote of hers to justify his cheating and running away – something about how it just had to be, that he/she couldn’t live that life/lie anymore. I was so mad I actually saw red; he was using a cheater to justify cheating?! Sorry for the rant. Another good reason to go and stay No Contact.

    • She is just dreadful. Classic narc, dressed up as spiritual guru. just goes to show how many people are easily conned by a narc. Alain de Botton is another one.

  • The self help industry is a very dangerous place. Yes, there are some great books out there about finding yourself, boundaries and unconditional self acceptance. But there are many, many more how to fix yourself so other like you books that are really self criticism and shaming in disguise.

    I enjoy being single. It’s only been a year, but I love having a bed to myself, watching what I want on tv, leaving my socks on the floor and having them be where I left them when I return. I am happy to go to a concert alone (Shinedown was awesome), or a movie or dinner. In fact, I prefer it. My schedule, my way.

    I was with my ex for 25 years. I didn’t even realize how much I had conceded to keep the peace and ensure he was happy. I am absolutely not willing to do that again, so,for now, dating is out of the question.

    My 2 teenager keep me entertained. I keep thinking I might get a little dog to cuddle…

    I don’t compare my life to my ex’s. He has a new gf and is having a baby. At 48. That is not a life I would choose to re do. I’m looking forward to retirement in a few years.

    If anything this experience has taught me I am much more competent than I ever gave myself credit for. And I like my own company.

  • It’s about your intent. Do you gain a life for yourself, so you can be happy, feel content and fulfilled….or….do you gain a life in order to get a man? If the latter, you will always always feel like you are not enough, confused, and like everything is a chore without a reward.

    Gaining a life needs to be about you and only you and only for yourself. It’s about finding quality friendships and having good people in your life. It’s about finding contentment within yourself and the life you’ve built for yourself. It’s not an easy journey and of course, we all need companionship, romantic and otherwise. Wanting that is normal. Learning to value the relationships, friendships you already have built or still need to build takes work and time. That said, making your life about finding your next romantic partner is toxic to you. Self destructive.

    There is a lot of truth in the idea that if you build a life, they will come. Problem is, you don’t control when. When you join hobbies, groups, interests that interest you, you are more likely to meet like minded people and thus find that good connection. Dating online can be rough though as you’ll meet a lot of damaged people and it can get to you. Sometimes you need to step back and regroup and that’s OK too and don’t forget that. Don’t pressure yourself because you don’t control when the right person will come into your life. Meanwhile, be sure to really live – do what you enjoy, find out what you enjoy if nothing comes to mind.

    It’s a season where we are all bombarded with messages of happy couples, smiling families. It’s OK to turn the TV off and go volunteer and bring real smiles into your life. When you toss out the Hallmark picture perfect ideals and embrace life with all its flaws, warts, imperfections, twists and turns, you’ll find that you are much happier and more content. At least that works for me. Let uniqueness and quirkiness rule.

    • @Foolishchump,

      At first, I think in the early days I was doing things to be like ” Ha! I’ll show you, I’ll have this, do this, be this, and you’ll be sorry for tossing me out with the trash.”

      But eventually, I liked the new me. Stronger, more patient, ok with sitting at home on a Sat night. I found myself again, rediscovered all the things I gave up in that toxic relationship.

      I do lots of things solo, that I never would have done with a partner (because that person was wrong for me anyway, not a partner, a parasite, and stopped any joy). So, I do go out by myself, movies, concerts, brunch. But I do things with friends and family too. I want to set a good example for my nieces. I can be happy, strong, flawed, struggling, and still ok.

      I think it’s the want of having that default plus 1, you know? That companion that of course wants to do things with you. It’s something I have always wanted, and never got, obviously made even more so with a cheater.

      • I hear you and it’s normal and healthy to want that romantic relationship. Also, big kudos for becoming comfortable with doing things solo.

        What I’m trying to get at though is that the +1 can come in many forms and shapes. Like I have friends I go hiking with and other groups I go camping with and yet another mixed group I go to the theater with or movies with. It’s +1 or +++++1’s of fun, happy, like minded people and it does go a long way toward fulfilling that need for companionship. Joining these groups, I’ve made some close friends. It’s kind of easy because like attracts like. Common hobbies connect. That said, it’s not all pretty and pink, plenty of horrible people everywhere. I’ve just learned to stay away and ignore them.

        What gives me comfort is that these friendships and even just acquaintances give me a great deal of comfort, a sense of belonging. My tribe, my people kind of a thing. It helps to keep me grounded and not feeling alone. It did take me time, work, perseverance to get there though. Yes, some days it felt like a chore I had to make myself do, but then….what’s the alternative? Be home alone and feel sorry for myself? Nope. I’d rather have a life that I like.

        There is also the bigger picture in that your +1, can’t be your everything. Your guy might not be into theater and you might not be into bowling and so, these are the things you’ll continue to do with your respective friends. Even within a relationship, it’s important to have a sense of self, friendships, things that you do together and also things that you do apart. You can’t lose yourself in a relationship or sacrifice yourself for the sake of another. If there is one thing chumps should take away from their experience, it’s that.

        I guess my point is that you can be in a relationship and feel intensely alone and lonely and you can be single and feel loved.

  • i was determined to stay single for a long time as i felt too damaged to date someone. i was happy being by myself, spent a lot of time self caring and learning to love myself. then my one friend tried to set me up with a long time friend of hers. she said he was the male version of me, a total gentleman and a perfect fit. she really tried hard to encourage me to meet him, even if it was just for a drink and chat. i agreed eventually but didnt promise anything. im so glad i did, becuase a few months later and we are inseperable. if someone had told me a few months ago id find love again so soon, i would have laughed in their face. he was also betrayed, abused and cheated on, we have loads in common and tick each others boxes.

    my point is, these things usually happen when you least expect it, or in my case, even try to aviod it!! When i started speaking to my boyfriend, i was very opne and honest, and shared my past with him, thinking that if he wants to walk away, id rather he did it sooner than later, but instead he would just reply with ‘youre not getting rid of me that easily’.

    be patient and learn to love yourself first. its hard for others to love you if you dont even love yourself

  • DARFILA,
    I totally understand you. And I also am so, so validated that Chump Lady also got rejected by the boiled potato. It’s almost connected to that whole conversation last week about intimacy and the questions people had about their cheating exes riding off into the sunset with someone else-seemingly finding love with someone other than the chump. And I have pondered if I will ever fall in love again, if I am capable of it. Dating is not the same as when I was dating back in the days of tight, tan bodies and wrinkle-free skin. It seems so much easier to grow older with someone than to meet someone while already older. Because…you know, lumpy boiled potato guy rejects you for some unknown reason and your model-thin single friend has men piled up on her doorstep, and you wonder if it’s all about your old, tired feet. Or the fact that you remain angry at your ex, even though you are doing fine without him and the dating world is waiting for you to become that co-parenting, divorced couple that remain friends because it’s so much less “off-putting”.

    I have always been skeptical of online dating, possibly because when I met my ex, online anything was pretty new. But people swear by it. So finally I tried it. I have wasted money on dating sites that I get excited about for a week, have some conversations, and then freak out. I went on one date with a really nice potato (really an apt description because he was chubby and bald, but cute and sweet). We had a nice time, talking about music and movies and I thought it went well and I never heard from him again. Who knows why/ I had 5 more contacts on the dating app the next day, and I chatted with some but the idea of spending another day or evening with someone that I might connect with – when I could be playing the piano, reading a book or hanging out with friends -was just too much. It is exhausting to me to essentially interview new people. And those sites have advice about how to make your profile appealing and what pictures to use and those advice books you’re talking about make it seem like you need to be manicured and walking around in sexy underwear just in case…all the time. Every relationship I had happened organically-in a class, at a party, working in the same lab and having meaningful conversations over late-night experiments. That’s the only way I know how to meet people. And it used to make me angry to give up a morning run (now hike–old knees) to someone and then be blown off. So I end up not really going out of my way to meet someone, not wanting to give up anything that makes me happy if I don’t know that there is at least some hope for companionship. It’s holidays, and sometimes weekend evenings, when I feel like I should be doing something and wish I had that person that I could look at and say-“what do you want to do tonight?” And maybe we’d cook and watch Netflix or go out to our favorite restaurant, or catch a movie.That person who I could count on to go see my favorite band with when they were in town. That person who I could be alone together with. Will I ever fall into THAT again? I don’t know. And sometimes on a Friday night, even with plenty to do, I feel this sense of loser-single sentiment cross my mind. Gotta fight that. Because the reason I’m hiding from my dating app contacts is not because I’m not ready. It’s because that kind of social interaction was never what I wanted. So, either the charming yodeler from Texas will come along and I’ll bump into him while choosing cheeses at Trader Joe’s, and he’ll like that I’m wearing muddy hiking clothes with my hair in a messy bun, or he won’t. But I’d rather not waste any more time and money trying to find a match in the virtual world or trying to make myself look like I am someone I am not.
    Maybe I’ll give online dating one more try with this profile “I am 56, divorced with two children-one in college and one a senior in high school. I have strong opinions and am obsessed with talking about how receptors in your brain signal, the vaping crisis and education. I also like to write songs, play piano and guitar and hike. I have 3 dogs and a cat. The cat supposedly belongs to one of my daughters and one of the dogs belongs to the other. Neither animal is aware of this, however. I own a blow dryer but only use it for the first two days after a hair cut so I have the perpetual wind-blown look. I take care of myself, but I am not trying to win the next Ms-Middle Age California beauty contest. I am looking for someone who is my approximate age, and have no height, weight, hair color or other physical requirements other than he be able to engage in outdoor activities like hiking without needing CPR, and has a low couch to movement ratio.” Then I’ll see what happens.

    Long story short DARFILA, maybe you will or will not fall in love again, but people not falling in love with you is on them. OK, now I will go take my own advice. : )

    • @madkatie63,

      “And sometimes on a Friday night, even with plenty to do, I feel this sense of loser-single sentiment cross my mind. Gotta fight that. Because the reason I’m hiding from my dating app contacts is not because I’m not ready. It’s because that kind of social interaction was never what I wanted. So, either the charming yodeler from Texas will come along and I’ll bump into him while choosing cheeses at Trader Joe’s, and he’ll like that I’m wearing muddy hiking clothes with my hair in a messy bun, or he won’t. But I’d rather not waste any more time and money trying to find a match in the virtual world or trying to make myself look like I am someone I am not.”

      SAME! The men I have met doing the things I normally do, or through friends of friends is much more rewarding. Online dating hasn’t even yielded someone who I’d normally be friends with. You can get a sense of people faster, there’s less forced “get to know you” over text, which sometimes can seem like you know them more than you do.

      I imagine as well, I’ll be in Aldi, in my faded Whitesnake t-shirt, tights, and leftover mascara from the previous night’s divey bar concert. We both reach for the Cherry Kombcha. He says he digs David Coverdale. I say I’ve got good car insurance if he needed to cartweel on some fancy Jags.

      BOOM.

    • I would date you mad Katie. I have been thinking about starting my own online dating site called Be Yourself. I reckon it would be a hit. I frankly can’t stand the idea of online dating although I suppose the world has changed but it’s so ugly. So I have to pic the picture I had taken professionally (where I do look amazing for 48 I must say) and make myself seem oh so so appealing. For a potato man (so apt, so many potato men on online dating) to reject me. No thanks. I will go back to redoing the grout in the bathroom and maybe weeding the front path. Way more rewarding.

  • Six years after divorce, I have yet to partner up. For at least three years I buzzed around like a Mayfly, desperately searching for a mate.

    For the last two years I’ve calmed down. Maybe it’s age (I’m 52), but it’s also having arrived at a realization (and acceptance) that the unique person I’d like to meet is rare, she might be a long time coming, and there’s always the possibility that I’ll never find “her.” (Her is quoted since I do not believe that there is only one “her” out there.) And no, my standards are not too high or unreasonable. I’m a little quirky, vaguely odd (Tourette’s Syndrome and other neuroses), and deeply connecting with people has never come easy.

    I’m very lonely, for sure. I’m envious of those of you who are enjoying single hood. I hate it. I was single till 35 and I was ready for marriage and children. I was happily married and sometimes it’s still a shock that I’m single again at my age. I hope I meet someone. But I’m no longer desperate. Lonely, but not unhealthily so. I’m human. I will wait and casually keep looking. What I won’t do is settle.

    To remind me of the sadness of settling, I need only look at my XW, who immediately moved in with OM as soon as she realized I really was divorcing her. No happily-ever-after for her. She and OM are miserable together but they cling to the prizes they won like sad-but-determined mutual parasites. My XW makes it clear she wants to come back and would gladly cheat on OM with her XH. I know, really messed up. Lots of regrets, zero remorse. It’s not going to happen.

    Anyway, loneliness sucks, but we all know what sucks a whole lot more.

    • @David2016,

      Hugs to you. I understand. While I am not desperate, and enjoy some parts of being single, I’d prefer a partner. And yes, it is worse being with a toxic cheating person. You are a prize David, because you shared a bit of yourself here, helping others. Cheers to hope.

  • DARFILA,
    I love your letter and I love all the responses to it. It touches on a nerve that a lot of us feel. Please don’t ever feel bad about wanting what you want – it’s natural to want an intimate relationship with someone! I find I have to play mind games with myself. If I think of myself as “single forever” or “dying alone”, I feel like weeping. But if I take the AA model of “just for today”, I can easily cope with my singleness/lack of sex. I can definitely be single today and be quite happy about it. I can definitely not have sex today and not miss it. Just for today, both those things seem quite easy. I’ve reined in my thoughts and don’t stray as often to the “what if I’m alone forever” rumination. It helps me keep optimistic and happy for the day. And isn’t life just a string of days? xoxo

    • @KathleenK,

      Thank you. I like that take “just for today.” It makes it a lot less daunting! And true, it’s only when I get stuck in a funk, and look at it in the “forever” since it seems so hard. But single today, hey, it’s ok.

  • DARFILA, I soooooo know what you’re talking about! I’ve never been cheated on though I’m a chump, just of a different variety, the one that attracts unavailable men (but I’ve never been interested in married men).

    There’very been so many books and therapists who said that if I weren’t myself unavailable I’d have met the right person. But, (so the implicit message) goes, I have ‘trust issues’ (wink wink) and keep attracting wrong men because I’m not (yet) good enough, I’m wounded, broken (read ‘crazy’). If I trusted, then magic would happen, manna would fall down the sky and light would be switched on in my yoni.

    You’re right, it’s a form of pick me dancing and just a continuation of how we feel in crappy relationships, that we’re not good enough, are crazy and need to dance (you wrote that’s how you had felt being married to your cheater, the same feeling). Worse, it’s a form of magical thinking, when you overcome unknown force everything will be fine.

    You know what? Recent research shows that many healthy people pair with the likes of us in happy relationships because they encourage partners to be open. I’ve learnt here that I’m not broken, neither do I have trust issues. I just have plenty of experience with untrustworthy people. I’m not here to just give over my precious attention, affection, love, respect and commitment. I don’t need to wait for ‘unconditional love’ because I don’t need to take anybody or anything, unless they’re acceptable to me. It’s fine not to blindly trust or give away your heart.

    I think I’ve got so much from this community even though I don’t share all your experiences. Thank you all.

    • @Persephone,

      Yaaassssss. Exactly. We weren’t married, (and at the time had objections to getting hitched until my LGBTQ friends could as well), but committed to the long haul, as if we were. Haha, at least I did, him, not so much.

      But yes, that was what was bugging me with a lot of self help. It felt like it was still blaming people for being treated badly. Their brokenness attracted broken, and well that’s what you get! Terrible! That’s not saying we can’t fix our pickers, and be smarter about who we let in, but just because we come across these people doesn’t make us wrong.

      I don’t want magic, I want real, authentic, nitty gritty rustbelt love. I want to be able to share those parts of me that aren’t so easy, that are dark, painful, as well as light, silly, and joyous.

      I understand about the unavailable men thing. That’s been 95% of my dating experiences. No one wants to dive in, go there.

  • I’m just about 4 years divorced after a 30 year marriage. At 63 years old I find being on my own a scary but exhilarating time of my life. I tried dating but it was too soon. Every once in a while I find a man attractive but not enough to meet. I’m just not ready to change my life for another person. My cat and I are happy together. Self knowledge and acceptance has been a long time coming.

    I had a dream the other night that my ex was complaining how lonely he was and that his AP no longer wants him around. All the time he was moping I kept asking him to sign the divorce papers. He kept on crying and I kept shoving the divorce papers with a pen in his face. I really didn’t care about his remorse. I woke up and realized I am starting to heal. I don’t need a whiner in my life!!

  • When I was in a similar situation I worked on fixing my Picker and deeply ingrained Chumpy tendencies that I never saw as Chumpy before.

    I used to go on a lot of dates and wonder why they never went anywhere, but it was the kind of people I was dating. Now I have a list of things I will not compromise on. I have given up the notion that I should “give them a chance”, if someone doesn’t have everything on my list I don’t waste either of our time. My list is basically things I already have myself. You should bring at least what I have to any potential relationship. I’m in my 40s and a professional. I figure if you have reached my age and don’t have a career, live with roommates, don’t look after your health etc. then those are major red flags that we do not share the same values and we won’t work together as partners. I don’t have the time to give people a chance to figure out basic shit like this at this age. I left my marriage with nothing and like many of us here I have been through hell to get where I am. I will not take a single step back. For anyone.

    This approach weeds out a lot of people, but it weeds out those people looking for a “nurse and purse”, anyone who would be intimidated by my success, anyone looking for a pliant Chumpy wife appliance etc.

    This approach also changed my mindset around dating. I no longer wondered what was wrong with me, instead my eyes were opened to the fact that I have standards and self worth. I have done the work that elevated me to a point where there are fewer options because I value myself and expect others to too.

    If I wanted to get married I could easily find someone, as could any woman on this site. It’s not about simply finding someone, it’s about finding someone who will share a life you truly want to live. Many, I would even say most, women settle on many things because they want companionship, children or financial security. That’s a perfectly valid approach but it’s not for me.

    There’s a meme going around where a man asks a woman what she brings to the table and she responds “first of all, I bought this fucking table”. That is my approach to dating and I think it should be every woman’s.

    • @UnknowingChump,

      Hmmm, I will think on this. It may be the type I end up dating, but I do always feel I need to give people a chance. I would want someone to do the same for me. Now I totally pass on obviously red flags, like if they talk bad about exs, no job, no clear “single” status, want to meet late at night, drugs, you know, the obvious. But sometimes it takes a little time to really see someone too, as we have all learned the hard way.

  • Today’s post hits hard for me.
    For many reasons.
    ….

    I have work to do and it feels slightly overwhelming. Post-divorce I’d really love peace of mind for a while. Like a break from the “work”.

    But I have work to do on me. Cause, I want to be ready for when (and in case) my real-life partner comes around. (But then back to the beginning of this post)

    • @TallOne,

      What do you think you need to do, work wise? I get it, it seems like self improvement, becoming more you is never ending. Like can’t I just be done with this healing work already?

      • Or even a little break. Two weeks/No over-thinking, emotions, etc….

        I just ended my first post-D relationship. It was an awesome relationship, but not THE relationship, so I pulled the plug. I ran out steam. I failed. So it was right to call it.

        I realized that I’m not yet ready for the REAL thing. I’m still healing.

        I talked to my therapist, he said to keep meeting people, date (lightly), live and experience life.

        But I know I need to clear my heart completely of the XW, (Maybe make sure last gal-pal is out too) make sure the kids I are strong…

        Uff it’s work though.

  • I grieved over the life I thought I had, which I understood was nothing more than a mirage, but missed it nonetheless. I had some of your same feelings. I really didn’t want to get married again, but I missed being married terribly. I finally asked a therapist, “When will I stop wanting to be married?” She replied, “When you’re married.”

    The point is the heart wants what it wants. It’s fine. Once I have myself permission to admit it, I felt free.

    Judy Ford wrote a book called “Single.” It is intended for any age, but one questions she poses is if you knew for the rest of your life you’d be single, what would you do with you time? That’s what you should be doing.

    • Judy Ford is dead right about that mental exercise. It’s helped me to live instead of making everything about the Great Romantic Audition.

  • I got over the ‘being single and ashamed’ thing. It took awhile but I just got over it and don’t feel that way anymore. I’m going to Mexico in February on vacation and my married friends aren’t going. I get to do whatever the hell I want and that makes me happy. Would I like to be partnered up? Yes. But only with the right person.
    Omg, CL….over boiled potatoes that rejected you!! Hilarious. I’ve had several potatoes that rejected me too! One guy was some kind of midget-y guy! He had this odd squaty body with little midget fingers. I thought that I’d go to a movie with him if he asked…but get this…the midget never got back to me!~ hahaha
    I quit internet dating because I’m not about to put myself out there to be rejected by midgets and over boiled potatoes. I’m not a size 2 so not sure how much that has to do with it. I am, however, for my age a beautiful and accomplished woman. I have a lovely home and a great job, retirement, money in the bank and go on fabulous vacations at least twice a year. I am an amazing cook and keep my place up very well and if some man doesn’t think I’m good enough for him…well fuck him. I’m good enough for me.

    One thing that does bother me is when my married friends ask me ‘if I’m dating anyone.’ I’ll tell you what, if I am, I’ll let you know. I wouldn’t get too smug married friends…anything can happen and it does. Just when you think you have it all, someone dies or cheats.

  • Who doesn’t want to be with somebody ? That would be me ! Divorced 10 years ago. Met quite a few boiled potatoes since then. My children are young adults and some still live with me. I am perfectly content at 60, still vibrant and sexy, but deeply feel that I no longer want a partner. Maybe its the calibre of the men around my own age but the thought of sex with any of them is totally off putting. Call me a sociopath but I feel free.My only regret is that I didn’t have this level of self assuredness in my 20’s and 30’s as it would have protected me from so many unworthy potatoes.

    • Beenthere, I’m 61 and perfectly happy to be alone. Love it in fact and have no intention of ever living with anyone ever again – and I’m DEFINITELY not a sociopath!

  • Hi,
    I’m late to the party, however I would like to share what I have started doing. I shut down the couple talk. My dad was saying that I would meet someone again, I shut him down and said that the greatest damage done to women is the narrative of a man coming along and there being a happy ever after. I tell people that I may never meet anyone and that is perfectly fine,
    You don’t have to let people cover you with their couple centric blanket. Be polite, yet firm, and you will find that they soon stop that talk. It prevents people from putting that idea in your head. Become the author of your own narrative. You, alone, are enough. Make a life filled with whatever it is you wish to do, see, be, and experience. We’ve survived one of the worst things that can happen, let’s all thrive together.

  • Thank you all for the comments! Keep them rolling.

    I think the take-away is if you are looking for someone, you don’t have to be on your A-Game EVERY.SINGLE.MINUTE. Just be you. If you’re cool not being partnered, rock your single bad self!! If you do want someone, don’t take it too hard that it doesn’t just happen when you’d like. Just try to enjoy where you are. Messy and all.

    • I however, don’t want to down play how rough and raw it can feel being single when you don’t want to be. It’s easy sometimes for me to put on the positive face, because I am normally a pretty positive person. All of your comments today remind me that I am not alone.

      When it seems like everywhere you turn, it’s happy couples sharing all the things. And all I get is swipe after swipe, one and done date after date after date. Nothing ever goes anywhere. No one wants to be known, or see, or invest even a little. I’d live to share inside pop culture jokes. Have someone take me to the doctor when I’m sick, shower love on my cat, plan adventures, make tea. Sing at the top of my lungs with the windows down. The little and the bigger things. The nice things that cushion against life being…well… life and not all sunshine and rainbows. I want a partner in every sense of the word. For the horrible cancer level things, and for the dorky little things.

      And it gets to be a downer sometimes. Getting your hopes up, because it has been so sparse when it comes to romance and sex in your life, that someone doing the basic things blows your mind. And you know it shouldn’t because it’s BASIC DECENT PEOPLE STUFF. I do it for myself all the time. But after being betrayed, you look at actions differently. I’ve never been in a healthy relationship. Never had sex with someone who really gave a damn about me. Felt cherished and devoted to by a man. But yo know what? Just because I haven’t had it, doesn’t mean I’m not worth that. We all are.

      • We are definitely all worth it!!! Enjoy life and see what happens but don’t give up. I went on POF more to kinda test it out and I have met a very nice man who ticks many boxes for me (but is very different than I would have imagined myself with). It’s still early days and I keep telling myself not to have expectations (in terms of it lasting – I definitely have expectations on how to be treated). I am having fun but I am making sure to maintain my own life. We never know what’s around the corner (and really that’s part of what the cheating also showed me). Happiness is important and it comes from within – others can add to it but they don’t create it. Hugs!!

          • Hi DARFILA, I can relate. I know that raw feeling of being single while hyper-aware of the couples all around you. There is actually a scientific term for it and yep, you notice it because you are ‘hyper sensitive’ to it. I promise that it does get easier to push that horrible panicky feeling aside with practise and a good strong word to yourself that it’s only fear making you think that you will never find a new relationship.

            Back story: I was in the middle of IVF with my cheating, lying, thieving exhole when I found out about his online dating profiles. Pandora’s box was open and I walked that night, moved out that night, and was NC within 3 days. At a time when I was planning a FAMILY after being his carer for his terminal cancer…I was suddenly rebuilding my life, dealing with the trauma of betrayal and losing out on the baby I had been waiting for YEARS to start with him. Awesome.

            I am now 2.5 years out from that dark day. I rebuilt my life with a vengeance because I figured I had more than enough wasted time behind me – I couldn’t allow anymore time to pass me by waiting on anything. I started IVF on my own and was buying DONOR sperm to start life as a single mother by choice. I saved money for IVF, for the deposit on my own house, I saved for me…for the future I wanted. I dated, I dived into the weird and wonderful and downright boring list of classes or groups or volunteer work…I even dived into internet dating. I met many sweet and strange potatoes. I had many sad nights attending weddings, engagement parties and the worst…baby showers.

            And then guess what happened? I met someone. Someone that didn’t run on the second date when I told him flat out that I had started IVF and was buying sperm so that I could be a mother because I wasn’t waiting on finding a man before I could do something I deeply wanted. He didn’t run. In fact, he is still by my side and have a beautiful life. He settled on the East Coast to be with me and my family.

            Things happen and there is no way to predict the future. Just live the life that you want and don’t be afraid to take a risk if some opportunity presents itself. You don’t know where it will go and you may end up with something better than you ever thought. I am not a successful ‘couple up ‘ story. I’m a story about getting on with my life and letting the chips fall where they may. I was getting on with what I wanted to do and building my life as a single woman and hoping to be a single mother…and I was genuinely happy with that (though wanting companionship) when online dating proved fruitful. You have to be in it to win it – that goes for everything in life. I am still struggling with IVF and not a mother but I keep trying because who knows what the future holds?

            Best of luck to you and biggest hugs! May your future be happy and filled with joys that you have no idea about yet!

            • @WishinforHappiness,

              Thank you so much for your thoughts and your story! You are strong and inspiring! I will keep that in mind, in it to win it. I’m a recovering Type-A, so I feel my best when I am trying to accomplish something.

              I know the feel of attending sad parties, weddings, etc, always by myself. Then again, with the cheater, I always ended up going to those things alone anyways, as he would pitch a fit, or be moody, or angry about money and end up not wanting to go. So now, I have a good time, even when I do things solo, but after a while, it is nice to have someone to share those experiences with. Since I never really had that, it makes me want the real deal even more. I hope I know it if it ever comes my way. I don’t want to be afraid.

              Your guy sounds wonderful! I am so happy you found each other and gave it a go! I love hearing these stories. There’s nothing wrong with doing you and loving yourself solo, but I truly do love hearing people find that kind of love again. Thank you! 🙂

  • “There are no Hallmark Christmas specials about fire ants.” No, but there should be. I would watch the sh*t out of that.

  • When I was seeing a therapist, who was not a good therapist for cluster b type disorders but was a good therapist for addressing my FOO issues, during one session I said to her well I need to be working on this and I need to be working on that.
    She said to me ” did it ever occur to you that you are just enough the way you are ?”
    That stuck with me. Why had that not occurred to me? I got way better after that and it was because I wasn’t trying to fix myself; I was learning how to be who I am.

  • Talking of self help, found this on Facebook:

    Not smiling and laughing and achieving goals?

    Vibrating at a higher frequency is key to reversing personal energy levels. When your energy is “”right””… life gets easier, goals get achieved, and joy is your natural state.

    In this FREE Masterclass, Mindvalley’s #1 Energy Coach Christie Marie Sheldon reveals how.

    It’s helping me to dust off my intuition and follow it. – Dawn M.

    God damn, that’s what I haven’t been doing right…. not vibrating at the right frequency.

    Another one for Nutty McNutcase and the Nutjobs.

  • It occurs to me that the Chump Lady phenomenon, blog, book, all of it would surely not exist if Mr. Chump Lady had not come on scene. Tracy will correct me if I am wrong.

    All of the understanding about being ENOUGH, about not just being a bad pick me dancer who couldn’t make the cheater happy and faithful, about the profound statements in this blog that cheaters SUCK- all of that becomes so clear when successfully partnered with a decent person. Without Mr. CL coming on the scene I can imagine Tracy mourning a second lost marriage for a lot longer and feeling frankly defective and like DARFILA with an occasional sense of hopelessness. Too many boiled potatoes. Surely Tracy would have been a great single mom and excellent writer and artist, but the clarity around “just get the hell away from cheaters” becomes so obvious when you realize that a Mr. CL may be out there waiting. Successful relationships shine a bright light on how much crap was put up with and no doubt crystallized the concepts of LACGAL.

    I have often reflected that I don’t think I will feel truly ‘well’ or ‘healed’ until a decent fellow tells me that I am worthwhile and that they can’t believe my X Asshat threw me away. I know I am better alone than with my abuser but there does feel like something is missing and I rehash over the blame he placed squarely on me. Feeling wanted and loved by a romantic partner is not replaceable with great self-esteem and personal accomplishment.

    It is not required for a full life or happiness but it can elevate our existence.

    It could be that it remains missing for the rest of my life because I won’t settle for crap ever again.

    • It’s absolutely true that the book and blog would not exist without Mr. CL. It was a confluence of events that led to this blog. A) A supportive partner who believed in me who encouraged me — no, he INSISTED — that I write a book. I begged off that and said, no, maybe a blog. (HA, like that would be less work. I wound up doing both.) B) A huge life change. To move to Texas for Mr. CL, I gave up my full-time job as a newspaper editor for freelance life in rural Texas. I had time. C) My grandfather died and left me some money that allowed me the cushion to write.

      The biggest of these things was the loving support of Mr. CL and his belief in my writing. I was writing professionally for years before I ever met Mr. CL. But I was also giving away a lot of advice on RIC sites as my own way to work through my chump experience. I decided to create my own support site — the sort of site that I wish existed when I went through this clusterfuck.

      I’d add one more factor to the existence of this place — Mr. CL was also a chump in his previous marriage and he suffered a lot more than I did. Long marriage. Multiple infidelities. A total horror show of D-Day discoveries and a very quick divorce. He BELIEVED in this mission, because it was his story too.

      I don’t disagree that having a loving partner is a huge blessing that has made an enormous difference in my life and what I’ve been able to accomplish.

      I’d also point out that Mr. CL fell in love with me, that very imperfect, weird, divorced, single mother, fierce, hard-won new life self. I bought a farm house on the Susquehanna, I had a job I loved and a good life and a stable kid and a garden I miss to this day. (Two apple trees, two pear trees, raspberry bushes and the best dirt in Lancaster County.)

      It took one HELL of a person to make me leave that life. You can’t imagine how extraordinary he is to make me leave that and go to Texas. (I hate heat. I hate snakes. I hate Confederate flags.) Or uproot my child. (Who now identifies as a Texan and loves Mr. CL as his real parent. But I didn’t know that a decade ago, when I had to decide these things.)

      I don’t have a freelance life any more. I haven’t for nearly four years. I work full-time and live in DC. I still keep this blog going. It taxes a lot of my time and a lot of Mr. CL’s patience. I owe him a lot. He still is a great supporter.

      It is a great paradox that I never would have met Mr. CL if I hadn’t have been chumped, nor would I probably have written a book or a blog had I not known him, or had this experience. The worst thing that ever happened to me became the best thing that ever happened to me.

      It doesn’t make the terrible things okay. I had to take it on faith. None of this was pre-ordained. I risked and I worked at it. Which is essentially the advice I give her — take a chance on yourself.

      I had to take that chance to make things happen for me. Whether that was meeting Mr. CL or creating a chump support site. That DID take tremendous self-esteem to take that risk. I was rewarded for that risk. I have no idea how things will turn out for everyone — but roll the dice.

      • That you have a great partner who also got the I-survived-a-cheater-T-shirt seems to be exactly aligning with my point. Thanks for adding the detail and inspiring thoughts.

        Forward motion continues. There is no life sentence here for crimes we did not commit. There is no purpose in presuming things will always be how they are; actually I can guarantee they will not. There are good things yet to come and I will eagerly pursue them in whatever form they take.

      • Aww Chumplady, I love hearing about you and Mr. CL!! Sqweeeee!

        It makes sense that a supportive loving partner would help one heal, in some ways that you maybe don’t experience solo. Much like with betrayal, it didn’t happen to any of us in a vacuum. If we can uplift ourselves, but not be afraid to let others lift us up too, maybe that’s the secret sauce? Roll the dice, but also have the cutie next to ya crossing their fingers for you too.

  • Rejection can be a blessing.

    A decade-long sort-of friend acquaintance of mine recently rejected me because I’m weird. Obviously that is not about me! I am weird and I never hid it. So, not my problem.

    Being rejected is basically effortless.

  • I have found without fail that rejection is God’s protection.

    I am happily single, which includes days, hours, moments when I wish I had a romantic partner.

    However, he would have to be a contortionist to fit into the spare hour or so a week I could give him.

    My real joy is my real life. I get such a sense of joy and satisfaction from the things I do, write, make, and grow, and cook, and eat, and everything else.

    I tried a date recently and I turned into a hot mess of insecurity, plus he was gay. Compared to the contentment I have in my regular life, this absolutely sucks.

    Yes, I suppose if I got yet more therapy and moved at a snail’s pace with a very patient man, I might win the commemorative plate.

    Or, I could just continue to have an ever expanding group of genuine friends of all ages, meaningful work that I love, and some people close to me who really love me.

    Burl Ives for the win: “As you go through life make this your goal / Watch the donut, not the hole.”

  • I love the comment about being liberated. That is exactly how I feel. In the first few days of d-day, I had an overwhelming feeling of relief. It is a symptom of grief but interestingly, that feeling is still with me nine months later. I have spent 26 years in a life of service to my ex with his mental health issues, inability to cope with life, constant drama and moods. The difference between now and then is like day and night.

    My parents tell me that they pray for me to meet a lovely rich man but I don’t want to. I want to be alone. I am the master of my own destiny and I love it. It would take someone very very special to make me give up this freedom and tbh I’m not sure if such a person exists.

    However, single people are not portrayed in media and if they are, they are not portrayed well. And not just in the media, everyone in my entire family and all of my friends are in long term marriages. My teenage daughters constantly lament the fact that they don’t have significant others (I have shown them relevant parts of CL’s response). But even I find it hard to imagine who I might be like as a long term single person. If we had more role models, maybe it would be easier to accept and enjoy our single status.

    • Interesting, isn’t it, having in mind that in developed western societies there more single people than those who’re married/ in a relationship is

  • Ladies, look at the bright side of remaining alone, that all of these cats will get adopted!

    BTW A lot of guys ask themselves these same question.

  • A rare miss from CL. I would really like to have the experience of making love with a man who cares about me. It’s not wrong to feel sad that I don’t. It doesn’t matter how full and fabulous my life is. I am not remotely ashamed of being single. I don’t give a crap what anyone thinks. I would just love to have a loving partner and at times I feel really sad about it. CL is my hero but not even she can convince me that that’s wrong.

    • And I quote CL:

      “It’s totally okay to want a partner. But you should never want it so bad that you’ll compromise your values and accept shit. It’s also not a force you control. Investing in your best self IS a force you control.”

      How does that miss the mark?

  • The fear of ending up with another bad person has motivated me to try to turn loneliness into solitude. Being alone, yet at peace is way better than ending up with another con artist.

  • Because I don’t want it so bad that I’ll compromise my values and accept shit. It’s not relevant. Of course we don’t control it, and I do spend a lot of effort on what I can control.

    It misses the mark because investing in building a terrific life by myself does not mean I’m not often super sad that I’m by myself.

    • Okay, loneliness sucks. I get it. You don’t get a guarantee or control if someone will come into your life who is romantic partner material. So THEN what? Can you ever be happy in SPITE of not having a romantic relationship?

      If the answer is “No, I will be super sad unless I have a romantic partnership” I got nothing. And I think you’ve pretty much discounted anything I have to say on the matter because I’m not currently single. (I spent many years single. It’s not like I don’t know what this feels like.)

      I’m saying if you don’t control meeting a partner, increase your odds, be open, and find other ways to be happy. I’m not saying being single doesn’t suck sometimes. It does suck sometimes.

      • Thank you for responding. I don’t think I will always be sad if I don’t meet someone. But will part of me feel sadness because I have always wanted to have a loving partnership and I don’t? Probably. You’re right that I might never meet someone and it’s probably something I should come to terms with.

        I don’t discount what you say because you are married to a great guy. I am very happy for you. And I know you were on your own for a long time, too. Thank you for acknowledging that it sucks sometimes. It does. But my family, friends, interests and passions are pretty awesome, too. I know you want us to focus on those things and I appreciate what you’re saying. Thank you for all you do. You’ve really helped me.

  • While I can totally relate i can also report that mightiness will come to you. It was quite a while before I claimed my mighty. As a man burned many many times I chose to look at my past to foresee my future. I felt broken , used neglected, unworthy, defeated. But looking at my life prior to meeting the fairy princess of douchedom , I was a confident, respected, loved and cheered athlete and coach. I never took defeat, i strived to overcome, i walked my greatness . You have incredible mighty. Just from the first paragraph of your post you have moved in a forward-looking direction . Give yourself a break you have done far better than most. Some of the self help books advise etc. is ok but from personal experience lots is bullshit. Bottom line, its what makes it for you. It will happen, you are stronger than you realize. Blessings

  • Once in a while I feel the weight of single-mom loneliness. But then I look back at a journal I kept while dating the cheating Swede, and I was clearly miserable three months in. (But stayed for three years.)

    Now I’m afraid I’m getting too happily used to being single! I had a trusted friend with benefits for about 18 months, and because THAT need was satisfied, I could relax when going out on dates — no need to rush anything. Could take my time and assess.

  • Ooooh I loved today’s discussion.
    Was just thinking today-wow, my intuition is so loud now, with zero fucks given. Full credit to the crew here, life-gaining singleness. Ear to the ground, enjoying it. Maybe that’s what “being enough” feels like?

  • Glad for this post today.

    My mom died last week. Yesterday I took my 15 year old son to the doctor and found out we need to go to a specialist.

    I need to tell my EX tonight. I really am not up to talking to him. I am exhausted. My moms health was very bad for seven months.

    I realllly want someone to just take care of everything. Mom had no resources for her funeral, I’m up to my eyeballs in debt, worried for my son, worried how I’m going to manage to go to specialist outside of our state, behind at work…I just want someone to share the load, and honesty take care of me. Not that he did that, I earned the money and did everything else too.

    All I can think about is a version of “fake it till you make it” and “put your big boy pants on”.

  • Hugs to you Silver, I am so sorry for your loss. You are strong, even when you don’t feel it all the time. I think sharing the load, especially during times like that is exactly it.

  • ((((SilverAnniversary))))
    I am so sorry for the sad loss of your brother, and so recently, your Mom. I understand how difficult her illness was for you for those long months. ( I truly understand how heavy the load is, especially alone).
    Now, your son, needing to see a specialist.
    I hope there are real life people, friends, family members, who you can reach out to now.
    Write down what you will say to your ex and say only that, or read it to him. At 15 I realize you have to communicate regarding your son.
    You owe your ex absolutely nothing, just what he has given you, nothing.
    CN loves you and cares. I just wish we could actually be present by your side. Please never forget that we are there with you, in your heart.
    ❤️
    Stay strong Silver!
    (Sending healing vibes to your precious son).

  • Risking to be cheesy with this: in German college level English class our teacher made us learn the first part of the American constitution by heart. It always stuck with me, „certain unalienable rights, that among these are the PURSUIT of happiness…“
    I studied law and the concept of the German constitution is that every positive right also holds a negative formula of not being intruded by other people executing their right and mostly also a positive obligation to act upon basic rights. What I‘m trying to say, the reward for leaving a cheater is the opportunity for us to pursue our happiness. Life will still get in the way with not-so-okay things. But a flowing pursuit of happiness with holding our children, pets, engaging in meaningful activities, flirting, dating with a chance of this ending in the happiness of a relationship instead of being stuck in lonliness and the one-step-forward, two-steps-back treadmill of pick-me dancing for a cheater is already that unalienable happiness I feel grateful for. Addition by substraction – I took that down in my note book. If any day I feel I haven‘t gained anything or I‘m just tired of doing anymore, THIS I have. All of us chumps have it. They can‘t take that away.

  • This is one of my favorite books on the topic of why all the reasons that we think we’re single aren’t really based in fact. It’s written by a woman who hadn’t had a first marriage in a long time, and then did get married (n fact, in this case, she uses her eventual marriage to prove some of her points)., but it’s still germane in divorce cases (perhaps more so–“I failed at my marriage” might feel worse than “Nobody has ever wanted to marry me”)

    https://www.amazon.com/Its-Not-You-Reasons-Single/dp/0399162879

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