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‘He Didn’t Suck’

Dear Chump Lady,

Finding your webpage was the best thing happened to me lately as I was about to lose my sanity. I spent hours reading about people’s stories, but I did not come across a case similar to mine, so I am still struggling. I know this is long, but I do not know how to explain myself otherwise.

I was married to a wonderful man for 10 years, and he did not suck at all. We were in love all these years, and doing old-fashioned things like writing love letters to each other every day, talking on the phone many times a day, and missing each other all the time. I would go to the market, and he would call me to say that he missed me. We married while writing our PhD dissertations, so you can imagine we were making very little money, and still he was a very generous man; he offered financial help to my brother and sister for their weddings as they were struggling, and he always supported his own family. He was lovely with my family, friends and everyone loved him. We cared for each other so very much and people talked about how much they admired our connection and relationship. Of course, no marriage is perfect, but we believed that we were extremely lucky to have found each other.

Many people say that their spouses were serial cheaters and liars since the beginning of their relationship, or had multiple affairs but mine was not like that. We refused to own smart phones for many years so clearly he was not secretly sending text messages to anyone. We used the same computer, and many times he would forget his mail open, and I know that there was nothing he was hiding from me.

Years passed, and he moved up to the career ladder. People around him have changed; successful professionals who make a lot of money. His social circle grew big, once I knew all his friends but not anymore. He always had a large group of people to hang out with after work, and I never questioned that. His job was stressful enough and I wanted to give him some room for him to relax when needed. After all we loved and trusted each other.

I am in my late 30s, fit and very healthy, but 2 years ago, one day, I fainted at home. After many check-ups we found out that I have a rare disease with no cure. It was devastating. My husband sobbed for days saying he cannot live without me. I started the treatment and the doctors were able to control it, but no one knows at this point for how long. The good thing is the treatment did not change my energy levels; I never skipped work, I was positive, outgoing, and no one at work realized that I was dealing with such a thing. I was thankful that I felt great despite all these, and my life quality had not changed.

Then the weird things started. My husband was treating to me differently. His daily calls stopped after a while, then his messages. There would be days with no single message from him asking how my day was. He would always be out with his co-workers after work without even bothering to let me know. After awhile, I learned that I should eat dinners alone because he would not be home before midnight.

I started questioning myself; am I bothering him, not giving him enough space? No, I was always very understanding. I always showed my love and affection to him, cooked for us, did many house chores, jumped on him with happiness every time he walked into our house after work, supported him, did not nag, did not complain, so what was wrong?

I recently found out what. He was lying to me for the last year. He found someone 20 years younger and was lying to me day in and out, without shame, without remorse. I was devastated, crying my eyes out for days yet he was still telling me how much he loves and cares about me. He was making no sense whatsoever. I gave us some time to think and he wanted to reconcile after 3 months of separation, left the other person saying how much he misses our life and how much he loves me. I sat down and listened to him with maturity. I tried to understand his motive; was it confusion, boredom, depression, my health, his family problems?

Unfortunately I realised in a few weeks that he had not changed one bit. He was out until late hours, and he even told me that he really wants to call the other person, which he eventually did and continued lying to me until I figured it out. In the meantime, he hugs me tells me how much he cares about me and thinks about my happiness. He even told me he sometimes wishes I had never found out. I know I cannot be with him anymore and my heart is broken into pieces.

Thinking about the 10 years of our wonderful marriage confuses me because he never sucked up until now. I am in dire need of some feedback.

Thank you

I Need Peace

Dear I Need Peace,

He didn’t suck except in all the ways that matter. He cheated and abandoned you while you were sick. As much as you resist the idea, you’re in the same boat as all the chumps here — you believed the best in this person, and they betrayed you.

Very few people KNOWINGLY invest in serial cheaters and liars. (And I don’t call those people chumps, I’d call them volunteers. Or affair partners.) That’s what makes the chump condition so terrifying to much of the general public and the discourse around this condition so dimwitted — no one wants to believe they could be taken. That their intimacy was misplaced. That they could be so vulnerable.

There is discovery and there is what came before. You’re in the Untangling the Skein of Fuckupedness stage of grief. Who is this person? Who is he really? What was authentic? What was pretend? 

You were real. You invested. That’s what matters — YOU. You brought your A-game. You don’t control him or what he did. Your story was real to YOU, and that’s all you ever controlled. YOUR investment. “Did he really care?” is a way of asking “Was I an idiot to invest in this person?” No, you weren’t an idiot. Normal people bond. You point to the evidence, “See? He called! He said he loved me! He proposed!” it’s all untangling.

Fact is, when he was tested, he failed the character test. It’s not his career, it’s not the people he surrounds himself with, it’s not even the 20-year-younger Schmoopie — it’s him. He sucks.

He had it in himself to trade you in for a younger model when you needed him the most. Which means his attachments were shallow — but you ascribed depth to them.

Many people say that their spouses were serial cheaters and liars since the beginning of their relationship, or had multiple affairs but mine was not like that.

Many people discover the depth of the deception MUCH later — not at the beginning of their relationships. And I reckon every single chump here, myself included, doesn’t know the full range of perfidy. If you’re a relatively moral person, it’s always unbelievable.

We refused to own smart phones for many years so clearly he was not secretly sending text messages to anyone.

That you know of.

We used the same computer, and many times he would forget his mail open, and I know that there was nothing he was hiding from me.

That you know of.

Infidelity is a mindfuck. That’s the whole reason reconciliation is pretty much impossible — you were snowed. So you can’t really trust what they did or did not do. You know what they’re capable of — so there is either queasy “trust” or marriage police “verify.”

And in the end, it doesn’t matter anyway. If he was truly magnificent, he was a Boy Scout, his continued affair is still a deal breaker. That’s what you have to hold on to — the finality of your decision — the vote in your self-worth. That you do NOT deserve abuse.

I recently found out what. He was lying to me for the last year. He found someone 20 years younger and was lying to me day in and out, without shame, without remorse.

Think about how unsustainable that is — life with a liar. Someone who is quite capable of coming home to you every day for a year and lying to your face. Letting you invest in him, in your shared life together, letting you believe your world was safe while he was endangering your health and well-being.

No remorse? No connection.

I was devastated, crying my eyes out for days yet he was still telling me how much he loves and cares about me.

No remorse = no connection.

He was making no sense whatsoever.

No, he was being who he is. The disconnect is that it’s not aligning with who you thought he was, who you want him to be (i.e., sorry, remorseful, in love with you). His actions are NOT loving or caring.

I gave us some time to think


You gave him unfettered access to cake. That’s what separation is. It’s not time to “think” — it’s time to perfect your pick me dance while he boffs the OW.

and he wanted to reconcile after 3 months of separation, left the other person saying how much he misses our life and how much he loves me.

He misses cake. And he’ll probably continue to miss it, so beware of attempts to hoover you back. It’s not “love” that motivates him, it’s centrality and a fear of consequences. Also a need for auxiliary kibbles.

he hugs me tells me how much he cares about me and thinks about my happiness

Oh that’s nice. He had a thought.

When you were facing a frightening diagnosis, what were his thoughts then? People who care SHOW UP. They do demonstrable things. Ferry you to doctors appointments. Bake casseroles. Keep their dick in their pants. His thinking nice things and saying nice things doesn’t make them real.

In fact, during times that call for gravitas and resolute shows of solidarity, “thoughts and prayers” are offensive. They’re frippery when you need substance.

He even told me he sometimes wishes I had never found out

Yeah, I bet he does.

Thinking about the 10 years of our wonderful marriage confuses me because he never sucked up until now. I am in dire need of some feedback.

Here’s your feedback — he sucks. If he sucked 10 years ago doesn’t matter (he probably did), he sucks now and that’s what you have to work with. Grieve, but also when you’re feeling misty, get angry. Be outraged at his insincerity and faux concern. Know your worth!

He’s not a person who could go the distance. So leave him on the side of the road and motor on.


Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Oh dear. What a mind fuck indeed.
    She seems blindsided.
    He has shown you what he is capable of. Believe it before you end up on id TV.
    He is able to fake emotions.

  • The reaction to a challenge shows the real character of a person. All that other stuff didn’t require much effort on his part. Now that he needs to step up in light of your diagnosis he is not up to it. I’m sorry you have this diagnosis but admire your positivity in dealing with it. Unfortunately he is not up to the challenge, he does suck!

    • I just wanted to be clear, I misread and misstated earlier. Peace’s diagnosis is a rare disease, not terminal. In any case, it’s serious and frightening.

      • In degrees of shitiness, abandonment during illness and medical issues deserves the Ultimate Shitiness Trophy.

        While I was hospitalized, my classy trophy recipient used that opportunity to clean out the bank accounts.

      • Oh, so he didn’t suck when she was healthy and she was able to direct all attention to him. He started to suck when he’d realized that at least partly her attention is no longer on him but on the disease – permanently (as the disease is chronic). And her disease might steal away some of the attention from him among their friends.

        HE SO SUCKS!!!!

        And I also don’t believe that this cheating is his first.

        You’re such a strong person, post writer, all the best!

    • My idiot ex was the model of a perfect husband to everyone we knew. Until I found out he wasn’t. He had not just me snowed, all our friends, his family, people closest to him. It wasn’t until I was dealing with mental illness issues (PPD and such) that he really showed who he was to me. People were amazed when I announced our divorce, because they had no idea. We were the “perfect” couple.

      Turns out he’d been cheating all along, even without cell phones, even while sharing a computer. He was just really good at playing a role until he didn’t want to anymore.

      But it didn’t matter. He wasn’t up to the task of being there for me the first time I really needed his support. In truth, he never was there. It was always me supporting him. My life actually got EASIER when we split up, and that was with a freaking toddler underfoot. Crazy, I know.

  • This is similar to my story. It’s been almost five years since I kicked him out, and now I know he Really Did Suck, but I was just really busy making excuses for all the ways he sucked during our marriage, sugar-coating it to death. {{hugs}}

    • Same here. 27 years together, 22 married. Best Friends. We were in LOVE!!! Shock amongst friends… “but you looked so much in love!”, “I always envied your marriage”, “we always thought your marriage was golden, that you had it made.”. Blindsided. “How could he do this? This isn’t him, it’s her! There’s something wrong with him.”. One year since GTFO and almost 2 years after D-Day#1 of 4 and the pretense is over. His “remorse” and trying to “save the marriage” is narcissismese for self-preservation, image management and avoidance of consequences. The real him shows through or now I no longer wear rose colored glasses. I have some GI issues and when his affair had started, I was having some issues, gaining weight, being blotted, tmi. My doctor was testing me for lots of different things. Instead of being supportive he was neglecting me and distancing from me (result of his lunchtime activities in the backseat of her car). When I found out he told me that she was “fitter than you” and “younger than you”. They are both POS. I now believe that she was the first long term affair but not the first time he cheated. He’s a complete stranger.

        • Mine didn’t suck at AT ALL either…until he did. And when his mask fell off, he certainly made up for his lost time of sucking because he completely erased me and IMMEDIATELY starting living with the much younger OW. He left all of his belongings behind and never looked back.

          He had been generous, loving, present, thoughtful, and everything one could dream of in a partner. Romantic sentiments written in cards, fun surprises for holidays, flowers sent to my workplace, and what appeared to be genuine love for me and only me. Someone else has that side of him now…if it really even exists. It is still challenging for me to believe that it was all a facade. We traveled the world together and were one another’s best friend/favorite person/confidant. I can relate to what LeavingToxicTown stated. We were also the couple our friends, family members, and onlookers frequently admired with envy. Now with what happened, our decimated relationship should more accurately be perceived as a nightmare, not a fairy tale.

          A quarter century down the tubes. The entirety of my childbearing years GONE. Yet I still slip into moments believing that I am the one who sucks, not him. After all, I was the one deemed disposable and he has even more of a shiny life without me.

          Even if that is the case and I’m to blame for aging out, and/or whatever, that just is indicative of cheater shallowness. I really need to keep this in mind when I’m thinking that it’s my fault even though he is the one who broke our vows: “No remorse = no connection” and as CL noted to the OP, “…his attachments were shallow — but you ascribed depth to them”

          • My cheater was a “great guy” and we had a wonderful life together. That’s a huge blindside. It is hard to reconcile who I thought he was with who he really is. 14 years together, 4 year affair. He was more distant but used the depression excuse.
            He still treated me well. In hindsight I did spackle but I loved and trusted him. Never suspected an affair as he was such a stand up guy. Trust that he sucks.

            • funny, mine used anxiety as an excuse to skip out of things when he was actually just bouncing between two families/relationships. neither of us knew. she has two kids with him, I have one, our babies are 3 months apart. she chose to stay (no doubt impression management mixed with the fact that she lives quite comfortably off him) while I move on with my independence and TRUTH. All of our babies will grow up one day and see the wood from the trees. She is weak. I will be strong and soldier on. I trust he sucks. These men get off on acting like they’re good, respectful, normal people. they are not. they dont love us. they don’t love the other women either. they are incapable of loving. Or their version of love is NOT what we subscribe to. it’s all about them and how they feel with the person who is feeding their ego. quite frightening actually that they can live in such a bubble and drag poor unsuspecting people into it.

              Future is forward. Eyes are open. Heart will heal and I have a gorgeous little girl to snuggle at night who definitely tells me the truth.

              • chumpetychump,

                Please resist the urge to say “these men.” It’s not just men. It’s a personality and character type. Men have been given the stereotype, but women have been doing it too, just as long. It’s just not what most people tend to think of.

                I can tell you that my POS XW is very big on trying to maintain people’s belief that she’s a “good person.” Of course, she is a local politician w/grand dreams, so where’s the surprise in that????? It even included trying to convince my family and I (as recently as this past holiday season, almost 3 yrs out from D-day and almost a year out from absolute divorce!) that just because after almost 25 years of loving marriage (at least on my part), and after three kids, she just couldn’t be “selfless” anymore. It’s not her fault, in other words.

                I was going through a tough time when she decided to have her affair w/her rich, 15 yrs older, married for 40 yrs boss. I was trying to find my way back to being a good breadwinner for the family after realizing I could no longer do the lucrative but extremely stressful career I had done for over 20 years, supporting the family and her well for that time. I was suffering from a serious depression, because I couldn’t figure out what to do to get that type of salary quickly again, and felt useless.

                But unlike your ex and other men mentioned on this blog, I didn’t use my depression as an excuse to fool around. I hadn’t ever done that, though opportunities presented themselves at least twice during our marriage. I never will. That’s not the type of person I am. This by no means is to say I’m a saint. Far from it. I was and am as flawed or worse as everybody else. But I’m dead set on being loyal to the partner I committed to. And I was the one who loved fully.

                I wish you only the best in moving forward. You’re right. You will heal. Many of us are healing w/you, or have already mostly healed. I don’t know that we can totally heal, but we can heal enough to move on if we let ourselves. I’m glad you have that little girl to love, and who loves you. You’ll survive and thrive, despite what your horrible ex did to you and your family. Lots of hugs and love to you and your little girl.

        • I didn’t think my husband sucked either. I was too young and unexperienced to notice. Was raising one child and got pregnant again, knew i was going to lose the baby. He totally ignored me, pretending i didn’t exist. After I lost the baby, everything was fine with him. That’s just one of many times. Now he was having an affair. I was saving money, getting ready to leave, he has a massive stroke. Now I’m looking after him. I do it because i couldn’t put him in a home and live with myself. But all the signs I missed, should have left years ago.

      • I’m pretty meh, 5 years later.( Finally!!!!)
        I still read here to stay grounded, and every once in a while I comment if I feel I can be helpful to someone.
        This is one of those columns that every single person that reads here will read and go “Yep…me too”
        That’s one of the most fucked up things about these freaks, is their ability to disguise themselves so you dont know you invested in a monster.
        It still sends a chill up my spine wondering how I didn’t know.

        • #metoo24+years. My ex was pretty much a runaway husband & 10 years on I’m still struggling emotionally & financially. I hate him.

        • Yep…me too!!!

          The letter writer’s story is almost IDENTICAL to my own with just a few variations & one “discovered” DDay, along with a FAKE wreconciliation (would later learn of other indiscretions with female friends & other infidelities throughout the marriage). Took about 10 years for the real him to show up.

          During 1st discovery and marriage counseling, I tried like hell to seriously save my marriage but NO LONGER felt safe or at peace with the partner I trusted the most. The ongoing betrayal was devastating, the mask fell off and he became a complete ABUSIVE monster & stranger to me while living under the same roof. He continued with his disrespect and lived life as a single man until I’d had enough & packed up, left and then divorced him. He remarried before the ink was dry on the divorce decree! I’m @ MEH (4 years) and trust that HE SUCKS! Everything in me knows without a shadow of doubt that he LOST the best thing in life that ever crossed his path and I’m convinced he will reap ALL that he has sown. He will NEVER again be allowed access to me.


      • #metoo LTT. he relationship most envied. My very best friend. So in love. For thirty years.

        Until his true (lack of) character showed. I knew it was bad, but it’s taking me YEARS to truly, fully accept and trust that he sucks.

        • Hi Horsesrcumin, I’m sorry for your loss. I hope you are in a better place. In this year of hindsight (2020) and no longer wearing rose-colored glasses, I am seeing that some of his character had sporadically come through the cracks but not often enough to really see it. Initially it was so hard but now, seeing that he isn’t who he pretended to be, it’s getting easier. Hugs to you.

  • I am struck by the idea that I Want Peace believed that because she didn’t SEE prior evidence that he sucks, then she believes that he didn’t suck.
    In the days before smart phones and email, cheaters cheated.
    I would venture to guess that there have been cheaters since the beginning of human relationships.
    Certainly, my cheater was able to cheat in the absence of technology.
    Probably I Want Peace’s cheater was able to do so as well.
    Many late nights after work with “friends”? More likely that he was cheating all along.

    • I’d put money on it that he had a smart phone and came up with the idea of ‘lets not use smart phones’ as a means to control her and mindfuck… she will start to see the other side in time.. it’s going to burn! We’ve all been there…

      • This. My first cheater was sooooo anti email and refused to get an address. When he finally did it was always “not working right”

        I believed all this baloney, including all the times he stood me up or came home super late because he “couldn’t find a pay phone”

        • My ex-fuckwit cheated long before technology made it easier.

          He also told me he couldnt figure out Facebook and didn’t know how to use it, missing multiple loving messages I tried to send him there. I set up a page he ignored..
          Then…while I was out of town he friended skankiepanties and her whole famdamily! He knew exactly how to use it. That’s where I later found some ebidence when I wore my marriage police badge. Feh!

          They could find a way to cheat with tin cans on strings or smoke signals. Fuck em. Trust. That. They. Suck.

          All that early “generosity” and magnanimity could have been learned image management he honed in earlier fuckwit shenanigans. That stuff really throws us openhearted chumps off!

        • Karma. Trust her. She’s a bitch. My narcissist died last year. His crazy niece insisted on an autopsy. His intestines perforated. He died literally full of shit. I know it seems inhumane to say that about someone who is dead. But I give myself permission to hate someone who stole 20+ of the best years of my life. Who knowingly cheated, treated me like garbage, stole hundreds of thousands of dollars and slandered me so thoroughly I became almost suicidal.
          Now, I’m seeing a lovely therapist, one of many, have happy thriving children because I spent every spare cent on our mental health and know I will be okay. Karma. Trust her. Her last name is Revolver because it all comes around.

    • In the days before smart phones and email, cheaters used post office boxes. To conduct affairs and hide how much they were spending on their expensive hobby (a.k.a financial abuse). And don’t forget safe deposit boxes in a different bank.

    • And there’s nothing to say that he might have had a smartphone. She just may not have known about it. Burner phone, anyone? What a scumbag, regardless. He was cheating w/whatever methods worked for him, I’m sure.

  • My cheating ex was really great at connecting – in fact, it was a point of pride for him: his ability to make you feel like the only woman in the world.
    It’s called love-bombing, and it’s Not Real. To them, that is. It’s very much real to us chumps, and highly addicting.
    I’ve heard about cheaters sustaining the love-bombing phase for years, but inevitably the devaluation sets in, and then the discard.
    He probably did love you, as much as a disordered person is capable of, but that kind of flighty, shallow love won’t sustain you for a lifetime, or through hard times.
    You’re better off without him.

  • Dear I need peace, I could have written your letter… My ex didn’t suck (that I know of) for over 20 years. We had a happy marriage and “loved” each other and he was good and we wrote love notes and yada yada yada. Then I read the first email to the OW and was devastated. After that he love bombed me and our marriage was even better than before, I felt we had dodged infidelity’s bullet. Then 4 months later I found another text to the OW. I am embarrassed to say this continued for a couple of years and a couple more D-days.
    He would say things like… “I was good for over 20 years why are judging me by only one.” Also our marriage counselor had us read a book on affairs and he said this book does not pertain to him because the people in the book were really bad, and he hadn’t done anything as bad.
    After a few years distance I realized how badly he actually sucked. He may have been good for over 20 years (which I doubt). I judged him on the last two, he was guilty of daily betrayal and abuse. He sucked and so does yours!!

    • This is very similar to what I hear from him.” I have never done anything wrong since we got married, never wanted to be with anyone else, so there must be a reason why it happened now”. He was asking me why he might have done it. Really…

      • Wow, he wants you to figure it out as this is not really him so it must be………fill in the blank. Talk about not taking responsibility. Don’t be surprised if you find out he was leading a double life.

  • I too thought I married a good guy. I had a hard time with early menopause. Depression and anxiety. Menopause kicked my ass. Instead of standing by me. He cheated with my cousin. And told her all about my health issues and slandered me. Nice guy wasn’t he?

    I am sorry you are going through this. I am sorry to say I do not think your husband ever was a nice guy. He just played the part. Contact a good lawyer. Hey checked for ST Is. Check your credit. He has shown you who he is now believe him. I suspect he wants to stay married because it doesn’t look to good on his part. To divorce a sick wife. Cheaters rarely change. They just learn how to go more underground.

      • I really feel for you . I’m 46 and going through menopause now . It’s kicking me ass and some days quite unbearable . So happy to be alone with my dog though ….
        Unlike my ex who would be on a dating site had we still been together , my dog doesn’t mind my bad days

    • I find it’s common that cheaters keep up the great partner persona until something challenging comes along and they are no longer central. My ex was happy as can be when my well off family was doing him favours and helping him adjust to a new country (not to mention paying for his immigration). When my dad died and the support needed to go the other way, he couldn’t take it. It would have happened at some point, I’m sure. Fist child perhaps? Thank goodness we never got that far.

  • I’m truly sorry that your story is indeed the same as so many here.

    No one wants to think that their story isn’t special or unique. But, aside from some specifics, it’s all the same.
    You may never know how long or with how many others he cheated with. You may never know if their was financial cheating and you just may never know the whole story of his time over the length of your marriage.

    Often cheaters are generous with money, appear to be devoted and invested. They send love notes and show up to doctor appointments.

    Until you find out they were giving money to others as well, sending love notes to you and others simultaneously and show up at the doctor before scurrying off to meet an affair partner.

    I have a severe autoimmune disease that changed my life. He came to the doctor appointments and picked up my medication. He brought me to surgeries and picked me up after. At his deposition, he claimed he didn’t know that I had any illness, said he never went to a doctor with me and stated on record that there was nothing physically wrong with me that’s he knew of.

    Your husband is not smarter or more special than any other cheaters. Actually, there are stories here that are far, far worse than yours. You’re lucky! It doesn’t sound like you have children AND it sounds like you got your PhD and didn’t just pay for his waiting for your turn. It hurts like nothing else. But, unlike your disease, you will heal from this pain. It does end…perhaps it will take years but you can walk away an heal.

    Take CL’s advice. Read all the back posts. Buy her book and keep it next to your bed. Get a lawyer. Keep your mouth shut, Gather all the papers, statements and documents you can. Trust he sucks.

  • If you read enough here on Chumplady, or read other blogs, or sites, you will see how many people, especially women, get cheated on when they are no longer perfect in the eyes of their loved one. As long as you were perfect to him he smothered you with romance. As soon as you became a real person he moved on to another “perfect” person. It won’t last because a some point her perfection will fail. This is not a real human being you are married to. He’s a hologram.

  • One of the hardest things to realize that you never find out the truth of what they have done.
    My ex told me last week he loved me, but would not be honest.
    Is that a sign of love, lying, no.
    We split up 7 years ago.
    Whilst living with me would go out the door then be on drugs with prostitutes, ow, even having sti (s). Whilst leaving the door tell me he loved me.
    There is even worse stuff, but I won’t talk about it.
    I was in rescue last month, was he helpful with the kids no, phone me how are you no,
    During surgery 8 years ago, heart stopped would he help no, still managed to go with ow, whatever.
    Ow treated me like shit, would he help no, he asked me to feel sorry for her!
    He liked her because she didn’t want her own kids

  • I was married to Mr. Nice Guy Cheater too. For TWENTY years. Who to this day puts a lot of energy into lying and burnishing his Nice Guy IMAGE.

    IMHO, the Nice Guy cheaters are light years scarier and suckier than the ones who are up front and out in the open about it.

    Bernie Madoff was awfully nice to all those 4500 investment clients he was ripping off for decades. John Wayne Gacy was Mr. Pillar of the Community.

    These kinds of people are the most terrifying.

      • Yes. Google “John Wayne Gacy community service”. Predators groom whole communities as well as individuals….


        • Ted Bundy had a long term love in girlfriend while he was out there luring other women to kill. You just never freaking know.

    • My XH was mister nice guy — the charm channel—for 23 years until the mask slipped after kids caught him red handed. Then he flipped to the rage channel when I imposed consequences of no-contact and divorce. On the few occasions he breaks through no-contact he’s on the self-pity channel now.

      Peace, I suspect that it was all an elaborate con. These types are master manipulators. But does it matter whether he cheated for a year or for ten years? He’s capable of this and gets off on the lower trip. Sick fuckers. Nothing to work with. They aren’t capable of being safe and aren’t compatible partners for a chump.

      No contact and divorce. It will take about 3-5 years but you’ll get to Meh. Meh is wonderful. We’re here for you.

      • I doubt my sense of trust now, my intuition, and I question if I was wrong all the way. The damage these people cause has so many levels.

    • Velvet Hammer I could not agree more. My ex still portrays his nice guy image. Even his own family is in denial about his cheating. He even denies cheating 2 years later even though he moved in with his “friend” after he left me and bought a business and house with her before our divorce was final. To me that mindfuck is one of the hardest and he left and never looked back. Very cold individual.

    • Good guy cheaters are the worst.

      No one believes you and even if your story checks out, there must be a reason for his behavior. Like you. It becomes all your fault. Besides he just made a teensy “mistake”. No biggie.

      Everyone, including the cheater, still thinks he’s a good guy.

      That’s been the biggest FU in my story.

      • Same! He was the fakest “good dad” Nice Guy cheater. Hardly anyone at all believed me, because he was so fake nice and generous to others.

        • The multi-cheating, sad sausage, lying conman I was with for 21years was a scout leader FFS!

          Cares about kids and their welfare? Teaching them respect and citizenship? Yeah, that’ll be why he’s not bothered with his own 2 kids for three years!


          • No way, SAME HERE. After affair he became our sons Cub Scout leader. Teaching 8yearolds morality and integrity.

            No one actually cares about the truth.

          • Cheating STBXH’s ho-ho is a girl scout leader. She sure didn’t have any problems wrecking my daughter’s home.

  • People are often wonderful as long as everything is easy. That’s actually a drawback in a rich, comfortable culture like ours where you can date and marry and live together for many years without ever seeing how the other person copes with a crisis. I know people who haven’t had a single major problem or loss for 20 years. Now a major crisis has hit your life and your husband has failed to step up – in fact he’s responded in the worst way possible. I’m terribly sorry, but there is nothing here for you to work with. It doesn’t matter how he “used to be.” The only thing that matters is what he’s doing right now. And what’s that? Lying and cheating for a full year, with all the horrific betrayal that involves. He “loves and cares” about you? As CL says, people who love and care SHOW UP in a crisis and have your back, fully, for the long haul.

    • Scott Peterson (murdered his very pregnant wife Lacey) comes to mind. Tracy recommended Dr. George Simon’s books and I went to one of his lectures. He used Scott as a prime example of somebody who grows up without any visible struggles (childhood trauma, poverty,etc) but once his mettle was tested ? Bingo his true colors show ! Doesn’t want to be married anymore and was maybe freaking out about being a father where he won’t be the be-all end-all of his wife’s attentions.

  • I might also point out, it seems you learned to minimize your needs. “ supported him, did not nag, did not complain, so what was wrong?”

    What may have tipped the bucket was whether you were an asset or a liability.

    I had a similar thing. My husband was very loving. We were SOLID. Years later, people still tell me they were shocked at how it all went down… last couple on the planet that would break.
    But I was a stay at home mom… asset
    Chores. Cooking. Laundry. Kids. Bills. Landscaping. Doctors. Responsibility stuff. … all assets
    Who wouldn’t want a wife like that in his pocket?!

    Then… well colicky baby…
    I also got an illness that permanently affected my heart and lungs which reduced my stamina and quality of life.
    I gained some weight.
    Was put in hospital…

    No longer an asset… became a liability.
    And even though he hadn’t had the opportunity to show it yet (because I bore it all like a champ) he didn’t do selflessness and responsibility well.

    And he was off looking for more assets…

    • Happily Free, mine too. I was an asset, then when he went and got his third college degree and a promotion, I wasn’t as “good” as him anymore because I don’t have any college degrees and I didn’t get a promotion.

      Gained a bit of weight after the second baby, not as pretty in a bikini- well, that won’t work for Mr. Fitness anymore.

      Funny enough, I tripled my income and now out-earn both him and his new girlfriend and my income will just keep going up. Guess I didn’t need that expensive college degree lol.

      And to the OP, mine also didn’t suck. But he literally abandoned me overnight, now treats me like garbage, filed for full custody of the kids in the beginning to scare me, had women staying the night on the 4 nights per month that he had the kids, moved new girlfriend in 3 weeks after our divorce was final and on and on. And for all those things, he sucks. He didn’t suck when we were married, but the second he turned his back he became a royal piece of shit. The second you grow a backbone and tell him to fuck right off, it’s going to get very different. And remember the three mind-fuck channels, one of them is CHARM. He’s not sorry. Kick this weak-minded asshat to the curb.

      • Yes. We were “peacefully divorcing” (bahahahaha) until I started talking alimony and fair child support. It’s still about assets. When they learn the cost and tax consequences of alimony and child support, they go for custody.
        And they’ll lie to your kids to get them on their side so they’ll tell the court they should go to.

        Selfish. They’re not in it for the kids. (No, you cannot be friends for the children with someone that abuses you every chance they can get.) They’re in it for money and control.

  • Dear Peace, you poor thing. I feel for you! I hope you have friends and family close by. Be prepared for the Mr. Good guy routine. Please don’t be in denial. Please my dear you must get to a lawyer immediately and get this going. It seems like you haven’t accepted this process. With you being sick I urge you to say nothing to him and get to a lawyer. Please. You must get into survival mode and protect yourself.

  • I was with the Cheater for 29 years and there were many times along the path where I would have said, if asked, that he did not suck at all…in fact, at the 10 year mark, we had just had our 3rd baby and he was in a deep stage of (what looked from the outside like) genuine devotion.

    About a year later he cycled back into behaviors he had shown at times and I just figured “rough patch, but were in this for keeps” and in another year he was worse. I look back at that time and know his commitment to me/kids was zero and Im sure he was cheating.

    I didnt learn of his serial cheating until he was dead and after stepping WAY back and looking at the whole thing with real courage, I realized that he mostly sucked but every once in a while he rallied. I chose to make my judgements of him during rallies. Most of the time, he sucked.

    Those love bombing fools like it when things go well…when their partner helps them have a good life…but they are too weak to buckle up when things are hard.

    The world tells us to see the best in our spouses and I surely did, but I saw good that wasnt even there. Your guy was emotionally absent and cheating for at least a year.

    It will be a relief to admit his suckness…it takes courage and humility to do so (I struggle mightily with the fact that I did not see what was right in front of me) but Im glad I did.

    • I am also sure that I justified the bad things he did, or turned a blind eye to them because I thought he was great most of the time. But how great can one be when he is absent for one year when his spouse absolutely needs his love and attention?

  • Dear I Need Peace,
    You need war.
    Peace will come much later.

    Untangling takes a long time and it’s a waste of energy. Little by little you just put bits of it down and get on with life.

    But not now. Now you are at war.

    We’ve been there. We’re your army.

  • Dear I Need Peace,
    You need war.
    Peace will come much later.

    Untangling takes a long time and it’s a waste of energy. Little by little you just put bits of it down and get on with life.

    But not now. Now you are at war.

    We’ve been there. We’re your army.

  • Wait, so this guy cheated with a teenager?! If LW is late-30s, then someone 20 years younger is … a teenager.

    Yes, he indeed sucks.

    • He is 6 years older than me, but still, I would consider the person he found a “teenager”. Interestingly, he always claimed to like mature women..

  • Dear I Need Peace

    This is pretty much my story . I adored my husband and i thought he did me too . We very rarely had arguments and have been so fortunate to be able to afford lots of travel we had such a great life . He always use to tell me what a great guy he was and how i could never get better than him and i 100% agreed

    Now in no way shape or form am i perfect but i did everything for my husband and he sat on his phone every single night . I asked him to stop playing on his phone for 1 hour a evening so we could eat and talk i got told to shut up ( this was about 6 years ago i never asked again ) looking back at his treatment of me then i have concluded although i have no proof that he was having an affair then also,

    I have came to that conclusion as his behaviour towards the end of 2018 / beginning of 2019 towards me was the same . Belittling me, shouting at me , telling me to shut up , telling me it was my job to be a wife and shut up . He was always at work but never had any money extra for all the hours he was working . He was shouting at me so much that i couldn’t even face going home one night after work so i went to the cinema . To him this was the straw that broke the camels back as i was supposed to go home and make him meatloaf so in his words ” They Ramped” up their affair .

    So looking back i can see the pattern of his shitty behaviour from Mr Great guy i bet you will too

  • I Need Peace,

    I’m sorry to tell you, but your husband didn’t change. He was then who he is now: a cheating, lying narcissist. He was playing a role with you from day one. He was playing the role of the perfect romantic partner, acting out a script. When you got sick, you no longer fit into his little play the way that he wanted you to.

    It sucks. I know. The same thing happened to me after 20 years. I thought it was only one too, until my eyes were open, and I started digging and found there were others.

    Admitting that it had all been a lie was the hardest thing that I had to do, but the best too, because it allowed me to move on and not hang-on to the past.

    • So true. The play a role model. My aunt’s husband was Mr. Nice Guy, Mr. Perfect husband, father, etc. bordering on” holier than thou”. Like too good to be true. Turns out after over 35 years of marriage he was too good to be true. Left her for another woman and drained the bank, retirement accounts. They divorced. My aunt moved in with another family member, totally broke. Ended up working late in life for another family member’s business. There was always something not quite right though. Her oldest son graduated from Harvard, Dean’s list all 4 years and opened a comic book store but not for long. Married a lawyer, left the state and never kept in touch with anyone. I don’t think he’s ever worked. The middle daughter and youngest son also graduated from Ivy league schools, never really worked either. Here’s the kicker….Mr. Perfect ended up coming back a few years later, broke and my aunt took him in and I don’t think it was due to her being so in love with him or missing him. I don’t think she had any real feelings for him one way or the other.

  • Peace, I am so sorry you’ve experienced betrayal. My marriage of 34 years was destroyed by my “ wonderful & loving” husband. During my breast cancer treatment he was deep into his affair. I never thought he didn’t love me but he loved the Owhore. It’s been almost 4 years divorced now but sometimes I still can’t accept that I was blind not to see it. I loved him unconditionally but it was all me that kept it together until he met the love of his life. Left without an apology never looked back.
    Please for your sake, divorce this selfish man/child &
    just take care of yourself. Like many of us here at CN
    don’t waste anymore time on him. Don’t be a doormat for decades like I became. You deserve better. Hugs ????
    to you.

    • What I tell myself when I feel like you do is that he only “loves” the Owhore because she fills his needs, or, in my case, she has NPD-like qualities herself and knows how to play the game (I’ve been reading about cerebral versus somatic coverts, which I think is what my ex and his third partner are … I have known the OW for years). I was his second partner, and I can see a particular pattern now. They do find their level.

      He can say he’ll stick with her forever, but that can simply be because he knows he can’t fuck up anymore because his lies were discovered and that really injured him, so he will be more careful. And the only reason she is the “love of his life” is because he’s getting so old and tired of the game that he doesn’t have much life left … she’ll probably be his last.

      • That is a great point about the OW being the love of his life. I’ve often thought that, of course she is dummy! You’re too old to try again! My x husband Often said that he’s so old he doesn’t want to live 5 more years with me only to discover he STILL doesn’t love me. (As if he only 5 more years to live) And he said that everyone our age agrees there is not much time left in life. Live what you can now.

        So I believe that he feels life is short and he wants to live out the rest of it with warthog2000. It does not matter to him that he destroyed the end of my life, and the beginning of my children’s lives. It’s his needs that matter. It sounds to me like the warthog2000 May also be a narcissist and when he, she and her friends sit around drinking wine and waxing poetic they figured out my cheaters life for him. To leave me and go for this new twu luv. Because you know, time is short.

        You know it’s the satanist creed- do what thou wilt is the whole of the law.

  • He’s a fair weather husband. Things get even slightly tough and he cannot sustain things. You probably got him through his PhD. Helped him keep his shit together. My husband was a dick when I got sick. I was Clara Barton when he was seriously ill. But when I was? He was gone. He once told me I didn’t realize how hard it is to live with someone Who is in pain. I told him it wasn’t as hard as living in pain. You can’t fix this kind of selfish.

  • Dear Chump (as in Us, chumps!),
    Your story is identical to mine: 10 years perfect, until…in my case until baby came. In your case, you became ill. Each of us had perfect lives while WE were Perfect! Sure, we still are perfect human beings, but fell from the graces of cheaters.
    As ChumpLady says, they failed the character test.
    Hugs and speed recovery! I know it takes some time for this new perspective to sink in.

    • That’s what happened to me. 10 years went great, then came our daughter. He started the affair, which I found out about 5 years later when ho-ho divorced and he decided to divorce me too so that they could be together. I had been telling everyone how great he is, how I trust him more than myself. I was embarrassed when my mom-friends complained about their husbands and I had nothing but good to say about STBXH. Nobody could have thought WE would end up like this, we were the couple who someone told “gives hope that people can stay in love after being married for many years”.

      • When he decided to leave me, I was also very ill. And when he started the affair, it was quite soon after my mom passed away (the same year DD was born).

    • Yep same here. First 10 years were good. But then I was offered a job that I had dreamed for my entire life. He just couldn’t accept that and when said job eventually required our family to relocate he wasn’t that helpful. In the end, it was all too much and I quit dream job to return to old job so as not to uproot the entire family. Fast forward one year after that, he decides to take a promotion that requires him to work out of town 4 days/week and home on weekends. He couldn’t handle this for even 6 months until he started his affair, then lined up his exit plan for another 1 year until discard of me. And maybe even exit plan started 18 mos prior when he took a promotion. Never had 1 honest convo with me about feelings, he just pretended everything was normal. Narc sociopath! Happy to be free of him and the married howorker can have him!

  • I highly doubt he was not hiding things from you all those years. If he truly was the person he portrayed himself as all those years then he would never have done what he did. Good people don’t just wake up one day and decide to be sociopaths.

    People that have something to hide go out of their way to appear to be exemplary individuals, that’s why we hear these shocking stories all the time of what the pastor did, or the president of whatever, the head of the volunteer group… they know they suck real bad and they know it’s especially important to put on an act.

    People were hiding things long before email and smartphones and if you want to throw someone off your trail, get a second email account and then “accidentally” leave it open, voila.

    He got away with it for many many years and gave you no reason to dig any deeper. And really you shouldn’t, you DO NOT WANT TO KNOW. Just walk away, know he’s a Grade A piece of shit based on how your relationship ended and focus on yourself.

    • Yeah they are like “disciplined sociopaths”. They are able to hide the real self for years, Most sociopaths do not have that ability, maybe a year or two tops but there is always some sort of red flag along the way. I’m guessing the “disciplined sociopaths” are able to hide another life really really, well. The BTK murderer comes to mind. He was a great family man.

    • My IVY MBA ex cheater always acted like he didn’t understand technology and didn’t know how to use any of it. It was all a facade to throw me off tracks. Ironically, I discovered him him and his skank connected to each other on social media – something he claimed not to have. He also had a hidden dating profile. Fake email addresses, you name, etc. The only thing he didn’t understand was my ability to figure shit out.

      When I think back, he used to always act like he was a bumbling idiot about a lot of things, but it was how he covered his tracks. So glad he is gone!

  • “He even told me he sometimes wishes I had never found out.”

    This says everything, right here. He doesn’t wish he never cheated. He doesn’t wish he never lied to you. He wishes you never found out. This is blameshifting 101.

    He isn’t remorseful for what he did. He doesn’t feel bad for hurting you. He regrets discovery because nown he has to deal with the consequences. In his eyes, he did nothing wrong, but you did. You discovered the cheating! It’s all YOUR fault.

    What other evidence do you need than this non-apology “apology” that reeks of classic narcissism?

    I also heard the same sort of lame apology. My letter to CL was published last year on Presidents Day. I got out, and life is so much better a year later. The peace is here. The only way to find peace is to lawyer up and get out.

    • You are so right, he showed no remorse, no sadness, and shed no single tear. At some point he said in a very nonchalant fashion, “I feel bad that I hurt you”. He never said that he is truly sorry for the things he did, because he is not.

      • I am so very sorry for your pain! Please know that everything HE did and will continue to do is NOT a reflection on you and your worth as a loving, kind, and forgiving person. You did everything you could to be a loving and supportive wife, and you should take comfort in that. Your heart is pure and your intentions are good. We reap what we sow, and you have been sowing good and loving seeds that you will reap in the future. Your future is bright and your conscience is clear. Get the help and support that you need to make it through these difficult times, and be confident that better times are coming to you.

  • Dear I Need Peace,
    I hear you! My story is actually a lot like yours: my soon-to-be-ex appears to be a really stand-up person to most people in our lives (we are both women). Our kids are really bonded with her, she can be a really kind and sensitive friend, colleague, and family member. But I have long-term symptoms that started with my cancer treatments 23 years ago, when we first got together – and perhaps were exacerbated by living with my spouse, and by her first affair 15 years ago. Her first affair lasted only a few days, and I discovered it by reading an email on a shared computer. (Like your situation!) We did all the therapy and made new agreements, etc. As a cancer survivor, though, I was unlikely ever to measure up to the ideal my STBX had in mind. (To be fair, it’s possible nobody ever could live up to her standards, even if they are completely healthy.)

    I truly believe that my STBX did not sleep with anybody else for 14 years, though she did engage in “infidelity lite” behaviors like emotionally intense friendships with other women to whom she likely was attracted. (Chumpy me didn’t have any interest in controlling those friendships.) But then, in 2018, my STBX’s narcissistic mother died, and STBX decided to initiate another affair, which was longer and more intense than the first one. The damage was terrible, especially because, like your cheater, my SBTX couldn’t bring herself to end the affair even after I learned about it, for a few weeks.

    My STBX seems truly remorseful, and I tried for a while to see if our relationship could still work, but it became clear that she is just emotionally immature – like an adolescent. Instead of having the inner strength to be there for me in my trauma, and have difficult conversations, she just collapses into shame and the usual mindfuck channels. She’s not a monster, but she’s very confused about commitments and values that I consider essential in a marriage, and so I will be divorcing her. It’s all very sad. I probably wouldn’t have tried as hard as I did after D-Day #2 if we didn’t have kids – and I have really exhausted myself emotionally in this process.

    I Need Peace, you won’t get peace unless you divorce and go No Contact. Please take it from someone who believed the hype the first time: unless your cheater is working HARD on his own issues, for some time (years?), he will likely continue to use you as home base in a variety of ways for the rest of your lives together. If, heaven forbid, something else happens that’s hard for him – losing a parent or other family member? career change? etc. – he likely will not have the emotional capacity to handle it without acting out in some way. It’s very sad to realize that some people just cannot go the distance, as Chump Lady rightly says. (Amen to her response!) PLEASE focus now on helping yourself through this awful trauma, and Trust That He Sucks. Hugs to you.

  • He was all in until the going got tough. What does that say about his character? He played a good covert narcissist until your life together wasn’t going his way. I know this doesn’t make sense now, but it will some day, some Tuesday.

    • I agree that this is what she’ll discover, but I don’t think he was all in at any point. I believe she’ll find that out the more this settles over time. These types are these types precisely because they aren’t capable of all in. He simply couldn’t become one day a remorseless lying cheater to the supposed love of his life when she needed him most unless he was fundamentally this broken all along. The problem is so many of us don’t understand that a person can or would play-act something so false so well or so long. But the feed this produces is all these types live for. The more she sees this clearly, the more she’ll realize the formula involved. She possessed a certain social capital, an intangible score if you like, which made playing syrupy romantic games and the imagined moment to moment adoration by her of himself worthwhile for him. He could go on indefinitely like this, as many do, supplementing it as needed outside as well. With illness, she suddenly needed him in a tangible practical way. That kind of need ruins the kibbles because not only does her social capital go down as a “sick person” but more importantly her need means she cannot purely want and adore his greatness. Any swooning adoration he believes he has caused is now watered down by the knowledge that she “has to”. She has to please him to a certain extent because she now needs him. They are happy to be entirely fake to get what they want and imagine everyone else is too if need be. The only meaning in times of trouble (like when he contributed to the wedding) is how one can come off looking, not how one can actually be. “Actually being” is not a concept or thing they actually experience. There is no deeper bond to be formed within dealing and helping with her illness, for which normal people almost welcome the chance. No, for these types the lightning has just gone out of the kibble supply. Time to supplement. Believe me, he loved duping her by leaving his email open “accidentally”. The dupe itself feels great – they especially love knowing that they’re getting you to lie to yourself on their behalf (“look, he is so honest he even forgets to log off his email sometimes…”) – but the really great thing is that the dupe enables them to believe that the adoration they’re winning from you is all the more complete. It’s adoration coming out of the trust they duped you into. Duping never cheapens the payoff for them because all they chase is your (and anyone’s) image of them. They need to believe you hold an image of them. They create it falsely and then wallow in it as long as it can last. And then they create it again. Like an addict producing their own drugs. Because in truth they don’t have a core self or permanent source of worth. That is the one description that ties all of this guy’s various appearances and behaviors together into a consistent truth. Everything else results in baffling contradictions. It’s just that the truth is so foreign and monstrous that it takes a long time to settle in.

      • Brilliant assessment TKO. Sums up perfectly the way my STBXH has behaved over 26 years. A number of life events occurred weakening my stock with him, including my father inconveniently dying. He left me 2 months later. A further 2 months later I found out about the affair with his ex-childhood sweetheart over 27 years ago. Long distance of course. He has behaved like the coward he is since he found out that I knew about the affair. They are both narcs. and deserve each other. In the meanwhile I am lawyered up and making plans for my future. Which I’m excited about. You have encapsulated his personality so accurately. At least I know that I am capable of love.

      • So right! As time went on and different situations would pop into my head I saw them with a different lens and started to discover the true meaning of our fake relationship.

  • Public service announcement: beware the shiny people who call you telling you how much they miss you when you have simply gone to the market. This is a waving red flag.

    Consider that those daily calls and over-the-top gooey declarations were not about you but rather about him needing a hit of kibble while getting brownie love bomb points for being such an awsum dood.

    It is creepy. And fake. And disposable.

    He is doing the exact same bullshit with the much younger OW because he knows it works.

    He sucks.

    • The frequent phone calls are also a good way to determine where the chump is, so as not to risk crossing paths while occupied with the OM/OW.

  • He didn’t suck? So ignoring you all day when he used to text constantly doesn’t suck? Staying out all night with “friends” doesn’t suck? Leaving you to eat by yourself doesn’t suck? Abandoning you when you are sick and need support doesn’t suck? Really? It took banging a 20 years younger Schmoopie to decide that maybe he sucked that one time. He sucked but you spackled, just like the rest of us. You didn’t want to be a demanding, unreasonable, clingy, suspicious wife. You tried to be a good wife and he took advantage of it and stabbed you in the back. He sucks.

    I have 20 years worth of letters, notes and cards from Ex telling me how much he loved me and how lucky he was to be married to me. Then suddenly after DDay it was “I haven’t felt like your husband in years” and “I wish I hadn’t been so nice to you, maybe I would have gotten better out of you”. I’m sorry, I gave you twenty years of my life and three children. I thought you did get the best of me. We still had a regular sex life, I am fit, I didn’t try to tell him what to do or how to live his life. I also accepted it when he left me with the kids to go fly his airplane, go to broker dinners, or hang out with friends without me because “he works so hard he needs a break sometimes” and “we don’t have to be joined at the hip, he needs time to himself sometimes”. I moved cross country twice to please him, once for his job and once just because he was homesick for his home state. My thanks was “I deserve better so I am going to go fuck strange”. Now he is with Schmoopie who is very demanding and is always telling him what to do and he falls all over himself trying to please her. Clearly I am the one who was too nice to him. Maybe if I had been more demanding I would have gotten better out of him as he would have been too busy trying to please me to have time to cheat.

    Maybe our cheaters don’t suck as much as some others’ cheaters (at least mine hasn’t stolen my pension, ruined my reputation, given me an STD, screwed me financially or murdered my children or any of the other horror stories on this blog) but they still suck. They still dropped the ball and were unable to follow through on their promises and I don’t just mean their wedding vows. Every letter or note telling us they loved us was a promise that was broken. Hang in there Peace, it will get better. You will have a good life because of who you are, but he will always be him and it sucks to be him.

  • The part I found hardest was believing that my best friend of 25 years had betrayed me.
    Those 25 years were pretty good.
    The shock of betrayal made me very paranoid. How could he be both these people.

    I suffered a lot of grief over what I had thought we had.

    I’m the end I stopped wondering what happened. He sucks. No matter how he was, he is now a cheater and a liar.

    I almost feel sorry for him now, as his life is complicated. But mine is fine and that’s all that matters to me.

    I have also cone to realize that much of the good years was due to me. I put in the work. I compromised. I made life easier for my ex.

    Not having to do that has been liberating.

    • I’m like Marge: it was SO hard to believe my best friend betrayed me.

      I remember telling him on the 5th anniversary of our first date that those had been “the happiest 5 years of my life.”

      Not long after that, I started to notice some behaviors that bothered me, but I chalked it up to his PTSD (he had been in the military). Those behaviors were the exception though so I didn’t think much of it. Most of the time he continued to be loving and we had lots of fun and LOTS of laughs together.

      A few years later, when the woman he was cheating with came to my house to inform me (because she had just discovered via online research that he was married – he had lied to her too), I was blindsided. She could tell I was stunned and was struggling to reconcile what she was telling me with my beliefs about the husband I thought I knew so well.

      So she called him, right there in my living room (he was on a business trip), and asked if he’d like her to wear the French maid outfit “again” when they got together next time. He did NOT say “what French maid outfit” and I forget his exact reply but it was something to the effect of “OK.”

      These people are master manipulators. They can lie hundreds (thousands!) of times and not bat an eyelash (don’t believe the hype about being able to tell when someone is lying: that may be true with people whose consciences are bothered, but not narcissistic people, whose consciences are underdeveloped or in some cases nonexistent).

      They put on an ACT. They don’t know how to be authentic, but they know how to PORTRAY a loving spouse. They are keen observers of human behavior, and they can mimic “loving” people. But they do not love in the same way that we do. They may be attracted to people, but that’s not the same as bonding with them. They are simply incapable of it. Bonded people who truly love someone can’t lie and cheat on and betray that someone MULTIPLE times.

      It’s hard to get your head around this, I Need Peace, but trust that he sucks.

    • Marge I could have written the same exact words. I loved my ex husband so much. We were together 30 years and I thought he was my best friend. The betrayal was devastating . But like you I have come to realize that I was the one that made all the effort. Now I can use all that energy for my own life.

    • This!!
      “much of the good years was due to me. I put in the work. I compromised. I made life easier for my ex.”
      I couldn’t say it better myself.

  • Dear I Need Peace,

    Your letter really struck a chord with me, as I feel similarly. My ex was the best husband ever (together for 5 years and then married for another 5). He was always there for me whenever I needed him and never had the slightest reason to doubt him. I now know him to be a “fair weather husband”, like someone helpfully described above. We had such a connection that I still doubt I will ever find it with anybody else, and even count myself grateful that I found it at all. However, what really struck me was that it happened after he found out you were sick. This is similar to what happened to me and I have since met more people to whom this has happened.

    In my case, my husband had a muscle problem so painful that he couldn’t move much. Grabbing a plate of food meant pain for hours on end. He reacted so badly to each and every medication that he was unable to find relief and we became regular guests at the ER. We went 5 months without a diagnosis (exclusively due to lack of testing) and, even after diagnosis, we did not have clear expectations of what we could do or what could happen. During this time, I kept my freelancing job, did all the chores, looked after him, went to the hospital and appointments time and time again, and began stressing about money more than ever since expenses were mounting up and it was all on me, a freelancer. Not having a diagnosis took a toll on me and I became depressed, to the point of actually beginning to plan suicide. I now understand that this happened because I was helping him, but the doctors were certainly not helping him or me.

    Now, here comes the important part -NONE of this ever made me throw myself in the arms of another man. I got treatment and got better really quickly. Even after treatment, I thought of leaving more than once when things got tough, but I loved him, so I did my best. So, whatever you do, DO NOT LET HIM use your illness as a “justification”. As ChumpLady and many others frequently point out here, when you want to leave a relationship, there are honest ways of doing so, particularly if you’re leaving the person that you loved-oh-so-much and respected oh-so-much for so long.

    However, my husband did change. I only noticed in the last 3 months of our relationship – when he was a lot better and actually had the ability to do stuff. I noticed he’d lost interest in the things we used to do together, and was making a lot of time for Schmoopie, which he justified because she was going through a hard time (she was a mutual friend, or so I thought). When that became unjustifiable, he said I was too controlling. I didn’t have a D-Day per se, but I watched my husband have a full-on EA affair with Schmoopie in front of me, in my own home. He maintains to this day that he never touched her, but for me that’s not even the most important thing: she became his priority, when asked to stop, he didn’t. I have my suspicions on top of that, but no proof. I left him, he begged for me back, Schmoopie was still his priority but I believed him when he said he did love me and was devastated when I left, and three weeks later he left me with no explanation other than “I am not 100% with you so I can’t be with you right now”.

    My point is my ex was absolutely wonderful (even though I did nag and complain a lot, which never seemed a problem) for years, until he wasn’t. That he was close to perfect for me for so long does not change the fact that he lied to me and tried to make me believe that his love for Schmoopie was my fault (because I was depressed, because I was too controlling, because I was nagging him… you name it). He is not a serial cheater, but he’s clearly not very honest either, and he’s certainly extremely selfish.

    So it hurts like hell. I am only 4 months out so only now am I starting to believe that he would do that to me (knowing full well, after reading ChumpLady, that my story is one of the better versions of this that can happen to you). Even though I went immediately no contact, only breaking it for divorce proceedings, I have tried justifying him to unbelievable extents (all the way to brain tumour, of course!), and every day is incredibly difficult even though now I wouldn’t touch him with a bargepole. I replay it over and over in my head. I will ask why a million times. I will wonder why he’s behaving strangely, if he’s already gone. It’s because he changed, he became another person. It doesn’t matter who he was – what matters is who he is now. I changed his name in my mind, so if I want to call Ed, I know David will answer instead, and I don’t like David. I will have a good day and suddenly, for no reason, go down the rabbit hole again. Reading ChumpLady whenever that happens has been a lifesaver for me too. I now have my own UBT in my head, which is great and entertaining.

    So, dear I Need Peace, peace is unfortunately still somewhere ahead of you and I, but we will get there :). Surround yourself with family and friends and learn new things that require concentration so you will give your brain some rest. I took up boxing, which I love and has been wonderful for realeasing anger as well.

    And to ChumpLady – thank you so much for your wonderful website! And to CN – your mightiness stories help me during the darkest moments. Keep it up!

  • Yes, he sucked from day one you met. You just didn’t know it because people like that are really good at conning others.

    The letters and other romantic gestures you mention – honestly, only a narc can sustain that level of constant attention. It’s a shallow act and an act for an ROI – you were giddy in love and telling him constantly he is the best man ever, stroking his ego and feeding attention to him. He also coldly zeroed in on the fact that you are such a deep romantic and that these gestures will work on you well and leave you blind and loyal. Yes, many high functioning narcs know to give their victims kibbles… long as the victim gives waaaayyyy more kibbles back to the narc. Whatever kibbles you get, your repayment rate is tenfold. Eventually, as you look back, you’ll realize this. How much your life revolved around him, his needs, his wants, his career, his life, etc, etc, etc. Meanwhile your needs took back seat….but hey the letters and ILU’s….it’s like working for peanuts, Peace and work you did.

    The phone and e-mail thing – you made it easy for him to fool you. First of all, people don’t need technology to cheat. Second, you were too willing to buy into that if he doesn’t have a smart phone and leaves his one e-mail open, he couldn’t possibly be cheating. Wrong. He could have 10 other e-mails he doesn’t leave open. He could have multiple phones you know nothing about. The phone thing – speaking from experience. Fuckwit had 3 phones that I know about, plus 5 other voip numbers….that I learned about….. yup. Look back at all the late nights, absences, work meetings, school meetings….you’ll start to see more how you being reasonable and supportive of him was actually used against you. You didn’t question him, you didn’t nag, you didn’t wonder where the heck he is at night – you just made it easy for him to cheat and God alone knows how many times he did. You only caught him once, but that’s enough.

    The nice gestures…. That’s probably the biggest mindfck of them all. Yes, many narcs are pillars of society, community, church, etc, etc, etc. When you see them do something nice, you are projecting your values to these sick people. In reality, they aren’t doing nice things to be nice or because they are nice. No, nope, nopity, nope, nope, nope. They do these things strictly for payment. In their case payment is exactly that – admiration, gratitude, adulation, attention, centrality, look at what a good man he is hip hip hurrah. One way to call these people out is don’t show sufficient adulation or gratitude and you’ll see their mask fall so fast and show naked rage and vindictiveness. How dare you take something and not pay with sufficient attention. You will be punished for that.

    By your own admission, you’ve spent years jumping on him as he walks in the door showing your love. You were the perfect chump – giving and giving and then some. Your mistake is projecting your giving nature to him and believing that he is just as genuine as you. He isn’t and never was.

    So yes, he always sucked.

    • The worst part is when they interpret your trust as not caring. That’s what I got. At first I did complain when he was out with friends every Friday night and didn’t take me along. His response was “you need to make more friends” and I ended up apologizing to him for being too clingy. He trained me not to care if he went out with out me. Later, after the cheating, he claimed that he didn’t think that I would care if he cheated since I never complained when he went out without me and assumed it was because I was happy to be rid of him. There is no way to win with these people. Whatever you do, it’s just wrong no matter what.

      • Wow, this is unbelievable. Interestingly, mine also complained that he started to hang out alone as I would not want to go out every night. It is never their fault obviously.

      • Thanks so much for posting this comment. Mine would become enraged if I asked where he was or who he was with – “how dare you question me” “why don’t you trust me” etc etc. He conditioned me like Pavlov’s dog – I was actually afraid to ask him where he was and what he was doing – then when he decided to leave with married howorker he made my not asking an issue that actually got thrown in my face during divorce negotiations. I “just didn’t care”……

  • Most of what I’d say has already been said verbatim – or close to it.

    Here’s one thing that I can add.

    It may be hard to accept that he sucked before – but it should be easy to accept that he sucks now, and that he’s not intrinsically motivated to change it.

    If I said I loved you, punched you in the face, then hugged you and said I loved you, do you think you’d respond by snuggling close in my arms and feeling loved and trust me to take care of you?

    The amount of loving kindness a person appears to show you becomes irrelevant when that person is also simultaneously treating you badly. Breaking agreements and sending mixed messages and putting your health at risk – whether directly or indirectly- are all bad ways to treat you. They are all things you’d think were bad if someone did them to a beloved friend.

    The easiest way to reach through the fog and grab the core item that matters is through this thinking. No matter how much pink frosting and sparkles you smear all over the outside, if the core is still a turd, then all you have is a turd.

    No matter how many nice things he says or does, the core of what he is now offering you is still a turd.

    It’s better to live a life that reflects what is true even if what’s true is really tough than to live a lie. You know this — that’s why you don’t pretend you don’t have that illness and refuse to face it. You don’t want the illness, but you also don’t refuse treatment, decide it’s actually gluten intolerance, and go to the Galapagos for turtle saliva therapy. You face it, and you figure out how you can best manage it, and you keep trying to live your best life.

    This husband is offering you an incurable illness. The thing you need to face (trust) is that in the face of all opportunity to the contrary, he showed you, and everyone, that he’s not going to improve. He doesn’t even want to improve. That’s crystal clear at this point.

    So, it’s time to face it, however sad, shift your life toward sanity and away from his badness to manage it, then go forward living your best life — a life where your home is a safe sanctuary with no liars in it and where you can take care of your well being without the distraction of Mr. Self-Serving always hovering over your shoulder.

    You deserve that goodness, and not less, my friend. Please give it to yourself.

    • Thank you! It was incredibly tiring to concentrate on him while I needed to concentrate on my health. It was all about who he was texting, calling, what he did all day, why he was late.. The level of stress I experienced was intense. I could have never done this to my spouse knowing that he already had so much to worry about, and stress was his biggest enemy.

  • I don’t know what I’d do without you ChumpLady! Three years out and I still find myself, on occasion, untangling the skein. Your clarity of words draws me out of those times like a good slap to the face. This post could not have been timed better for me. I spent last night untangling after going through old photos to delete him from my life. But what I’ll never come to grips with is how many detached, unfeeling people there are out there that have no conscience and flinch not at hurting so many others, so profoundly. It really tests my faith in this world.

  • there is no way to protect yourself from duplicity like this. Trust that he sucks NOW, if he didn’t before. Protect yourself! Tell him he has to make a choice and that it seems he has already made it, and this isn’t working out for you. Then see a lawyer. No one ever said it would be easy, but think about your own self now.

    • Tall One, if it was worth reading once it was worth reading twice! I join you in urging Peace to gird up her armor and stand up to fight.

      Peace, when you take off your rose colored glasses and lay down your spackling spatula, ale sure you pick up your 2×4 of truth.

      The truth is that he sucks. He always sucked. He didn’t get that way overnight. He tricked you. That isn’t your fault. None of this is your fault. His decision to abandon you when you face a terrible diagnosis tell you everything you need to know about him.

      Gather your weapons and fight this asshat. He won’t expect that from you. Stand Up in your truth.The truth is that he is a liar and a cheat and you are not. Get you a “pit bull of a lawyer” and a kickass therapist.

      Don’t talk to that cheater. Don’t beg him to explain. Strike while the strange is hot. Quit trying to understand him. Put all that energy towards making a plan to leave his cheating ass. The man is an ass. Your life will improve without him.

      You are the newly chumped. You have the double betrayal of knowing he betrayed you while you fight a terrible disease. His vows of “in sickness and health” meant nothing to him. Fuck that. Get out!

    • Tall One, if it was worth reading once it was worth reading twice! I join you in urging Peace to gird up her armor and stand up to fight.

      Peace, when you take off your rose colored glasses and lay down your spackling spatula, make sure you pick up your 2×4 of truth.

      The truth is that he sucks. He always sucked. He didn’t get that way overnight. He tricked you. That isn’t your fault. None of this is your fault. His decision to abandon you when you face a terrible diagnosis, tells you everything you need to know about him.

      Gather your weapons and fight this asshat. He won’t expect that from you. Stand Up in your truth.The truth is that he is a liar and a cheat and you are not. Get you a “pit bull of a lawyer” and a kickass therapist.

      Don’t talk to that cheater. Don’t beg him to explain. Strike while the strange is hot. Quit trying to understand him. Put all that energy towards making a plan to leave his cheating ass. The man is an ass. Your life will improve without him.

      You are the newly chumped. You have the double betrayal of knowing he betrayed you while you fight a terrible disease. His vows of “in sickness and health” meant nothing to him. Fuck that. Get out!

      • Peace, agree with all of the comments. If you strike fast and use any guilt he may have against him, win-win!! That’s what I did. I asked for EVERYTHING and pretty much got it. He was in such a hurry to run off with schmoopie…it was twu luv!!! One like the world has never seen before!
        Between his rush to get out the door and the guilt he felt for being such a prick, I got even more than my fair share. I should add, however, his pattern was to find women who had houses and furniture and jobs, so he could slide right in and not miss a beat.

  • Dear I need peace..

    I hear you. I had one of yours too. Fortunately you didn’t have a child (no mention) so you can make a clean break. Mine was a good guy..a great guy infact. He was Mr Nice Guy but he was just a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The saddest part is we finally had a long awaited for child together after countless miscarriages and Ivf treatments then when our gorgeous daughter was two, he walked out on us. Said he was unhappy and that there was no one else – he was just depressed. I had my suspicions. Schmoopie worked for him and would send my ex pictures of herself in shorts and tshirt while on holiday. I expressed my disgust but laughed at the patheticness of this piece of shit woman, never thinking he would stoop so low as to leave his daughter and I. My ex was always saying how disgusting some men are who leave their families for other woman, Anyway we moved countries and he and schmoopie started their relationship. He actually moved countries again to be with her and it lasted not even 4 months before he had a mental breakdown and had to go into hospital. Unfortunately schmoopie wasn’t perfect after all. Oh well I’m getting his money, he’s got no real relationship with his daughter as he speaks on the phone every so often and sees her once every two months if that. None of his friends are impressed with him and his relationship with them is strained. He is a lonely pathetic man. I’m just sad my beautiful daughter is the major casualty in this drama.

    • I am very sorry for all these, these stories are incredibly sad. Life must be great for some when the spouse is available at home, and the other person is fun to hang out with. When the spouse leaves this maddness, maybe then the reality strikes, and the other person does not appear to be so perfect after all..

  • I Need Peace- I think these cheaters can be a bit like the villains in fantasy stories–Darth Vader or Voldemort-characters like that. They succumb to the dark side, which in your case is betraying those they are supposed to love and not caring. It’s just selfish.
    I had a similar story to yours, minus the illness. PhDs, working together on night and day, even publishing together. We would joke about our “pillow talk” being designing experiments. People thought of us as the ultimate couple and when other couples had problems or would complain their spouses, we seemed to be on another plane of connection. Until we weren’t. I knew all his friends and he mine–in fact our social circles blended. We moved shortly after we were married for our new jobs–I got a faculty position and he a biotech position in a very academic-minded company. We both had flexible hours and when our kids were born, we shared the duties as if we were both mom and dad. On almost every weekend, we would explore our new area doing some outdoor adventure. We had an amazing circle of friends with kids the same age and we would have massive play dates where the kids ran around and the adults played board games or did karaoke and I felt like life was pretty complete. Then, he moved up the career ladder, just like yours did. I did as well- I got tenure and had collaborators around the globe, but family was my priority. When he started traveling more, his departure and return would be accompanied by much fanfare. We’d drop him at the airport and pick him up and that would be a family event. Then, he was almost always traveling and the kids were getting older with more activities and it became hard to keep track. But, being the liberated, cool woman I was, I would laughingly joke about my jet-setting hubby as I struggled to remember which country he was in this week. Fast forward to year 17 of our marriage and I have given up my faculty position to move for his job and discover he’s been leading a double life for 4 years and had cheated before that. But the cheating started with the career trajectory. I got the same thing about loving and caring blah blah blah until I made him choose -me or her. And he chose her. A lot of gaslighting about how he’d never been happy, he’d tried but couldn’t and a thousand other lines that all pop up in CL’s book, but I was left wondering if he had changed. Who was he really? He was someone who could be turned to the dark side. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether he started out as a good person…because this is who he is now.

    • Mine too showed his true colours when his work situation improved. He started earning more money and thought it made him more valuable than I was. One day he even told me my job as a teacher was not even a real job. Which was rich because both his parents had been teachers and he at one point had said he wanted to be a teacher.
      But back to my point. He thought his job defined him and entitled him to behave the way he did. He would comment that everyone did it.
      I never realised he was so… Weak. It was répulsive to me. I lost respect for him and it was all downhill from there.

      • Mandie101–I was also told that my job as a professor wasn’t a “real job”. My hours were always flexible, something that is one of the perks of academia. Even though it is a job that never stops and I would be working (reading papers, writing papers, analyzing data, preparing lectures, grading, etc) all the time, other than lectures and meetings, I could pretty much choose which hours were spent on those things and which were spent on family. That made me available for doctor’s visits and driving kids to activities and whatever else needed to get done, while he couldn’t leave whatever it was he was doing because some big business deal or advisory board meeting or whatever was always on the line. Apparently, being able to prioritize your family makes your job dismissible. And he also gave me a line once about people who leave work to have dinner with their families are losers. Repulsive is right.

        • Mandie and MadKatie,

          I am upset for you! My last partner and I met in ROTC when he was a teenager and I was a senior in college (just a few years older than him). When he left me the last time, he told me that my career (military officer, educator, researcher) wasn’t as good as his (military officer, engineer, executive). He got Superstar Subordinate to marry him shortly after he discarded me the last time.

          The last couple of weeks, 2.5 years after last partner left, I started feeling hopeful that I might have met some good, attractive guys–just to find out that they, too, were jerks. Just went out with a guy I really liked (that I met through a meet up event) who sounded a lot like me and interested in me. Before we met for lunch, he expressed some interest in me but did not want me to talk to him on the phone, citing poor phone reception. Into lunch, I found out that he has a girlfriend of a few years in another state. Now he says that he is open to being friends (with me). The situation feels weird; I feel a bit played. Tired of guys online putting me down. (Why do they do this?) and tired of guys saying, ‘I’ll call you.’ (Why say this if you don’t mean it and not pressured to express interest?) I am becoming cynical and angry. One guy during a text conversation started watching a movie and stopped responding. Several minutes later when I typed, ‘Are you there?’ he told me, I got tired and started watching a movie.’ (Why not be a decent human being and tell me so before starting to watch the movie? I would not have been upset.) One guy who is interested is breathing down my neck, trying to get me to date him (we met only a few days ago). Bit creepy, makes me uncomfortable. Sadly, dating or attempting to date has become repulsive. Wish that I did not feel lonely as a single person. I would love to have a decent partner, but these experiences are so revolting that, while wishing for decades that I had a decent long-term partner, I have resigned myself to being single for the rest of my life. Anyone else feel this way?

          I plan to walk out of the horror show (haunted house) of dating and into the light, as lonely as it is.

          • I hear you, RockStarWife!
            I did the online dating thing for over 4 years. Met many men, some of whom seemed nice. I went out with a few of them multiple times and discovered they are not stable. In fact, I really do not feel any of the guys I met were stable or reliable at all.
            I no longer date; I’m not lonely at all. Would much rather live alone than date losers I cannot trust. If God sends someone awesome into my life, I’m open to that. However, I’m not looking because life is busy and good enough already.
            Be careful out there. Keep your standards high and your boundaries firm.

  • Yep. Did we marry a good guy that turned bad or a bad guy who was good at illusion? Did he suck and we didn’t see or does he just suck now? Did we see it and didn’t notice or was it so well hidden we didn’t see it? Was he a narcissist, a mid life crisis case, suffering from some kind of other googleable nightmare? Probably because if you need to look it up something is really wrong. Untangle, untangle untangle. Who the hell knows? I think what she is really asking for is hopium. “If he only did this once and is seriously just a good guy maybe i can take him back coz mines not awful like all these other chumps exes.”
    The only thing left to untangle truly is how to trust that you deserve more. Someone cheating on you during the discovery of a serious illness is just lacking all sorts of the stuff that matters the most in life. And if he lacked it then he will always lack it.

  • Sane people do not lead a double life.

    It’s really that simple at its very core. Any time cheater tries to get under my skin, I remind myself of that simple truth and for me, at least, that cuts through all the gestures and bs like a razor – sane people do not lead a double life. Full stop.

  • Wow, this post and all the responses has been eye-opening, and so helpful. It’s been 1.5 years of NC, and I still find myself wanting to untangle. Like a lot of people here, I also thought I was in this wonderful relationship with this amazing man, until, 16 years in, I found out he’d been cheating for at least 1.5 years. Like so many others here, the wheels fell off his Mr. Wonderful persona when menopause was kicking my ass, my mother died, and a lot of family responsibility had fallen into my lap. Later I found out there’d been several suspicious “friendships” with others (beside the AP) over the years, so it actually wasn’t new–he just stopped caring about hiding it.

    Peace, there’s little I can add to what’s been said here. It’s not you, it’s him. There was probably always something broken in him. The way I’ve come to frame it for myself–because I don’t regret the good years we had–is that the man I had those good years with died/disappeared/ceased to exist some time in 2015-16. For me, he existed up to that time, and I loved him, but he doesn’t exist anymore. There is someone/something walking around in what seems to be his body, but it’s not the man I loved. I miss who I thought he was, but the man he is now is not someone I would ever want in my life–let alone as my Person.

    • Yes, NotAfraid… yes, yes, yes! I wish I could like your response 100 times.

      It’s taken me a long time (and a lot of therapy!) to realize that the man I married has become a stranger, and that the person I thought he was no longer exists, and maybe never really did. What I do know is that the person who he is now is not someone that I would EVER choose to have in my life!

      Thank you for stating this in such a perfect way. You perfectly stated the words/sentiment that I have been trying to verbalize for so long.

    • This is a wonderful explanation; I also convinced myself that the person I loved does not live anymore, and I do not know nor do I want this new version. I believe a large part of the pain I suffered was grieving for the death of the person I once loved.

      • Every single person here grieves for the person we thought they were.
        That is part of the process.
        You NEED to grieve.
        What you shouldn’t do is try to figure out why the man you loved is gone. That is what Chump Lady calls “untangling the skein of fuckedupness”.
        In my opinion, you have plenty of time to grieve and accept. Right now you have to quietly dig, collect paperwork (store outside your home), run credit checks, get tested for stds and get a lawyer.
        Read every response here multiple times and take notes about anything that sounds like your situation. Then get busy getting out.
        That man you love (yes, the love takes a long time to die) isn’t coming back and his cheating isn’t a fluke. It hurts and you don’t want to believe it but he isn’t the special guy who cheats as an accident but you have to trust he sucks.

  • He is capable of betrayal. He may have acted wonderful; it benefited his ego, his image, and his life to do so. But he has the ability to lie to a loved one’s face for over a year. His values are not the same as your values.

  • I Need Peace…I understand the boat that you are in. I also had a husband that gave no indication throughout our years together that he would be a man who would cheat, let alone one who would have carried out a cheating life for the last couple of years of our marriage.

    He was not a serial cheater (that I know of), or even an overt jerk about much. He was easy-going, accommodating. Even now, two years after he left me to be with the OW he was seeing for about the last 20 months of our marriage, our families and friends are still shocked by what he did. Even more shocked that he continues to keep this relationship away from everyone and lie about the extent of what he did. It’s as if he is embarrassed by being with this woman (and he should be because she’s a piece of work), but he can’t let her go. He has to see this to the end, and she seems to be willing to accept that she’ll never meet his family or close friends. I think that he’s got her convinced that his work people are his friends, but it was a new job with people that had never met me so it’s easy to pull the wool over their eyes.

    It took me about a year of untangling the skein, investigative work and a lot of reading in my own trauma counselling to come to an understanding that the person who has covert narcissistic tendencies may very well be the most emotionally-damaging cheater in which to be involved. They are the accommodators who make you believe they are easy-going. They are helpful and kind. They are quieter. They rarely argue. Seemingly Mr. Nice Guys.

    Until you no longer feed their egos. Until life becomes too demanding of them and they don’t receive the accolades they feel they deserve. Until something outside their homelife feeds them more ego kibbles than their homelife. It doesn’t surprise me to hear that as your husband’s success outside the home grew, that he became more disconnected. Nor does it surprise me that as you became sicker and more was demanded of him on the homefront, he folded.

    The Mr. Nice Guy covert cheater is emotionally immature and struggles with the kind of adulting that is about self-sacrifice without expectation of return. When too much is expected of them personally and emotionally, they seek escape. They carry quiet resentment when they feel that their contributions haven’t been fully acknowledged and will often respond by quietly disconnecting.

    Likely, as your husband started down the slippery slope of betrayal, the wrong-doing he was engaging in was warring with the good-guy image he spent his life trying to cultivate, hence the bizarre, erratic behaviour. My ex-husband got so strange, illogical, and sometimes outright cruel, in a way that was so contrary to what I had experienced in the 14 years I had know him before that I really believed during the 13 months of “pick-me” dancing that this was a major mental health issue. Wondered if he had a mental illness. Wondered if mid-life crisis was really a thing. Even his own mother advised him to see a doctor. No one supported him in the craziness, which actually drove him more to be with the OW as “she was the only one who understood what he was going through.” The fact that everyone who knew and loved him were telling him they were worried about him and felt that what he was doing was wrong was simply not enough of a sign for him to seek out professional help. Instead, he interpreted all of it as a justification that he’s never been able to be his real self and that this woman finally allows him to be who he has always really been.

    What what is he? A liar. A cheater. A man-baby. A selfish man who doesn’t have a clue what enduring, mature love actually entails. A grown man in his 40s who acts with the emotional intelligence of a angst-driven teenager who found a similar woman to back him up. And, now that we have been separated for two years and he’s being who he was finally meant to be, I see how lazy he is as a father and family member. Does little with the kids on the days he has them. Doesn’t engage in their schooling or extra-curricular (or maintain consistence for our son with autism).

    CL is right in that you are in early stages of making sense of the whiplash you have just experienced. What has occurred in your life is so illogical and seemingly out-of-character of the man that you knew, and it will take time to feel solid ground under your feet again. It will come. It starts with understanding and accepting that the man you see now is who your husband now is. In time, you may start to identify characteristics of this man hidden throughout the years you have known him. The man you thought your husband was is gone. Whatever his “confusion,” or “crisis,” or “epiphany” has nothing to do with you and it is all mindfuckery. Protect yourself from the mental landmine of this behaviour and work on making sense of who you are. The sooner you grow in confidence of your reality, who you are, what is right and wrong, and you surround yourself with lots of sanity, you will start to feel safe again.

    Two years out and I have just started to feel safe more often than not more recently. What hasn’t changed is that my ex and his shenanigans. However, my skills in containing that to its proper box so that it doesn’t mess with my head and containing the damage to the kids are getting stronger all the time.

    When this kind of cheater is so sneaky at hiding that they suck, it becomes more important to just know that they do.

    • ALL OF THIS!!! I just kept nodding as I read this. You are 100% spot on. I think we married the same man. Mine also went up the corporate ladder and I became of less use to him. One year out and I see it. NO CONTACT or limited contact is the only way to do this as they seem to not know that they did anything wrong. It is so confusing. They can’t be the villain in their own life story so they become the victim….. blame shifting, self preservation, gas lighting all to justify why their needs are so much more important. Thank-you Option No-More.

    • They carry quiet resentment when they feel that their contributions haven’t been fully acknowledged and will often respond by quietly disconnecting.

      OptionNoMore – so much of this clearly. I can now palpably taste his disgust and resentment. You never stand a chance.

      And how they can act like they love you so much? Quote Henry VI Shakespeare.

      ‘Why, I can smile and murder whiles I smile,
      And cry ‘content’ to that which grieves my heart,
      And wet my cheeks with artificial tears,
      And frame my face to all occasions’

    • Well said, Option No More. Your description of a covert narc sounds like a description of my last partner. (My husband, the partner before him, shows all the signs of an overt narc.) Now I know what it’s like to be with multiple types of narcs. At least now, I can spot @*!# much earlier.

    • “A liar. A cheater. A man-baby. A selfish man who doesn’t have a clue what enduring, mature love actually entails. A grown man in his 40s who acts with the emotional intelligence of a angst-driven teenager who found a similar woman to back him up”. This perfectly explains what I am also going through, there was no better way to put it.

    • This post describes my wasband. He took a promotion but had to work at another location much further from our home. About 15 months prior to discard, the kids and I visited him in that location. However, when it came time to visiting his work he only wanted the kids to tour the place and said it was stupid to take your wife around. Chumpy me went shopping instead. I think he was already bad mouthing me to his coworkers and lining up new supply. The months after that got worse, stonewalling and gaslighting, tricked me into buying a 2nd home there which I never would have done had I known the discard was coming 6 months after that. Once it was discard day, all the resentment spewed out like a volcano blew its top. I never put him first (but married howorker mother of 3 does uh huh), my side hustle took time away (no it didn’t as I never did it on weekends he was home), and even in law school I never had enuf time for him (I didn’t just graduate I’ve been licensed for many years)! So discard day was just a list of my most awful offenses but never mind I’ve been having an affair for 1 year that I just threw in there. Lil inferior man must have had such a power trip. He couldn’t control that I made more $ than him in both w-2 and then started biz to even bring in more $. My life is easier in many aspects since our separation 6 months ago & I got those divorce papers filed 4 days after discard since he refused to stop seeing howorker, refused counseling, and now I know that wouldn’t matter since he’s a covert narc. While together, I was exhausted from working full time, being the one to shuttle kids around, grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, bill paying, and my side hustle biz. But if he mowed the grass, roll out the red carpet for him! Well I do that too now and no big deal plus I get some exercise. Nothing is ever enough for a narc, women, booze, and money. Now that I know of his affair, I can see signs here and there of micro cheating over the years along with inappropriate female coworker relationships. I thought I was the laid back cool wife since I trusted him. Now I’m working on boundaries and recognizing red flags as I hope to avoid narcs in the future. His discard speech bothered me for weeks (because I knew something was so wrong about his delivery/no remorse/blameshifting) but thanks to chump nation, YouTube, and my therapist I now know I was married to a narc sociopath.

  • She’s in her late 30s and hubby found someone 20 years younger. He sounds like a pathetic excuse for a human. He does, indeed, suck.

    • Oh my . This post is triggering to me . My ex was different to I thought . He wasn’t selfish , generous both financially and physically. Very affectionate , caring , thoughtful and sensitive . He paid for my parents to take vacations , bought my daughter ( not his btw ) a first class ticket to visit a friend in Hawaii and contributed to her going to college .

      Then I got sick . It was an incurable autoimmune disease that while you couldn’t see , made me feel very tired , achy and anxious .

      Within a month of me being dxed I went from being a high dollar stock to a penny stock .

      He was distant , quiet , less affectionate and just not the same .
      He never had passwords on his phone or computer so one day I looked and to my utter shock he was on Ashley Madison and Tinder .

      I confronted him immediately and of course he cried , begged for forgiveness and said he was just looking for a “ distraction “ due to the stress of my illness .

      His last sentence told me all I needed . I immediately kicked him out and divorced him .

      Here’s the deal there’s a reason why your vows say “ in SICKNESS and in health “

      These types can’t do messy , or hard , or anything that takes real adulting .

      Looking bask there were signs . He never was wrong ! I can’t think of a time when he didn’t blame someone else for something.

      Even me . My disease caused him to go on those sites ! Pffft

      Divorce this fuck boy. You need a man and he’s not one . You’re still young and guess what ?

      If you stay with him , you will eventually over the years have some other health issues and do you really want to worry about going through this again at 65 or 70 ???

      It’s fairly easy to have a good marriage when things are going well . Hard times don’t determine character , they reveal it . He’s revealed his . Take action

      • I admire that you did not let him use your illness as an excuse. You are absolutely right, God forbid, what happens when one needs care in 60s, 70s? Can these partners be trusted? I doubt it.

  • He doesn’t wish you never found out because it hurt you.

    He wished you never found out because then he could keep doing it.

    He’s not sorry he hurt you, he’s mad he got caught.

    He does suck. He sucks like the rest of them. CL is right. He was Mr. Perfect as long as things were good but the minute you got sick, as soon as his love was tested, he bailed. He bailed and failed.

    That’s what I’m going to call it now. When a cheater’s character is tested by a difficult time, they bail on you and fail the test. The ol’ Bail n’ Fail.

    That’s what he did. People who do that suck. It wasn’t anything you did or didn’t do. People who chose to lie and deceive their spouses suck.

    • You are absolutely right. He wished to continue his despicable conduct and my discovery removed him from his comfort zone, not that he cared that I was devastated and went through an intense stress. At some point he told me that he hid it all in order to protect me, can you believe?

      • Yeah, I can believe he said something that stupid and selfish. Cheater 101. It’s all about what they want and they believe they are entitled to do this, so they justify it to themselves that going behind your back is just protecting you. As if it’s something they don’t have control over, like just not doing it in the first place wasn’t an option.

        It’s profoundly selfish and narcissistic.

  • You know how I know your husband sucked? This line right here.

    The good thing is the treatment did not change my energy levels; I never skipped work, I was positive, outgoing, and no one at work realized that I was dealing with such a thing.

    “Luckily my rare illness in no way infringed on my ability to be a full time wife appliance! In fact, I was even able to keep it a huge secret so no one would think worse of my inattentive spouse!”

    I can file that one under all the times I told people how much I really enjoyed having “the day to myself” on my birthday.

    • You are right. I was never demanding in any way after the illness. Not stressing him out pleased me, as I thought it would not be fair. Seems like I was way too thoughtful, yet it was still not good enough. It is just like the pick me dance, no matter how perfect it is, it will never be enough.

  • This is exactly how I felt when my ex left me. Now I know more.

    I stupidly agreed to an open marriage. While I was dealing with a breast cancer scare (that turned out to be benign) he and his other partner decided we were polyamorous. No input from me, except that we agreed we would NOT be polyamorous. While I was recovering from surgery a month later (not related to the breast cancer scare), the OW convinced him I was being lazy and over exaggerating my recovery. At one point my ex told me that I’m the kind of person who waits for my doctor to tell me what I can do while he is the type of person who pushes himself. Um… that’s called following my doctor’s advice. How does that make me a bad person? Oh, they needed a scapegoat, a reason to justify them planning to run away together. They’re soulmates after all.

    Thank god I saw the light pretty quickly and GTFO.

    • Let me guess. One of those things the doctor advised you was no sex for some specific length of time so of course he had to spend more time with OW because you weren’t putting out because you chose to listen to your doctor instead of him. These assholes are pretty predictable.

  • Hi I’m another chump here to tell you your story is very common. I was married for 20 years, and to my knowledge he didn’t cheat until the last three years (but who knows?). I also went through the “he was a good person til he changed” bargaining stage of grief. Nope he’s always sucked. I didn’t see it during the early years because I loved him, I was loyal, and I projected my values onto him. He might not have been cheating on me, but he was ALWAYS an ass, but I didn’t see the forest through the trees because he was mine right up until he got bored. Time and no contact has given me the clarity I lacked when I was young and in love. Now, in hindsight, I remember the myriad of ways in which he sucked, and I’m amazed at how much I spackled. Trust me, you, too, will wonder what you ever saw in him. Little things will come to your mind, and they will seem isolated at first, then you’ll remember more and more, until it’s clear to you that his character was always shitty. There’s something shitty in your letter that caught my attention, when you first became ill: “My husband sobbed for days saying he cannot live without me”. Does that sound like love and caring to you? Read it again. Do you hear the selfishness now? YOU were the one about to go through hell. YOU were the one who needed support, who needed your spouse to say, “whatever you need my love, I will get you through this”. But no, he cried about how it affected HIM. Love is GIVING, not TAKING. The guy is an ass. You are better off without him

    • This is such an astute comment. He was sobbing not about you Peace, but about himself. Selfish to the nth degree.

      The more you learn about narcs, the more you’ll become aware of these sort of things. The seemingly “good” behavior having rotten motivations. For me personally, spending some serious time getting educated about the disorder helped tremendously to see through the bs. As the saying goes, the truth shall set you free.

    • This is spot on. Even though he genuinely worried about my health, I now know that, in the end what would happen to him was his biggest worry.

  • Cheaterpants was a wonderful husband. For 20 years! We did everything together because we enjoyed each other’s company. Our friend and neighbor said, “He has a beautiful wife, a good job, a nice home, a condo at the beach, the love and respect of family and friends. What else would you want?”

    At the time he started cheating our life had gotten easier. The kids were grown and out of the house, we could come and go as we please and we were making plans for when we retire.

    I have a very difficult time believing he was pretending to be someone he wasn’t for 20 years. No one is that good an actor. I know CL is a proponent of not untangling the skein, but in light of my entire life I had known for the last 20 years being decimated, through no fault of my own, I find it difficult at best.

    I miss my husband, I miss the life I had and enjoyed. I’m trying very hard to move forward, I divorced his cheating ass a year ago. But there times when I can’t sleep at night and still cry. I hate him for what he’s done. He’s got a huge void inside him that he cannot fill. Instead of dealing with it constructively, he was destructive. There is no going back now.

    • I agree with you. I think they sometimes do just change although it may not happen overnight. I think my ex changed gradually over time. I liken it to the change in Michael the youngest son in the Godfather who morphed from a decent guy who really didn’t want any trouble into a monster. It happened gradually and it happened for specific reasons, but it still happened and there is no going back. In the end it doesn’t matter why they changed or when. They are who they are now and that person sucks and there is no point in untangling the skein because they aren’t going to change back again.

    • Warrior Princess,
      I don’t know your life and don’t know your husband. Perhaps he was a decent guy for 20 years in your relationship (marriage). However, based on what I’ve observed, some cons really can ‘act’ and fool people, including spouses, for 20 years or longer.

  • They change when someone is stupid enough to flatter them with their attention. That’s about as deep as it gets.

    • Yes. Thank you, dudders. And that dumb dumb won’t be able to fill his bottomless pit of self esteem either.

  • My cheater conveniently “fell out of love with me” due to an illness. He also conveniently didn’t tell me and conveniently fell into the vagina of a younger woman. We had been together over 25 years. For all those years I didn’t think he would cheat on me and abandon me and I didn’t think he sucked as a person. I found out that not only had he cheated for over five years, he had been planning to divorce me as soon as he could afford to. To just leave me to get progressively sicker and die without anyone to care for me. When things were going his way and he didn’t have to be brave and caring in the face of something scary, he was probably not cheating (I’ll never be sure). But he flunked the basic test of character which happens when there is adversity. So yeah, he did suck and so did your cheater. They didn’t change in terms of character. Character is set in stone. So they were shallow, cowardly and weak all along and we just didn’t know because their character had not yet been tested. Their level of investment in the relationship and the strength of the bond they felt for us had not been tested.

    He claims to love you but still cheats? He doesn’t love you. He says he’s sorry but still cheats? He isn’t sorry.
    That’s the awful truth if it and it’s brutally hard to accept. But accept it you must.

  • This is something I too struggled with for a while. My ex was also outwardly kind…..did chores, bought me chocolate, gave me cards (puke), told me I was beautiful and he was so lucky to have me, blah blah.

    I had a lot of what I thought were wonderful memories…..trips we took, good times we had, things he gave me. But this masked who he really was: a passive aggressive conflict avoidant insecure phony who was too much of a coward to talk about what bothered him.

    So he compensated by making snide remarks under his breath, making little comments to others to embarrass me, following behind me to change the house temperature when I wasn’t looking….just being a general asshole. But when called on it he’d play dumb and pretend he had no idea what I was talking about. Then he’d half assed wash more dishes and I was supposed to forget about it.

    And the pathetic ego….he was so insecure that he wore/still wears a shitty jet black toupee (he’s 65 now), kept a skank ex on the side our entire relationship, and had terrible boundaries. He once made a comment to a friend of mine about sending him naked pictures of her and her boyfriend, then played dumb when nobody thought it was funny. I let him have it later and he threw a fit because his could I think he was a pervert? He was just kidding…..

    But I now know that he’s always been a piece of shit….he just covered it by playing dumb and love bombing.

    And I suppose I spackled.

    No more. Divorced him last year and have ignored all of his pathetic hoovering. Guess his dime store whore isn’t filling the never ending void in his self esteem.

      • He does, but his ability to bullshit himself is beyond my comprehension.

        Now that we’re divorced I’ve had a number of people ask me about it. Everyone knows and they all make fun of him.

        I kind of feel bad for his whore if he’s the best she can do.

        • Also, his 5 o’clock shadow and all of his body hair (he’s quite hairy) is gray, but somehow the hair on his head is jet black, crooked, and doesn’t blend.

          He’s a dumbass.

    • ” this masked who he really was: a passive aggressive conflict avoidant insecure phony who was too much of a coward to talk about what bothered him.”

      THIS x 100!!!!!!!!

    • I related to much of this. Especially the snide remarks behind my back, ones that our son saw and hated his father for. My ex was so generous, blah blah blah…it was a way for him to help people make excuses for when he was shitty, because clearly he was a nice guy to always be volunteering to help and throwing money at people. Of course, I was the idiot that believed when he volunteered to tutor the daughter of a “friend” of his. That was his excuse to see his skank du jour.

      Mr magnanimous was actually helping himself to strange. These people always have ulterior motives behind their seemingly not sucking.

  • I Need Peace:

    You said you spent hours reading stories from untold numbers of chumps, yet you still believed your story to be unique and you didn’t see a single parallel. As CL so perfectly stated, “As much as you resist the idea, you’re in the same boat as all the chumps here — you believed the best in this person, and they betrayed you.”

    INP, once you wrap your head around the fact that your spouse was exactly the same as ours — perfect and wonderful, until they weren’t — the faster you will heal.

  • “He found someone 20 years younger and was lying to me day in and out, without shame, without remorse.”

    yeah, that sounds like someone who doesn’t suck…

    i agree with myredsandals – most of our ex-spouses put up a good front. but that front is absolutely necessary for them to achieve their primary goal: maintain the “safe” (marriage) and the “strange” (affair(s)) for as long as possible, simultaneously.

    my ex has maintained a live-in relationship with her last affair partner. they’re engaged to be married. my teenage daughter tells me they fight constantly and that their house is a difficult place to be.

    the “strange” isn’t fun without the “safe”.

    you sound like you could do a whole lot better.

    • They think the “safe” is boring, until realizing that the “strange” alone will eat away their life, which is what the cheaters deserve.

  • I haven’t read all the responses and I want to make this clear to the original poster that your story is indeed quite similar to many stories on this blog. Cheaters for the most part start out wonderful and we believe we are lucky. And then the heinous truth is revealed and we now no what evil is. We question how in the world this happened at the worst possible moment of our lives – death in the family, cancer, job loss, you name it, we’ve written about it. Your story is not unique and I hope you can find comfort in this truth. It does not in anyway diminish your pain. You are in the company of so many men and women who have been cheated on.

    And CL is correct, we don’t know all the truth and we likely never will. Your ex is toxic. He will hover you multiple times and then ultimately leave you. He’s not a good person. You, on the other hand, are glass half full and filled with beauty. I hope you always remember your worth.

  • Chump lady, and the other chumps that responded to my letter,

    You are absolutely fantastic, and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I wish my therapist was able to give me one tenth of the insight I received from you today. I will need to re-read all the comments as there is so much truth in them. I am certainly in “untangling the skein” stage.
    I never wanted attention or was needy before or after my diagnosis, yet, I was still thinking what I could have done differently. You were right, I spent so much time on “pick me dance”. I was being extra cautious for every word that came out of my mouth not to offend him or bother him in any way. I had to be the perfect wife to win him back; like a robot that shows no anger or stress; always cheerful, easygoing, understanding. When I found out about this for the first time, I tried to listen to him with upmost maturity despite my devastation. I listened to his feelings. I tried to justify what he did. Things he said were incredibly hurtful yet I still listened to him. At times, I could not hold my pain, I cried and responded with anger (and I had every right to do so) to which he said: “I see that we cannot talk it like two adults”. Selfish is not a strong enough word for such a response.

    I read all other marriage sites and blogs, where there is a clear attempt to try to convince you that this is the best thing that happened to you, now you will reconcile and be together happily ever after. However, in order to reconcile, you need to play the right cards. You know your spouse more than anyone else does, and you will win him/her back. So, the betrayed spouse will need to master the “pick me dance”, so the betrayed spouse needs to do all the work. I wanted to believe in them but finally admitted myself what kind of a nonsense it was, and found chump lady’s webpage.

    The confusing thing is he always wanted to be with me at the doctor appoitments, and says that he always will. He does not want to leave me and disappear, says that he “will always be there for me”. Perhaps it is because he feels ashamed- though I suspect he does- who knows. These attempts of “I care about you” do not change what he is capable of.

    Thank you!

    • Oooh boy I really want to reach through the internet and give you a huge hug because you need one.

      The going to appointments, the claim he wants to still do it….none of that is caring about you. This is the definition of image management and also the dismantling of your image to others. People will discover he is a cheater and it won’t look so good when it comes out that you were ill while he was busy boinking OW. Heck, some people might even look down on him for that or worse quit associating with him, cut him out. For a narc, that’s a nightmare and one that has to be managed at all costs.

      Your particular narc type cares about his image, about public perceptions, about adulation. So, he will play the role of “caring”. Anyone calls him out on it? Hey, he went to doctor’s appointments, he still does, he is holding your hand…..but the OW….well…you know how it is…..poor me, my wife just couldn’t be wife or he is just so grief stricken. He is setting up the “pity me” card to use against anyone who might censor him for cheating on you.

      Also, if you raise too much of a stink about it, he is building himself a defense. Look what a great man I am, going to doctors, holding her hand and what do I get in return? What a b she is being to me. Can you see why I found OW to comfort me? Feel sorry for me.

      Other than that… minimized your life, your needs, your illness….for what? Walking on eggshells is not what a loving relationship looks like.

    • We are all here.
      We all have had similar experiences.
      We all have our POV. And we all care enough to comment.

      Just remember your worth.
      Remember how important and valuable you are to the world.
      Do not settle for less than what you are worth.

      And we all are telling you that you are worth more.
      And its really hard to know that, but on the other side you’ll know.

      My X had her first “documented” affair and I tried to work through it. That was 10-odd years ago. Then she had another. And another. Ten years ago I could be exactly where I am today, but ten years younger.

      Remember your worth.

    • Chumps are excellent problem solvers! I felt resolved to leave the day I decided “he is not a problem I am willing to solve anymore”.

      I am sure you will find a phrase that holds so much meaning that you will hold on to it and not the cheater.

      • Agreed, DC. As a chump, looking back, I was a (very busy) problem-solver.
        And you’re right, I too found a phrase; “She’s no longer my circus.” 😉

  • InNeedOfPeace, you are worth SOOO much more than this jerk can offer. He is unable to provide compassion and love the way a rattlesnake is unable to provide French lessons and lullabies: it’s not in his nature. You ex should not be with you at doctors appointments because he does not DESERVE to be with you at such intimate moments. Sending you strength for your journey.

  • Sorry this happened to u too. Sucks but u need to move on. That person u thought u knew never truly existed. Which you will see once u move on. It’s sucks so bad but u got to protect yourself and move on to a Drama Free life. He wants cake. My ex said he was just going to keep cheating on me with the ow. I just stared at him. The lack of caring and empathy for me and our son was mind blowing. I said to myself who the fuck is this person? Not who I married in 2008. It’s because he’s a narcissist. Start reading books on narcissism and u have a-ha moments why the person standing before you is one of the character disordered. U will see the red flags u missed and find ur own closure without the cheater. Sucks but it the truth.
    Time to move on because is his behavior acceptable. Is he honoring his promises and commitments? Is he invested? Hell no. He’s invested in himself not u. Keep coming here too. Everyone here is very supportive and will help u gain a life. Go no contact or low contact if u don’t have kids. U have to start moving on to heal.

  • Mine did that exact same thing . “ I’ll always be there for you “ “ I’ll never leave you “
    Oh and the drs appts ? Mine went too .
    It was all about managing perception and trying to look like the good guy .
    When I divorced him he went around telling everyone how he did so much for me , went to my procedures , was supportive and encouraging etc …

    He didn’t tell them he was lying and trolling Ashley Madison and Tinder with a whole written profile .

    These guys lie !

    He wants to cement you in when you are vulnerable and what better way than when you go to doctor appts .

    You deserve so much better !

    • I want to respectfully correct you, Christina; “guys” don’t lie…CHEATERS lie.

      My (now) ex-wife originally dropped the bomb on me by stating “I don’t love you anymore. I want to be single. I want a divorce.”…the emphasis is on “I”. From that, she charged toward the proverbial finish line, and our divorce was official 90 days later. I didn’t want the divorce (note: I didn’t discover the affair until later). Now, I’m finding out that she’s telling people the divorce was MY idea, that I (ME) wanted the divorce. *smh*

      Again, “guys” don’t lie…CHEATERS lie!

  • It hurts when you are no longer blind and your eyes can see.

    I thought mine was great for 25 years. My parents even said he did a Yeoman’s duty. (Google that it basically means you are a humble servant). The last year to 2 years he turned into an asshole, a raging person. The time Period he was in emotional then physical affair with Warthog2000.

    In the end I saw something to the paramour that said “Protection of you is paramount, everyone else can go fuck themselves”. That’s me, my children, everyone. To think I cried and begged that man to come back home, over and over. The blinders have fallen and I can see.

  • There are two universal truths to untangling the skein. When you have convinced yourself cheater was good and can’t figure out why they would act in such a way…..

    When your brain loops the questions why a cheater you thought was “good” did this to you and your family, These two thoughts give that a dead stop for me.

    #1. After years, the core attachment of the relationship should set in and have a intrinsic value. It should be something to be protected and trusted. This holds true for relationships with close friends, family and even pets too.
    — I (the chump) developed that trust/value. I reveled, admired and appreciated it. What should have developed, HAPPENED – on my side of things. — Cheater did not form this attachment.
    Before discovery chumps can project this trait onto them, because we consider their morals like our morals.
    Cheaters don’t have this “love equity bank”. It never developed with chump, it probably never developed in cheaters other relationships, too.

    Cheating is really, really, REALLY not about the chump.

    Trust that they suck. The cheater is NOT going to magically grow this bond with the OW/OM. Nor their future friends and pets. They do not get a character transplant. The OW/OM has the prior knowledge that they chose an unfaithful partner, many chumps never had that perspective.
    It is what it is.

    At least as a chump you can heal your loss, and go on to connect with other beings in a meaningful way.
    Remember that.
    #2. YOU as a human do not have the ability or right to make other people’s choices. You just can’t and you really wouldn’t want to, either. Not in the long run.

    #1. The bond did not gel on cheater’s side. Something important didn’t form.
    #2. You can’t change or dictate another beings choices.

    Well. There you go. Those are the answers I keep returning to anyway.

  • I went through the exact same thing. I spent so much time trying to untangle the skein of fuckedupedness – looking back now, I know that there were so many red flags that I missed during my marriage. I thought he was a much better man than he actually was and thought he was an amazing husband. In reality he was demanding, emotionally abusive as the years went on, and was rough on our kids when I wasn’t home to witness it. But I was also diagnosed with a rare disease before he had an affair, and I had gotten very sick. Instead of taking care of me and helping me figure out my treatment options, he completely shut down. Like you I felt like a switch was thrown, that his behavior changed drastically. He became secretive, distant and cruel. I know now that he is a raging narcissist, but the impetus for him to find another woman was my illness. He didn’t look far either, he had an affair with someone I thought was a friend – who was helping me through my physical struggles. That was a double whammy!!
    He refused to pay for treatment because it was too expensive, so my mother paid for it. He refused to acknowledge my physical limitations and I would constantly have to tell him “but I have a disease!!” Something you should never have to do – defend yourself to your spouse over something like a DISEASE. I was scared enough about what was happening to me, and he wasn’t willing to help. My mother still tells me of the day she sat down with the exhole and had a frank discussion about my disease and how they were going to handle it, because I was getting so sick so fast. She said he had a completely vacant look on his face, like he had checked out and didn’t even respond to her concerns.
    And that’s it completely. Not only did he have an affair, but he further risked my health by exposing me to herpes (thankfully I didn’t contract it). I found out later he would also bring home gifts for me after he had been at the whores house. It’s all so disturbing and fucked up.
    Turns out – my health has gotten so much better since he left and we don’t live in that toxic environment anymore. I still have a disease and still have limitations, but they really aren’t that terrible. Not like they were when he was around. He absolutely is not the man I was married to – I’ve been assaulted and stalked by him, he gave up custody of our kids, our kids have been abused under his care, I have court orders protecting them, and he hardly sees them at all at this point because they are old enough to decide for themselves now. My point is, I can guarantee you that if you really start to look at your cheater you will see that there were red flags that you missed, or explained away as being acceptable. These people gaslight to make you think you’re crazy for things that you might question. I don’t think personalities can change that much so drastically, but in my case my exhole is absolutely crazy. Needs medication and should be in a room with padded walls without medication crazy. For a long time I blamed myself for bringing the whore into our life, but I am so thankful for her and her herpes-infected vagina. He was so desperate to get away from me, that he contracted a disease to do it!!!! That’s pretty funny to me.
    Hang in there. Life gets so much better without the cheater. Take off your rose colored glasses and see your ex for who he really was (and I know it’s hard, it took me awhile to take mine off). ((Hugs))

  • There are people so adept at impression management, they can keep up the pretense of being wonderful for a loooooooong time in the correct circumstances. When all is going well, they are kind and thoughtful and loving. At the sign of a crisis, though, they exit the situation faster than Road Runner escaping Wile E. Coyote. I Need Peace’s cheater sounds like such a person.

    To those of us with a conscience, it is hard to believe such people exist. Sure, we know about sociopaths like Ted Bundy, who could be in a stable relationship while murdering other women. But the guy/girl next door? the person we are romantically entangled with? Surely there would be a sign that they are inauthentic fakers?

    Not necessarily. You may see small cracks in the armor here and there, but they are fleeting and seemingly inconsequential. Even with training in psychology, I had a hard time accepting this without direct experience–the seemingly insightful guy in my relationship seminar who had cheated on his wife after she got a diagnosis of MS; a former BF who was beloved by EVERYONE but was hiding smoking, alcoholism, serial cheating in his former marriage, etc. As soon as I uncovered one lie, the warm nurturing person I had known turned into an ice cube.

    How do these people manage to portray themselves so alluringly while hiding hearts of ice? Self-control, a desire to appear Fabulous, both of which mask an inability to connect to another person at any deep level. Thus, as with I Need Peace’s cheater, as soon as his comfy marriage was threatened by her diagnosis, he dropped the mask in favor of easier-to-obtain kibbles which required nothing of him. Sometimes evil masquerades as your neighbor or your lover.

  • I first learned my ex was a cheater when I went to the hospital. The abuse that followed when I was in so much pain and could barely function was beyond… When you get really sick seems to be a prime time for cheaters to show their true colors. I’ve read SO many stories of cheaters amping up their abuse or uncovering their true selves when the chump gets desperately sick or has some major injury event. This is not a rare story unlike the others on here. There’s something about a chump being in an extremely weakened state that makes cheaters want to redirect all attention and drama onto them rather than supporting you.

    It was only some time after the first discovery, when I was still recovering mind you, that I learned ex was a serial cheater who had been cheating the whole time.

    BTW ex would express remorse and deep love, etc. constantly while still continuing to cheat on me, gaslight me, manipulate me, and lie to my face. It’s all manipulation. Don’t buy that shit for a second.

  • I just found out last week (3 yrs post DDay and 1.5 years post divorce) that he also saw prostitutes in addition to the two mistresses and sex clubs and orgies. On Dday he swore he told me everything. Nope.

    Like Tracy said: “That you know of.” For a long time I did not and could not believe he’d do this. But not only did he, he did it for 10 years! I doubt I still know the full extent.

    And I’m finally finally getting to the point that I just don’t care how many or when or who or why. I’m just glad he’s gone.

  • The percentage of men who leave chronically ill wives is astronomical. There are so many of us with this story….Let go of what you now know was a conditional, contingent past and focus on your own wellbeing.

  • Dear INP,

    “We refused to own smart phones” ergo no text messages to affair partners ? Burner phone.

    “We used the same computer” ergo no hiding anything. At the library, I’ve walked behind what I assume to be married folks (diamonds/bands on the left ring finger) and they’re cruising dating sites.

    Sorry but it’s time to see your husband for who is really is-a liar and cheater.

    • Also, there’s the old fashioned classic: meet a lady in a real world bar and have an affair. I mean, technology makes it easier but affairs were aplenty before sexting.

      I believe my ex was a bar troller for years.

  • This ALL sucks, especially him. I was 10+ years in before I started to really see red flags. And yes, it was right around the time I was undergoing some health issues. So, yea, he sucks. As long as everything is going exactly how these people want it to go, then they’ll make you feel like a million bucks. And, I bet when you get around to actually deconstructing things, you’ll see lots of other signs of cheating too–access to the internet aside.

    Best of luck. It’s hard to pull yourself out of this muck, but it sounds like you’ve got great education and a good job, so you’re ahead of the game! Just throw yourself into that and away from him.

  • My best friend died two months ago, at age 34, after a horrifying two year battle with cancer. Her husband stood by her side without question. He did the hard work if caretaking with compassion and deep love, despite facing his own challenges during this time (his mom died of brain cancer). He would have gone to the moon for her, and we talk daily about the amazing woman we lost.

    INP, that’s what you deserved from the man you married. My friend’s husband is a master class in what love is. I hope all of chump nation knows a love like that someday, whether romantic or otherwise.

  • What do people here think of the ‘he didn’t suck’ mindset in the sense of ‘it was good until it wasn’t’?

    For context: very recently found out my partner of 10yrs had been cheating with the same woman for 5yrs. This is obviously not something I could even begin to forgive and the relationship is very clearly over, currently living with friends and hoping to get my own place in the next few weeks.

    As well as the betrayal of the cheating/lying itself, his reasoning and logic for why and how he did it and let it carry on so long shone a light on some major character flaws which made me realise that the relationship would never have stood the test of time and that there was every chance that even without any infidelity, he would have let me down in some huge way at some point anyway.

    But… I still think he didn’t completely suck the whole time! He was caring and affectionate and funny and we had a really nice life together. Even while the cheating was going on he was there for me when I needed him and even changed some behaviours (not related to the cheating) when I made it clear my needs weren’t being met in some areas of the relationship.

    I know it sounds like I’m trying to defend him and going on about what a great guy he is, but I am very clear that reconciliation is not on the cards (and to be fair he’s not pushing for it).

    What I’m struggling with is the idea that I might have spent so much of my life with someone who was just a complete turd and that the whole thing was a sham. He has shown that he’s not the man I thought he was, but it was a good relationship that met my needs and made me happy… until it didn’t.

    Does anyone else feel this way about their ex… Or am I just a chump?!?!?

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