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Is Being Alone Worse Than Being with a Cheater?

Dear Chump Lady,

Is being alone worse than being with a cheater, if by alone you mean something like “alone for at least the next 20 years”?

Part of me thinks that despite my (wayward) partner’s flaws, the alternative is not to be with anyone at all. Not all of us are blessed enough to look like magazine material. And even if that’s unrealistic, I know what my past experience with the opposite sex has been — desperate. I had to work my ass off just to get the (wayward) one I have. Like the song says, I took what I could get. Not everyone can get the perfect spouse, just like not everyone can get the perfect job. A lot of people will say that this is just low self-esteem, but that’s bull: if you’re incompetent, employers will not hire you or keep you for long if they do. If you’re unattractive, the opposite sex won’t even notice you.

Whether I try to convince myself that I’m really a catch (ignoring the reactions of others in the past) or not, the reaction of the opposite sex will be the same regardless. The vast majority of people either find you attractive, or they do not. Last I heard Susan Boyle was still a virgin even after all of her fame. And hitting the gym didn’t really have any effect on interest from the opposite sex; I’ve gotten negative comments about my appearance from the opposite sex even when I was in the best shape I’ve ever been in, and the person making the comment was not.

So please don’t throw platitudes my way about beauty being in the eye of the beholder, and just stick with your thoughts about whether people should stay or go when they have no other options (or might have other options, but would have to work full-time just trying to find someone else that would reciprocate their interest — assuming that we rule out trying to date someone that you don’t find attractive yourself, which can only end in disaster).

Does a cheater, like old age, beat the alternative?

Jen

Dear Jen,

I can’t decide that for you. I can tell you I’d rather be alone than be abused and continually rejected, but hey, that’s me with my cornucopia of options over here.

just stick with your thoughts about whether people should stay or go when they have no other options

You ALWAYS have options. You may not LIKE your options (that sounds like your problem), but you have them. You can spend a lot of time bitching about your options, or you can gain a life and develop better options. Yeah, even if you’re ugly. Even if your chin hair has chin hair and your belly sags and you need a small army of barbers to shave your back. Yeah, YOU. HAVE. OPTIONS.

I reject the premise of the question — that “unattractive” partners need to hang on to cheaters because they can’t do better.

1.) Perfection isn’t the standard. 99.9 percent of us are not magazine material. Plenty of ugly people attract. (Newt Gingrich has had three wives. I rest my case.)

2.) Below-average looks are not equivalent to incompetence. People don’t partner up solely on the basis of attractiveness, for starters. (And employers, judging by every single one I’ve ever had, tolerate quite a bit of incompetence. Many even promote it to positions of authority. I once had a job where my boss locked himself in a small office with a cocker spaniel for 9 months. I just Googled. He’s still in that job 20+ years later. I don’t know about the spaniel.)

3.) You deserve respect and good treatment regardless of your looks. Being ugly isn’t carte blanche to be shat upon and you shouldn’t accept it.

Besides, is your “wayward” (I hate that term) perfection himself?

Who made him High Lord and Executioner? Why does he get to decide your attractiveness? Why does anybody?

Do you think Gertrude Stein was wracked with this kind of self-doubt? Think of all the amazing, accomplished people who were less than standardly attractive and all the things they achieved. Do you think Albert Einstein ever stopped and reconsidered physics because of his hair? There are many lives to aspire to. Most of us (see 99.9 percent above) are not going to cause people to stop in their tracks and swoon over our beauty. And I detest the cultural diktat that women must be Conventionally Attractive to matter. (The goal posts are constantly moving. Lose 20 lbs and 20 years. No, now 30.)

I also reject the idea that your current relationship with “wayward” is sustainable. If you’re that ugly, why do you suppose the cheater is with you? You serve some purpose. Paycheck. Housekeeper. Face of respectability. Any of those factors could change according to his whims. Why give him that power? If he’s devalued you with cheating, what makes you think you can’t be replaced? Why be a fuckwit’s Plan B when you can be your own Plan A? Get in front of that shit.

or might have other options, but would have to work full-time just trying to find someone else that would reciprocate their interest — assuming that we rule out trying to date someone that you don’t find attractive yourself, which can only end in disaster

This sentence is like that Seinfeld skit where George (who is bald), won’t date a woman with hair-loss. So, you’re unattractive, but God forbid you date someone who is unattractive?

What the fuck is wrong with your values? I can’t tell if you’re self-loathing or just superficial.

If you’re superficial, then cheating can’t hurt you that bad, because you’re only invested skin-deep. Keep your cheater, front your phony life, and tell yourself this is the best you can do.

If you believe that’s the best you can do, it is.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • What struck me about the CL forums is how smoking hot a lot of the members are. Cheating doesn’t happen because of looks, it happens because of a serious character flaw. If you continually want to be abused and unappreciated, by all means, stay in your marriage. If you want some agency in your life, dump the asshole, get a haircut, and work on being someone who appreciates others for more than just their outward looks.

    • Why do you need to be with anyone? I have no intentions of getting married again and have no desire to put forth any effort to find a new partner. If it happens it happens if not I am happy to grow old alone.
      My cheating ex has a long term GF who is his wife appliance. She is not attractive. First time I saw her I asked the kids, “who’s that dude with Daddy”, “that’s Miss L”. Even after taking closer look I still thought she was a man and not an attractive one at that. He definitely traded down but she serves his purpose -maid, child care provider, chef, bank, laundress, secretary, chauffeur. I don’t ever what that life. I may be getting old and fat but I am so happy to be alone. And I am killing it on Weight Watchers!

        • Single is the new married!
          Seriously I don’t get the alone fear.
          I’m active and busy and very happy.
          I suppose one could argue that when I get old I’d feel lonely. I’ve found that there are lots of persons over 60 who are alone. Either through death of partner or whatever. So we all end up alone at some point.

          • Single is my new married, definitely.
            People (actually sisters of 50 plus mostly) keep telling me, oh gooddie, you found out cheater just before turning 40 and not 50. You are still very attractive, more than average and now you can lock down someone (preferably 50plus guy) for life, which, as they tell me, is so impossible to do from 50 ys on?

            Well, I guess all of CN pretty much was trying to do exactly this with their best intentions and in their best shape when planning for a family or coupled life in their twenties to thirties. Wasn’t old age that came in our way. Just a cheater and years of holding on (sunk cost approach) to gain the prize of not being alone even when we had a bad gut feeling or after D-days.

            I’ve been a chosen prey to predators all my life due to my looks. Even as a child, I’d have to listen to dirty remarks from married men or friend’s fathers. Narcissists will go for different things they need in different people. They mirror, they obsess on a certain trait which will be exactly the one you will be criticised for later and discarded for (or they claim lack of it later).

            If you’re working your butt off to secure a relationship at early stages with no reciprocity, I believe the probability of dancing for a narc/cheater/predator is quite high.

            I don’t want to work at finding someone, not do I want to be singled out and love-bombed.
            Now at 40, I’m living a single lady’s life, I’m a mom (and often a dad too) happily in my clean and girlie house (boy, did that cheater leave dirt and washing even being an absent father and spouse). I enjoy dating and fwb arrangements but I really can’t imagine coupling up ever again.

            I’ve just invested in two partners which claim to last me til old age – two professional R. Kaerchers (the yellow cleaning force gadgets). At times I really look forward to spending some hours with them (grinning already).

            If they were the last men standing between me and being alone forever, I’d gladly choose them over a cheater anytime.

      • Yes! When I finally saw a pic of the woman ex cheated with I realized she looked just like him. It was pretty gross.

        I’m older, never did quite recover physically from childbirth, sag in a lot of places, my hair is gray in not particularly attractive ways, I carry too much weight, have crooked teeth, and never was conventionally beautiful by magazine standards. I remarried a man who is probably considered similarly in those ways (a little more weight, graying, etc.) but to me he is gorgeous. To him, I’m beautiful. If I hadn’t run into him, I probably would still be single mostly because I didn’t want to get entangled with anyone ever again.

        There is absolutely nothing wrong with being single for the rest of your life. There are so many other ways to find companionship, sexual or otherwise, in this world and we often forget it. Many older women are finding living with friends as “partners” in their later years are actually preferable to remarriage. Dating when they want to, but going home to a place that is solely theirs is awesome too. Focusing on making yourself happy rather than cleaning up after someone else. Being alone doesn’t mean lonely, and being single doesn’t mean you have to go it alone either. Get pets. Be a foster parent if it moves you. Volunteer places where you meet other people who have similar goals and just enjoy the company.

        I don’t understand the aversion to being single. I had some awesome times being on my own, even as a single mom. If I hadn’t met the man I married, I probably would still be living on my own with my child, enjoying life because going on vacation with a treasured friend is super fun. Taking myself out for an amazing gourmet dinner and lingering over the creme brulee with no one trying to divert my attention from the creamy delight is decadent. Taking my son to the movies and getting the giant ice cream afterwards just because we can? Exquisite.

        Because I learned to live a happy and fulfilled life on my own, I was sure to not accept a partner merely to quell loneliness, only if they truly added to my own happiness. It’s how I eventually fixed my picker.

        • Having found out the true nature of my ex at 70 ( online dating specializing in married women to avoid any extortion attempts ), I had a choice to stay with a really creepy narcissist for the remainder of my days on this planet or go it alone. I’ve been alone now for two years. Yes, it takes some time to get used to it but you do. Having lots of fun with women pals, travel and my hobbies. I say go for it. They say it takes one helluva of a man to replace no man. Apologies to the male chumps here.

          • Lol! I’ve never heard that phrase before but it works for both sexes!

            What an inspiration. Keep rocking the good life!

      • RaffNoMore love your post! My ex also traded way down. His hoe worker is not attractive at all. This was hard at first because it only made me feel more rejected but I realized the same thing You did. She does whatever he says and likes what he likes. He loves that and hated that I had my own opinions. She can have him. She thinks she won the prize but she’s in for a rude awakening!! He is a narcissist with zero empathy. Not my circus anymore!!

        • Same here. Husband’s married howorker is 11 years older than me & has bug eyes. He didn’t want me discussing work, politics, etc. because he stopped caring for my opinion. It’s great not being the wife appliance anymore! Maybe she’ll stay with her husband then he can truly be alone until he finds new narc supply.

      • It’s so nice not being a wife appliance anymore and being manipulated by a shallow man. I like my independence. My son made a comment about a boyfriend and I laughed and Mom doesn’t need to take care of anyone else. Taking care care you, me, and the hermit carbs are enough right now. I enjoy my aloneness.

      • I now love being on my own also. Some people in crappy relationships fear being alone. Once you get used to it there are a lot of positives. But I think you have to be happy with yourself and have an active life. It is quite liberating not to rely on someone else to give your life meaning.

    • Exactly! How many of us were cheated on, no matter how good looking….

      As CL says, our options are as good as our values.
      I don’t value being ridiculed and humiliated, having my financial and physical health threatened, nor being exploited because I am “a purse or a nurse” to a shallow fuckwit.

      I cringe in shame about how much I invested in a shallow fuckwit an spackled over his deal-breaking flaws.

      I am proud of myself for gaining a life. I am 68 Jen, and I know I am never getting a new partner. I have to build a totally different, partner-free life and I am. And you know what? It feels great!

      Rolling in laughter about cocker spaniel guy.

    • ALONE IS BETTER THAN BEING IN A BAD RELATIONSHIP.

      100%

      What good are smoking hot outsides if your insides are rotten?

      Serial killers can be physically attractive.

    • Exactly! I was first cheated on when I was (arguably) in the best shape of my life. My ex-wife cheated on me with a man who was older than her father who had severe mental problems. He thought he had hit the jackpot and begged her to leave me to run off with him. She wouldn’t do it. At the time I thought she didn’t because of him being so much older, but I now realize how cake works for these disordered people. That didn’t end well for him because he committed suicide when his wife decided to leave him.

      Now I’m working hard at being the best me I can be. I’ve been dressing nicer, lifting weights, using an exercise bike, eating right, going to church and trying to be the best dad I can be. However, I’ll be honest…it’s a massive struggle. I really wanted to give up first thing this morning. Last night I went to bed shortly after I got off work. I intended to just take a nap, but couldn’t get back up. I slept all night and still woke up tired. I thought, this sucks…but I’m still not going to give up! I only feel this way right now. This is not who I am, this is just how I feel in the moment. It will pass and I will overcome it.

      It’s like that scene in that movie The Matrix. Where the character betrays the group because he wants to be put back into The Matrix. He knows the world isn’t real, but he doesn’t care. Notice one very important thing about that scene. He also wanted his memory wiped. He didn’t want to remember the truth. He wanted to live the lie without knowing its a lie.

      I don’t have the option of getting my memory wiped, but if I did I would never do it. Just like in the movie, I’ll live the truth of struggling to survive before I ever live the lie of a happy, healthy marriage to my cheater. I’d rather push myself every day to barely make it another day, before I ever give any more energy to her.

      There’s a fringe benefit to that attitude that I didn’t even think of; it’s quite attractive to others.

      • Good for you! Regarding your fatigue, maybe you’re just doing a lot but also maybe you need to see your doctor and get your vitamin D and potassium levels checked. That can also cause fatigue.

      • Great reply. I’m disappointed Jen made this about looks. I’m feeling much like you at the moment SweetPotatoFlakes.

        Really down. Really bored. Desperate enough to sign up to a dating site then bail on it within minutes because, gross guys looking for sex. At least i recognised I’m desperate (been messaging the ex a lot, hate that) and know fully that i was desperate when i first met him and stayed for his abuse for 15 years.

        I’m over not having my kids because quite frankly, lonely. Im depressed as fuck and just need a miracle right now which doesn’t seem to be coming. Settlement is ongoing (2 years) even though I’m the one paying him out but he is desperate to retain control (and im hesitant to double my mortgage).

        Compulsory heterosexuality and coupledom is doing my head in. I just dont get seen by potential suitors even though I’m not unattractive at all.

        I just know that he sucks. This sucks. And life sucks. But it doesn’t always suck. Its a cycle. Doing the work on me and my lifelong trauma (family of origin now more than the ex). I know im stuck and kick myself for thinking i cant unstuck myself and need a hero to do that for me. That sucks. There’s no hero. Only me. Looking forward to being my own hero one day (and saw how the ex talks to my kids the other day and know im a shero to them.

        • I have my kids every other week btw. Im just over the loneliness when i dont have them. That would REALLY suck if i didn’t have them at my place all the time.

        • Sending supportive thoughts, NenaB.

          In my experience, the trauma bonds didn’t break and I didn’t get to Meh until I went no contact and the divorce was final (2.5 years after DDay.). That was 3 years ago. Life is great now.

        • I joined a singles social group called Events and Adventures!! OMGOSH I’ve done more things in the last month than I have in the last year!!!! It’s all over the US!! They have something to do every day!!! Weekends there’s always a couple of things to do!! And all ages!!! I’ve been to mixers, dinners, horse races and even a Bingo night!!! Hahahahaha. You’re as bored as you want to be!!

      • SPC and Nena – I’m sorry you are going through this. it is a phase. I still have times when I feel bored and lonely. sometimes I have to push myself to get stuff done and not just go to bed. what I realize now is that I have always felt this way but living with FW distracted me. I would focus on him or other plans/issues we were dealing with and I was working. FW leaving puts me squarely in touch with myself. it is time to learn to love me and take care of me. to be cliche – to accept myself and worm on being the best I can be in every way. I am excited about this phase. hugs!

      • Same here. The thought of living with that conniving cheater ever again makes my blood run cold. This isn’t the life I thought I would have. But it’s an honest life. No one is playing me for a gd fool. And I know it’s up to me to make it the best life possible for myself and my kids.

    • Hell…what got me through some tough times is telling myself JayZ cheated on FREAKIN BEYONCÉ!
      So there…cheating is not about our lack of attractiveness and usually not about our sexual prowess…I know we were getting it on pretty good at the same time as he was with his side piece. I think it is often based on THEIR lack of confidence and need for kibbles to believe THEY are attractive enough, rich enough, fun enough, and dammit skanks love them. (Tribute to Jack Handy there with a twist 😉)

  • EXACTLY!!!!! If you don’t want to be alone, Just find someone who is butt ugly but a decent person and just love them with all your heart! It’s not rocket science! (Plus, ugly sex is fricken great. Just get in there and enjoy it. Watch the hairy blubber fly! Enjoy how white/red/blotchy your skin looks in the lamplight. Make weird facial expressions! WHO CARES! You’re free of the cheater and finally you can enjoy life for what it is! Unbridled imperfection!

    • Love this! Told one of my friends who has been divorced 15 years, alone with the exception of dating losers who live with their mom, that she should find a geek, nerd, bald guy with a belly who has a job and will love her for her…she’s still alone. I took a chance and went out with a guy at work I normally would have never considered, he’s not great looking, but tall, which I like. He’s easy to talk to and likes to read a lot, like me. Other than that, nothing in common except we have great sex together. Yea me!

      • Those men can break your heart too. I was married to the geeky tall unattractive bald guy for 11 years before it blew up in my face. In the end he was like all the other cheaters. And I, the one in the relationship that had the confidence and high self esteem, was left questioning everything even my value. It’s taken awhile but I think I am just about back to where I was before he entered my world and then demolished it.

    • You made me laugh, and I needed that! After not one, but 2 cheaters, who were both very attractive, I’m ready for some ugly. As long as it is kind, decent and trustworthy ugly.

  • Let’s face it…..SuperDuperChump is one ugly motherfucker. Always has been. He fell out of an ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.

    SuperDuperChump absolutely has an incredible life….sure he scares himself when he shaves, but he couldn’t be happier.

    • OMG I’m laughing so hard! “every branch of the ugly tree”…..I’m right there with you, man.

      But seriously, this is how it’s done, Jen. As a human being you have a fundamental right to be treated like a human being. A right NOT to be abused. A right to truth and integrity from people, above all from your partner. You have these rights because you’re human — it has f*ck-all to do with looks or anyone’s opinion. But you’ve got to claim that dignity every day.

      Sometimes it’s hard work. Sometimes it means you’re on your own. It’s always, always worth it.

  • How many beautiful celebrities/woman get cheated on?
    If someone is interested only in physical appearance and not your character IMO he’s not worth your time.
    Being alone and lonely is a better way to live. 👍🏻

      • Truth! I work on tv. Won’t say my name, but suffice it to say, my career has largely been predicated on my appearance. The affair partner was on the cute side of plain, but had a facial tic and a huge overbite, and painted on eyebrows. Good looks, just like a lack thereof, don’t protect you from being cheated on. However, I deeply sympathize with you. I also fear that in leaving, I would be alone forever, and being alone is just so damn…lonely. I have three small kids, and have been with UH for 19 years (and he was my best friend for 9 years before that), so leaving feels nigh unto impossible, both economically and emotionally. I am terrified and horrified about the prospect of losing my kids 50 % of the time (that is the legislation in Canada, where custody is now an automatic 50-50 split (as of summer 2019 — bill c-78). If that weren’t a consideration, I also feel like I’d be alone forever, especially given how young my kids are. I just don’t see anyone wanting to take on that burden. Me pre-kids? Sure, I think I’d be in a good position to start over. Me in my forties with three kids? I think people would see an aging woman with a lot of baggage. And I don’t like the idea of dating an endless parade of men, or having them anywhere near my children. The idea is repellent.

        • Jen, there are zillion pretty women around who want to work on TV, so I’m sure you don’t only have a career because of good looks.

          A friend from a very traditional society got divorced even though it’s a terrible stigma. But she once told me that she had never been as lonely as she had been while in that unhappy marriage.

        • I agree with you. I have thoughts of wishing I stayed married to keep my kids, have the motherly control they need like not hi to dad’s and watch IT when you’re 12 plus 100s of other things I didn’t realize would be so terrible. I would have checked out of the false, lie-filled, cheating marriage yet stayed married, gone to law school, saved even more money on the side, fostered more friendships, put more time towards my career… stuff i am doing now but with the strain of shuttling muffs, fighting over this and that with no control, ex not caring about trying to make up like he did when married, skank in his ear telling him to do this or that, him making comments about me, not being able to remarry anyway or i lose alimony… my situaion was different in that he didn’t demean me with words and he was helpful and made a lot of money. He lied, withdrew, flew off the handle, pouted and of course gaslit me. But after almost 2.5 years out I wish i would have stayed til kids grown. Because and here’s the most important point, they don’t get removed from an unhealthy relationship/model. Everyone says the kids have to figure out their relationship with the cheater in their own way, but they’re just learning how to manage a liar and narcissist who they know cheated on and lied to them too, being forced into their wife. My daughter has to be around her dad more now than she was when we were married and on top of that, she doesn’t have my voice of reason there. She is essentially being forced to go along with it. She has to love him anyway, go every weekend, holidat and say things here and there but basically get along. I know this is going to be a very unpopular opinion, but it’s 100% my truth of how divorce has been.

          • Meant I agree with onlyjan about not wanting to divorce cause of kids. And *muffs” was supposed to be kids and a few other typos, sorry. This pop up Charles Barkley epson ad is killing me!

            • That is my greatest fear. I would never be free of him (as he keeps telling me). He would “always be in my life”, as he says. Forcing me to see him at drop-off or deal with him re: the kids and life decisions. I’d have him potentially messing them up without me there to “police” his behaviors, given he’s so irresponsible he never does homework or anything deadline-oriented with them. He’s incapable of paying a bill or his taxes (despite a very high six-figure salary). He’s a good cook, makes lunches and is good at picking them up from lessons, and helps with bedtime, so he does help with childcare. Which can feel overwhelming when you work full-time and have three little ones. Unlike your hubby, however, SmarterNow, my husband 2.0 is a pale shadow of the man he was, and has been in a continuous rage with me since right before his affair started. If he doesn’t have me around to hiss at and be angry with, I’m afraid he’d turn on the kids. He refuses psychological treatment (he was assessed right after Dday and was told he had had a psychotic break — his behavior was so crazed and aberrant during the 4-month long affair, up to and including him hiding video cameras and having hidden conversations with the camera), so I also worry about his mental health, given his sister, father and grandfather all have mental illness. He is up and down like a yo-yo. His behavior is still so bizarre at times. And he tries to control me (financially etc. At one point he was even hiding my keys and credit cards, it was so insane). I could go on (and on) but it all just feels hopeless.

              • Document this shit, I am Canadian too and I know lots of folks who have received primary custody with the ability to limit visitation based on documented concerns. The point of the bill isn’t to guarantee 50/50 custody. It’s to allow it, if both parents are stable and reasonable, because every second weekend with dad is a stereotypical answer that is judgey and sad for a lot of dads, and unfair when mom is a nutjob. It’s not there to impede you from keeping your kids sane and safe. Get a bulldog lawyer and documents showing the mental instability and refusal for therapy and medical intervention. That will go a long way in you asking for more than 50%. It’s not impossible. You can do this.

              • Creative rational — I consulted with a highly recommended, very pricey divorce attorney. It cost me $1250 for less than two hours. I feel very discouraged at my prospects. I don’t have the video recordings. I found them AFTER the affair and he promptly erased them. The one that sent chills down my spine and prompted me almost to vomit, was one he had made of us being sexually intimate. He had planted the camera on the fireplace (his iPhone — I didn’t remark upon it). When my back is turned — he turns to the camera every 45 seconds or so and makes faces of abject rage. His eyes are almost popping from his skull and his mouth was like a rictus of horror/anger. He even made those faces while shaking his arms (his fists were clenched) at the camera. I watched five or so minutes of this before he walked into the room. He turned grey. I asked him what it was and he told me I wasn’t healthy enough to watch it (I had been diagnosed with PTSD at this point from the cheating and concurrent abuse). I asked him again what it was, and he told me he had discovered it three weeks ago, couldn’t remember making it, couldn’t finish watching it, couldn’t understand his motivations, and that he didn’t find it arousing. I begged him to show the counsellor I believed he was seeing, but he did not (I contacted the counsellor myself, and was told he had not come to two appointments he had scheduled). I told my lawyer about this. She didn’t really seem to think it meant a great deal, given I didn’t have a copy of the video, apart from the fact I could ask that he have a mental health assessment, but I would have to retain a psychologist or psychiatrist, which would cost me $30 to $40,000. She also said it would be very invasive, in that they would interview the children, their teachers etc. (And he acts like a model dad, and goes to all field trips etc so he is a favorite of the teachers), and that given he was very successful at work and able to manage a large, diverse team that lived in disparate parts of the continent, it would not be likely to truly uncover anything about him, particularly given he wouldn’t willingly disclose anything. People who go to psychiatrists are honest when they want help. He doesn’t want help, and I don’t believe he would ever be honest, particularly if this assessment were only to take place because he was forced to do so. The lawyer also told me, “just because he’s a shitty husband, does not mean he is a shitty father”, and added that she had had clients with proven mental illness STILL get 50 % custody. It was extraordinarily discouraging. I truly feel trapped. Again, this is just the tip of the ice berg. My husband is very smart, he is very cunning, and he is very devious. He has hidden hundreds of thousands of dollars, and again, the lawyer says I do not have a right to any of it and I can’t request he disclose where the money has gone because the courts “respect the privacy of the marriage.” The only way I could find out is to legally file for separation, and even then, she’s convinced he’s spent it all because he owes $30,000 in back taxes (which shouldn’t be difficult for him to pay) and yet he hasn’t been paying it at all — he’s having his wages garnished. Which is beyond bizaarre. Pre-affair (well, a few months before the affair) he was the best man I knew, and I loved him entirely. But since his affair he even looks like a different man. His expressions, his eyes, his demeanour, his face. For three years now it has felt like I’m living with an alien body snatcher. My father says he actually believes he is demon possessed. This is all such a horror show.

          • Same here. My daughter asks me to take him back because then she wouldn’t have to be with him all the time. Says, before daddy was okay for me in the house, reading the newspaper or sleeping on the couch but I was with you. He was a piece of furniture to her.
            At times I feel, I’m selling her happiness off for mine. I feel I’m not protecting her enough but I don’t feel I should have stayed.
            Modelling self-care and self-preservation is also something.
            My daughter figured out the narc thing at 5yo. She puts it in her own words but hits the nail so well, we’d sometimes shiver listening. Her words have made grown men in my circle cry.
            All you can legally do is validate their doubts and feelings. Work on bonding emotionally, don’t compete with the narc.

            When loneliness hits me when she’s with him, I now take that time to prepare activities for when we are together. Handcrafts, simple things. With cheater around I never had the energy to do more than saving a toilet roll, lol.

            • Yes, those of us that shared children with unstable people have a hard burden to carry. But we could not be healthy mentally or physically living with a disordered person. And we have to model a better life for our kids. Add parental alienation into the pot in my case.

  • Jen – Quality time with one or several high-quality sex toys after your divorce is still better than still more time wasted on a cheater.

    Plus if you like having someone around the house (but not necessarily with sex in mind), there is no reason not to have a roommate, or see if living with a friend may not work for you. That is still better than a cheater!

    • The health risks of being with a cheater vs. A healthy safe sex relationship by yourself with sex toys would be preferable to a cheater, in my book.

      Try taking yourself on a date. Take a shower/bath, groom, use whatever products you like, buy special stuff that makes you feel sexy.

      Light some candles, get beverage of choice, and have good solo sex doing things the way you enjoy them. Try things you aren’t ready to try yet with a partner. Nobody is there to judge. Take yourself out for dinner afterwards.

      Enjoy your own good company.

  • Alone is much better than being treated like you’re not enough. Dump the dead weight, love yourself more, it will all work out, who knows, when you start rockin’ your life, the right one may find you…just don’t wait!

  • Jen,

    I think your issue here isn’t with how other people perceive attractiveness, but how you do. I’m going to be blunt here, but you seem to be the one judging people on their looks. Who cares if Susan Boyle is a virgin or not? And, if she is, it’s none of anyone’s business why.

    If you feel that you need a man to make you complete, you leave yourself wide open for predators, jerks, cheaters, dickwads, and dipshits.

    The advice is simple. Dump the cheater and work on yourself.

    • Yeah we don’t know why Susan Boyle was/is a virgin. Who cares? Some of the nuns at my Catholic high school were the happiest people I‘ve known. And plenty of people have terrible sex. One of my best friends who is in her late 30s just celebrated 10 years being single. She left an abusive boyfriend and now she says her life is her own and she loves it.
      As for the importance of looks, well there was a lovely historic chapel on my college campus next to my dorm. Lots of weddings there and most of the time the couple getting married wasn’t magazine material.

  • I’m only going by my experience but I was DEFINITELY less attractive when I was with my cheater. The misery gave me a stooped posture you can see in photographs, I frowned all the time, I wore frumpy clothes from the charity shop (He spent all the money I earned on himself.). He made me feel worthless. I bet you will be surprised by how much prettier others find you when you are free and happy.

    • It is not just your attractivenes that is brought down by a Narc cheater. I use to ask myself towards the end, “What happened to me? I use to be confident?” I have been out a year and that guy is coming back. Now if I could get my children out. Alone is better if you don’t wallow in the negative. You have to get going.

  • This sounds like someone who is so brainwashed and so low on self confidence that they see no future with another person. I was like that. Im not that old, in my thirties, but I put on a lot of weight and it makes me very self conscious and I didn’t think id ever find someone who would want an over weight single mother of two.

    Well guess what, I did and he is amazing. He loves all of me, he is great with my kids and never fails to remind me how much he loves me and compliments me all the time. This only happened after I started to love myself more and had a bit more Confidence. I truly believe in the saying…how can you expect others to love you if you dont love yourself.

  • Losing the cheater and having friends is a million times better than the alternative. Invest your time in yourself and find your own happiness for a while. It beats trying to please a Fuckwit. As for the self esteem issues, fuck em! Physical beauty is only skin deep. I would rather be with someone that has the mental capacity to keep up with me, loves my nerdy projects, and has something of value to say, you know, character, rather than a pretty Fuckwit that keeps cheating and making me miserable. Until I can find that guy, in my own time, I will just focus on my life and enjoy the process of living.

    Learn to love yourself. Learn to love your life.

  • So basically the original poster is asking if death is the equivalent to being alone and being with a cheater is the equivalent to being old but alive. (“Does a cheater, like old age, beat the alternative?”) Even if it’s in the form of a question I do believe that he or she has hit the jackpot of false equivalency.

    Getting old, if you’re lucky enough to do so, isn’t an option, the decision to stay with a cheater or leave one, certainly is.

    No platitudes here. If being with a cheater is an acceptable option to you because being alone is a fate as bad as death, you have your answer. Stay with the cheater AND own it.

    I have not been in a relationship in more than 5 years. I prefer this to being with a cheater even if it means being alone forever. I was a hell of a lot more lonely in my so called marriage than I’ve ever been since it ended. But that’s just me AND I own that.

    • Dear Jen, pretty is as pretty does, really and truly. When I took off my rose colored glasses and saw just how ugly STBX really is, I was astounded. Then I saw this hot mama in gym class and wondered who the new gal was? Damn, if it wasn’t me. I couldn’t see through my own misconceptions. Now I know STBX is a fat toad of a man and I am a creature of beauty.

      All of that doesn’t matter. It matters how we treat one another. I’d say you can start with treating yourself better. Who needs a new man if you loathe yourself. Do the work to see the beauty that is you. You are the only one of you. Cherish that. Love yourself the way you want to be loved.

        • I’m left reeling from just this. My ex, from when we first met in 2005, started going on about my weight, looks. We had been in a brief relationship when 14/15, he had always remembered me, got together again when we were both 41, both divorced. He wanted the 15 year old back. I fell deeply in love with him, but over 15 years have been told;

          I’ll marry you when you’re a (UK) size 8, I was size 14/16
          I want to see your ribs
          I bet you had nice breasts when you were younger
          I’ll pay for breast surgery
          I’ll pay for a gastric band
          I get more pleasure working on my classic car than I do having sex with you.
          There’s no point having beautiful clothes if you’re overweight.
          You’re grotesque

          We’ve separated numerous times, he was on dating websites, “to see what’s out there”. I always stood up for myself, but couldn’t break free of the enmeshment and codependency. Just before Christmas he sent gushing loving messages to me but then resumed a brief relationship which he commenced Christmas 2018 in Tasmania, when he returned there for this Christmas, visiting his daughter. 4 weeks after declaring love and fidelity to me he sent what’s app message saying he and OW had ‘expressed desire for each other’ again.

          I am struggling with looking in the mirror and only seeing myself through his eyes, like wearing grey tinted glasses. It’s so insidious and debilitating. What someone tells you often becomes what you believe. I frequently talked with him about how looks are really quite superficial, in the spectrum of human attraction, IMO. Obviously they are important initially, but so much else is far more important. He didn’t agree but also was convinced that if any man denies that they want to have sex with lots of different women, they are lying. That was his MO. I know this isn’t true, have spoken with many men who do not think like that. I used to be confident, funny, enjoy life but now feel broken and paralysed. He has, and I have allowed him to, erode my self worth and self esteem. Working hard with a counsellor to redress the balance, maintain no contact and learn to love and believe in myself again. 56 now, and for the first time ever, I can contemplate a future as a single woman.
          Looking forward to when I can once again get dressed and go out feeling whole, not subjugated.

          Tell me please, how can someone with an ugly soul accuse others of being physically unattractive? It beggars belief.

          So, Jen, attractive is as attractive does. It’s up to each of us to find our way. NO ONE on this planet is too physically unattractive to be able to find friends/companionship/love/partner/marriage. No one deserves to be treated so reprehensibly and perfidiously.

          Chump lady – thank you so much for committing your time and experience to continuing this website. It literally did save my life over Christmas, when I felt suicidal after the last DD between Christmas and new year 🦋

          • I’m overweight. I stopped telling myself that I’ll get cute clothes when I “lose the weight”. That doesn’t mean I stopped trying, it means I buy cute clothes and look cute and feel cute today. If/when I lose weight, I’ll get other cute clothes.

            And yes, you do deserve cute clothes. Right. Now. They sure do a number on you, don’t they? I love getting compliments on my wardrobe now, and I have had several of the younger, skinnier girls in my office say how much they love my wardrobe and think I look awesome. I figured I’m not getting any younger, I’m going to wear that darn dress and enjoy life!

          • I am also in the UK and 14/16 is not fat. I wear those sizes and walk marathons, I am fit and active. At 15 you hadn’t finished growing so it’s not surprising your a different size now.

            Buy pretty clothes that fit and take a friend who you think looks good in her clothes. She will help you pick stuff that suits. You will look and feel so much better!

          • Shallow people like your ex are overly preoccupied with looks and weight. It’s a sure sign of a person of low values.

      • 33years, this response has left me astounded! You hit it right on the head. What fat ugly toads our cheaters turn out to be. They were once the light of our eyes.

        I thought my guy was so hot and I’d never find anyone hotter. Through this past year I’d get that stirring in my loins when I thought Of him, or looked at an old picture of him. I knew I finally saw him for the black eyed- black souled monster he truly was when I could look at a picture or think of him and the excitement was just gone! I think that might be what meh is.

  • Love yourself!!!! You don’t right now it’s obvious and that’s where you’re going to remain stuck until you learn how to esteem value and care for yourself.

    You know what I find attractive? Someone to discuss Ivan Denisovitch with. You know what I find unattractive? Muscle bound people.

    Everyone has different ideas of beauty. But until you find and love your own beauty you will continue having difficulty with attraction.

    • One of my cheater’s attempts to throw it all back at me – “well, you were always reading”
      Seriously? Can’t make this stuff up

      • That reminds me that my GF and I are overdue for “naked book club”. We take off all our clothes, get under the covers, and discuss the book we’re reading together. Though, to be honest, we don’t get a lot of discussion done…

        Naked book club is the absolute best.

        • ^THIS! I’m stealing this one, should I ever contemplate a relationship again… That’s my idea of a great date! May I recommend “A Dirty Job” by Christopher Moore, lol. Crazy, funny, absurd.

          Congrats on the new gf, Involuntary Georgian! Glad to hear things are working out well.

        • What an amazing idea Involuntary Georgian! After 6pm and weekends is naked time in our household and it is the best. I love myself the way I am, but there’s something to be said about having my SO lovingly (and playfully) grab my butt while telling me how he feels about me, that makes me laugh and go fuzzy at the same time.

          Naked time with an SO who appreciates and likes you is the best!

          And Jen, life is infinitely better without a cheater, even if you never pair up again.

  • At the risk of sounding superficial, let me say this. I know I’m easy on the eyes….and I’ve been divorced twice. Both men were some form of abusive narc. All my looks did was to serve as some kind of image management for them.

    Neither one ever had my back. Neither one ever supported me in my endeavors or as the mother of their children, both used me for sex… and as a matter of fact, the men I didn’t marry and just dated, just wanted that. I have a terrible knack for attracting men who think that’s all I’m good for. I’ve spent literal years hating myself and my body because I made the mistake of getting involved in men who I was only successful at turning their head. And now? Who the fuck wants to date a woman with EIGHT kids??? Clearly, I must put out…

    So, I’m done with that. I’d rather be single.

    • And it breaks my heart… it really does. But I’m just Done….

      And furthermore, I don’t need to invest in some guy who is going to invest ZERO into my family… or risk having them look side-eyed at my SIX daughters….

      No.

      • Maybe in ten years time love will find you. If not that is ok too. You will have a wonderful life surrounded by your children and later grands!

    • My wife was cheated on by her previous two husbands. She is drop dead gorgeous. She is the whole package. People go “wow!” when they see her. Being gorgeous doesn’t guarantee anything. She didn’t date for 5 years to fix her picker. To work on her self-esteem. Good looking people can have low self-esteem also.

      • I think it is kind of a subset of the pick-me dance. The idea that if you could have controlled your looks, they wouldn’t have cheated.

        It isn’t in our control. It isn’t about how we look, how well we cook or clean, how much money we made or didn’t make. Just like CL says, it is about them and their character flaw. They will let you think it is about one of the above, but it isn’t. Because if you think it is about you, they can get you to dance again. Nope!

    • Kintsugi, I have eight kids too! Only, I have six sons, not six daughters. I keep wondering if anyone would be interested in a guy with eight kids. A slightly overweight, middle-aged guy who’s going bald and gray, with eight kids. Luckily, as a guy, I don’t need to worry about guys wanting me just for sex. Unfortunately, there are a lot of pigs out there. But there is still the potential for someone to want to get involved for materialistic reasons. Right now, I am there for my kids. I’m not going to worry about a new relationship. I have too much to lose financially if I pick the wrong person again.

      • LOL… isn’t that something? And you’ve got it in reverse.

        A man with a bunch of kids doesn’t scare me in the slightest… personally, I was born to be a mom.

        Most of mine are grown, with the two youngest still at home for awhile.

        But yeah. I don’t have time to be chasing some guy or put up with superficial small talk. I’ve wasted too much time investing where I get no return.

  • Jen, I’m also me. I’ve been alone for the past 4 years. And I can tell you I’d rather be alone for the next 40 than be with someone who makes me feel like shit, fucking other women AND fucking up in general, then expecting me to clean up his messes. I’m not going to bullshit you. There are times I’m lonely. But there were just as many lonely times when I was with my ex. Now, however, when I’m lonely I can go out with my friends, volunteer, take a class, do all the things I could not do while I was being used and used up by someone that did not even deserve my time or attention no less my heart.
    Chump Lady is right, no one can decide what is right for you but YOU. Me, though, for me alone is much better.

  • Wow, Jen. That’s quite a rant, but I know you’re being honest.

    I won’t be invited to model underwear any time soon, but I have had quite a few partners. Several were cheaters. I am now very single.

    But I am also a feminist, and I thought we had worked long and hard to change the narrative about a woman’s worth depending on whether she can get hold of a man or not.

    I am 50 years old. I am educated, hard working, reasonably healthy, a good friend, a good relative, and a good employee.

    I pay my taxes, I wash regularly, I go to church, and I try to make a difference to the world every day.

    I go to bed every night, tired but happy because I can face myself and be truthful.

    Who gives a fuck whether I am single or not? I certainly don’t.

    Nor should you. But maybe you’re just having a bad day.

    • I’m in the next text over in your camp. 😊

      At this point in my life, I don’t care one iota what the vessels we pilot around look like. I’m offended, deeply, by the societal focus on unnatural appearances as what makes a person attractive, not just because it’s extreme exploitation, but also because it is unacceptably uninclusive.

      I don’t really care that any one person was accidentally dumped into a particular meat sack. At the end, we all turn into a meat sack again, ashes to ashes. The only thing that matters between initial meiosis and mitosis and eventual complete necrosis is who we actually are.

      And, at this point in my life, I don’t have the slightest bit of interest in any person because of how they look, nor do I find it at all compelling or attracting for a person to want to be with me because of how I look.

      I would absolutely rather live authentically without a partner than be partnered to a person who primarily sees others’ value as being based on appearances or physical traits. I don’t consider that to be accurately described as “being alone” because I don’t feel it’s a condition that lacks something that’s actually needed. For me, it’s more about being authentically me and choosing to include or exclude what’s around me at the time in my daily living.

      Our writer does seem to be pretty appearance focused herself – so her way of looking at things probably won’t align with mine. That’s ok. We each get to march to our own beat.

      The way I see it, though, is that we can’t ever truly be unnatural anyway, no matter how much shiny paint we put on our surfaces. We can’t stop aging, or changing, or having life happen to us. We shit, and bleed, and grow tumors, and get injured, and have babies, and change weight, and live through hundreds of other experiences that make us look like we look, feel like we feel, become what we become, and die when we die.

      A person is only 16 with perfect skin and perky features once in life — if you even get that one year of such a thing (and I know I sure didn’t, thank you chronic illness and resulting surgeries.) I, for one, don’t want to be partnered with a person who only truly likes looking at teenagers and strives to select adults who look as much like teenagers as possible to screw. Because EW.

      Whether we hate it or not, the statement that beauty is in the eye of the beholder is actually true. But it doesn’t mean that each person thinks certain traits are visually beautiful so “someone will think you’re a supermodel just as you are”, as some interpret it.

      It actually means that, sure a person can see the world through a lens of “here’s what perfection looks like” and compare others to it and rate them (hello porn addictions…), OR a person can see it through a lens more like “the realities of you are what make you the you I enjoy. The more I appreciate who you are, the more I associate the experience of you with pleasure and joy and wonder. Observing you here and now floods me with an appreciation of the beauty of all that is you. I see you and I see all that is you, and that is my version of beautiful.”

      Calling the latter bullshit would be pretending I don’t exist. But guess what? I do exist, right here. And I know for sure that I’m not the only one.

      • I am watching my SIL and my Aunt age very ungracefully. They are both determined to be 24 forever. And at 53 and 78 respectively, its not a good look. Tanning bed / spray tans, dyed hair, tight clothing, lots of makeup. Nips, tucks, lifts, and torture. And lots of alcohol. No thanks! I’ll age gracefully with my graying hair, grown up clothing and bare basic makeup – so much easier to maintain physically, financially and emotionally!

      • I keep rereading this post. Thank you. 3 years post DDay, 1 year post divorce. My soul was crushed. Found out he was fucking prostitutes for at least 8 years, 27 year marriage. Thought we were made for each other, we had a great life, so much to be thankful for. I was a faithful committed partner. Made my needs so small I became invisible,and instead of appreciating that, he took advantage of me. Can’t tell you all how much you all have helped me. I’m working on changing my narrative of lonely to solitude. Chump nation therapy is helping. Love to you all.

  • Being with a cheater IS being alone .

    They don’t love you , don’t respect you , don’t care about your opinion or feelings . They don’t care about your needs or your dreams . They don’t care if you are sat at home wondering where they are . They don’t care about you financial security or your retirement plans .

    What is to miss here ? NOTHING

    A person to talk to ? Come join chump nation on Reddit . Go Out and volunteer, get a part time job in a shop where people come and go all day .

    Sex ? Well i had sex at least twice a week for 19 years with a man that could not find anything to turn me on even if i gave him a map and a compass !! But there are heaps of sex toys that are great fun

    Companionship ? Get a pet . If you are not allowed a pet try dog walking or house sitting peoples pets while they go on holiday . Get a hobby , join meet up even to play cards or board games .

    Money ? I bet the cheater was never great with money or spent a lot of it behind your back . Once they are gone you can be your own financial planner

    Being with a cheater IS being alone . I bet you wont feel so alone when you leave

    • karenb6702 is 100% CORRECT!!! Being alone beats being alone in the same room with someone who never valued you.

      • One thing worse than being alone,

        is wishing you were alone.

        Don’t over rate the “value” of being in a marriage with a narc/cheater. You’ll always be on edge about where they are,
        or whether they’ll stay, and usually, they don’t.

        Cut your losses. Life is so short.

    • “Being with a cheater IS being alone” exactly. When I think of the “companionship” I had with my cheating xw, I realize now that she wasn’t there at all for me. We would be lying in bed late at night or early in the morning and texts would come in on her phone. She would always say it was a particular female friend. I had no idea she was actually texting with her boyfriend. That same female friend became an alibi when she would spend the night with him. Our sex life was like yours, underwhelming. She reminded me of an old doctor joke: I asked my patient if she was sexually active. She said “no, I just lay there.” That was my xw. I now realize that she didn’t really love me and was just using me. I believe she is disordered and doesn’t really understand the concept of love. I have dated since our 30 year marriage ended but am now happily unattached, which is far superior to the loneliness I felt as a married man.

      • Although i still hurt very much i still giggle when it was HIM having an affair !!

        He was so cruel and nasty ( really most of the marriage ) but especially on D Day

        The reason why i giggle is on D Day i really wanted to say to him she has had sex with you right ?

        She knows what shes getting ? 2 pumps and a squirt !!

        She knows there will be no foreplay and sex will be over if you start at 2 minutes to 10 before the 10pm news starts !

        I use to bring up sex a fair bit but after a few years i stopped mentioning it as it was a slur on his manliness . It was never to be talked about

        He absolutely repulses me now – YUK !!

  • Jen. First off I don’t believe that anyone is ugly , they may have shit personalities , are shit human beings or are devoid of souls but at least their momma loved them and thought they were beautiful . Secondly , I’m so homely my parents had to tie a pork chop around my neck so the dog would play with me . I’ve still had plenty of relationships . You being down on yourself could be whats at work here . Extreme lack of confidence is a huge turn off for some and a great opportunity for the vile. Being yourself and your best self at that will be noticed and sought after. You have way more to offer than you realize . The fact that you are working on physical fitness is awesome . Some of the gals at my gym are not going to be on the cover of vanity Fair anytime soon but their devotion to self improvement makes them hotter than Cindy Crawford to me. Their quest also improves their overall out look as well . Being the old buzzard at the gym I’m often asked relationship advice . ….. I always tell both men and women “just be you”

  • There’s nothing wrong with being on your own. Would rather be on my own than be with a cheater. Its 2020, not the 1950’s, I know its probably seen to be better in a relationship than on your own. You can only make yourself happy, how much do cheaters actually help you with childcare finances emotionally, they don’t have your best interests at heart.
    You. know you deserve better.
    It is a big change, its hard but you deserve respect. Your not getting it from your husband.
    Looks have nothing to do with it, its about control, the ow will be lying to him, telling him he’s wonderful he’s stupid enough to fall for it it.
    Why do you think your ugly, did your husband or parents tell you that.

  • All of us introverts are scratching our heads over this one. OF COURSE it’s better to be alone than with a cheater!! It’s ALWAYS better to be alone. How else do you recharge in order to face the world?! All joking aside, Jen, you really need to spend some time alone to work on yourself. As Chump Lady pointed out, you either have some massive self esteem issues or you have a very severe case of shallow values. Why would you want to be with someone whose sole measure for whether you are relationship material is how you look? Why are you so quick to rule out someone you may initially not find attractive on a superficial level but who may have a personality that meshes perfectly with yours and who makes you feel valued? Personally, I would much rather learn to know someone as a friend and have that friendship grow into something more based on who that person is, not what they look like. I would like to be known and valued in the same way. No one is ever going to pick me for my looks. I am, at my very best, average in every way. In a way, I look on that as an advantage. If someone isn’t willing or able to see beyond my looks to what lies beneath the surface, I don’t want them in my life anyway.

    • I deluded myself into thinking my cheater(s) wanted to be with me because of my brains, my loyalty, my compassion, my diligence, my talents. I now understand they were all shallow and only interested in how their ability to attract a good-looking partner made THEM feel.

      That ship has sailed. I look good for 60, but have all the physical stuff that comes along with being 60, and I refuse to invest in any sort of surgery that would continue to attract the very people who are only attracted to outward appearances. However, I still have all the other qualities that are part of being a decent human being. The cheaters in my life never did.

  • I left my husband three years ago. My divorce was final fifteen months ago. I’m 66, and although I used to be attractive, thin, and sexy, after the years of devaluing and stress, I’m not any of those things anymore. Leaving and divorcing were difficult decisions, and I weighed leaving against what I perceived I would definitely be losing–a financially comfortable retirement–and would likely never have again–a relationship.

    Living with my spouse under the conditions I was, however, was hurting me emotionally, psychologically, and physically. Plus, I realized that I would have some control over the things I worried about losing and never having again. Yes, I would have less money, but I could determine what to do and how to live with the money I had, instead having to watch my feckless but controlling now-ex squander our resources. Yes, I might not ever find another partner, but the partner I had made me feel alone anyway–and being alone with oneself is far less lonely than being lonely in a so-called partnership. At least out of the relationship there would be a chance of encountering someone who actually valued me for more than the wife appliance and “beard” service I supplied.

    It hasn’t been a picnic. For the past six months I’ve devoted my life to caring for my 93 year old mother, and the stress and strain of that job is wearing. I had thought that after the divorce and retirement, I’d have the opportunity to make my life about me for a while–to get on with the mighty. Some days I’ve thought that if I’d never left my ex, I wouldn’t have been available for this job of caring for Mom. But it takes a nano-second to realize that I made the choice to come and care for her, and I laid out ahead of time the time period and conditions under which I’d do it, which means I have more control over my decisions and life now than I ever did with my ex.

  • I thought my ex-wife was the best I could do. She is conventionally attractive, and to that point the most attractive girl I’d been with. (Got together at 19). I looked at her as way more attractive than I was.

    I thought dating was going to be a nightmare for me since she was the best I could do. I took some time, started dressing better, got a good barber, started working out. Now nearly every girl I’ve dated since my ex-wife has been prettier, and not just prettier, but smarter, with better values too.

    You’ll be surprised what you can do once you work at it.

  • Why would dating someone you don’t find attractive be a disaster? I have met plenty of attractive people that become ugly to me when I discover their personality; and others that initially I was not attracted to that become adorably cute when I get to know them. Looks are only a piece of the puzzle; personality, confidence, happiness, kindness, honesty, integrity etc… make complete picture. I have a feeling your happiness, confidence levels are quite low.

    Also, who and why are people commenting on your looks?? Are you asking their opinion or do they randomly tell you how ugly you are?? I think you need to hang around better people!! Find positive people that can bring you joy.

    If you hate yourself then being alone must be awful, that is why you would choose staying with a cheater as an option. Please be kind to yourself… you deserve better than the way you treat yourself. Looks are truly not that important to people that care. Good luck!!

  • Physical beauty has been discussed since the dawn of time, and folk wisdom offers advice like beauty fades, or is only skin deep. Some people look good, but open their mouth and show they only love themselves, or they are dumb as a rock, or they believe some vile philosophy which denigrates other people or shows total disregard for the planet we all share, or animals who live on the planet, or any person who is not like them.

    I believe beauty, like happiness, originates on the inside. Yes, I find some people more physically attractive than others, but I do not choose my friends by their physical attractiveness. I did not choose my husbands that way either. They cheated because they wanted to, not because they were great physical specimens. Although if you asked them they would probably tell you how handsome they were. They were delusional about many things. But I found them attractive because they could talk a good game, and at least feigned interest in things I was interested in. They were funny. They were great at love bombing, and the attention felt great at the time.

    One of the things about fixing your picker is that you learn to observe behavior in addition to listening to verbal cues. I did not observe behavior over a reasonable period of time when I married. In my youth, I did the same thing with friends. Now, I am friendly, but do not make friends until I have had time to observe if the person actually does live according to what he or she says their beliefs are. Time is the test, love bombing takes a lot of effort, and is hard to sustain over time. My eyes may be older, but even though I need glasses to read now, I can read people a lot better than I used to.

    I think another lesson you learn while fixing your picker is that you can be lonely inside a relationship, or a crowd. You can be alone in a marriage where you carry all the burden or work of the marriage. When you get away from the abuser, and learn you can have joy in your life without that person, you learn being alone, but healthy and happy, does not automatically mean you are lonely. I have evolved to the point I actually look forward to my alone time and the things I can do by myself, for myself, with no guilt. I enjoy my friends and activities, and I enjoy my time alone. It is not a choice of one or the other. Even if I happen upon a mate now, I would not want to be with him 24/7. I would still need time alone, and I would hope he would, too. Even when I was married I did not expect 24/7 contact with my spouses. I enjoyed some things without them being there, and if a man wants to go fishing, or hunting, or golfing, or whatever, and that is what he is actually doing (not cheating with someone else, under cover, so to speak) then great.

    There are many lonely people in the world. I think it is possible to find another lonely person with interests similar to yours even if you look like Shrek. It’s the same message I taught my sons when they were young, if you want to have friends, be one. That takes character and courage, not physical beauty.

  • I have felt more alone sitting across the dinner table from, or side-by-side on the sofa with my cheater than I ever feel when it’s just me, the cat and an empty house. I readily admit that I am attractive, but he never ‘made love’ to me – we had sex, we f*cked, but love had nothing to do with it from his point of view. The gal who came closest to “taking him away from me” was 10 years older, short, dumpy and had a moustache – oh, she also had a few million in the bank from a divorce settlement. The only reasons he didn’t go were: (a) he thought I would never find out and he could have it both ways, and (b) image management for his family.

    Aloneness has a lot to recommend it when togetherness is a constant attack on your self-worth. Try spending some time learning who you are on the inside and the outside will take care of itself. It’s always joy and confidence that make people the most attractive.

    • I agree with you about joy and confidence being the most important factors in attractiveness. A Real smile, honest laughter, enthusiasm, and healthy self-esteem go a long way. Good looks with no character, negative outlook and insecurity are turn-offs.

  • As most of us have had to do, you need to find acceptance of yourself within you, not require validation from someone else. It’s not easy. Right now you are assessing yourself as shallowly as does the jerk with whom you’re trying to have a relationship. When you can be happy with yourself, you will find that “lonely” turns into “solitude”, something entirely different. It’s freedom to do what you want, to develop friendships and activities. But you have to do the hard work first, not just blame your looks or weight. It can be achieved. Fix your picker, fix yourself on a deeper level than looks – fix your looks if you want but do it for yourself. Don’t deflect the problems in your relationship to your appearance. Deflection is in the cheater’s toolbox – they aren’t honest with the chump and they aren’t honest with themselves. Be honest with you! Hope you learn to love and trust yourself because your future will be brighter.

  • Once you start to love yourself more the men may come around. I have been single for almost 5 years. I have dated lots ( a girlfriend and I added up 17 just last week). I know that sounds ridiculous but many were one offs. I am quite overweight and almost 60. The men have their issues for sure—I talked about my recent couch potato yesterday in my response ( who , by the way, had zero libido—wouldn’t even try for my sake—apparently sexting was his preferred sexual activity). It took me 4 years to get to where I feel I am fine on my own. I don’t need a man but thoroughly enjoy dating them. I no longer get upset or uptight if they don’t call or text constantly. I have lots of friends too and just do me. I think the confidence and self love shows and it is very attractive. I am to the point where I believe I may never find the right partner but that’s ok too because I am fine without one. You just need to work on self love. Learn to be alone and enjoy it and build a life that doesn’t include a partner but leave space should the right one enter your life. ((( hugs)))

  • Wow, just wow.

    The idea that we only matter if we are conventionally attractive is such crap. Add to it that only conventionally attractive people have the right to be happy, to be worthy of being loved or even noticed. Then there is the notion that being old, especially being an old woman is a fate is just a little better than death. And last, but not least, we have no value if we have a relationship with another person who doesn’t fit the stereotype of an attractive person…plus they have no value either and are just a place holder til someone prettier comes along.

    Yikes!

    My friend, you have bought that patriarchal line of bullshit hook, line and sinker.

    Guess what? It is possible to have a full, happy, and satisfying life without being a young, nubile, gorgeous woman paired with a handsome guy. Billions of people have proven that true all over the planet.

    Like Chump lady, I reject that notion. I have been alone for many years, and am loving my happy, independent life. I am enough just as I am. Better, I own my life. I get to decide my fate. I go where I want, do what I want. My time is my own, my choices my own. No one but me get to decide my worth. I don’t have to tap dance to get people to like me, they just do.

    I don’t accept bad treatment from anyone. We get what we settle for, and I will not be used or abused. When I see the red flags from someone, I call them on it. If they take responsibility and change the behavior, we’re good to go. If it continues, bye Felicia! They may not like me, but they will damn sure respect me. It’s much better to be alone than to accept abuse in our lives.

    By societal standards, I have no value, being old, fat, wrinkled, opinionated and eccentric. But I refuse to be treated as if I don’t matter, and find myself, strangely enough, with some very good long time friends who love me as I am and have my back as I have theirs.

    You, my friend, are so much more than your looks, or your age. If someone has been telling you only those things have value, they are lying to you. If you believe that, you are believing a lie.

    I invite you to dump your cheater and gain a life!

    • Right on, Tessie! Many excellent points.

      I want to add to one point in particular: having some good friends makes a world of difference. Old friends are awesome but new friends can fill important roles in your life too. Having friends, including new pals, helps you to feel less alone, even if you live alone. I love that I can call, text, or email people who truly care about how I’m doing. My ex pretended to but didn’t TRULY care about me.

      Living alone does NOT have to equal lonely. But to have a friend you have to be one too. Reach out, check in, or just text “thinking of you – how are you doing?” Friends make life so much sweeter 😊

    • Tessie I love “eccentric”! One other thing I would add to the list of “qualities” of beautiful people – have you ever noticed how “beautiful” people are so less likely to be believed guilty of anything. I don’t mean cheaters. Like the likes of Scott Peterson and his ilk. I think his good looks protected him for a while – nobody wanted him to be guilty because he was handsome. An ugly man? Sure, he’s guilty! It’s a sad fact of life I fear!

    • Christy Brinkley is physically gorgeous, and always has been. She married Billy Joel who was talented, but certainly not gorgeous. Her last husband was a total narc. She divorced and lived single. Being physically beautiful is no guarantee of happiness.

      I also reject the idea older women have no value. My mother finally divorced my father after 40 years, and moved back to her family home to care for her father until his death. She had many suitors, including widowed friends of her father’s if you can believe that, but she sent them all packing. She was never a great beauty, but to me she was a force of nature, and always was attractive. She says she has no interest in ever waiting on another man, or listening to him tell her what she can and cannot do. She is free and she loves it. If you wonder where I get my sass and attitude, you don’t have to look far, do you?

      Anyway, I am 66 and my friends are age appropriate within 5 to 10 years of my age for the most part. I can say, without hesitation, the women as a group are far more attractive and active than the men. Most of them are independent, married or not. The men I include as friends may be ideologically different from me in many ways, but we tolerate each other’s differences, and we have a sense of humor about it. Tolerance is key, and appreciation and respect for each one’s talents and beliefs. We don’t have to be homogenous or beautiful to live rich full lives.

  • Let me tell you something. I was hot. Petite at 4 ft 11. Size 6 and an ass that you could break steel on. I got hit on constantly. It didnt matter. Narcopants still cheated. The mental abuse and gaslighting was way worse than the cheating. He had me convinced that I was a no one. No one would ever want me. I was horrible and vile. And i piled on weight. If i wore something attractive he told me i looked frumpy or silly or prudish. I never got it right. But, when i cut him out of my life, I changed. As a person. I realised what happened, why it happened, why I allowed him to treat me like that. How a gorgeous, out-going, happy lady could have her soul sucked dry. I am now 38 and still fat. Let me tell you, fat and alone is far far better than a size 6 and being constantly abused. Will I meet a life partner? Probably not. Am I worried? No. Because regardless of what happens, i will never be as unhappy as i was with narcopants

    • I, too, gained weight when married to CheaterX. I loved to cook home meals and to bake. One of the emotionally abusive things that CheaterX did was to tell me that he wanted X for dinner. Because I wanted to please him, I’d make it. Then he would tell me he was too sick to eat. That left me with whatever I’d fixed. I’d eat more of it than I should. He told me he wanted a pie that weekend. I’d make the pie from scratch. He told me that he couldn’t eat it.

      Now I make what I want to make. I have lost 50 lbs, so I do watch what I eat, but I still make the vast majority of my meals from scratch. I enjoy the fact that I no longer have to cater to his finicky eating.

      I’m pretty sure that I could find someone if I went looking, but right now, I know I don’t have room on my dance card for anyone.

  • I’d rather light myself on fire than stay with a lying, cheating, narcissistic sociopath who treated me and his children like shit. Why would you intentionally allow that in your life? Because the alternative (being alone) is worse?

    Alone sounds great. A cheating partner is with someone else – leaving YOU alone. You’re already alone. At least embrace it and make your life what YOU want – minus the lying, gaslighting, disrespect, abuse…

  • Dear Jen:

    The question, as always, is this: is the marriage acceptable to you? If it is. If you are okay with having a partner who cheats because that is more acceptable than being without a partner, then you don’t need the wisdom of Chump Nation. You have already made up your mind that you would rather be in a marriage–any marriage, even if it’s to someone who completely disrepects you–than to be single.

    If that is how you feel, then that is fine. But I’m guessing that all is not fine. If it were, then you’d not be contacting Chump Lady.

    Here’s the big red flag for me: I know what my past experience with the opposite sex has been — desperate. I had to work my ass off just to get the (wayward) one I have.

    To me, this is a sign that you see yourself as having value only if you are in a relationship. Your sense of self-worth is predicated on being seen as desirable by someone–anyone. The thing is, your potential partners can smell that desperation a mile off. Frankly, it’s going to scare a lot of the nicer men. Most people want to grow into a relationship. Date–see if there is any kind of attraction. Date a bit more. Move into intimacy. Discover shared values. Along the way, if it turns out that there are red flags (you are careful with money and he spends it without a thought, you like playing board games but he wants the television on all the time, etc.)–then you call it quits. Sure, you feel gutted for a bit, but then you move on.

    Desperate people want to bypass all the dating and discovery and move into intimacy and commitment. You know who that attracts? Predators, and cheaters are predators.

    You need to work with a therapist. Talk to your therapist about how you aren’t happy in your marriage, but you are afraid that you’ll spend the rest of your life alone and that you are that desperate for someone that you’ll tolerate abusive behavior. Do this BEFORE you call the lawyer, because at this point, I doubt that you would go through with a divorce.

    You don’t use divorce as a negotiating tool. You don’t say, “hey, stop cheating or we’re getting a divorce.” All that does is drive the cheating underground. You really haven’t stopped them. And frankly, you shouldn’t have to give your partner an ultimatum for them to do the right thing. You don’t say you’re going to file; you file.

    I don’t think you’re there yet.

    With respect to whether it’s better to be alone than married, well, I don’t think you can forecast into the future like that. Remember that even in happy marriages, someone dies first. What happens to the remaining spouse?

    Personally, I think that as you learn true self-worth, you’ll discover that you deserve to be with someone who cherishes you for you, not as a wife appliance who’s good for keeping the household running with the benefits of a bit of sex.

    Best of luck.

    • >> “Most people want to grow into a relationship. Date–see if there is any kind of attraction. Date a bit more. Move into intimacy. Discover shared values. Along the way, if it turns out that there are red flags (you are careful with money and he spends it without a thought, you like playing board games but he wants the television on all the time, etc.)–then you call it quits. Sure, you feel gutted for a bit, but then you move on.

      Desperate people want to bypass all the dating and discovery and move into intimacy and commitment. You know who that attracts? Predators, and cheaters are predators.”

      This is wonderful advice, Kb.

  • I’m ugly, and let me tell you, the only way I’m getting wrapped up in the relationship BS again is if that fool is loaded like Bezos lol. You are gonna pay me for my trouble 😂.

    But really, ugliness is freedom. I don’t say that to downgrade what you feel. I get it. I really do. I spent my entire childhood being called ugly because I have the misfortune to have a wandering eye. I also had severe acne up until my mid 20s. I have scarring from it. It never helped that I have a odd sense of fashion. I love retro styles, weird prints, gothy stuff, makeup, and weird bags. My look has been described as an angsty elementary school art teacher. If I was pretty, I couldn’t get away with it. Pretty women have these expectations put on them they can’t shirk. Me? Nope. I can be in a crowded room and no one notices me. It gives me this freedom to be who I am.

    My son is autistic so even if I was hot, no one would stay. Life is much better than it was when I was married. My finances are finally in order and my life is peaceful. I don’t define myself by my deficits.

    • I would rather have style than traditional “beauty.” One involves taste and self-knowledge; the other is just an accident.

  • I am not unattractive. I even have moments of beauty in the right light and a good hair day…. But I am just a 54 year old, slightly pudgy, but not too bad out of shape, mostly ok looking woman. And I know that the chances of me finding someone in my age bracket that I am attracted to, that has common interests and morals, and wants to live where I live, will be just about impossible to find.

    I am almost 5 years out of my marriage. I haven’t had one date. (Had 2 asks -but you know the saying?: The odds are good that the goods are odd. – fits perfectly here.) Of the few single men in my town that I would like to get to know better, one is a player with girls in every port, and the other would rather date women 20 years younger and with a lot bigger and higher appendages than I have.

    Some mornings like today, I wake up feeling lonely, slightly panicky that I will always be alone, but then I think of the alternative and you know what? Waking up alone in my peaceful, quiet, comfy bed isn’t all that bad.

    Thanks for this article today. I needed the reminder.

  • My XW was/is “objectively” beautiful, so-to-speak: former model (nude and clothed), heads turn when she walks… You get the picture.

    She cheated. I divorced. She did not want to divorce—cake was delicious—and would have been perfectly content to remain married and continue her affair in my face. I would have still been married to an externally beautiful person.

    Six years later I’m still single.

    Here is my go-to chart:

    Single and Alone

    Cons:

    Often Lonely
    Often Horny
    Always Poor

    Stay With Physically Beautiful Abuser (because that’s what cheating is: abuse).

    Cons:

    Feel like killing myself every day
    Watch my children suffer
    Sob constantly
    Still horny anyway because she disgusts me
    Profoundly lonely
    Frightened
    Humiliated

    Pros:

    N/A

    I hope to find someone eventually—beautiful on the inside, most importantly.

  • This little poem speaks to me when I think about being alone –

    Oh Yes

    there are worse things than
    being alone
    but it often takes decades
    to realize this
    and most often
    when you do
    it’s too late
    and there’s nothing worse
    than
    too late

    Charles Bukowski

  • i was alone for 9 or 10 years when i was much younger. People felt sorry for me, but to be honest, i was ok with it. I wasn’t lonely. had some good friends, went to do things i felt were fun & worth doing, if i could afford it. stuff i didn’t like (going to bars), i didn’t do. i wasn’t lonely. think about that. BIG difference between being alone & being lonely.
    Shoot forward a whole bunch of years. i do not consider myself good looking, especially my body shape, which i do work on. For years people asked when i was due, and at that very young part of my life, say 24 – 38. that was painful. but i had to move on.
    Now i am going thru a painful divorce w/ a child. Cheating had been going on at least 4 yrs of our 18 yr marriage. i was treated like shit & felt horrible going home if he was there. my kid was my salvation.

    So, being on every end of the spectrum (young skinny cute single) to kinda cute bad body shape single to married to middle age (my kid was late in life thank goodness) not really that cute body work in progress. What do i prefer/need/want? Exactly what i am now.

    there was nothing lonelier than going home to that rat bastard & his treatment of me, our family & our marriage. I am SO MUCH happier now. people see a difference in that. am i that good looking. nope. do i care? nope. i have the life i built. and if i am meant to be alone, i will be okay. i like me. i know i need to change some things, but i choose when. i choose how. i choose what. in fact, i can choose NOT to change a thing. that is independence. by myself. i am so much better off that way.

    no one deserves to be treated like shit. you are beating yourself up inside your head. i get that. been there, do that. just get out. do what makes YOU happy & fuck all the rest. i bet you surprise yourself.

    good luck! its a long crappy road, but there is a new you at the other end. RUN to her!

  • Hey. I’m not gonna lie. Many times I wished to go back to the day before DDay. Before I knew my life was heading for the garbage can. When all my feelings and intersections with my spouse weren’t angry or defensive or bitter and miserable. So I totally get your thinking. Only you can make that decision to stay. But. You can only fake it so long before the cracks show and you spend your existence as the old shoe flinging zingers and insults at each other. But lots of women do for many reasons. But the thing about being beautiful. I had a friend who looked like beautiful Sharon Stone and still got majorly cheated on by two exes. So looks have nothing to do with it other than a perverse desire to dump the hot girl to make up for their pathetic insecurities. But true beauty is from the inside. That shows in our smile, touch, actions. No one is ugly while helping others, lending a hand, smiling at strangers, playing with kids, holding a pet close, praying, working hard on an important job. Living your best life imparts A beauty no mean dumpy slob can take away. So yes, stay with the cheater. But you can still be beautiful from the inside. I wish you the best.

  • It’s ALWAYS better without a cheater. Here’s what happened first:
    -Not having to fear for my health and safety regarding what potential disease cheater would give me next.
    -Not having constant horrible infections that would last months that cheater gave me and I’d have to miss work and pay SO much in medical care and then react horribly to all of the medication. This was constant.
    -Not have cheater blame me for said infections that cheater gave me through cheating and then use that as an excuse to continue cheating.
    -No more walking on eggshells out of fear for all the abuse.
    -No more experiencing all the abuse.
    -Getting to sleep full nights of sleep without cheater keeping me up to make me physically too weak to fight back.
    -No more constant manipulation.
    -Not having to feel the guilt of knowing I was bringing a violent criminal into the lives of my friends and family. (Cheater is a serial rapist and serial statutory rapist.)
    -No more fearing for my life if I was in the care while cheater was driving and using reckless driving to manipulate and control me.
    -No more fearing cheater would show up at my workplace to harass me while I’m trying to keep cheater away from coworkers.
    -No more watching as cheater would blame everyone else for cheater’s problems and accuse cheater’s own victims of abuse.
    -No more watching while cheater’s mom would bend over backwards to keep cheater from facing any consequences or having to do any work whatsoever.
    -No more having to make excuses and spackle to others for cheater’s scary, borderline violent words and actions.
    -No more having to make excuses and spackle to MYSELF for cheater’s scary, borderline violent words and actions.
    -Ability to focus on my work to meet deadlines without cheater trying to get in the way and create drama to sabotage my efforts.
    -No more having to defend myself to yet another flying monkey or therapist when cheater turned them against me.
    -No more having to justify to others that I physically cannot be polyamorous even if I wanted to because my immune system is not built to be with anyone who is with multiple others, hence the constant infections.
    -No more having to justify my own sexual consent and the fact that I did not want to be polyamorous.
    -No more having to explain that cheating is not polyamory.
    -No more having to work with my specialist doctors or the referral to an infectious disease specialist because i kept getting infections from cheater’s cheating.
    -No more fears that cheater would break into my house at night while I am sleeping to yell at me or make me comfort cheater.
    -Finally being able to relax a little in life and not live in constant fear and anxiety.

  • Think about all the super hot movie stars that have been cheated on. If Halle Berry and Jennifer Aniston were cheated on, that tells us all it has NOTHING to do with being attractive or not. It has to do with a cheater being dishonest, disrespectful and a screwed up person period.

  • The poster with the ‘wayward’ husband is still stuck in ‘hopium’. The word ‘wayward’ gives that away; it is straight from the RIC. Anyway, just take a look at random married couples around you, on the street. No one is attractive! Her letter sounds a little ‘off’ to me. So focused on her apparent ugliness. No one is forcing anyone to divorce a cheater. Stay if you want. It’s your life.

  • In this day and age it is hard to fathom someone being truly ugly. There are too many fixes out there so lets just can the ugly bit. If you compare yourself to a model on a magazine cover, good luck, cause even the model on the cover doesn’t look that great IRL. We all get old but unless you can’t walk or have some old age disabilities you can exercise and get fit. Healthy & fit is attractive at any age. Dysfunctional or disordered people can smell desperation a mile away so that could be the source of your problem You are attracting jerks into your life and somehow they are making you feel you should be lucky to have them even if they cheat, don’t support themselves or blatantly just use you until something better comes along. They always think they can do better, no winning with these types. So you can hang on, put up with the abuse and get dumped anyway or cut your losses.

  • Looks have never bothered me. In fact I would say my ex was pretty ugly – he had terrible skin/scars from acne, was EXTREMELY skinny – I mean SERIOUSLY thin, but he had a smile that went up to his eyes and he was fun – to begin with at least. Somehow life/work/whatever drained the fun stuff away and the booze and the temper took over and he became a monster (I don’t think he always was). So would I rather be alone or with him? I’ll take alone a million times over. I’m very happily alone, in fact. I was pretty good looking when I was younger but age kicks in, weight, wrinkles and all that stuff BUT I got my smile back when I divorced and right now I’m being asked out by my 47 year old ex-colleague (to my 61). We know each other and like each other but it’s not gonna happen. Why? Because freedom is just so great. Intelligence, compassion, warmth, humour – all that is “beautiful”. Physical beauty doesn’t mean a thing if the rest is missing!

  • You’ll telling me you’d rather be with a person who could give a shit less about you than be alone? (I’m not going to say wayward, because that word is ridiculous.)

    And what is this idea you’ll have to “work full-time” to find anybody? You DON’T WORK to find a partner. You get on with your life. You find hobbies you love, work you love, friends you love. Finding a partner shouldn’t be work or painful.

    I’m not a pretty person. I’d say I’m average at best, maybe a 6.5 when I try. I have zero ability to accessorize, do not have thick lovely hair, could stand to lose at least 30 lbs if I’m being honest. I hate my smile. I’ve spent years wishing I was better looking, but it’s not going to happen so, fuck it. I only get one life, I don’t want to spend it wishing I was perfect. And hell, very very few people are. Don’t waste your life worried that you’re not a great beauty.

    I think that wayward you have has done a number on your self-esteem . . .

    • Totally agree about the self-esteem. Abuse will do that do a person. And cheating IS abuse.

      It’s funny…I have an acquaintance that I first met when my marriage was at its worst. The next time I saw her was after my divorce was final. She said I looked YEARS younger. The stress and unhappiness of a terrible marriage will do a number on your looks.

    • Here’s a challenge for everyone: go back and look at photos when you were 5, 8, 10, 14, 16, 20, 25… I’ll bet for the most part, most people will see a “cute kid” or a beautiful child or a face that’s hopeful and happy. Most people low-rate their own looks (and often their talents and personalities and general goodness). Even kids with acne or cowlicks or braces can be beautiful when hope and happiness shine from their faces. If you can learn to see yourself as beautiful back then, you can learn to see your beauty now.

  • If you buy into “better the devil you know”, then please consider that the worst devil you know is the one on your shoulder, whispering all kinds of self devaluing dreck. You are BEAUTIFUL!!!!! just the way you are. A single life with great friends and loving family beats all the work it sounds like you’ve spent a lifetime toiling at to meet some elusive standard of attractiveness and acceptance. Really, give yourself the gift of piece of mind. True story… the week my divorce was finalized, I was diagnosed with an abdominal tumor. Mercifully, it was a benign mass of deviant neural cells. I literally had a tangerine sized ball of nerves removed from my abdominal wall. I took that as a sign of ridding myself of years of angst and fruitless pick me dancing. What a sigh of relief. Please focus on the relationships that are reciprocal and make you happy. You deserve that!

  • I don’t think I am the most handsome man out there. I feel I am average. My XW made me FEEL ugly. She didn’t care how I looked (in a bad way). I am also disabled and have two ADHD children. I had gained a lot of weight. After DDay and I had filed for divorce she told me NO ONE would want me but her….

    But I learned about Narcissism/BPD. I decided to rebuild my self-love. I decided to lose weight. I have lost 80 pounds. I got new clothes. Took better care of myself. Made new friends. Went on trips. Did mixed groups things. Learned to talk to women, become a better conversationalist. I didn’t date. I learned to LOVE Sirchumpalot. After my divorce I dated a couple of old friends. One was my first love. They reminded me of the old Sirchumpalot. What a kind, sweet person I was before my XW destroyed that.

    Anyway, when I dated my now wife she told me that one of the things that attracted her to me was my self-confidence. She is a gorgeous woman. But the other two women I dated were average looking. But to a good man he looks at the person inside. Not the outside but the inside. My wife is very beautiful and it was almost a dealbreaker for me. Very good looking people can be shallow and have learned to get by on their looks.

    I told a friend once that I rather to never have sex again then be in a bad relationship. Don’t be me. I stayed in a bad marriage because I didn’t want to be alone or I thought no one would want me.

    The most attractive thing to another person is if you love yourself!

    • In the midst of me trying to save the “fantasy marriage”(turns out it was my fantasy). She was continually telling me, you will only find slut’s and whore’s. This is when she had at least two married men going and most likely a third. She was projecting her own self image onto my future relationship. It would have been bizarre if I hadn’t already had a whole laundry list of “bizarre”.
      She was making Hail Mary attempts to keep me dancing, by way of insults.

      Well I assure you, sluts, whores, hot messes and superficial beautiful “abnormal”, are not in my future.

      My criteria now?

      Inquisitive, truthful and insightful are my big three.

      I really didn’t make the connection when I started making it my dating criteria.

      I realize now those three things are who I am, and this I am damned proud of.

    • This is 100% right. Love yourself, in the proper way. That means: value yourself. Take care of yourself. Respect yourself. Protect yourself. Develop self-efficacy and confidence in yourself.

  • You all too correct Sirchumpalot. So happy you met a woman who prizes you as the wonderful man that you are. When I first met my now fiance 8 years ago, he said “you are perfect just as you are”. He still tells me that:)

  • BEING COUPLED IS NOT THE BE ALL AND END ALL OF LIFE.

    sure, company is fun. Regular sex is fun. But I have yet to have any romantic relationship that was more fulfilling and healthy than being with friends. We need affiliation, fer sure, but it doesn’t have to be as a romantic couple.

  • Dear Jen…I’m sorry that you have had such negative experiences around your physical appearance. I don’t know what to say about that as I don’t want to counter-act what you know you have experienced in your life. You have had some mean people say some mean things to you, and that is extremely hurtful and unfortunate.

    Yet, in good conscience, I cannot let you believe that your physical appearance renders you unattractive to every male on the planet, and so you must settle for tolerating abuse from any man that is willing to have you.

    There is no way that this can be…not in a world where every manner of person with all sorts of so-called physical “short-comings” finds happiness with another person. I don’t know if that will be your fate, but what I do know is that there is true love waiting for you. It waits right where you stand.

    You need to love you. You are worthy. You have great capacity to live an amazing life being the amazing you that you are, and thus attract to you other amazing people. Maybe one of the them will become your romantic mate for life. Or maybe that is not in the cards for you.

    What is not good for you is for you to make that judgment call for yourself. You are your own worst judge and jury, and you have hung yourself on behalf of all people. Who are you to make the judgment of what I might think of you on my own behalf? If I met you, I might find you lovely and cute. Or anybody else that meets you. But, oh no, you’ve decided it for me in advanced that you must be too ugly to base a relationship.

    I know you weren’t looking for a pep talk or discussion on self-esteem. So I’m not trying to lay one on you. What I want to point out is that you should not be spending full-time finding someone to be in relationship with you, but that doesn’t mean settling either. You do you. Do you really, really well. Then, you’ll never settle, and you’ll be alright on your own and with others.

  • I wouldn’t choose to stay with a cheater because I thought my options other than him were nill but plenty of people do choose this. My therapist said that actually most people do and that the problem then becomes that you are actively choosing to live a lie which never works out very well because we always end up paying for our own dishonesty and often hurt innocent bystanders, too.

    I think at the bottom of this issue is the question, “am I lovable?” The problem is that when we look to other people ( or the absence of other people) to give us the answer, we give away our responsibility to deeply care for ourselves and it is in discarding this responsibility that we create our own version of hell.

  • I’m not looking.

    STBXH is considered attractive. NO THANK YOU.

    Values, integrity, qualities matter to me.

    Life goes on better without a cheater.

  • Have you ever been to someone’s house and they have cats that have litter box/spraying issues? The urine smell knocks you out immediately-but the people living there just smile and carry on, as if the air is fresh and not pumping their brain with noxious fumes of uric acid. It’s everywhere. They’re actually loopy from the slow poisoning experience.

    ^^^This is living with a cheater.
    Stay in a hotel for a weekend and just observe how different you feel being away from the all-consuming cat piss of abuse.
    Stay/go/waffle-whatever. Making decisions requires a clear (or clear-ish) head that is damn near impossible in that environment. Find the courage to do this one thing for you alone.

    Ps: The body stuff is just a decoy. It’s the hammer in the toolbox of control tactics. We all have stories about it. Fuck that noise.

  • Hi Jen,

    Your post really resonates. I don’t know how to encourage you. At 54, I am actually still pretty hot. Do ballet, jazz and yoga at least 10 hours per week and still fit into my high school cheerleading uniform that I wore at 15.

    I got dumped while unemployed and can’t find a job despite my Harvard MBA and stellar CV. I just had to take an intelligence test (WTF?) for a job. The HR guy came out flabbergasted that my score was nearly perfect. Now they are humming and hawing about whether they want to offer me a job that pays less that I made more than 20 years ago and less then current MBA grads.

    My husband dumped me (and my super talented, super smart daughter) for someone uglier, plumper, and dumber. He feels better about himself presumably. The 21 year old neighbour boys say I am totally hot and he was punching above his weight. And still I got dumped and still I can’t get a job. Harvard research says middle aged women get pushed out of the workforce because men don’t want to see them in the office. Research actually says that! How can I combat that? I might look 15 years younger but my graduation dates give me away. There is nowhere to hide.

    The moral? No matter how hard you try to be perfect, it is useless. You may still be discarded. That sadly is how it seems to work. But should I have stayed with him? I just left my in laws and it was a nightmare. I was again not perfect enough because I didn’t spend my whole holiday with them but chose to have two nights alone with my daughter. Had several days of barbed comments because even though it falls to me to ensure my daughter sees his family (daughter won’t speak to husband) it is not enough. They want me to give her up and let her live with them. Again, WTF? I have had enough! I might have been discarded by society but I no longer have to put up with this shit. It may be a small victory but it is a victory nonetheless. Now my only goal is finding a way to support myself and my daughter which may turn out to be impossible despite being a top performer. When the money runs out, I will have to decide what is next but I will try to live a decent life in the meantime.

  • Two years ago, a public figure (guess who) said that Heidi Klum wasn’t attractive! You know — HEIDI FRICKIN’ KLUM?!?! The German supermodel!!!

    She laughed and laughed! Just because an idiot says something, that doesn’t make it true, Jen. Yes, beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. It really is. (And the guy who said it is very unattractive, by any standard.)

  • Regarding the question of being alone, is your current partner good company? In my case, I was definitely more “alone” while married. Years of one-sided conversations and being ignored — in person and in text messages. My ex was a master at ignoring. Getting divorced saved me from spending the rest of my life “alone.” Thank goodness for family and good friends! I hope you have a circle of friends, or close family. If you don’t, start reaching out and making more meaningful connections.
    In my case, being divorced from my ex is in measurably better than being married to him was. You might find the same is true for you if you step outside your current comfort zone. You are worth it.

  • Being alone is infinitely better than being with a cheater! And you don’t need to find another person to make you whole. You can just enjoy your life alone! I don’t even have a lot of friends, none that I can just call up and suggest lunch or a weekend at the beach. So I do that stuff alone! I’ve been everywhere alone! You can enjoy the company of cats, dogs, birds…you can do whatever you want, eat what you want, sing along with the radio, walk around in your underwear, keep the house only as neat as you wish, visit museums, go to the beach, go out to eat, go to Vegas, go to a spa, well the possibilities are endless. You may choose to stick with a fuckwit who doesn’t appreciate you, but don’t knock living/being alone!

  • One more thing that comes to mind.

    When I was young I was good friends with a wonderful, kind, loving lady. She was married at the time to the a very handsome and charismatic guy. Unfortunately, he was also the most cruel, abusive, and sadistic narcissist it has ever been my misfortune to meet. Their marriage ended when he abandoned her, her child and the family dog literally by the side of the road. He made sure to take her purse so she was stuck in a strange state with her kid and her dog, with nothing but the clothes on her back. Luckily she did have a friend to call who helped from across the country. We have remained good friends to this day.

    What’s my point? Well when I was visiting her last winter I had occasion to see him briefly as he is still trying to create drama and centrality. She is happily remarried and has learned not to engage. Anyway, I was shocked to see him. The once handsome man is just a withered, dried up husk trying desperately to evoke any kind of response from anyone. He has lived long enough to come to the point where his outside matches his inside. His stock in trade was his looks. Now he has nothing to fall back on, and is alone.

    Eventually, as we age, we all get there. Our outside eventually matches our inside. Personally, I think twinkling eyes, a big smile, genuine warmth, a sense of humor, curiosity and enthusiasm for life beats out any stereotype of youth and beauty.

    Oh, and I have always thought Shrek was cute as a button.

  • My experience with beautiful women was that I never landed one. In high school, I fantasized about a cheerleader K.P. She was a 10 in my eyes and my God! had an incredible ass, 36 CC cup, lean, the whole package. She was chased after by all the jocks out for a notch in their belts. One weekend I threw a party when my mom was away and I had the house to myself. Somehow I found myself with her in my bedroom while a room full of merrymakers partied in our basement. Several jocks were there and as my fantasy unfolded with her… the jocks got rowdy & started banging on my door cutting short my even getting past 1st base. Talk about coitus interrupted!!
    I wonder to this day how my perception of her being way out of my class would have changed as being ‘acceptable’ to gorgeous women like her.

    I Always felt like I wasn’t Good looking enough to land a girl like that. My world was more academically focused and I graduated 13th in my class of over 300 with honors and a partial scholarship to a private university mostly attended by upstate kids with rich parents.

    I was into cross country running and martial arts as well. I saw a Polaroid picture of myself decades later and I was ripped, 6’4” with long hair and looked incredible. I was blown away because Never did I have a self image of myself being a stud. Shy, uncertain, socially meek, introverted, Acned and doubtful was more like it. Validation for me came from getting A’s in school rather than being well liked socially. Pimples and zits.

    I had a few girlfriends and fell deeply in love with Mitzi- my first love. We were nuts about each other. Her mom took a job in another state and she moved away. I was abandoned even though we tried to continue on in a long distance relationship. We both moved on. Mitzi was maybe a 7 but was my perfect 10! Farrah Faucet was the Hollywood standard at that time, late 70’s.

    My first wife was a borderline 6-7. Tall, big chested, medium weight and always said she didn’t have a ass. She chased me with the intent of marrying an engineer. I settled and truly Loved her despite her extroverted unkempt nature. She was alcoholic (as was I), however I got sober when our daughter was born. She stayed drunk through our 13 years together. I could not raise my daughter in an alcoholic home like I was exposed to before my mother divorced my alcoholic, cheating father. My first wife-also a Mitzi- died from alcohol related complications after loosing custody of our daughter shortly after our divorce. I was a single parent. She was not a cheater. She had a brilliant mind and was a boss at understanding organic chemistry, calculus but also a slob. If she’d gotten sober, I’d have remarried her. Our daughter together is incredibly beautiful, loving, smart and kind. She married a wonderful man and they have a good life together.

    I’d pretty much decided that finding a hot mate had way more cons than pros. I called them HMB ‘s..high maintenance babes. They were expensive, got hit on constantly and couldn’t be faithful. They Needed big houses,New cars, the latest clothes, jewelry, money and status. If they were more worried about messing up their hair during sex than being in the moment then it was a huge red flag. I’d be better suited with ‘a country girl’ with a some weight and cute. Could mow grass and change oil with me under the car. Willingly.

    Wife 2 fit the bill. Nothing incredible to look at, Not college educated, not rich but widowed. We did weight watchers together. She had 2 kids, older than my daughter but they bonded well. Xw said we had a ‘patchwork’ Family. I worked 100 miles away and lived with my aging father the course of his remaining years. He died in my arms at 73 reconciled for the years of my youth he failed at being a dad. I travelled home every weekend to spend with my wife and kids. Faithful and determined to raise them all to adulthood and be a positive role model.

    When they’d all left the nest, xw went to LPN school. I supported and encouraged her to chase her dreams. She got fat and let herself slide over 300 lbs. That didn’t matter one iota to me. I’d put on weight too. I was perfectly happy growing fat and old and gray. TOGETHER. That’s All that really mattered. At 49 (me 57) she had bariatric Roen-Y surgery. I paid for it. As the pounds fell off so did her facade. Her true self subtly transforming back to the 12 year old dysfunctional that was always there. Spackled over with the Potential I’d originally fallen for. That marriage ended on Dday 2017. It was a horrific awakening for me in hindsight to see the absolute evil of it all. I, like so many here- asked her “What was real in our marriage?”

    Today I know my Love was. I did everything right as a husband, father, stepdad and SIL. She was the loser. I won because I get another chance to find Me Again. I like solitude and peace. If I get lonely it’s because I’m on my pity pot or being selfish and fearful. My Beagles are my children. They don’t cheat, lie or steal.

    I’m 60 years + 46 days old. I’m toned at 6’3” and 224 pounds after two years of hard work practicing the military style of TaeKwonDo. I have green eyes, shoulder length hair dirty blond hair and walk with confidence. I catch much younger women staring me down when I go out. They smile and look away quickly so as not to get caught. It’s a huge ego boost for me and let’s me know I’m physically attractive. I’m not afraid to talk women like I once was because I have nothing else to fear, and so much more to learn. It’s becoming easier to identify the one’s with character and humility versus superficiality.

    I haven’t been laid in almost 3 years even though I’ve been in a couple situations where it could have happened. I need chemistry to function sexually. I need mutual attraction. Female Hints or innuendo don’t work with me. More times than not I’m oblivious to them-always have been. That’s not maturity.

    I’m not going to chase any woman again. It’s too tiresome without altruistic reciprocity, or some type of forced timeline. If I’m ever chased after, I’ll know the reason why before investing myself or my talents. Beauty is vanity and it fades away. Real beauty does not need makeup. (But it helps if she can play the fiddle, mandolin Or banjo)
    ☝️👍❤️

  • Jen, Someone can have a conventional beautiful face that is like a doll’s face–devoid of emotion or personality. Or that beautiful face can come with narcissistic entitlement, shallowness, boiling rage, and abusive behavior. Or maybe, that face is enhanced by high character and a capacity for empathy and love.

    My crazy mother (who was quite beautiful, really stunning) always said “Beauty is as beauty does.” She understood that her face and figure weren’t the ticket to happiness. And back in the day, I was something of a looker myself, but at 68, the face and body are not what they once were. I can tell you that if there isn’t a solid core of character, strong values, and a core of kindness and empathy, if you count on that face to carry you, you’re lost. But have character, values, kindness, empathy, confidence–then you have real beauty.

    I’m 68, dating a man who is years younger. He’s not the handsome lad he was at 30, either. What’s attractive about him? He’s kind. He’s thoughtful. He’s generous. He’s honest. He reciprocates. He’s smart. He’s funny. He is an amazing father and grandfather. He could stand to lose 40 pounds, and he’s lost most of his hair, but aside from health issues, so what? He’s a very attractive man. But if we broke up tomorrow, I would still have an awesome, wonderful life because I’m not like an animal who has to march 2 by 2 into the ark. I can live and be happy as a single person.

    Be happy. Be kind. Be confident in your own ability to make a good life. Develop style that enhances your best assets. Take a look at your assumptions that abuse is better than being alone. It’s not. No partner can “make” you happy or secure. You do that for yourself.

  • ” So, you’re unattractive, but God forbid you date someone who is unattractive?
    What the fuck is wrong with your values?

    This is not fair. She doesn’t want to date someone she doesn’t find attractive. That’s perfectly acceptable because attraction is very important. It’s hard to fake being attracted to someone when you’re not. How fair is that to the other person?

    • Fixing your picker is about shifting what you find “attractive.” Many times, our pickers are set to “guy who reminds me of alcoholic dad,” “hot bad boy/ bad girl,” “great face,” “nice butt,” “blonde” and so on. I used to be attracted to men with professional jobs! I wanted a lawyer or academic or engineer… because I thought that was the right match for me. When I fixed my picker, I started valuing character and kindness. I met one man (quite attractive physically plus a good athlete) who has become a friend, but when he told me he had a “mean streak,” that was the end of his attractiveness, so far as I’m concerned.

      “Unattractive” is entirely subjective.

      • Thanks LAJ. I’m with you. I find cruelty, meanness, selfishness and bigotry repulsive. Doesn’t matter how nice the package is….yuck!

      • It’s subjective. Exactly. You can meet the kindest, loveliest person in the world, but it the thought of getting physical with that person is repulsive to you, then that’s the way it is.

        I’ve tried to force myself to be attracted to men who I know are good and wonderful people. But if it’s not there, it’s not there … and those men deserve to be with a woman who wants them fully. Does that mean something is wrong with my values? Ok.

  • As Judge Judy titled her book “Beauty Fades, Dumb is Forever”. I would change one word in the title, selfish for dumb.

  • Here’s what “alone” looks like for me after five years:
    I have a career now, not just a job, because I’m not burdened by a crappy relationship.
    My income has doubled.
    I bought a modest house, sold it for a profit and opted for a gorgeous apartment that’s a haven at the end of each day.
    I travel where I want, when I want as my budget allows.
    I moved to a city full of all kinds of enriching activities.
    My adult sons now know me… not the mom that lived in the shadow of someone else’s ego.
    I have a beautiful grandson and I never worry if I am not good enough because I am married to the guy who thought he was king of the castle.
    I have brunch. And lunch. And bike rides. And walks. And glasses of wine. Whenever I damn well please.
    And, at 52, I am pursuing my first college degree.
    All because I am alone.

    • Wow! Zmichelle, I am so much in the same boat as you. I have been “alone” for almost five years now, officially divorced for one and a half. Have not even considered dating yet. I can assure everyone who is reading this, I was way more lonely while I was “with” my ex than I have been since the divorce.

      In my case, being alone has definitely been better than being with him. As a dear friend once said to me, “you are not alone, you are by yourself”. And I am totally okay being with me :).

      Love to CN and CL!

  • I’m not too bad looking and yes, I’ve been in magazines. But I still got cheated on. And I’ve been single now for 10 years with a much healthier self esteem than I ever had when I was with the cheater. Over the 10 years I’ve dated but decided I like my life with my kids and would rather be single till someone I can trust and love comes along.
    To be single and work on yourself is a shit load better than being with someone who values you less that something on his shoe.

  • Who decides physical ugliness??
    If you are ugly on the inside you are also ugly on the outside.
    I’d rather be alone than live the rest of my life with an asshole – all that cheating, abusing, ugliness!

    I’m beautiful…only I get to decide that!

  • We don’t do a good job of teaching people how to live alone. When you consider, there are many things in life that can happen to cause you to be living alone for long periods of time. When I look back, I was already being shamed by first grade for being alone on the playground.

  • I wish there was a like button to like all the comments above. Being married to someone who doesn’t value you is worse than being alone (IMO). I am lucky enough to have met someone (fabulous) after a period of being single after leaving the cheating XW. My new partner cares for and is a true friend. She tells me every day that she feels lucky to be with me (as I do with her). Reciprocity – That’s what we all deserve.

  • First off, I want to validate your fear. It’s terrifying to be alone as we get older. There are real benefits to having a partner, who’s willing to show up when we are ill, help pay the bills, care for the children etc. Only you know if the good outweighs the bad. Personally, I’ve never found a way to live with cheating and lying – it’s soul-crushing and physically devastating – I can’t function, I can’t sleep or exercise, eat or eat healthily. I have to take all kinds of meds for anxiety and depression and sleep. I have no doubt staying with a cheater can cause cancer or high blood pressure or some other life-shortening ailment.

    I am very attractive. Men like me. They’ve always liked me. They still like me. I’ve had more marriage proposals than I can count off the top of my head – doesn’t mean shit. In fact, I think the kind of men who value hotness, are probably shallow and more likely to be unfaithful. Hotness wanes after all and there’s always someone hotter to turn their heads. I’ve often wondered if I would have attracted a person of more substance had I not been so conventionally attractive.

    If being alone is that empty for you. If nothing else will make you feel safe and fulfilled and you’re ok with the physical and emotional repercussions of staying with a cheater, go for it. Women have buried their heads in the sand since the dawn of time because it was the only way they could survive, put food on the table and provide for their children. Personally, I won’t fault you but I’d urge you to consider that there are a lot of ways to be happy in this life that don’t include a man.

  • When people are faced with the difficulties of finding a partner, they tend to blame it on any shortcoming they can find in themselves. We have never had the chance to live in somebody else’s skin, so it doesn’t come to our minds that finding a partner for life is super difficult in itself ! People are moody creatures, they have sudden irresistible temptations, they change their minds, things look different to them depending on what they ate or the movie they just saw.
    My good friend who’s been happily married, now complains they are arguing all the time. I chose to date my best male friend, take him out of the friend zone, and it’s not perfect either, he thinks his beliefs are the absolute truth, I come back to my solitude with relief. In all honesty, I can’t say if coupled is better than single. But living with a cheater is definitely the worst.

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