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Chumped by Dating, Still Heartbroken

Hello Chump Lady,

I have a pretty straight forward situation.

I was dating a man for about 8 months. I thought it was hands down THE BEST relationship I’d ever been in. I find out he’s cheating. Turns out he locks his phone with his birthday…idiot.

I unceremoniously dumped him. It was fairly clear to me that I wouldn’t be his first teary-eyed confrontation and since I was frankly tired of being lied to and gaslit, I sent a simple text stating I didn’t see a future with him and went cold, dark no contact.

He was very unhappy with that. Very unhappy. What can I say? I gave him the same amount of respect he showed me, ZERO.

I will tell you that it broke him down pretty hard and within five weeks I had a grown man openly weeping to me in a crowded, Manhattan bar on a Friday night, twice. He’s a NJ guy with a machismo chip on his shoulder, so you can imagine my surprise there. I decided not to try again, I’m not going to get over it. I only mention all of this because this method turns out to be extremely effective. I would suggest employing it to anyone who knows that their cheater actually loves them and wishes to extract maximum damage on the way out the door, while retaining the ‘take the high road’ approach.

Enough about that. Here’s my real problem. When I search for help with my feelings about this, and there are many, I’m not finding information for people like me. Hundreds and thousands of articles have been written to help married women with children but not women who date.

They’re are articles to help women leave, an ocean’s full of articles helping them to stay, and plenty of articles deciding ‘why he did it’. What I don’t see is help for single, non married people who end up in this situation.

No I didn’t marry the guy, but I did commit to him, I did trust him implicitly, I did love him, I did think there was a real possibility of marriage in our future. And now what I’m left with is twinges of bad self-esteem, major trust concerns, a great deal of wondering how I can be this savvy and not have seen any of it coming. I’ve got that lovely voice saying, ‘all men are pigs’ chiming in my head. Feelings of losing, not the someone, but the something I thought I had. Wondering if/when I’ll be able to start again realistically. And right now all dating sites make me want to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge.

These things break you down. I wake up every day knowing this had NOTHING to do with me, but it doesn’t change the whirlwind of emotions you experience when you’re made a fool of.

Why is there so little support dealing with the actual feelings you need to comb through inside yourself when this happens to you, when you’re not reconciling, and when you’re not married with children?

I can’t be the only one going through this.

Ginger

Dear Ginger,

Chumped is chumped, (as I often write here “This is not the pain Olympics”), however, the sunk costs are often very different. Losing decades to someone, breeding with a fuckwit, having your savings obliterated — is a different magnitude of suffering. Suffering you AVOIDED with your glorious decisiveness and iron-clad boundaries. What a bazillion chumps wouldn’t give to be you — clear-eyed, escaped, wit intact.

Okay, but for the crushing disappointment and broken heart.

Look, the advice I give here on chumpdom is for everyone. It’s a Rainbow Nation, married, unmarried, gay, straight, monogamous, poly (yes, even polyamorists can be cheated on — if there were agreements, and someone unilaterally changed those rules to benefit themselves without your consent, that’s cheating). All it takes to be chumped is a trusting heart. Intimacy makes us vulnerable. And betrayal hurts like a motherfucker.

And now what I’m left with is twinges of bad self-esteem, major trust concerns, a great deal of wondering how I can be this savvy and not have seen any of it coming.

Don’t beat yourself up. Fact is, you DID see something coming, or you wouldn’t have thought to crack the code on his cell phone. Is that typical dating behavior for you? (I hope not.) Or did something tip off your spidey senses that he was being shady? Once you verified that he was cheating, you ACTED. You shut him down. And you didn’t fall for the later sad sausage act. WELL DONE.

That took guts. To go beyond what you wanted to believe and accept what it was — he’s a rotten person. The trust issues, the beating yourself up, the wondering how you got duped — that’s the pain of accepting that terrible people exist. I mean, we know they exist — theoretically, or perhaps even tangentially (see also “When Bad Things Happen to Other People”), but must of us live with the fallacy that we’re immune. That we have safeguards. Filters. Good mojo. A lucky rabbit’s foot. We all do mental gymnastics to live in this world, otherwise we’d be hunkered down immobilized by all the threats.

(Speaking of which — everybody, DO wash your hands. Corona virus is no joke.)

My point is, you don’t go around projecting Terrible Outcomes. You allowed yourself to be optimistic about someone, happy, forward-looking — and instead of a beautiful future, you got humiliation.

It hurts. What he did was transgressive and wrong. So were his operatic bar antics. To essentially publicly pressure you into taking him back, to make you seem like the cold, unforgiving creature and him the sad wretch. All WRONG.

I’ve got that lovely voice saying, ‘all men are pigs’ chiming in my head.

No they’re not. Don’t go there. Don’t try to comfort yourself with the thought that the game is rigged and an entire gender (race, political party, religion) are evil. He was ONE BAD ACTOR. Are there others like him? Sure. But there are also a bazillion compassionate, good people out there. He was a fuckwit in a people suit. He’s not representative of men, or the state of New Jersey.

Intimacy always comes with vulnerability. That’s the price of admission. All you do with the “men are pigs” bullshit is self-isolate and comfort yourself with fake “security.” If you never love again the menace is contained! That’s a ridiculous way to go through life.

I only mention all of this because this method turns out to be extremely effective. I would suggest employing it to anyone who knows that their cheater actually loves them and wishes to extract maximum damage on the way out the door, while retaining the ‘take the high road’ approach.

No contact is about NO CONTACT. It’s not a tactic to get cheaters to notice us. (See “pick me dance.”)

I’m sorry, but you have not hurt him. He was never invested in the first place. His tears were as fake as his “love.” If he truly loved you, he could not have conducted a double life.

It’s a bitter pill, but cheaters don’t “actually love” you. They use you. You can’t con a con.

Wondering if/when I’ll be able to start again realistically. And right now all dating sites make me want to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge.

Take some odd comfort in the fact his behavior had NOTHING to do with you. You weren’t unlovable, you were unlucky. Be open to the world, to dating, to other sweet talkers from New Jersey even — just arm yourself with boundaries. That’s all we’ve got — our own discernment. Heal up, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there again.

Oh, and as for places for single people and dating advice and broken hearts — check out Baggage Reclaim and Captain Awkward.

((Big hugs))

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.
  • “Once you verified that he was cheating, you ACTED. You shut him down. And you didn’t fall for the later sad sausage act. WELL DONE.”

    You rocked the house, Ginger!

    “He was a fuckwit in a people suit. He’s not representative of men, or the state of New Jersey.

    Intimacy always comes with vulnerability. That’s the price of admission. All you do with the “men are pigs” bullshit is self-isolate and comfort yourself with fake “security.”

    If you never love again the menace is contained! That’s a ridiculous way to go through life.”

    You will get there. No, not all men are cheaters and no, not all women are either. You were unlucky enough to have dated one for a time. Something tipped you off. You established he cheated and you refused to be part of the triangle.

    BRAVA.

    Don’t forget to get tested for STDs.

  • He is a skilled abuser. You were the prey.
    it sucks to find this out but it makes you more savvy as to what is going on with people.
    Onto your fantastic life; leave this loser in the rearview and look around for someone who deserves you.

  • Talk about dodging a bullet! Way to go!!

    I love the Investigation Discovery channel. True crime stories. Jigsaw puzzles. Geometry and algebra. I am a closet PI. In one episode of a program I was watching, the detective said “you only know someone as much as they will let you.”

    More important to me than fixing my picker is making sure I am willing to walk when I get the memo. To drop the hot potato. To heed the STOP signs and the red lights. That’s really the best we can do.

    When someone is an expert liar, we can’t blame ourselves for not seeing before getting involved. We see when we see. Denial is powerful. Hopium can really cloud our discernment.

    Years ago there was a guy who showed up at my morning meeting. Often I would be talking to him long after everyone had left. Then he disappeared. I wondered what happened to him. I have a daughter so I check in on occasion with the Megan’s Law website to keep familiar with the local sex offenders. One day I am checking out the website and THERE HE IS. Incarcerated. For assault, rape, sodomy, forced oral copulation, etc.

    NOT ONE TIME DID HE EVER SAY ANYTHING CREEPY, SCARY, INAPPROPRIATE. This guy was so smooth and polite and clean and well-dressed and he gave off not one signal. I had always prided myself on my intuition and this experience really taught me that there is evil that is beyond our detection sometimes.

    So it’s really important to be able walk away when we get that definite signal.

    Ginger, I am calling this a win for you!!

    • This is an excellent cautionary tale.

      And ““you only know someone as much as they will let you” is so important to remember–and why we must take our time and observe people as they interact with others as well as ourselves.

      • wait, Investigative Discovery channel is a thing???

        Thanks for the wisdom, Velvet.

        And Ginger, you are an inspiration for all of us chumps out there dating. My first attempt after divorce involves another narc and I am struggling with freeing myself because my no contact resolve needed upgraded. Thanks for being such a mighty inspiration!!!!!

    • Remember Ted Bundy was handsome and polite. He specifically targeted young Christian and Jewish women who were raised to be helpful and compassionate.

    • One of my male friends warned me when I started going to coed CoDA meetings that a lot of men who attend are “double winners” in 12 step parlance (going to other meetings like SA or SLAA). They could be sex offenders or porn addicts. I eventually stopped going to coed meetings because I got fed up with men viewing the meetings as a venue to pick up women. They weren’t there “to work a program” but there to play the “sensitive male” role and try to get laid and find a nurse/purse scenario.

        • The fact that “thirteenth stepping” has for so long been one of those “wink, wink/nudge, nudge” topics turns my stomach! It’s predation, pure and simple. It turns the 12-Step altruism into narc-infested waters. Especially since so many of us in recovery have trauma and/or abuse histories. Knowledge is power. And CL’s straight-shooting realism is so helpful & empowering in combatting abuse!

          Ginger, you’ve got MIGHTY in your veins. I wish I had your guts & boundaries when my ex- showed his true colors. Instead, my inner Chump tried dying those red flags to green.
          Give yourself some room to heal & let the lessons you learned save you time & heartache in the future. With a little gentle detachment, it can almost be a game: Spot the Narc. I’m practicing it in my new dating life & it simplifies things. A little but of lonely
          from saying NO to wrong people is much more bearable that being gutted later on by the same types. They aren’t worth it.
          We are.

      • I like the term “nurse/purse scenario”.

        I think that’s what I was viewed as – boring mummy nurse purse. To give to him. The only thing he gave me was assistance in creating my children. They are not his concern anymore. Fake father too. He was a deadbeat and I didn’t see it coz I am an eternal optimist and believed in love. He mirrored me. I was in love with myself. A bad nut makes me cautious of other nuts but I still like to see what nuts are out there. Enough of the nut analogy! Haha.

    • That’s scary AF Velvet. After what my brilliantly skilled liar & cheated did to me for 12 years (14 if u count the lying about cheating on his first wife) I just can’t go back dating again. I’m caught up in the ‘how can I trust anyone again’ phase. I can’t ever see myself trusting any man again. And I’m not alone in this. I have at least 6 other friends who have no desire to get into a relationship again. I’m 50 & the dating pool is very small at my age. I grieve the loss of that part of my life hugely. There’s so much I want to do that would be a million times easier with a partner.

  • “If he truly loved you, he could not have conducted a double life.“

    If there is ever a holy grail to understanding infidelity, I think this is it.

  • The sobbing breakdown? It’s manipulation. It’s fake. It’s theatrics to keep you and your kibbles coming to him. I learned this during my final breakup with Horace. When I walked out of the room, he shut it off like a faucet.

    No emotion of theirs is real except the “duper’s delight” at getting away with lies, and the enjoyment they get from making you suffer. If you see a creepy little smile zip across their face like a lizard running for cover while you actually sob your heart out, that’s real. Anything else is for show.

    • Yup. The guy made a public scene because he likes making a public scene. The only person he loves is himself, and the only heartbreak he possibly suffered was the heartbreak of feeling that he wasn’t so Very Awesomely Special enough to manage to dupe LW into taking him back.

      As for LW, yeah, it sucks more for married people, and two broken legs suck more than one, but one broken leg still hurts.

    • My ex hb also had a nice sobbing breakdown after I’d discovered he’d been carrying on with an ex skank our entire relationship, lied and gaslit me, threatened to divorce ME when I brought it up a week later (can’t have baby being uncomfortable), went grudgingly to counseling where he participated minimally and lied when he did participate, and continued to bully me until he realized I was actually going to divorce him.

      Cried about how he never imagined a life without me.

      Translation: I NEVER thought you’d leave and I want this marriage on my terms. Now stfu and pretend everything’s great so I can maintain my phony image.

      Crocodile tears….phony fuck.

      That’s what they are.

      • I held my ex while he cried after his first affair and tried to comfort him. He said he was scared to lose me. More like scared to lose his image management, kibbles and money. I bought it at the time. Someone needs to hold me. When I finally gave him an ultimatum, one of the things he mentioned was that he’d been thinking of killing himself a lot lately. And is this really the time to bring this up? What about my feelings? My health? My needs? My boundaries?

    • Yes Natalie was very helpful in the early days of getting discarded. I needed her site and chumplady to see the light

  • Ginger you are AWESOME!

    You didn’t do this to you, HE did it to you.

    Tell that little voice in your head to shut the hell up and then go treat yourself to something special.

    WELL DONE!

    (We can also share our divorce horror stories with you if it will help.)

  • “it hurts cause you love big.” – my therapist

    Im struggling to get over a lovely, totally regular, post-D relationship. Some call it the “rebound”, but it was more than that, but I wasn’t ready. It hurts deeper than getting over my X. So, I’m back on his couch, complaining about a heart-ache; I feel stuck. Slightly embarrassed to be there, for that.

    “it hurts cause you love big”.
    Its our superpower. The world needs us.

    • THANK YOU Tall!!

      You’re right on. For them, it’s like killing a mosquito because they are shallow, little people.

      This is a very helpful gem from your therapist.
      Please extend my thanks!

      ❤️

  • I was “just dating” Mr Ego. 5 years. I never felt the advice here was just for those married-with-children, chumps. We just happened to get lucky not to marry or breed with a fuckwit. I wish I had reacted as strongly and decisively as you did. I danced the pick me dance, like an idiot. Trying to cling on to my sparkly turd.

    • Me too. 15 years. Not married, no kids. Still was absolutely devastated. Destroyed. Have been picking up the pieces slowly and steadily, but then, my first time out-of-the-gate trying to date again 2.5 years later, I started dating someone I’d taken a year to become friends with. Three months into dating him, my “spidey senses” started to tingle, so I checked his phone. Guess what I found? Yep.

      But this time, I ended it immediately. No pick-me dancing. No being the girlfriend appliance. While I am disappointed that I ignored now-obvious red flags, I am so proud of myself that I maintained boundaries, didn’t settle for providing kibbles or being treated poorly. I hurt still because I care. I’m real and I’m sincere. But he isn’t and will never be.

      Ginger, be proud of yourself. You did great. I know it will be better next time for both of us; and I also am sure there WILL be a next time.

  • This cry baby reaction from cheaters who get dropped in this way, I think, is a thing. Happened to me in my early 20s and unlike you I saw it as a sign of his unending love. I was heartwarmed. Big mistake. Alas, I was a kid who didn’t know better.

    This guy wasn’t crying cause he lost YOU (no offense), it’s cause he lost, period. You must have been a good girlfriend appliance.

    Anyway, like CL said, it’s not the pain Olympics here but on your path to self reflection, care, and betterment maybe be happy and proud that your 8 months didn’t turn into 18 years.

    As to dating…well, I’m not a fan. Just doesn’t seem worth the time and risk. I recommend instead that single folks just get out into the world, doing things they feel passionate about. Being of service. And be open to organically formed relationships with like minded people.

    • Protesting because he got CAUGHT !

      Run for the hills and come back down after some healing.

  • I think it is very natural to want to love, and to want to be loved. There is risk in any new venture, you don’t learn to ride a bike without a few scraped knees, for instance. I don’t know anyone who is perfect, or who has never made a mistake. I think the key to having any type of relationship, including friendship, or family relationship, as well as an intimate relationship, is to be who you are. You cannot control what others do or think, or feel. You can control whether or not you want to be around them. Don’t pretend to be someone you are not in order to attract someone else. Look for signs other people are doing that to you.

    I think Giger is a fantastic example of how to behave. It would be unnatural for her not to hurt or be disappointed. No one likes having their time wasted, or finding out they are a mark for a con. If she is doing things she loves to do, and being a good person, and is active in causes she believes in, she is being social enough. She is living an authentic life. Someone may be attracted to her, either as a friend, or a lover, or possibly both. She just needs to keep on doing what she is doing, and not let her fear of being hurt again keep her from living her life.

    Bravo Ginger. Keep fighting the good fight!

  • Ginger, I can imagine that most advice seems to be directed at married people and you are right ….the heartbreak still happens-and all that awful self-esteem injury that comes with being cheated on (or dumped) when dating. In fact, I had my heart broken a few times back in those days and am finding dating equally treacherous now as a divorced woman. But, you have this one beautiful experience that I know I didn’t have as a chump. You were proactive. You dumped him and flipped him upside down before he had time to repeatedly abuse you. You are the amazing, strong woman that many of us wish we had been. I fantasize about having been like you early on in my relationship with my fuckwit. I wish you didn’t have to have self doubt moving on in the dating world, but my guess is that you will find someone trustworthy because you aren’t going to waste decades on a cheater and age out.

    • I’d say that almost every piece of advice other than child support and legal divorce issues applies to many of us who weren’t married–from what kind of person does this shady, abusive stuff, to “no contact,” to why you don’t give a jackass any of your money, to gaining a life.

  • Ginger,

    I’m so sorry you were conned, but so happy you’re here. You could write a book about self preservation! You are kick ass MIGHTY. Oh, I wish I had half your mettle. I lost decades invested in a complete con artist. But, it is what it is.

    Red flags include anyone who love bombs us.

    Time will heal you. Get busy in your career, hobbies, and volunteer work. Before you know it, a year or two will have passed and this will fade into your past. Then come back and let us know how great the life you’ve built is going— we care and will love to hear about it!

  • Ginger is mighty!! I’m so grateful for this community! I have a new mindfuck I am dealing with. I am 2 years out from divorce after a 23 year marriage. My youngest was always a daddy’s girl. She is 24. Her image of him came to a crashing to ahalt and the divorce has been hard on her especially since he has not taken time for her. It’s all about the “girlfriend “. She finally confronted him via text(she is not good with face to face) he still denies the affair even though he started showing up with her right after he left me and bought a house and business with her before the divorce. He basically shoved this woman At his children and does not understand why they don’t like her or want her around. He actually asked her how long he should have waited to “date”. Are you kidding me??? He also said we just grew apart and he deserves to be happy 🙄 I’m trying to be the same parent. I have always told her the truth and if she wants a relationship with him I support her. I have also said she will probably need to accept the ow if she wants a relationship with him. I just want to support her. This is so hard because he is such a liar and doesn’t care who he hurts.

  • Oh Ginger, I feel for you. Aside from betrayal, few things hurt as badly as humiliation. I’d rather have someone try to beat me up in a fist fight than undergo the kind of humiliation I had with Mr. Creepy Womanizer. No, I wasn’t married to him, we were dating and like you, I thought it was the most wonderful, honest and genuine relationship I’d ever had. I didn’t realize that sex for him was a selfish dating tool, as in “I’ll sleep with a bunch of women and then I’ll know who I have feelings for.” Ugh.

    To know one is just a used car being tried out, found wanting, and then dumped without a look back… well, this was the most humiliating and dehumanizing thing I’ve ever experienced. Several online sites helped me, including Baggage Reclaim. But there’s lots of good advice here at Chump Nation, whether you’re married or not!

  • I love Captain Awkward!

    My cheater-ex often said “men are pigs” and of course I never believed it. I wish I had interpreted it correctly that HE was a pig, instead of laughing it off as a joke. Could have saved myself so much earlier!

    All you can do is be thankful you caught him early and avoided the sunk costs problem, and learn from the experience. Be discerning about new relationships, not avoidant.

  • Married or not, who hasn’t felt the same thing – doubt, questioning your sanity, your self worth, your ability to see what’s around you, questioning your judgment, the desire to say all men or women as the case may be suck. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

    Likewise I was perusing the web looking for something…comfort, understanding. I came across a lot of crying about how he/she destroyed me forever, I’ll never be the same drivel. As I read it, I got angry and disgusted with the writers of that. Why? Because I’ll be damned if some loser fuckwit destroys the essence of who I am as a person. Heck no! So my answer to self rose up pretty fast – yes, I will be whole again, I will love again, I will trust again, I will never stop being a kind and caring person. No fuckwit on this planet has the power to change or destroy that because I’m stronger than them. So are we all.

    • I freakin’ LOVE this. This has me looking at things from a different angle. I’m past crying about the relationship (but not the messed up financial situation it left me in yet) but I’m at the “I’ll never find anyone and even if I did I’d never trust them” stage. Didn’t realize how much control that still gives him over me. Not going to lie, I can’t picture dating again at my age (50’s; 24 years married-27 years total; DDay 2 years ago) but MAYBE I can entertain the possibility. Thank you for this perspective @Foolishchump

      • Trust yourself. Spend the time “gaining a life” and make part of that raising your standards for everyone in your life. Once you’ve gotten the hang of sorting out honest vs. dishonest, people who reciprocate vs. people who don’t, empathetic people vs. callous people, humble vs. entitled, you’ll be ready to date. And you don’t have to get serious about ANYBODY. Build that awesome new life and then you can decide to just have a social life for a couple of years. See how that goes. No reason not to have a date for the movies or to go to a nice restaurant.

        • “Trust yourself.”

          Woo boy, that’s the tough part of it all. I commented on yesterday’s post that I’m having trouble forgiving myself my behavior after DDay, that I feel like I betrayed who I fundamentally am. Bad enough someone else did that but the realization that I betrayed Myself has me bewildered. In my situation I was completely blindsided-we were ‘that’ couple and the idea of him cheating was as possible as me oh, I don’t know…skydiving naked while juggling. Just impossible and ridiculous and not even an idea worth entertaining. Now, pssh–I second guess myself into circles and standstills and am disappointed in myself that I’m not further along in the process AND that his stupid ass is still influencing me in any way.

          On the flip side, seems like I’m firmly in the ‘anger’ part of things so I guess that’s progress eh? =-) Thank you for the comment I do appreciate it.

  • Some love with their hearts, some with their heads, some don’t really love. Chumps are heart lovers.
    You are kick ass Ginger. So impressive.

  • Ginger,
    Yes, I was in a long term marriage and was devastated whenI learned about the cheating and the divorce almost killed me.

    I waited many years post-divorce to be ready to date with an open heard and mind.

    I kissed A LOT of frogs and was lied to by some and hurt by a few others. Each time I took how ever long I needed to recover, then dusted myself off and tried again.

    Dating isn’t for the faint of heart and I did my fair share of rejecting dates with red flags. I graciously removed myself from anyone dating multiple people (after our 5th date or so) or anyone clearly not looking for a monogamous relationship. I was honest after the third date about what I was looking for. If that scared men away, so be it.

    Don’t let one guy turn you off from finding someone for you.

    Dating isn’t a race to find a mate as soon as possible. You clearly have a lot of integrity which is GREAT! Good for you!

    Hang in there, try not to make assumptions that group the whole male race into the pig group.

    I also didn’t go by looks. The person is what counts and that helped me find some very exceptional people.

    Hang in there. You have a good head on your shoulders and did the right thing!

  • Brava, Ginger, BRAVA! What you have been through sucks the big one. But you actually DID what it took many of us here years to do, and you divested yourself of a boat-anchor of a fuckwit immediately upon verification of his deceit(s). Speaking for myself, I ignored the red-flags early in my relationship. You didn’t. You weren’t lugging around a 20 gallon container of spackle. Nope. You bull-dozed that relationship and moved on in spite of the pain and self-doubt.

    My sis experienced something similar to you with a cheater boyfriend. It took her a couple of years, but she finally went no-contact. Yes, it drove him insane. Why? Who cares! She wasn’t doing it to hurt him, she was doing it to protect/heal herself. It took her another couple of false starts, but she eventually met and married a great guy who adores her and considers himself the luckiest man alive to be her husband.

  • you were cheated on.
    you were in a committed relationship with someone who cheated on you.
    why does the fact that you weren’t married change your organic response to that?
    i have found healing in understanding why my emotions were so hijacked after finding out about my X’s affair.
    i’m including a link to 2 videos that were extremely helpful to me. i have not read the article that the videos are attached to, so am not endorsing it (just in case there is someone advocating for “reconciliation”), just the videos with the “Specialist”, MJ Denis.
    https://www.affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founder/trauma-infidelity-specialist-interview

  • Tracy, thank you for mentioning that the polyamorous can be cheated on. That’s what happened to me. I trusted my husband. I trusted him to be with another woman and still keep our relationship number one. Instead he started planning to run a way with his girlfriend 2 months after they met, and 6 months after they met he left me for her, blaming me for all the ways I was a terrible wife and ruined his life. Meanwhile I supported him, them, and their new relationship! I welcomed her into our home – and our kids’ lives – with open arms.

    So as far as chumps go, I’m one of the biggest. It’s been almost two years since he ditched me for her and I’m still reeling from it. The level of betrayal is so deep, and I can’t tell most people because the reaction is frequently, “well what did you think was going to happen?” I thought I could trust my husband! I thought he would do what he said and keep us first.

    I usually just say he left me and it was a shock. Those things are true. But my D-days are different because I knew about his girlfriend. I thought she was part of our family! Instead she just wanted my life and she got it – my husband, my home, and my kids half the time. She and my daughter are BFFs and my daughter wants almost nothing to do with me. The devastation goes beyond our marriage. It’s so embarrassing I couldn’t even tell my therapist what actually happened.

    So thank you for including someone like me, who trusted and supported my “partner” and was nearly destroyed as a result.

    • Oh Poly Chump – I am so sorry.

      I’m not poly, but I have friends who are and too many people do not understand that busting an agreement is still cheating. As you say, you thought you could trust your husband.

      “The devastation goes beyond our marriage. It’s so embarrassing I couldn’t even tell my therapist what actually happened.”

      Please tell your therapist. I doubt you will be the first poly client this person has had. Doesn’t mean the therapist may be the best one for you in this instance – but you deserve to have someone who is open to discussing YOUR situation and helping YOU get through it.

      “She and my daughter are BFFs and my daughter wants almost nothing to do with me.”

      Ugh – that just hurts. Is your daughter still a minor? Is there a whiff of “doing it to piss off Mom” or does it go deeper still?

      Hugs to you!

      • My daughter is a preteen, so some of this goes with the territory. She’s angry about her family splitting up and I’m taking the brunt of it. It’s hard because we had a good relationship until about 9 months after her dad and I separated. We had a disagreement that resulted in a court hearing and ever since it’s been “poor dad” and she’s angry with me.

        The really hard thing is that her dad’s girlfriend is a huge liar and I know she’s going to devastate my daughter at some point and there’s nothing I can do to protect her.

        • Poly Chump- I am so sorry that you’re going through such heartache! Horrible people. I don’t know how they can sleep at night.
          Anyway, as a Mom of three teenage daughters, I want to encourage you about your daughter and the DEEP BOND that the two of you share that can never be replicated or truly broken, despite the ridiculous efforts of “the Betrayers”
          Keep on telling her, and showing her that you love her. Let her know that you will ALWAYS be there for her, and she can trust you, and talk to you about anything.
          I’ve found the Power of Prayer to be very effective, both in helping the recipients of my prayers and in helping me, mentally and emotionally, as it is an action I can take when I cannot physically do anything else.
          Hang in there! You are MIGHTY!

          • Thank you so much! I believe that too, but it’s so hard when she will barely talk to me yet she calls her dad’s girlfriend and chats with her for an hour.

            I believe in the long game, for sure. Your support and advice are very encouraging, thank you so much!

        • A friend at DivorceCare mentioned that kids tend to lash out at the more stable parent. It’s because they feel safer that they’re not going to lose your love. Someday, she will probably really appreciate you for that.

          I remember I went from being proud to be seen with my mom as a kid to being embarrassed to be seen walking in the school with my mom when I was a preteen/teen. I got over that when I got older. We’ve had a good relationship for years now.

    • Please tell your therapist. That’s a mistake I made prior to D-Day. I didn’t tell the therapist all that was going on and so she couldn’t help me wise up. I won’t make that mistake again.

    • PolyChump, your story is heart-wrenching, I’m so sorry he did this to you and your daughter.

      I imagine many poly people feel more secure in their relationships, since being poly (idealistically) means being open and honest with feelings and relationships.

      To dish out lies on top of a specific agreement of total honesty is somehow even more of a mindfuck.

      • My ex-husband wanted to open up our marriage a few years in. I was not informed this could be a thought or possibility when I got married. After we divorced and he remarried, I found out he entered into an open marriage with his new wife. This led to him breaking his end of the agreement and kicking his wife out of the house. Then, he found out the new girlfriend was a liar. This led to the wife moving back in. The wife promptly decided it was time to get a boyfriend.

      • That’s really a big part of it. When you’re in a polyamorous relationship you have to work through a lot of jealousy and feelings of inadequacy and learn to trust your partner. So for you to do this and work on yourself in the process, only to have them completely fuck you over, is devastating. His girlfriend and I joked that we were sister wives, then I find out they were planning to run away together the whole time. It’s such a mind fuck on two fronts.

  • “The really hard thing is that her dad’s girlfriend is a huge liar and I know she’s going to devastate my daughter at some point and there’s nothing I can do to protect her.”

    I get that!

    With that in mind, can you get her to go see your therapist with you? Or ask your therapist if s/he can see the kid solo, for even fifteen minutes to get HER take on you? I don’t know if getting her a therapist of her own, or a family therapist, is available or the best option.

    The best thing you can do is be the Sane Parent. That means you have to teach the hard life lessons/manners. Things like, “If you accept an invitation from A, you are committed to it. Just because a “better” invitation comes along from B, you are honor-bound to decline and be true to your word. Don’t blow off A and risk hurting A’s feeling simply because you CAN.” “No, I will not front you the money to purchase (whatever). You blew through the money you already saved up and will have to start again.”

    Stuff that clearly your husband and WhatsHerName didn’t learn. Or didn’t learn well.

    More hugs. If it helps, think of her being angry with you and getting chummy with WhatsHerName as a backhanded compliment. With spin. She knows you aren’t going to take off on her. So she can unload her shitty feelings on you. Dad has demonstrated he isn’t to be trusted. Not really.

    • Thanks so much! I agree, it’s safe to be mean to me because she has seen what happens when someone doesn’t take her dad’s side.

      I’m trying to get her to see a therapist. Her dad is “working“ on it but I made the mistake of supporting it so now he’s dragging his feet. She’s pretty resistant to it and I think her dad will be able to get her to go more than I will.

    • I sure, sure hope you’re right about the ‘backhanded compliment’. My youngest son has seemingly written me off. I kept wondering over and over what I did wrong. What did I say? What should I have done differently? And then I caught myself doing the same thing for my ‘dick-son’ that I did for my dick-ex. I was doubting myself and reaching out and apologizing to him. And I KNOW I did nothing wrong. I’ve been worried that because I bred with a fuckwit, that I now have a fuckwit for a son. He’s a charmer just like his dad. He dumps one girl and there are three are in the wings waiting with their hands raised, “Pick me!” I’ve expressed how I dislike his bad behavior and he wrote me off. He hasn’t spoken to me in over 2 years. He refuses my phone calls, my letters, and my presents. I thought to myself, “Well, maybe he’s not as bad as his dick dad. His dick dad still calls his mother, even when he’s upset with her. At least my son won’t put up a pretense. Maybe he’s ashamed of his behavior and that’s why he has nothing to do with me.” It sure does hurt!! I’m hoping you’re right in that he knows that I will still love him no matter what. But the doubt…, and the hurt…, are still there. And I cannot write my son off. He will be my son till one of us dies.

      • I highly doubt that your son has any healthy shame about what he did. If he did, he wouldn’t be behaving this way. It sounds like he takes after his father. I’m sorry. You get to have self-respect and boundaries even if he is your child.

        My older brother was a disrespectful sh*t to our mother until she died. When I phoned him the day she passed away ,he had the gall to ask me if I wanted him to fly cross country. Settling her estate (emptying the house she lived in for over thirty years and all the work that entailed) fell on my shoulders. He just collected the check but tells people “when we cleaned out her house”.

        He’s as selfish and self-centered as they come. He takes after our narcissistic father. I feel sorry for his wife and daughter.

  • “Look, the advice I give here on chumpdom is for everyone. It’s a Rainbow Nation, married, unmarried, gay, straight, monogamous, poly (yes, even polyamorists can be cheated on — if there were agreements, and someone unilaterally changed those rules to benefit themselves without your consent, that’s cheating). All it takes to be chumped is a trusting heart. Intimacy makes us vulnerable. And betrayal hurts like a motherfucker.”

    THIS^ I came here because there was nothing that fit my situation either. My husband ALMOST had an affair. If she would’ve offered, he wouldn’t have turned her down. Throughout all of this, I came to find out that he had been subtly verbally and emotionally abusing both me AND our son for the past 15 years, at least. He’s admitted to this. Selfish, arrogant, narcissistic behavior (though he’s not a narcissist) is why I landed here. I’m so trauma bonded that I still can’t leave (other factors, as well).

    Anyway, Ginger, we can still learn a lot from CL and CN. Abuse is abuse and I feel we should give chumplady.com info to anyone suffering in some way from marital abuse, not just cheating. It helps us to see we’re not alone and helps us find our “mighty”.

    From a midwestern girl to another midwestern girl, thanks Tracy for sharing your wisdom, your snark, and most of all your heart! Thank you CN for all of the support and love you provide.

    • I’m kind of in the same boat. All I can confirm is he tried to cheat. He propositioned a friend, she said no. He went to a massage parlor but was too shy to ask for it. He posted on Craigslist and OkCupid and got no response.

      And yes, I know that it’s probably all bullshit. I found out most of these things on my own, he would never in a million years tell me the truth about anything.

      He thinks he’s spinning a story of how he’s innocent, but his intent in all of his actions shows how little he cares for me and our kid.

      We are separated. But since I’m the breadwinner (he’s gone long stints without working) I can’t bare to think of him getting half of everything I’ve worked so hard for.

      I wish I had the opportunity to walk away at the beginning, like the OP did! First D day was after my kid was born.

  • I think Ginger’s desire to take time off from dating is an excellent one. Being chumped makes one smarter, stronger, and more resilient…eventually. The immediate aftermath is grueling, and people should take time to re-group, calm down, and not inflict our temporary insanity on others. I’m all for asking potential dates questions about their relationship history from early on, but grilling them when you are coming from a recent hurt is not productive. Chumps shouldn’t date until we can approach the endeavor with a sense of calm rather than defensiveness, trust rather than suspicion.

    • As one of Derek Allred’s victims said, she felt rage, depression and loneliness after being conned. Perfectly normal to feel this way and take time to recover.

  • CL gives the best advice.

    But on the issue of trust, let me add: what you need to do is trust yourself. Take a long look at how you got conned this time and learn from that. What you know now is that it may take over a year to really get to know someone, so don’t commit your heart too quickly. Go slow, especially for the first year. Con artists are all about fooling people, and now that you know they’re out there, you can often see the signs.

    I had known Jackass for over 30 years, and I was seeing him after the end of a long relationship/marriage. I took for granted he was a good guy, and I “spackled” away every red flag along the way until his behavior was so egregious it couldn’t be ignored any longer. What I learned, and what you know now, is that you can survive being cruelly, terribly hurt. And you can get smarter about who you let into your life and how you move through relationship “checkpoints.” Most con artists will probably not endure casual dating for 6 months. And it’s worth remembering that having sex releases those bonding hormones that can hook a chump while a sociopathic or narcissistic cheater type just sees everyone as supply. Trust yourself. Look for true kindness and reciprocity over a period of a year or more before you allow yourself to think “maybe this is the one.”

    • Boy is this advice spot om! If I could work magic, I would go back in time and give myself the gift of time!!! If I had waited, if I had been patient, if I had listened carefully and compared actions to words spoken, IF, IF, IF . . .Alas, no magic time shifting. I had to teach myself to follow the good advice I received about taking time to heal, to regroup, to learn new skills, to listen carefully and check up on the details. If you tell the truth, you don’t have to worry about people checking your details. They will find you told the truth. If a grown person says (s)he cannot live without you and must be with you every second of every day — Run Like your Hair is on Fire!!!!

      As for physical intimacy — it takes time to find and develop a good friendship. I have no desire to be intimate with someone who is not worthy of being a good friend. If there is no patience on their part, if they cannot live without a guaranteed outcome, they are not willing to invest their time in being a good lover. either. If I was attracted to someone, and in the early stages of becoming a friend, and (s)he suggested we go off for a romantic weekend before I felt ready to do that, I think it would be ok to say, lets put that plan off till some day in the future when we both feel it would be a great idea. If it’s now or never, never looks like a pretty good option.

  • I was in very much the same situation as you, although I was suddenly given the silent treatment and ghosted with zero explanation. He got married not long after, and I realized I was just a transition target – something to dispense kibbles while he courted the future Mrs. Ex-hole. Married or not, it’s still humiliating and it still hurts when you know how much you invested in the relationship. I also took great solace in the fact that we weren’t married and I had no children. I learned later about cluster b personality disorders and was grateful to have dodged a bullet. Hell, I dodged a bomb.

  • To clarify, it’s not my habit to snoop my boyfriends. If it was, we wouldn’t have made it 8 months. I will say though that I knew how he protected his phone privacy was wrong and I’ve vowed not to date anyone who behaves like that again. I’m open with my phone, I need someone who is the same.

    It’s nice to hear the compliments. Some of my girlfriends think I’m a hero. Unfortunately, no contact hurt me too and no confrontation means I had to carry the information inside for a while. It’s why I allowed him access to me after five weeks, I was ready to open fire.

    I sort of knew if I told him I went through the phone, he’d flip it into a privacy issue and lay the blame at my feet. So I hear what everyone is saying about the tears, I don’t disagree. I just have a different take on it. The power of the phone snooping had shifted at that point from something that could be used against me. Make no mistake, the action I took was calculated not only to help myself but to give that dude a hard wake up call that he messed with the wrong woman.

    And the tears signaled one thing for me, the war had been won and it was time to negotiate the terms of his surrender.

    And to further clarify I don’t think all men are pigs, I love men, that’s why I’m friends with them, date them and get into their pants on occasion. That’s also why I’m uncomfortable with that thought. It’s not me and I don’t want it to be me simply because this guy has a problem that he decided to unwittingly involve me in.

    This site is great. I just found it yesterday and wish I had it back in January when I fell down this rabbit hole. It’s a wonderful combination of real talk and sarcasm and I’m honored to have my letter posted.

    There’s a lot of crap out of there on the other end of a google search. A LOT OF CRAP. The best advice I had found was to take care of myself (I do), love myself (I do), and get a therapist (I have).

    My point at the end of the day, is I’m just shocked at the lack of information available and real tools to help those internal struggles you encounter when this happens. I feel like this chipped away at me a bit and I would just like to see more real talk about rebuilding yourself and your self esteem and less about going shopping or rebuilding a crummy marriage.

    • Maybe the man I dated for six months sensed that I saw behind his mask and was preparing to end things so he figured “Hey I might as well steal her credit card number to do a little shopping !”

      Personally nobody has access to my phone. I pay the bill and I also don’t lie to others and cheat on them. Or steal.

  • You are a badass! And those tears were as crocodiley as crocodiley can be, in a public place designed to put pressure on you to rush back into the fold and be abused some more. He sure was doubling down, you must be quality, and the tears were probably because he knew he’d never be able to snag another potentially Grade A wife appliance who’s attractive, smart, capable and would run his life for him so smoothly that he’d have heaps of time for the cheating game. He’s just sorry he got caught when he had a good one on the line. Your stock will trade high if you don’t allow yourself to become cynical. What were the red flags, by the way?

    • He changed.

      Sex went from frequent to never.
      He started picking fights with me for no good reason.
      He became downright disrespectful at times.

      I addressed those things with him, but I didn’t hear a good reason for them happening. So I cracked the phone open and took a look for myself at what might be the cause.

      It should be noted that it wasn’t one woman, it was women (plural). He wasn’t having relationships with them, I guess I was the number one…how lucky was I

      • Sex went from frequent to never?
        He started picking fights with me for no good reason?
        He became downright disrespectful at times?

        He had completed the devalue, and moved on to the discard. (Until he was found out.)

        We all have the same story. Glad you found us.

  • Hey Ginger
    Nice to meet you. I’ve just had a similar thing happen with a charismatic bozo. I totally got sucked in and ignored all the very obvious signs as I didn’t want to seem ‘aggressive’ or ‘paranoid’. It’s the same story every time. I’m rebuilding. Again. 2 months no contact so far and the depression and low self esteem and sense of failure is lifting. I let him poison my thoughts, and use me up. My responsibility. This happened with a long term relationship of 17 years too where I got chumped and chewed up. I’m slowly getting stronger but boy it’s a hard journey.

  • I am single and I have been cheated on twice in my life by men I was quite serious with and thought we were going down a path to marriage. One was over 50 and the other over 60. Both are fucking sociopath cheaters. On the outside, highly intelligent and each very successful in their career path. I was blindsided by both. Both cried. I was told I was the love of their life,etc. It was all a bunch of bullshit. Both wanted me back yet neither would stop cheating. So yeah, it’s absolutely NOT YOU, Ginger. To love and trust is a beautiful quality. It’s just that sometimes we don’t know we are giving that beauty to a fuckwits. But at one point, things seem off, it becomes hard, furtive actions, things not adding up..the “I forgot” or “I can’t remember” explanations. It becomes a bit to odd and then we realized we were duped and it is crushing as any blow will ever feel – it is truly a heartwrenching and painful. I know became so depressed I couldn’t get out of bed and I made horrible mistakes with my career. It’s just hard. I found CL like 5 years ago and I still read her blog almost everyday. You will find that being chumped and not married is still the same and it is just a crushing, but we are truly lucky that we haven’t bred with the fuckwit and we can move on. Of course, when people tell us that they are trying to be nice, but sometimes it just doesn’t help. The pain is still the same and it’s very real.

    Keep reading CL, be good to yourself…get massages, and just try to do anything that can help you not dwell on the loser. It’s not easy. It doesn’t happen over night and there are really a lot of lows in the process of recovery, but with NC the distance will help speed it up even if it feels like every minute is an eternity…and eventually, it kind of just gets better and the pain slowly drops off or just doesn’t crush us like it used to before. I wish there was a pill or a quick fix to this cheating crap, but there isn’t. . It took me a year and a half to 2 years to move on from each of my respective sociopath belong in jail fuckwits. I’m still single, but I’m no longer in my lows and I can find joy and happiness in life again. Sometimes I’m lonely but that is life, I guess. And it’s a heck of a lot better than the angst of being with a cheater.

    My prayers go out to you tonight. You are not alone in this.

    Hugs

  • I have to say I like parts of BaggageReclaim but parts of it I don’t like. There’s a lot of victim blaming and a lot of telling women (it’s aimed mostly at women) not to do certain things (mostly have sex early in the relationship) or they will get used. I kind of get what they are driving at because I think it works for certain kinds of issues, but to me, it’s not useful when I look for advice on how to move past something and the advice is “It wasn’t a relationship” or “Don’t get invested too quickly.”.

    Like, if you could turn off getting invested or having feelings until that person was “proven” be be trustworthy, nobody would ever get chumped. Telling people to do that achieves nothing. And how do you even do that? They don’t give you advice on that.

  • Ginger, I am late to the party. I have never married, and I was absolutely FLYPAPER for cheaters.

    I am single at 50 and very content, because I am busy and happy all day long, and any drama is non romantic.

    It’s not for everyone, but I save a ton of money on waxing and pantyhose, I wear comfortable shoes, and I have lost weight without trying.

  • “I’ve got that lovely voice saying, ‘all men are pigs’ chiming in my head.” My voice said “women” 🙂 The worst part is when you keep falling into the same situation not realizing up front what exactly you are working with in a partner. That’s where this site becomes valuable because all of the people here who’ve been chumped outline a pretty good pattern of behaviors to watch for when you decide to go forward again. I admit that getting chumped while dating isn’t the same as getting chumped while married but the emotional hurt is similar and trying to figure out how it keeps happening can drive a person crazy. Just be glad you never married the guy and move on. He sucks. You figured it out before you got trapped. Good work!

  • Oh Ginger, I am going through this exact same thing right now, and I will take your advice.. “dump unceremoniously”!! I have been planning to tell him that we need to part ways but then I realise that with such people its quite pointless. I am taking your advice to the dot.

  • Ginger,
    I have found baggagereclaim.co.uk to be some of the best dating advice around. I believe CL has the website listed under other resources. Actually found that website, before ChumpLady. The blog has been going 10 years plus, and lots of useful info about boundaries and unavailables. Besides CL, it is an excellent resource and I highly recommend.

  • Do you know you can get proof of infidelity?
    Do you know you can get the peace of mind you deserve?

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