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Steal This Idea

So the blog-odometer flipped 30 million page views last week. (And I failed to notice until yesterday.) Which I thought deserved some sort of pause and moment of contemplation.

Christ on a cracker, there are a lot of chumps.

Over 5.5 million unique visitors, to be exact. Of course, I don’t know if they’re all chumps, or creepy exes, or rubberneckers. But that’s more people than the entire population of Norway OR Ireland OR New Zealand!

Not bad for an unpopular message.

“Leave a cheater, gain a life” was not the conventional infidelity advice when I started this site nearly 8 years ago. It was “work with that” and “stop asking questions” and “improve yourself so this person will stop hurting you.”

We’ve changed the narrative, folks. We’ve moved that goddamn needle away from “unmet needs” to “abuse.”

Thank you.

I had a hunch we were out there — Reconciliation Industrial Complex heretics — but I had to test the hypothesis with a website. Which grew and grew and grew, because of course, we’re out there.

That’s the beautiful thing about new media (and the awful thing about new media) — there are no gatekeepers. I didn’t have to convince anyone I had a viable idea (“Let’s change the narrative around cheating!”) — I could just put it out there and start my own public broadcasting system. Uncensored. And let the marketplace do the rest — is anyone else craving a new narrative?

I’m no better a writer before I was a published author than I was after. The difference is all of YOU. It was because I could DEMONSTRATE that this message had a platform. That got noticed.

So my advice is, if you meet a gatekeeper, GO AROUND. Do your OWN thing. Do it well. Build something new that no one has seen before. You don’t need gatekeepers to validate you. (Of course, it’s nice when they do, all validation is nice.) I think that’s true of publishing, and I think it’s true of life.

Eons ago I worked as a writer for a bunch of epidemiologists at the Defense Department. I was assigned to help a colonel write a report about creating a death registry and sharing data between service branches. It was a hard sell. (Doesn’t sound terribly radical now, but at the time it was.) Point is, the idea wasn’t real popular. Lots of push back and politics. He was probably a solid decade ahead with his ideas on data analytics, and he was kind of this weird, nerdy, chubby dude. He was utterly obsessed with this idea of saving lives through data sharing.

I helped him write his doomed report. He gave me a piece of advice I’ve never forgotten. He said if you want to change a narrative, you must let people steal your work. Remove your ego. Let them kick it up the food chain. Reject you. Just keep the idea alive.

He retired immediately after that report. And the idea lived. And that vision he had was realized.

Today when I look on the interwebz, the message of “Leave a cheater, gain a life” is alive and kicking. New sites are springing up all over about narcissism and toxic relationships. Twu Wuv feature articles are beset by comments calling people out for their selfish destructive choices. Esther Perel has moved on to corporate coaching. (Guess the Quest for Aliveness narrative wasn’t selling in the new Weinstein-Goes-to-the-Pokey era.)

The narrative is changing.

I am proud of my work here. But I encourage you to steal all the ideas on this site — mine and everyone’s and SHARE them. No more pick me dancing. Trust that they suck! Stay mighty!

Today’s Friday challenge is to tell Chump Nation what you’ve done to change the infidelity narrative.

TGIF!

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 I have done…..Read your book, listen, finally take the advice given in it and DO IT. I lived through 2 1/2 yrs of pure hell but I did it. I am now living 1000 miles away from ex with my kids and starting to live.
    I now have recommended your book and site to anyone I meet who needs it. That is what I have done.
    Shown what it means to pull up your boot straps and move on.
    God Bless all of you here. You saved my life.

      • Agree! Saved my life although I still have to make an effort to erase the reconciliation industry narrative from me head. But I wouldn’t be able to function if it wasn’t for this site and the support here.

  • I explained to my very intelligent but maybe misguided life long friend that Ester Perel is full of crap (because he sent me one of her talks to help me after my husband cheated) I also calmly explained the different between an open relationship and cheating. And I did it all without raising my voice or using the word “stupid”

    Yay!!!! Go me!

    • That might be a life-long friendship to reevaluate. So shitty that person pushed Esther Perel on you!!!!

  • I’ve been honest. I’ve decided to walk alone rather than wear a false face and make life easier for everyone but me. I’ve stopped caring about who knows the truth bc anyone who gets to know me at any level can see the truth. I’ve unapologetically gone as hard NC with ex and switzerlanders as I can with a 6 year old. I call cheating abuse when it comes up and i push back against the push back.
    And while my family was there scraping me off the floor, CL and CN were a huge part of why I was able to stand and then walk and then run and now fly.

  • Thank you Tracy! I’ve been on this journey with you the whole time as my divorce happened a year before yours. I couldn’t have pushed through to the other side without your help and everyone here. Even now I have to pinch myself and say I can’t believe I have an amazing life! I can say that I am free to do, be and go whatever I want. Your words gave me strength to realize I don’t need to keep living in the past. God bless.

  • Its great we have chump lady
    You would be surprised how many people stick up for the cheater, its almost like I was a second class human being, but I know I’m not.
    I think some people wanted my life to be miserable, but its not.
    To all those people who thought my ex was wonderful, you can fuck off
    He’s a fuckwit and so are you

    • This: Second class human being

      While this whole escapade has been horrible for my daughter, I suffered just as much.

      I was defrauded, 20 years of my life stolen, gaslighted, blamed, humiliated, abused but with the exception of my immediate family (mother, father, sister, child) virtually NO ONE sees me as a harmed party. I am an adult and affairs happen. blah blah blah. What did I expect? blah blah blah.

      I am so so over it. After a year and a half of hiding my shame, I am totally honest. “Where is your husband?” they ask. Answer? Gone. Disappeared. Traded my daughter and me on a younger woman and a shiny new baby. Lost his job while he was at it.

      No more sugar coating. This is not my clusterfuck!

  • Job well done CL! That’s what the gatekeeper at the pearly gates will tell you. Job well done! You’ve changed the lives of many hurting people and you unified us. That is VERY mighty considering we all thought at some point we were alone (especially those of us who dealt with narcs and their pattern to isolate their victims). What have I done? I’ve shared your message! I’ve shared your book! I’ve shared your website, blog, etc. I educated myself about narcissistic abuse, I set boundaries with toxic people and I shared my personal stories. Boy, has it made a difference in me and others around me! Thank you CL for helping me get my life back.

  • I have adopted the terms “kibbles” and “cake” to call out why narcissists (friends, lovers, spouses) abuse you then reel you back in only to abuse you again- so that any chump in any relationship can start to see the pattern for themselves, and thus may be more inspired to break the cycle. It certainly has the chump viewing the “victim”, “timid forest creature”, “it only you weren’t so….”, and “it’s not my behavior, it’s your reaction to it” narratives with a different lens.

  • First of all, Tracy, thank you so much. You have been a lifesaver for me. I have been following your blog for nearly 5 years now. Your advice and encouragement has helped me heal and move on to the point where I am living a wonderful life. I am so happy. You are smart and kind and that shows in every part of your work. What I have done to change the narrative is to share what I have learned from you. I hope you do something special to celebrate this milestone. You are a gift to us all.

  • “He said if you want to change a narrative, you must let people steal your work.” Exactly! A music professor once told me there are no original songs, it’s the words you choose, how you arrange them and how you arrange the music. The advice here applies to life in general – no one likes to be lied to, cheated on, yelled at, and abused. You just found a unique way to apply those basic themes to a subject no one likes to talk about and when they do they always find a way to blame the victim.

  • I’m working with teenage girls to recognize the patterns and protect themselves from lifelong sorrow.
    You inspired me to coin a little phrase that my girls are now sharing with friends: “Cheaters cheat, liars lie, and users use.” My daughters have a friend whose boyfriend cheated on her, and I tried to get her to read from your website, but she didn’t and instead fell for his love bombing, took him back, and now they break up and get back together almost daily. It’s ridiculous to watch. I think she enjoys the attention. Thankfully, my own daughters recognize the foolishness, as do their other friends. Most everyone knows about the cheating thanks to social media, and he’s miserable with the negative attention. Hopefully, it will deter him from developing a lifelong habit of cheating.
    Thanks so very much for changing the narrative and helping countless chumps and educating future generations.

    • You are awesome for teaching teens these concepts. Imho, changing the narrative kids have as they grow up, especially our own children, is one of the fastest ways to social change. This sort of change isn’t something that happens overnight after all.

      I think what I began to be taught as a teen (I’m 53) about physical abuse has changed the lives of many. Back then was when spreading the fact that being physically abused by anyone isn’t right, it’s criminal (even if it was a parent or spouse). That was when platforms against physical abuse really took off (think Oprah & the like). The message was that it’s not right, it’s criminal, it doesn’t matter what you did or didn’t do, you didn’t deserve it, one time is too much, they’re not going to change, get out immediately!

      This message certainly got through to me as a teen. I grew up knowing that I would never tolerate that. It has always been in my mind that if he hit me once, I was gone no matter what. However, the cheating part wasn’t part of that narrative. Sure, I had it in my mind cheating was wrong & it was cause to divorce but, not with the gusto/absolute/hard view I had about ever being physically abused. Being emotionally abused was barely on the radar.

      We have to teach kids that not only is emotional abuse wrong but that cheating is also abuse. We need to teach kids about toxic people and narcissists. And about when & how to walk away. All the things so many of us haven’t learned, or really understood, until CL.

      That push 40+ years ago to change the narrative on being physically abused, & the narrative about getting raped for that matter, has been successful. Don’t get me wrong, there’s obviously a long way to go yet but, the narrative has changed significantly (i.e. physically hurting your spouse is a criminal offense, attempts are made to not blame the victim of rape, etc).

      Those messages taught to my generation as teens were the main factor in significantly improving views about physical abuse and rape for is in adulthood. What we didn’t realize was that our mindsets changing was what really progressed it.

      We all now are the ones who have a hand in not only continuing & strengthening the message about physical abuse & rape. We are voices to get the message spread that CHEATING IS ABUSE to the teens of today and our own children!

      Horray to you for speaking up and being a significant part of changing the narrative for future generations. If you ever wonder if you’re making much of a difference (like when teen keeps taking her cheater bc back), just look back to the messages that were just really getting spread 40 some years ago & how far our society has progressed regarding those views. It can be the same with Cheating being Abuse (& toxic people). One person changing it at a time, like you’re doing. ROCK ON!!!

      • RoseThorns- Thank you so very much! What an Encourager you are! We are about the same age, and I agree with everything you said. I accepted way too much emotional and verbal abuse in the past, but no more! Still trying to heal from all that.
        I’m so impressed with my daughters and their “emotional intelligence”…and it gives me great hope for the future. This current generation is benefiting from the mistakes that have been made in the past, and positive changes are happening.
        Thanks again for your encouraging words, and taking the time to expand on the topic. Very thought-provoking truth!

      • Rose thorns..
        I totally agree. Educate the children of this world –
        Abuse starts small… and builds …
        like slowly boiling a frog…

        If we can get children to realise red flags / hidden abusive behaviour early on – we stand a chance.

        I am 54 . DD came 4 yrs ago. Always suspicious. Anyway serial cheater from day one – always hidden… I was a SAHM…

        I came from a house of domestic violence – despite what my dad does / did – my mother would always respond “ he has a heart of gold” won’t leave him despite every intervention from her children. We can do no more but step away…she is trauma bonded and in her 70’s it’s too late… it’s all very sad..,

        No wonder it has took me so long to accept that I have been used & lied to & abused for 25years. You would think I would be more conscious of abuse … but no . My therapist explained that if you grow up in abusive families – you tolerate more ! Your boundaries are so much lower..,

        And I thought I had found a “ good one” – not like my dad. My husband had never ever hit me – but that’s irrelevant – he has done so much damage to my heart & soul and cheated my children out of a childhood where their mother was not completely relaxed / or all there for them – because she kept feeling something was not right / off in her marriage….
        it was all a sham .

        Finding the book a few years ago has been the only thing that has helped me reconfigure my whole thinking about abuse … I returned to work ( I am degree educated and worked til I was nearly 40 – ivf etc) – and started to rebuild ME and my whole way of looking at the world….

        I am embarrassed to admit I have not left him – yet. But have been lining up my ducks-

        Returning to work nearly 2 years ago after 16 yrs ( so proud got a job at senior level in my profession & it’s going so well) – he never wanted me to go back!
        I am finally getting back the arse kicking feminist go getter I was – BNA – before narcissust abuse – took hold.

        I am looking to sort out finances – now I can pay my own mortgage – once divorced.. and getting stuff in order.

        It’s been a tough 3 years but I was determined to work it to my advantage- and it is…

        When I tell him I am divorcing him later this year – it will all be on my terms – ducks in a row…

        I only wish that I hadn’t had to go through a life time with 2 abusive men .

        If I had grown up educated in acceptable boundaries & when to call out abuse – my life would have been a less stressful and shit ..

        I now just want to protect my two teenage daughters… who are seeing their father now for who he really is… He could charm them when they were younger – now that they are teenagers they call him out & if there is s as nothing serious to discuss / sort – they want him left out of it and want me to help them out. They know he is unreliable.. they know he behaves like a immature child..

        They don’t know our story – ( to my knowledge) but that will e told at the right time for them.., A lot of things have happened in the wider family in the last few years & in their school life and I had to remain the sane 💪 parent to get them through it all. The story would have broken them ….

        So I have had to stay strong whilst lining up the ducks with my fantastic supportive friends and chump lady & everyone here as my guiding light!

        My meh is coming. In fact I have disconnected already physically & emotionally for the Beast. We still live together but not in any married sense! He tries to control me & stay in charge but I don’t engage . All I see now is a tantruming teenager before me. Always was – always is. I just never wanted to see it…

        I am slowly changing MY narrative to start with.

        I am changing the narrative of my children – without them even knowing why…

        And thankfully I have amazing friends who are supporting me and helping me ‘

        To anyone else out there who has experienced childhood & marital abuse – and is struggling to leave a cheater – I think that sometimes some of us might take longer to “ get it” … brain washing from childhood – but you need to keep reading this site.. it may take time .. but you have to get out …

        Now I say to my girls –
        there are givers and takers in the world. Make sure you never ever marry a taker …

        I wish that I had strong women in my life showing me what was acceptable and what was NOT.

        Sorry to all the good guys on this site – but having also worked in a male dominated profession and seen the boys club in action – The meTOO movement makes me cry with joy ! The patriarchy has called the shots for so long & set the tone regarding affairs & abuse
        “ little adventure “ midlife crisis” etc

        Thank god for Tracey, for chump nation. For meTOO.

        For all my amazingly supportive friends.

        Thank god – the narrative is finally changing.

        • By the way – delay in action hampered by one full year buying every RIC book on Amazon – and trying to make our marriage stronger…
          Because surely he too “ had a heart of good”….

          Stumbled across traceys book & BOOM – now you are talking!

          Next day husband shocked as hell to see all the RIC books being dumped in recycling.

          His number was up.

          Tracey & chumplady – I really owe my life to you …

          I just wished I had never met him…..

          • Don’t be embarrassed you’re still (legally) with him. You’re doing the smart thing by lining up your ducks beforehand. I sure wish I would of had the chance & know how to have done that. My kids & I would be in a much better place today if I had. You are so very mighty in your approach. Wow with re-entering the workforce with such gusto!

            I have a Master’s Degree & used to be a “professuinal”. Physical disability took me out of the workforce (after he drained me financially of everyth in ng I had & when it got to the point that he would need to step-up financially as well as actually helping a bit in the home, that’s when his cheating switched to searching for someone to leave me for. I didn’t find out about this until after he left. I believed he had been faithful since the first Dday 12 years earlier. That “heart of gold” thing is one I held as well. I used to say/think that yes he did/didn’t do this & that but deep down he had a heart of gold & loved me. I would have never said that if he had ever hit me! I would have just been out of there. (His physical abuse toward me & our 2 kids didn’t happen until after her left.)

            I wonder how many of us were taught that “HEART OF GOLD” notion from our parents & their generation. I now realize that’s really just excusing bad behavior & a way of spackling over being treated horrible. I find myself still using the heart of gold idea to my kids, regarding other things not cheating physical abuse. Thanks for the heads up on that! I need to pay closer attention to when & why I say that at times to be sure I’m not just excusing other emotional abuses or boundries being crossed.

      • I felt informed about physical and verbal abuse, but emotional abuse was completely off my radar. The last year of my marriage when I was being devalued, I thought a few times of how my wasband was Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde and why did I keep getting the meanness but Mr. happy go lucky was reserved for others. It wasn’t until after discard day when I started googling that I learned about narcs. I thought a narcissist was just someone vain. I had no clue as to the narc cycle but it mirrored what I had experienced. Lovebombing and extravagant gifts years ago, devaluation, he lined up new supply of married coworker who is 11 years older than me, and out of the blue discard of me. I bought LACGAL from The bookstore vs. amazon so he couldn’t see my order. Certainly an eye opening book and this website has gotten me thru the turmoil.

  • I have applied the “You’re worthy of better than what they offer you” and “You’re a person, not an object” narratives both to infidelity and beyond it in writing, in trainings, and in person. (It’s highly applicable in the equity/diversity/inclusion arena, actually.)

    I look for opportunities to inject this thinking into pieces where it wouldn’t normally apply.

    I’m annoying unstoppable and I’m not sorry for that.

    We do NOT have to keep taking this shit from people just because we used to take it, and it’s my personal mission to make that clear to as many people as I can in my lifetime.

  • I’ve told a very good friend that I will keep engaging within Chump Nation and keep telling the truth about cheaters. She was making the point that I was maybe stuck because I was still reading your blog, still reading divorce by cheating articles, still following FB groups… I don’t feel stuck at all! I see it as a mission to help others, as you’ve done for me Tracy. There’s nothing better than helping another chump through the mess that is being chumped.

    • Anytime I hear of a new chump, I text them or our person in common, the link to this site. No preamble, no sharing my experience, just a “thought you or Chump might find this helpful”. Sadly I’ve sent it 4 times in 3 years.

      I also sent last year’s blog about what to tell teenaged children directly to my 2 emancipated children and have it bookmarked for the third to receive in 2 years. Again, no diatribe about their father and his ho-wife. Just a heads up that MILLIONS of people support a different narrative than Dad, Mom included.

    • I got told the same by my therapist, that I’m stopping myself from moving on by re-hashing it all and being part of this forum. I know she’s trying to be nice but I’d like her to find me someone else who can actually understand the nuances of this shit show. How tiny sentences in an email are sent as part of the message to undermine you and you are NOT going crazy. It’s being able to vent with people that understand as at 2 years I’m not at the stage where everyone wonders why I haven’t a) totally redefined by body shape b) run a half marathon c) met the man of my dreams d) am spouting karmic shit about how therapy has saved me and the best I can do is ‘generally be OK most days and have some days where I just sit crying. Only you lot get that that isn’t weird. And yes I truly pass on the message to everyone and it’s made me secure in that narrative and that it’s not just self serving so it’s been a total god-send.

  • I found this site 8 years ago. I didn’t realize that’s when you started it but I found you by searching something like my Ex went crazy, or I think I’m crazy. I was so distraught and emotionally wrecked I couldn’t form a sentence but what I appreciated was that here, I was allowed to be angry. I was told so often to “get over it”, “don’t be angry” and all the BS that people who haven’t been abused say. Your site changed how I allowed myself to grieve the loss of a marriage. You allowed me to be angry and use that anger to propel myself forward. I don’t think you can understand how many people your straight forward thinking helped. You did change the narrative and it needed, and still needs to be changed even more. I never commented much but I’ve been here reading and moving forward for the last 8 years. So thank you for calling out all the shitheads in the world. They’re the ones that need to go into hiding so the rest of us can shine the light on what a good relationship should really be.

    • I’d like to second what Melissa says about anger, about CL showing us chumps that we have every right to express it. That is just one of the many keeps-on-giving gifts CL has given us.

      Another is that being a part of this community offers real reassurance that we’re not the faulty ones, that our ethics and standards are not to be dismissed or belittled. Thanks to CL’s clear-eyed, blunt, honest, metaphor-rich, and humorous writing, I’ve become more open in telling others about my two subpar exes, their lies, deceits, shoddy character traits, and unacceptable behaviors. Being tentative about our experiences isn’t healthy for us, and nor does it help others who might be silently suffering.

      What more would I like to see happen and contribute to myself? I’d love to see the ever-widening acceptance of porn called into question. Not on the grounds of morality or religion (that would just give porn users excuses for not addressing the issue head-on) but instead on the question of what promotes healthy, loving relationships. The more porn is normalized, the less chance there is for real intimacy–and that’s before the issue of addiction comes into play (which I know is controversial but I’m assuming for now that addiction to porn does exist). What’s been encouraging–and it’s thanks to CL’s writing–is that those I’ve dared open up to about my most recent ex choosing porn over our relationship–and lying about it!–have so far been 100% supportive. Without Cl and CN, I doubt I’d have had the confidence to say the word “porn” out loud let alone explain why I believe it to be horribly damaging to most relationships.

      • I think you’re correct about Porn.
        Anyone that’s ever watched it (probably everyone ) has either fallen for the fantasy that,
        1) this type of sex is normal and obtainable in the ‘proper’ mate, or
        2) it’s Totally out of touch with reality.

        Number 2 is the final destination for non-disordered.

        Number 1 distorts the love and intimacy required to hold a marriage together. Sex is important but ceases to be so in long term marriage. Compatibility, fidelity, trust and sacrifice are the components in the cement that holds a marriage together.

      • I agree! Porn promotes violence against women and destroys relationships. Using it is infidelity. It has nothing to do with healthy sex and everything to do with exploitation.

  • Thank you Tracy. ChumpLady has helped me in so many ways. It has helped me see through people’s bullshit. I have learned that cheaters are not unique. They all go by the same script. Hopefully people will see that cheating is just another form of abuse. And maybe in the future laws will change to protect the chump. I know now that my ex would have cheated on me no matter what. Because he wanted to. He just happened to cheat with Skankella because she was lacked integrity and would have cheated with any married man. It takes a special kind of women to cheat with a family members spouse.

    • OK Chump Lady, I’m stealing RIC Heretic. Thank You, dear Chump Lady. I would so buy the T-Shirt!

      Here is what I do to fight the RIC and change the narrative. I keep an extra copy of your book in my car as a weapon against cheaters and a guide for the Chumps. I’ve given away four copies in ten months which tells you something about these goddamned cheaters, busy aren’t they? I’ve handed these to strangers that I have met in the gym, at the nail salon, shopping at an antique mall and visiting my one remaining friend. The newly Chumped are found everywhere. I’m ordering more copies today.

      I’m heading to Court today. I’m stealing the idea that there is a Nation of Chumps going with me. The support and solidarity that I find on your site sustains next in my solitude. I might look like I’m walking into that courtroom alone, Chump Nation is behind me.

      I am mighty. I have strapped on my bitch boots, dried my tears, and I’m ready to stand in my truth. Thank You Tracy!

      • We are with you! You are mighty! The Truth will win in the end. I’m reminded of the saying, “The Truth is the Truth, even if no one believes it.”
        Please come back here to let us know how your day plays out, if you care to share.
        Praying wisdom and discernment for you, your lawyer, and the Judge…and peace, patience, comfort, serenity, and strength for you.

  • I do Weight Watchers, and every week on connect (WW’s private social media platform) someone posts on their d-day. These posts are people in the moment of their devastation and they are so heartbreaking. I’ve recommended this blog and LACGAL more times than I can count! I hope some of them found their way here.

    • As an American who lived in France during my twenties, I wholeheartedly concur.

      I was very happy to see all those young French women protesting Roman Polanksi’s Cesar award nomination. His winning is indicative of a deep problem in French society. Catherine Deneuve and company denouncing the #metoo movement shows how retrograde things are in that country.

  • First i just want to say a Massive Thank You to CL , Mr CL ( who’s support of CL doesn’t go unnoticed ) and every member of CN . I read the archives all the time and re read many times some of them that applies to me on a personal level

    I was very lucky i found CL within 3 weeks of D Day and have followed the advise on here to the letter

    I divorced without a word of contact as CL says in her book let the lawyers handle it and i did
    I had a runaway so no contact for me has been easy but i read these all the time as support not to ever contact him ever again .

    I am almost a year out and very grateful and always will be for the laughs , hugs and support on this site and i hope one day when i feel a bit better i can pay it forward to any new and unsuspecting chumps

  • I went on a search for “surviving infidelity” and all I found was how to STAY married to the cheater. A light opened for me in a book I devoured and read in a matter of hours on a plane ride. It was the first publishing of your book. I have since passed it on to friends who’ve experienced the same betrayal and abuse, and talked a married friend out of Esther Perel books. More than anything, this site confirmed for me that I was right, and not crazy. Worth its weight in gold!

  • You’ve helped me to see that it was never me that was mad, it was always him. I’m pretty confident but he had me worn down to the point that I was beginning to question whether I was really the problem. Then when I read everyone else’s stories and see that the narcs do, indeed, all read from the same play book it helps me to understand even more. I will NEVER be taken in by a narc again, so thank you Tracy and all you other chumps!

  • This book and blog saved my life. I have adopted the words ‘kibble’ and ‘cake’ into my vocabulary. I learned new tools here to help me survive too. But the most important thing I learned is that secrets kill ….. so I yanked open the curtains, threw open the windows and let truth flood the space. I shared my story in a book! Yes….laid it all out there! It was one of the most empowering things I have ever done. That is thanks to you, Tracy, and CN! I have been reminded time and time again to “trust that they suck” and that I am not a survivor……I am a thriver! I have more courage in my pinky nail than he (and his downgraded look alike) will ever amass in their short lives! Thank you!

  • I no long have tolerance for the cheaters . I cannot and will not listen to “locker room ” talk and not respond . I have called out those that are having their dalliances and laugh behind their spouse’s back . I have injected my disdain where I once would have said “not my business “. I have been the one to “call out ” a cheater on behalf of a timid chump. No more!

    • I interrupted a conversation between two co-workers who were talking about a man who they knew had been carrying on a long-term affair. This man had told them that his wife and him hadn’t been intimate in a long time, that her health was bad, that he didn’t have any connection with his wife anymore, etc. But he didn’t want a divorce. They were saying how ‘noble’ the man was for not wanting to hurt his wife by telling her the truth. Needless to say, their jaws dropped when I pointed out that perhaps things weren’t exactly as portrayed, and that perhaps Mr. Nobel Cheater didn’t want to loose his wife appliance, and 1/2 his retirement, have to move out of his beautiful house, and explain to his colleagues why his 30 year marriage was dissolving. One of the ladies says to me, “Wow. I didn’t even think of that”.

  • Thank you!!! You have brought chumpdom out of the closet and given us a voice. I, like many others will continue to do my best to spread your message!

    I found the ric sites first and was trying to go that route but my gut was telling me otherwise. After all I was a chump used to ignoring my gut. When I found your site, I knew my gut was right and have adhered to the CL advice. It is the only way to gain a life!

    Now when I preach your message, people are impressed and tell me how strong I am. I smugly think, no, it is chump lady.

    So congratulations Tracy, it may be cliche but you and your website are proof from small acorns grow mighty oaks!

    • (((((Feelingit)))))
      It is also YOU spreading the word, reaching out to others.
      You could have sat in a corner feeling sorry for yourself, feeling bitter, but NO, you stand tall, you share your story, you are not afraid to reach out to others. You help them along this difficult, so often, lonely, journey.
      YOU, my dear friend are Mighty!
      Many many hugs, and love to you and your five precious Children! ❤️

  • I tell the truth( not “my” truth THE truth), whenever I want to educate someone. It is not my job to hide the ex’s dirty deeds, and they do speak for themselves. I just wish my children would see him for who he really is.keep on keepin’ on! Mighty chumps!

    Ps can anyone upload the video for “gaslighter” by the Dixie Chicks—a good one for everyone to see!!

  • The “improve yourself so they’ll stop hurting you” narrative is the one I despise the most. I love that CL says we have not just permission, but the right to get angry about harmful and hurtful things done to us.

    There is so much new-agey Esther Perel bullshit about not reacting, being calm, looking toward self-improvement, accepting the other person’s pain and *puke*

    No. I’m going to get angry about things. I don’t care about the cheater’s pain. And I’m not going to make myself small to accommodate an abuser.

    • I’m a good person but I’m not good at picking a partner!

      I just need to improve by boundaries and pick an honest, loving person!!

  • Chump Lady, thank you so much for all you do! This site is a game changer, and I pass it on to any new chumps I meet. I use the language I learned here all the time: Shit sandwiches, trickle truth, love bombing, sparkly turds, the 3 channels of mind fuck, if it feels good, don’t do it, and know your worth. You’ve given so many people the tools to help explain this better to people who haven’t been through it. They may not understand the way we do, but I don’t think I’d be able to put it all in words the way I can now if it weren’t for your site.
    Thank you so much!!

  • I just wanted to say thank you. I’m only 6 months into this journey through hell, but I’ve found so much strength and solace from this amazing site. You truly cut through the bullshit and reaffirm what I know inside: it’s not me, it’s him. The way he has treated me, and continues to blame shift is staggering. It’s such a relief to know I’m not alone in this and it’s a pattern of behaviour that so many chumps experience.

    He rolls his eyes when I say he’s abusive and murmers dismissively when I castigate him for giving me an incurable STD. Big deal he says. Yes, actually it is a big deal. Thank you for making me feel less alone in my predicament.

  • Started “Divorce Minister: Taking Adultery Seriously” and wrote a book. Grateful for all I have learned here and CL’s support as I launched those projects targeting a Christian audience.

    • Divorce Minister,

      What you have done is nothing short of absolutely amazing! You’re the first leader in the field that I’ve ever heard of trying to change the narrative of infidelity for the greater good. Many of us have gotten such mixed messages from Ministers, Priests, and the like that we ended up losing a lot of the faith we had.

      You’re one of the first (or at least the first I know of) religious leaders who is standing up for change in this area and voicing it. That takes bravery and a thick skin to do that as, you’re going against the grain of things. I’m sure you’re met with significant amount of opposition and doubters.That has to be an uncomfortable position.

      You’re paving the way for others to follow though. By changing the narrative within the world of religion, you will be helping hundreds of thousands plus. Changing the narrative of other church leaders will result in helping an even greater mass of people.
      You’re a true example of Paying it Forward in a huge way! Hats off to you for your courage & conviction!

  • I pay it forward every time I can. I don’t chase people down trying to convert their thinking, but I find myself presented with opportunities in some strange situations. I believe cultural change is slow, but I also believe change and adaptation is necessary for survival.

    I grew up in a time of change — I was born in the 50’s, my grandparents lived the change from travel by horses and mules to seeing man walk on the moon. My grandmothers had no chance of education beyond elementary school, my mother earned a Ph.D. When I entered the workplace after college, males dominated all executive positions, I was allowed to work in environments that were predominantly male because I had a college degree. Many of the men I worked with did not. It was the start of the compliance with job discrimination by sex laws being enforced.

    I have a wonderful daughter-in-law who comes home complaining about sexism in the work place, and I smile because her complaints are mild besides some of the abuses I have lived through. I had to suck it up to survive many times, she expects better. I am glad she does. Things will change, maybe not as fast as we would like, but the truth is the world needs strong competent workers regardless of their sexual identification.

    I love music, and I regularly spend Friday nights at a jam where the musicians are older white males. Some of them have tried to patronize me, and have felt the sting of my tongue. I do it with humor, and I have adapted to my environment by having a thick skin. I earned my place at the music circle with my talent and knowledge of music, and by being polite and courteous to others, Also, I LISTEN to what they have to say. Hardly anyone is willing to listen to old white men anymore, and many are lonely and feel abandoned and unwanted. When they say something I disagree with I do not attack them, but I often ask them to consider another point of view and I tell them true stories. I ask them if they love their daughters and granddaughters and want them to put up with this type of crap? I point out that most marriages wont survive without two incomes, it is hard enough to raise children as it is. I ask them what they think will happen if the disrespect men routinely show women does not change. I’ve told them about trusting my husbands and being cheated on — what it is like to feel that betrayal. Because I listen to them, and take interest in their lives and hobbies, and because I regularly show up and don’t ask for special treatment, but refuse to be treated as less than, they listen to me. I believe I have made some progress with this group.

    I believe I made a difference in my son’s lives. I believe I made a difference in the lives of some of my co-workers and friends, and with my sisters. I read this site almost every day and comment when I think it might benefit someone. Reading here is like a daily affirmation of what I went through and who I have become over the years. That is what pay it forward means to me. Help where you can, comfort when you can, and remind others to refuse to be used.

  • Oh and CL and CN helped to set me on the path to healing. I give out the book whenever I meet someone who needs it. I want people to know before their sociopaths manage to rape them financially like mine did. Thank you CL and CN!!!

  • The first time that fucker chumped me and I was searching for answers on the interwebz, I found midlife crisis. Yes, that’s it! We were 34 years old with 2 & 4 year olds and he was screwing around with crazy nurse he worked with.

    The second time that fucker chumped me and I was searching for answers on the interwebz, I found affair fog. Yes, that’s it! DD14’s 20-something asst sports coach in our kids Catholic high school had bewitched this poor sad sausage. He can’t help himself, he’ll come to his senses!

    At first when chumped and you see your life and world threatened, your looking and have confirmation bias of it’s not the cheater, they wouldn’t do this to me and the kids! Infidelitygroup and Chump Lady planted the seed of this is on the cheater. I didn’t want to completely hear that message at first. But once I saw the patterns of this crazy-making courtesy of the cheater, I knew there was only one way out of this kind of pain.

    Thank you Tracy for your voice of reason mixed with snark! You have saved me!!

  • I was lucky and found your book early on. I was literally praying for something that would help me make sense of what was happening. I was SO MAD yet the counselors and everything I was reading said I needed to stuff that down. I think I was looking for permission to feel my feelings and leave. I got on amazon and saw an add for your book! Answered Prayer.

    That was two years ago next week. Since then I’ve worked on myself and now I get to help other women as well.

    I started my blog all about the joys of a cheater free life, embracing single parenting, the how-tos for gaining a life and recovering from infidelity, and unapologetically practicing self-care. Your book is one of the first things I recommend. In addition, I’ve become a life coach and as it turns out most of my clients are other women who have left or are in the process of leaving cheaters.

    Thank you for everything Chumplady!

  • Tracy, thank you for creating a space where sanity reigns.
    I have finally gotten a job doing what I want. I’m repairing my house. I’ve travelled with the children. I’ve increased my income. I’ve managed to minimise the children’s time with toxic grandmother (ex cheater mother and a cheater herself).
    Our home is a safe haven and my children are adjusting.
    Most importantly I have peace of mind. There is no price tag on that.

  • Chump Lady and men’s blogs about surviving infidelity, did waaaay more for me than therapy did. It was based in reality instead of “what we hoped for.” Reconciliation doesn’t seem to be possible. It’s a bunch of BS mind games and just wasting years of your life with a cheater before they inevitably do it again.

    Chump Lady accurately articulates and helps decipher the BS that cheaters do and say so we don’t fall for it and don’t think our situations are the slightest bit unique. They’re not.

  • I’m retired clergy in The United Church of Canada who works out of Calgary, Alberta. I started a website just over two years ago and I blog pretty much every week for wives and partners of men called sex addicts. And yes, I was one. Ten years ago I was the first person I know naming the naming the covert and overt abuse that women endured from these men and from the sex addiction treatment industry and others. I haven’t stopped. I write blogs and people in the industry are reading them, because they often try then to “spackle” things I’m identifying on their own pages. Why do I know? Because thousands of readers let me know. I, like CL, have a small army who send me links and information. Sometimes clinicians write me to “explain” all my mistakes because they underestimate me. That never works out well for them. But I do try to be polite and keep communication lines open. My greatest advantage is the same one I’ve faced all my life as a woman–being underestimated. My clients have been everyone from women with almost nothing to women whose names you would know. I can’t make a living on this and the 50% divorce spoils of 30 years married to another clergy person, so I left my home and life partner and spent Advent and Christmas in Yellowknife NWT doing pastoral supply at -40 to -52 degrees, and now I’m in northern Alberta doing the same for most of Lent and Holy Week. I’m all in on this. And when I think I have to stop, I read the emails from women who were ready to kill themselves (their lives so expertly destroyed by these men and the industry that participates and nurtures ongoing abuse) but don’t because they read my blog and just one person who speaks their truth give hope. I am so grateful for CL whose success encourages the smaller Lights in this nightmare, and for my dearest colleagues LiliBee at PoSARC, and Tania Rochelle at SweetwaterRetreats.org who hold me when I falter. For me, this is justice ministry and an expression of my vocation. And until women are safe, this is the hill I die on.

  • First a shout out to my chump buddy James and what he did to change the narative. He gave me LACGAL. Like him I am trying to be the sane parent and got my 15 year old daughter back in therapy just yesterday. I also do crossfit with her. I’ve managed give away 2 LACGAL to 2 other chumps.

  • Thank you chump lady,

    I was given your website by a man I met on one of the RIC sites. I had already been divorced and apart for almost two years but I felt like I was still stuck and wondering why I was still angry. Guess what once I was validated for my anger it went away.. Go figure?
    Thank you for this site.

  • I gave my CL book to my therapist who passed it on to another client!

    Fuckwit, kibbles, cake and Schmoopie are all part of my everyday vocabulary. I’m currently in Flying Monkey hell so that term at the top of my list.

    I’m beginning to look at my posts (or the one’s I compose and don’t actually post.. divorce in process) as a new attempt at journaling. I spend too much time writing and re-writing them but in the end they are well thought out documentations of what is going on with my STBX and our teenagers (aka the flying monkeys).

    Thank you to CL and CN. Everyone here is truly a life line.

    • Your kids are flying monkeys?! Dang. Are they carrying message like “Cheater is so so sorry, if only you weren’t so unforgiving, if only you gave Cheater another chance, we could be a family again?”

      • That was the flying monkey talk scenario after filing almost a year ago.

        Things have turned for the worse in the past month since he finally moved out of the family home. Now he is using them as his proxy to deliver his criticisms, dictates and setting up situations that create conflict / arguments between me and the kids to maximize triangulation and parental alienation.

      • I posted a version of this several hours ago… not sure what happened.

        Nemo,

        That was the flavor of comments I was getting after I filed.

        After that and especially now since my STBX finally moved out (10 months after he was served) he is now using the kids as his proxy to deliver criticism, dictates and setting up situations that cause conflict between me and the kids in an ongoing attempt to damage my relationships with them.

        • That sucks. That really sucks. {{{Hugs!}}} What can I say that you don’t already know? It’s a long game. It will take a long time for your kids to see that they’re being played. Well, they know that now, to some degree. The really long time is for them to refuse being played. He’s still their dad. They have to figure out how to have a relationship with him, or if they want one at all.

          • Nemo,

            Thanks for the follow-up. Many therapy sessions trying to navigate this…

            I know everyone says they will “figure it out” but that hope does not feel affirming when you are in the midst of it.

            Kid’s perspective at least in my head…

            Dad is fun! He plays video games. He provides alcohol (and I suspect other substances). Dad is has $ to buy us things and he has a cool new place! He wants us to bring friends over to hangout at his place. (Note – Schmoopie is still a teen herself.)

            Mom is a bummer… she is perpetually on edge and she got really mad when I told her that Dad and I worked out the parenting schedule ( …btw Mom, you get the days when I don’t get home until 9:30pm and I’m planning on taking your car). She bugs us to do stuff together and is unhappy when we dump her to hang out with our friends. She totally freaked out when I told her I was inviting my girlfriends to dad’s place this weekend. OMG she is so lame / crazy / unfair. Oh btw… I need you to buy X, Y & Z. Can you make sure to have it by tomorrow morning?

            Venting…. sorry. And yes, this all happened.

            • Not at all surprised. It happens. It happens a lot. Continue therapy, if your therapist is a good fit. Yes, it sucks to the ultimate degree of suckyness that you must be the island of sanity in the shitstorm. Yay! You’re stuck being the sane parent! When your kids are middle-aged, they will appreciate it.

              Here is one of Chump Lady’s posts on a glittery gamete-giver:

              https://www.chumplady.com/2017/12/dear-chump-lady-cant-compete-fabulousness/

              Dear Chump Lady, could you write a post about coping w/ Disneyland Dad or Good-Time Mamacita?

  • Here in Colorado, we started a Colorado Chump Nation local group that’s met nearly every month for years. We wouldn’t have been able to do this without you. That and the website have saved our lives and our sanity. Thanks for all the love and healing. xoxo

  • I started a side business coaching people, teach fitness classes and have a successful YouTube channel for personal development and global transformation.

    All because I made a conscious decision to kick ass for the rest of my life after I discovered the infidelity.

  • Dear Tracy, congratulations!!! I celebrate your life and your work with all my heart!!!
    I discovered your site 10 months after cheater left 7 years ago and it was one of the most important resources to keep my sanity and recover my self esteem. I read “why do cheaters cheat” hundreds of times. I printed some of your wisdom and pasted it around my bedroom. You have words to the abuse I was living. Your message was a raft in the ocean of craziness.THANK YOU.

    I am now impressed by your congruence and generosity as you say “go share the message!” Because you can see that it is not about you but about returning sanity to abused chumps. Standing ovation!

    While I am at meh now, my heart keeps hurting for so many people I see being chumped and blamed for it around me. I think about that message from Desmond Tutu:

    “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

    So I am starting to post in social media in Spanish. Main message: cambiemos la narrativa de la infidelidad: la infidelidad es abuso (Let’s change the narrative of infidelity: infidelity is abuse).

    My posts are getting a 70% rate of sharing which I understand is amazing. AND YOU ARE MY MENTOR.

    Thank you Tracy for starting this revolution. Thank you from chumps all around the world!

  • Thanks CL. I simply share your site and affirm any chump I meet with leave a cheater, gain a life. I will not be a Switzerland or encourage reconciliation in the face of infidelity. I will not hide my story when asked about my divorce -that I was betrayed. Amazingly many others come out with their story. It is liberating to stop hiding and being embarrassed that we have been victimized. I don’t trust any person who cheated on their spouse-full stop. Won’t work with them or hire them if I know.full stop. Blaze on!

  • Thank you Tracy and Chump Nation, from my heart. You saved my life! I only have one item to share. “WWDCLS” or “What would chump lady say” has saved me from taking anymore shit from the fuckwit. I haven’t made it to Meh or Tuesday, but I know I’m close!

  • I’m writing a novel based on my experience, and seasoning it with CL-isms…cheating is abuse, is this acceptable to you?, etc.

  • I stopped eating one type of shit sandwich this week. I went to the courthouse and got a restraining order to stop cheater ex coming to my house and coming in to my house without permission. From now on police can help me lose a cheater gain a life. Thank you for calling them out and helping chumps recognise abuse and shit sandwiches that we can leave on the plate.

  • I teach a 90-person Developmental Psych class at a large university and have incorporated Tracy’s work into the curriculum (in between the sections on Narcissism and Emotional Abuse). It has allowed me to pre-emptively reach hundreds of students, some of whom will become chumps (and perhaps alert those who may have been tempted to cheat about the devastation it causes).

  • Great job CL and CN. I buy ” Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life ” to give to anyone I find overcome by the cheater situation. I also leave the book anywhere such as book exchanges, free books, public restrooms, bus stops just anywhere someone in need of Tracy’s real life advice. Makes me feel wonderful to know someone going through this hell will get the best, true, advice plus feel the hugs and know she is not alone.

    • I’m doing something similar. I’m on a quest to run some sort of race in all 50 states and concurrently, I’m leaving a copy of LACGAL in each. Running has somewhat quenched my urge to escape from my current circumstances which were forced upon me thanks to my cheater’s choice to abandon me. My husband ran away from our quarter century relationship and now I’m running toward a healthier life!

  • In 3 days it will be the 4th anniversary of not D-Day but the beginning of the trickle-truth when a very drunk Mme YogaPants told me she was leaving but wouldn’t say why. That took me about 2 months of frantic investigation to learn that she had been cheating on me.

    I ended up in the RIC passing through here on my way but I wasn’t prepared for Tracy’s message. That took some time for me to realize that she wasn’t “sick” or “confused” but that she was just a selfish jerk. Which was no huge surprise because she’d always been that way.

    Most people in my life are very supportive including the very nice lady who I’ve been dating since early last fall. One challenge with her though is that she is stuck on the narrative that “people grow apart” and that there had to be “reasons” why the marriage “failed” on both sides. She just doesn’t get that I was perfectly content with no more complaints I felt than the average guy who had a 26 year marriage and that the cheating was completely on my ex and had nothing to do with me. I think that some people just don’t “get” that.

    But life is good. I’ve certainly gained a cheater free life even if I do have to send her a cheque every month that she and OM have used at least in part to buy themselves a new house or so I’ve heard.

    I don’t worry too much about any sort of narrative any more but do tend to stick to my guns in that – at least to the best of my knowledge 😉 – I had nothing to do with Mme tripping and falling on to someone’s dick. Over and over and over again. But she didn’t mean to or so she told me.

    • I think only people that have been through this experience can truly understand that it has nothing to do with “growing apart”.

      It’s truly so crazy!

    • Bowtie, my four years of original discovery will be June. I was married for 24 years and felt content to live out the rest of my days with my X. It also took me a while to wrap my brain around her real personality. Now I look back and can spot all sorts of selfish behavior. I just recently found a short video of then 7-year-old daughter, my mother, and myself singing happy birthday to my X. The entire video she is giving me go to hell looks and moving between frowning and forced smiles. My little daughter was so excited about recording with her small flip phone. I now watch that video and think I had a monster in my house. Who the hell was that, and how in the hell did I miss it. Now I know I didn’t miss those moments. I just chose to ignore or rationalized them away. Glad you found a great lady.

  • I didn’t let anyone talk me out of leaving my cheater. And there were many who wanted ME to “fight ” for my marriage when I wasn’t the one to break it. I refused to hear that noise and I refused to swallow that blame BS.

  • I have told my story countless times in Facebook groups and Reddit subs. On these sites I encourage women (and men) to stand up for themselves. I tell them it’s OK to have their emotions (and feel them) and it’s all part of the grieving process – and they have to grieve to move on.

    It’s all part of supportive each other, helping each other wrap our minds around the fact that someone we loved and trusted would fuck us over so badly and THEN act like the victim.

    Since I discovered CL and this website I have shared it so many times to people who just found out their spouse cheated and don’t know what to do. Nobody says it quite like Tracy!

  • CL and CN saves me. I have learned and now see the crap other people try to feed me. I have ended two friendships because I didn’t like the way they treated me. Even better, I have watched as my daughters did the same. I pay it forward when I can, IRL and on Chump Lady on FB. Thank you, Tracie, for saving me!

  • I’ve changed so much due to CL’s magical advice. My parents both read the blog and the book and when I’m down they quote from the book and say, “remember what Chump Lady says about that”. It’s basically the Bible.

    In my day to day life I refer to ex as the abuser. For instance, at the bank I told them I was being abused and needed their help to close accounts. I told the school I was being abused when he wouldn’t pay half of the fees. I tell the bill collectors when they call that my ex was abusive and he opened his own credit cards so please go and find him because he’ll just abuse me if I contact him. The plumber even split the bill in half when I told him I was dealing with abuse. I make sure everyone knows why I can’t be around him because he’s an abuser – he is and was abusive and CL gave me the confidence to say it. Most people then rally to help me. I’ve told my daughter that her dad had girlfriends outside the marriage for a long time so mommy had to ask him to leave so I can protect myself. She gets it. My friends mostly get it, and those that don’t are ones I’m letting go of.

    Thank you Chump Lady for recognizing and naming the abuse and for supporting all the powerful Chumps out there who are in their recovery♥️

    • Your parents read CL’s book & now quote from it? WOW! What a wonderful way to continue to support you. Those are some amazing parents you have!

  • CL is so humble. Her focus is truly on changing things to help others. To me, this seems rare for a blogger.

    I’ve said several times on here before that, CL is one person who changed the narrative for many (it seems 5.5 million at least). Just think if each one of us are able to help & change just one other person’s narrative and they turn around and change one, etc – WOW! That’s the way to societal change! CL has started a movement! Now it’s up to all of us to keep it going by payungvit forward!

  • I’m supporting chumps and giving cheaters, their apologists, and RIC bullshit artists the brutal truth all over the internet as much as I can. I also talk about narc abuse and abuse in general and have given advice and support to many people in abusive situations. I’m pretty much housebound for health reasons so that’s all I can do right now, but if I’m ever well enough, I hope to start a chump and abuse survivor support and advocacy group against the disaster that is no-fault divorce. If everybody pitches in, we’ve got this. Go forth and speak truth to stupid!

  • A saying I’m very fond of:
    “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he does not mind who gets the credit.”
    President Harry Truman was said to have popularized it, and President Ronald Reagan had a plaque with it on his desk.

  • I have directed friends to this website, and purchased LACGAL for a couple. However, I think what I am going to do is see about purchasing a billboard for a month with “Infidelity IS abuse” on it, along with chumplady.com. Does anybody see a problem with this?

  • I heart Tracy! Seriously, game changer and a life saver. No pun intended. You are and continue to be awesome! And, of course hysterical.

    Cheers to you, Tracy! Your words make a difference. Proof is in the data.

    🙂

  • Congratulations CL! You are helping so many people. Before ex left and I found out about the cheating he had been distant so I read an article about how to make your man love you. It was some crap about bolstering his ego.
    It didn’t work. When I found your website and book after Dday it saved my life. It was not my fault. He has a shitty character. I have passed it on by recommending your book and blog and becoming a patron of this site.
    After 3 years I still read your blog to help others and inspire me to continue to gain a great life. After going through he’ll I am now enjoying being single.

  • So, what have I done to change the infidelity narrative?

    Using Tracy’s perspectives and analogies I am making people change the way they think.

    Cheating on (and stealing from) intimate partners seemed to have a higher threshold of tolerance and was prone to receive more spackle from chumps in the BT (Before Tracy) era than any other form of cheating. Our political leaders can’t steal from our taxes, but they can cheat abusively on their intimate partners…
    I learned from Tracy that the “sunken costs” that go into building an intimate relationship, especially when children are involved, make us smoke the hopium pipe and dance the pick-me dance and …. be a chump.

    But Tracy threw a new perspective on this for me: abuse and taking unfair advantage of people and how people justified slavery, women not voting, etc., etc., etc.

    So now when I talk to people about cheating, these analogies invariably stop them in their tracks.

    Once niece said to me “But, auntie, he is so good looking, travels to exotic places, of course he will slip”. “Dear niece, I need to keep my house and office going. And, since I’m so much better than a person without an education, I can keep a slave.What’s wrong with that as long as I feed it?”

    Another niece said “I always check on ‘boyfriend'”. “Dear niece, being a marriage police is not my idea of a useful profession”. It made them think.

  • You’re incredible! Thank you so much for all that you do. Millions — MILLLLLIONS — of people are so thankful for you. It’s so strange to me that more people aren’t stealing your ideas. Right now it’s the people who are becoming aware of narcissistic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder who are really delving into these realities of how hopeless relationships are with certain people no matter how hard you try. We’re growing. It’s becoming enough of a movement that it’s getting made fun of, which is actually evidence of pretty good progress. Someday, your advice will be common sense and we’ll be laughing at the assholes who ever held up the RIC. (Now WHEN are YOU getting a Ted Talk?)

    • Page reloaded wiped all my statements so I will only say what I think is truly important.

      Yes. Tracy doing a TED talk on cheating and abuse. Shit. After DDay I was the man in the arena! I brought my A game, live a cheater gain a life woke me out of my trama and codependency kick starting my morals and values to move me on my journey to gain a life.

      TEd talk! TED talk!

  • I pay it forward whenever I can . I’m 2 years into my journey and still battling the financial settlement in court, but every opportunity I get I preach the word . Reading LACGAL and this site helped me through so many dark days. I no longer keep quiet, I speak the truth about infidelity and the destruction it causes , because it is abuse and people need to understand that.

  • I can safely say that reading Tracy’s book and joining Chump Nation saved my life. I was so devastated about my wife’s betrayal but after learning that her behavior was not uncommon I saw right through her crap and trying to move on to better things.

    I also belong to an infidelity support group that focuses on reconciliation but is open to everyone. Yep I’m that guy that shouting at everyone to open their eyes and walk away from the abuse! So I’m spreading the message in my own ways not just there but every chance I get!

    Congrats on 30 million visits! I will not be surprised when it hits 100 million!

  • Chump Lady and Chump Nation gave me back my sanity. I got mad. I quit blaming myself for asshat’s actions and got a lawyer. I let the lawyer handle everything and got way more than asshat thought he was going to have to give me in the final divorce.

    Without Chump Lady and the Nation, I might have even caved for whatever he thought was fair! That is such utter bullshit!

    I handle my finances and here’s the amazing part: He made 4 times what I made and we only had a certain amount in the checking account month to month. Now that he is gone, I have more than that! WTF. I am thankful for this group from the bottom of my heart.

    I am a high school teacher and I’ve counseled countless brokenhearts to: don’t try to untangle the skein, set a boundary and stick to it, never never never pick me dance!

    • Hey, I have more money too! Very odd…
      Maybe fewer hookers being paid for?? Go figure! It’s awesome controlling your own money.

  • I have shared your website and book far & wide. Plus my Patreon sponsorship. And other stuff but dinner beckons. Congratulations Tracey!

  • When both of Tracy’s books came out I purchased multiple copies of each one and I’ve given them all away. It’s unfortunate that the opportunity to do so has arisen that much but at least I have a piece of sanity to give them.

    I also pay it forward by being a Patreon member. I don’t read or comment on this site nearly as much as I did in the beginning but I do want this resource to always be available for future chumps.

    Finally, I speak my truth. I don’t try to manage the image of my ex. He did what he did and if someone asks, I tell them in a very matter of fact sort of way. No hyperbole; no embellishments; just the unvarnished truth. If it’s uncomfortable, then so be it.

  • Where to begin. I think the phrases I have used the most from here are:

    The marriage police
    The Pick Me Dance
    Is this relationship acceptable to you?

    This site is such a good place for anyone in an abusive relationship, because there’s almost always an infidelity component to that.

    It’s literally a crash course, and I have recommended this site so many times. I’ve had the usual blowback about ‘oh, I don’t want to be bitter like that’, but mysteriously they all seem to keep reading.

    I share some posts from here via Facebook. I have recommended the book. I have taken this narrative into my psychology studies. I am slowly learning how to be an effective counselor to people in abusive relationships, and how to help them leave and to rebuild. And I am also learning how to walk away, or at least step back, when I have to.

    I am a Catholic, and there’s a lot of misinformation out there about domestic abuse, divorce, and infidelity. But I also see signs that this is slowly changing, even at higher levels, and I am happy to be a part of that if I can be.

    Right now I am reading a book on Catholic marriage therapy that’s really good – but it makes it so clear that you need TWO people engaged in any process of healing, and that it’s long term, and hard work. It’s never meant to be one person’s job. Amen to that.

    I am also deeply grateful to this site (and to Baggage Reclaim, which is how I found it), for a master class in relationship detox across the board for myself personally.

    So much happier. So much more confident.

  • Today, I attended a continuing education event for psychotherapists. Yes! I’m a psychotherapist. Yes! I work with couples. Yes! I’m two-times-a-chump. Yes, as a matter of fact, both my exhusbands left wife and children for 22 y/o young woman, the second ex at age 51.

    Back to that continuing education event. It was a seminar introduction to emotionally-focused couples work (EFT) and mostly, very useful and well done. At one point however, a video demo of what we call a “challenging couple session” included partner A (who’d been physically abusive) and partner B (who’d had ongoing affairs). Much of the discussion centered on partner A, who’d been physically abusive, and the risks of partner B being in therapy with the abuser. With every bit of courage I could muster, I stood up in front of a couple hundred people and said that yes, it was a particularly challenging case study, not only because of the physical abuse but because of the abuse of infidelity. There were some murmers among my peers. The presenter, who I do admire and respect, hesitated then said that infidelity was not abuse in the sense that physical abuse was. I clarified that I understood that certainly, physical abuse is physical in nature and that infidelity is emotional, psychological and spiritual in nature. I added something slightly dramatic about “denying someone access to their own reality because they don’t have access to all the information about their reality.” I think I came across as a moderate nutcase–not untrue–to some, but I feel certain that I was genuinely heard in a few corners of the room.

    • It is very concerning to me that most therapists still don’t view cheating as being abuse. So many chumps aren’t getting the help they need and are being steered in the wrong direction (many times toward additional years of victimhood). Imho, more harm then good is being done to so many chumps through therapy. I suppose this is one of the reasons some of us (hand raised) know we need therapy but are very hesitant to pursue it.

      I sure wish there was a fast track way of changing therapist’s views on infidelity, or rather educating them about it. So very many people could be helped if that would happen. Thank you for being one person who stood up to voice a different view, even at the cost of raising eyebrows.

      P.S. I wonder if there’s some way you could recommend a seminar for therapists about infidelity being abuse. If only you knew someone in the position of scheduling the seminars who’s a chump. Wouldn’t it be ideal if they hired CL to give the seminar?!

      • I’ve posted this comment before…

        One of my neighbors, a licensed therapist, teaches human sexuality at one of the local universities. And she’s a big Esther Perel fan. I listened to a podcast interview. An absolute nutter. She’s training future therapists. SMH !

        Please check a therapist’s credentials, writings and any interviews before you waste time and money with a loon like her telling you your “inadequacies” drove your spouse/partner to cheat. How they don’t find you exciting enough anymore. They’re bored. That living in the hotbed of technology (SF Bay Area) provides lots of venues to cheat. Such narcissistic nonsense.

    • Infidelity can also be physically abusive – STIs, paternity-testing long after the fact, PTSD…

      All of which you know and didn’t have time to state. I hope you get a chance to do so in the future. Ask to be on the panel?

  • I’m ever so thankful to Chumplady and the Chump Nation. I had the crazy feeling that things were out of control, the nagging fear that my husband’s behavior is bordering on sociopathic.. That it was impossible to live like this, yet I thought I should just try, try harder.
    I found some books about narcissism, creating boundaries.. and Leave a cheater, Gain a life. I read it through one night, I could not sleep. I knew in my heart this was the honest truth. My husband hadn’t changed. He wasn’t a special timid forest creature or a unicorn. My love and forgiveness hadn’t changed him, but invited more abuse. Yes, this was abuse.

    I have started to speak this truths to my friends and the people at my church where the common idea is that to stay and pray is the way to go (they do admit that in some cases it’s better to separate) and where I’ve gotten praise for my resilience.. I have a copy of LACGAL that I’m ready to hand out to anyone who needs it (and is fluent enough in English to read it). I link this page to people.

    I started a blog Fin(anci)ally Free Now – with an edge on financial independence, which is a big issue for me as a professional artist (I also started my own company after my STBXH first dumped me for ho-ho) and as someone with severe health issues. So it’s about Leaving a cheater and gaining a life, and how to manage that shit financially. Because that’s scary. I plan to do a post about other resources with links to here and divorce minister, and other blogs that are about financial stuff that I like to read.
    The blog is at finally-free-now.com

    I’ve been hesitant to use the terms I learned here, but I guess it would be okay if I always link to Chumplady? Our own vocabulary is empowering! I love it.

    Thank you ever so much Tracy for opening my eyes to the sickening but freeing truth, and thank you Chump Nation for being a bunch of kick-ass, fierce, funny and smart people with a big, beating heart!!

  • Thank you Tracy. Finding your Chumplady site was possibly the most momentous point of my life. It was like a lightbulb going on, and I often wonder whether I’d still be in that abusive situation without it. You made me see things that I just couldn’t at the time – the boiling frog process meant that I hadn’t even realised I’d been in a coercive and emotionally abusive relationship for years. Your blog gave me the strength and courage needed to stand up and be counted, become cheater free and deal with the sheer shitstorm the divorce and fallout became. I can literally credit you for me finding the strength to stand up to it all and keep going. I am now more confident than I’ve ever been, have my dream job ( which nobody would have given to the mouse I had become) and take shit from nobody. My ex now only tries to punish me through my son because he has learned that I now have the confidence and willingness to stand up to him and call him out publicly – and like all bullies, there’s a coward inside. His face when he first saw that outside and inside a courtroom and realised he was powerless when he’d been expecting to be able to manipulate and intimidate me was PRICELESS, and will always be one of my favourite memories. What have I done to pass this on? A recently chumped male friend started telling me about what he’d done wrong to make his wife cheat (again)…….so I administered a chumpnation 2by1 and have been supporting him to rethink his situation. He too has now realised (by himself) that his stb ex’s cheating is part of a behaviour pattern, and she is now dealing with one reborn, angry chump who isn’t the pushover she was expecting. Thank you so much for starting this and keeping it going Tracey, it helped me to change my life beyond measure. Millions of views is so much more than that in your case, its millions of changed lives and brighter futures, not only for the visible chumpnation on here but also their children, grandchildren and the fellow chumps they might meet along the way. The ripple effects of what you have done are huge, you’ve changed the world. Thankyou so much from the bottom of my heart. If I knew your address I’d have sent you flowers a long time ago xx

  • We often speak about how their actions don’t match up with words. The cheaters narrative of degrading me to friends, family and coworkers was present from day one. Adult children were both directly and indirectly impacted with my actions of tolerating and ultimately forgiving what I now, in hindsight recognize as abuse. My children lived through repeated cycles of the narcissistic relationship. I maintained his image as the good dad.

    What have I done to change the narrative? A hell of a lot of work which had
    To come from the inside out, developing strong boundaries, finding my anger, getting him out of my head, and dropping him off after 41 years of pathological lying and leading a double life by filing.

    The most challenging aspect was finding my voice and telling my story. My refusal to maintain his image was strong. Despite repeated attempts by my adult children to attend birthdays and a holiday with cheaters present MY actions of maintaining no contact spoke volumes. At larger gatherings (wedding, funeral) he was invisible to me. Not a word or gesture of acknowledgement was offered.

    Changing the narrative for me is living in truth and light. It’s being a model for adult children and shining a light on the truth by living better, supporting myself and taking care of my needs.

    Changing the narrative is in the tell. Congratulations Tracy for giving strength and hope to millions through both actions and powerful words of wisdom.

  • Just thanks. Been here for, pretty much, the duration. Your perspective helped me a lot. You are right, when I first came to your site, after following a link on another site where you were posting, a lot of the focus was on unmet needs, the contribution of the betrayed, and the oft cited ” better,stronger marriage” deal.
    Almost none of the experts discussed the relationship between cheating and personality disorders. And, many of the books used the male pronoun exclusively when referring to the cheater, which I believe makes things very tough on betrayed men as it seems they get less support.
    Now, on other sites, I do see recognition of the relationship between cheating and NPD, and I read many, many more posts from betrayed men. I bet you had a lot to do with that, Tracy.

    • Arnold, SO glad to hear from you!

      I want to thank you for a real lightbulb moment when I was in the midst of my ‘maybe its me, maybe he is right’ confusion.

      You pointed out that the characteristics required to have an affair, are the characteristics that brought issues to the marriage.

      DING! My therapists comment ‘Patsy, have you noticed that his cheating …. is part of a pattern?’ made sense at that moment.

      You are so right. The selfishness, split behaviour, secrecy, entitlement and lack of empathy required to have an affair, are the issues that make the spouse unhappy and distressed in the marriage.

      Its no different. They ARE one and the same issues, and this blows the RIC theories out of the water. It isn’t fog confusion ptsd midlife crisis – it is shitty characteristics and they all come from the same source.

      So thanks, Arnold.

      • Yes, Patsy, it always bothered me, this blather about the cheater having 100% of the responsibility for the affair but the marital issues being 50/50. It made zero sense, as it should be pretty evident that a liar, poor communicator, empathy deficient, poor problem solver, non- team player etc( which, by definition all cheaters are) would be causing all types of issues in the marriage which the betrayed could not control. I was aghast at the acceptance of this 50/50 assignment. But, it does have some appeal, apparently, to cheaters, the betrayed, and third parties.
        I reflected on why this is and I think it comes down to thrre things.
        Obviously, it helps the cheater spread blame.
        The betrayed may accept it because it gives the impression that he or she has some degree of controlling future cheating(i.e. if I improve, my spouse will not cheat).
        And, to outsider third parties it makes them feel safe (i.e. ” I do not cause problems like this betrayed has done. So, my marriage is safe”).

  • Thanks Chumplady, you’ve been a light in the darkness. Your laser-like thinking and writing on a subject that is so emotive and polarising is such an anchor to chumps who’ve just been swamped by the storm that is infidelity. I love that you are changing the narrative, I rate cheating up on the scale of life-changing events like death of someone close, serious accident or illness etc but most of the world seems to think it’s something to get over and get past like it’s no big thing. Thank you for shining the light on the abuse that comes with it, and the damage it does to families and individuals. One of the strangely comforting things I have found from coming here pretty much every day for the last 3.5 years and reading the archives, is that all cheaters are pretty much cut from the same boring, deluded and selfish cloth and that has been so important to so many people, to know it’s not them, it’s the disordered, unoriginal cheaters who are the messed up ones. It’s having that confidence to trust yourself, see the patterns of abuse and disordered behaviour, look at the actions not words, and take action on your own behalf that’s empowering. And knowing we’re not bitter and stuck, we’re righteously pissed at the abuse and deceit we’ve been subjected to and we’re allowed to feel it. Thank you for being the two by four of truth, Chump lady and the mother of a nation.

    In Tracy We Trust.

    • I recommend this site and CL’s book whenever I have the opportunity, and practice learning to trust my intuition by speaking about behavior that I see is or potentially could turn problematic ie red flags, note it down somewhere as well and then let time take care of confirming this for me. I talk to friends and colleagues about the narrative and support them in not tolerating disrespectful behaviour or words, and I talk about cheating as abuse not just something that happens sometimes accidentally that noone can help (except the chump of course, if only they’d …).

  • I’m a long way from anything in terms of helping my fellow man other than being less psychotic and making better choices. My journey has been tortoise s l o w but it’s moving forward.

    I’m finding comfort in my faith and Lenten practices I’ve set up for myself. I find on days when I pray and meditate, things are better. Im better at resisting the urge to tell off the ex and his partner in crime if I just wait a bit before responding, then the impulse passes and I don’t care anymore.

    I’d just like to stop feeling so sad and then so angry. It’s such hard work right now… and it has been for going on 4 years.

  • And yet here you are Kintsugi inspiring others as we share the journey, together. You’re not alone my friend. I know this is a very difficult time right now. It’s ok to grieve and be angry. I pray that you take comfort in knowing how much we care. Sending love and peace to you.

  • I just want to thank you Tracy. You sent me a hugely supportive letter nearly 6 years ago and your site has been a godsend. I had several years of grieving and dealing with traumatised children. However in the last 18months I’ve lost a ton of weight, bought an entire new wardrobe of gorgeous designer clothes from charity shops and unbelievably met a very kind, generous, handsome man who adores me and treats me with the kind of courtesy I have NEVER experienced

  • I pass it along by sharing my story both here and elsewhere, when I think it can help. I am also a member of patreon on Tracy ‘s behalf because I think it’s only right to support her work which has benefited me so much over the years. I also challenge the RIC narrative whenever possible in conversations.

    I found this site quite a while after all the drama, so I wasn’t in the thick of things. However I was still reeling on so many levels. It was here that I began to be able to make sense of it all. Better yet, it helped me to look at other relationships in my life with more of a critical eye. It was here that I gained the tools to fix my picker. That has been invaluable. The people who are now in my life are loving, supportive, folks who walk what they talk. Those who are character challenged no longer find me attractive and have fallen by the wayside thank goodness.

    While there are still things to deal with these days, it’s just life, and doable. It’s also peaceful, serene, and drama free. Such is life post meh with the help of the chump nation and the tenets of leave a cheater and gain a life.

  • Tracy, you saved my sanity. I had been told so many times by ex that I was crazy and I was beginning to believe I was. He portrays himself as a great guy to outsiders, funny, charming, and personable. My life was crumbling around me and when I’d mention Cheater to Switzerland friends they’d say things like, “Cheater just wants to be with someone that he has more in common with” “you need to move on, Cheater has,” if I’d get upset, they’d reaffirm that I might be crazy and to blame with, “no wonder he left you, acting like that.” As if 25 years together meant nothing and I should be understanding and supportive of his decision to cheat, his lies. “He wouldn’t need to lie if you’d be more understanding Brit” It was mind boggling. You made me see these people for what they are, and who they are. assholes. They’re not my tribe and they deserve each other.

  • I’ve been D day’d 4x but luckily I finally found CL and CN so there will not be a 5th. Until then, I feel like I’ve been as traumatized by my ex as I have by the RIC. The inward looking, diminishing, what’s wrong with me that’s causing him to cheat crap is a lot to unravel. But, the saving grace is that coming here showed me that others are going through the same things and not only surviving but thriving. That the problem is with the cheater and the cheater only, and is being treated like this acceptable to me? So simple, so practical, so logical but what a revelation. Thank you CL and CN. I’m sorry your page has so many views linked with so many sad beginnings, but grateful for the safe space you provide for happier and softer landings.

  • I love the story about colonel with the great idea, ahead of his time. Go around the gatekeepers. Let people steak the idea. Change the narrative. This is great for all ideas that move against the grain of convention, prejudice, laziness and entitlement.

    Congratulations on 30 million page view, but more important, on the millions of unique visitors who come here and get help rebuilding their lives, cheater free. Your site changed my whole life, and I was no spring chicken. You’re never to old to learn and change.

  • My contribution to the change? Telling the truth minimally & unemotionally when asked about the ex. After over 2 years it is down to “Well, sadly he left our marriage x years ago – unfortunately he hooked up with a married woman from our small town before they told their respective spouses that their marriages were over!” I can do it with a wry chuckle and shrug at the end now. It seems to either stun folks into silence, or give them a good chuckle as they praise me for the comprehensive summary.

    I also ordered 3 copies of CL’s book – one for me, one for our local library, and one for loaning/gifting as needed. I carry on as usual in our small town – the ex and AP ended up leaving for elsewhere. Meh, Tuesday was a while ago, thanks to all of you for stories and advice which I have absorbed.

  • My sister (among other very helpful things) put me on to your blog, CL, when I first realised how abusive my marriage was and was deciding if/when/how to manage it. I had been bumbling about with some RIC stuff for a couple of years, trying to be an even more fabulous wife than I already was, and dying inside in the process and wondering why it just wasn’t working AT ALL. In fact, spouse was getting nastier and angrier by the day.

    Then boom! The old one-two! Lundy Bancroft “Why Does He Do That?” and CL. Double whammy!
    Comprehension at last! It was such a blast of hard-won experience and truth to my hopium puffing soul that after 3 months of counselling, free head space, and time to plan my exit (being apart from spouse as he was on holidays in France without me), I was ready and able to leave, a surgically clean break. He came home, I left.

    I have learned so much here that has helped me negotiate the last three years since I left. Harnessing your anger into action. The mantra “Trust that he sucks” has many times since been proven true. The hard question “Is this acceptable to you?” has been answered in the negative many times. The three channels have manifested themselves with almost laughable predictability. Lessening contact and now NO CONTACT has proven to be the most healing and beneficial solution to many ‘wifeing’ and ‘hoovering’ problems. I still have blue days when I might have a puff or two on the old hopium pipe … but thankfully the total absence of any effort on his part to repair things is a great extinguisher, along with his cruelty to our children.

    The predictability of his actions and responses to all situations according to the CL bible has proven invaluable in managing my own responses (or lack of such to be more precise in more recent times). The advice re managing kids through the bust up has been wonderful. You gave me the courage to engage in age-appropriate honesty rather than continued spackling. It has worked. Also you gave me the wisdom to stay out of my childrens’ relationship with their father and let him show who he really is to them over the last few years. (They were all fortunately adults except the youngest who was 14 and bore the brunt of his father’s ill-will). My role has been acknowledging how hard the split has been/is on them, and helping them understand and internalise that this is who he is and to protect themselves by predicating their relationship always on the truth of who he is and not on the fantasy of who they would like him to be. AND that he doesn’t define them, never did and never will. It is their choice who they choose to be.

    My youngest son, now 17, has decided to live full time with me and quit the pretence of any relationship with his father, after three years of hoping for something … anything. None of the others are in contact with their father at the moment. They are learning. Now if they go back for another slap, I will sympathise but not for too long – it is really their own fault. It is up to them now how many times they are prepared to be disapppointed.

    I have reconnected deeply with my Catholic faith which gives me great joy after years of hanging on by my fingernails in the teeth of my exhusband’s opposition. I have the love of my children, and I know who my friends are. I have rekindled relationships with two of my sisters, which also gives me great joy. I have a lovely, airy, home full of light and peace, I am financially reasonably secure, and provide a stable, safe and loving home for my youngest son, and a place to call home for my other children.

    CL and CN, hats off to you all for fearlessly sharing your stories – so much more traumatic in many cases than mine – and your wisdom, and changing the narrative. You have helped change my life so much for the better that I can’t even begin to thank you.

    • Well done to you, New Chump.

      It is so sad – I will never not be sad – that we don’t have the family we long for. And that we all deserved.

      But it wasn’t our fault. It really wasn’t.

    • Cheers Patsy, yes there is abiding sadness for me too but also yes, it was not in any way our fault. I’ve learned at the age of 58 to never say never, and that life doesn’t come with any guarantees! And again, yes, we can all help get out the message that infidelity is abuse.

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