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He Told Me He Loved Me

Dear Chump Lady,

My boyfriend of 5 years has been cheating on me for 6 months with another “woman”. She claimed she didn’t know about me, and that he told her we had broken up, moved out of our home etc. I’ve been fed so many lies now, I don’t even know what’s true or who is being honest with me.

To be completely honest with myself and with you, I think I knew deep down but was drowning in what I thought was love and was repeatedly told I was loved, I was wrong and that he would never betray me. I saw images on social media, public chats on Twitter and every time I confronted him with this unusual behaviour, he behaved so shocked and insulted that I would ever think that of him. Looking back, I feel so foolish.

Since it came out, he’s tried to say an array of typical things ‘cheaters says’. He told me that he never meant to hurt me, that he hadn’t been happy for a while, so WHY did he tell me he loved me when he didn’t, why did he say he missed me when we were apart and why did he say he would do anything to make me happy?

In November of last year (before any of the cheating came out) we did indeed go through a bumpy phase, but looking back I’m so confused by it. He pulled away, spent more time going out, not coming home after being out with friends. We spoke about whether to end it or fix things. We amicably (or so I thought) decided to stay together, spend more time together, and make more of an effort together. I felt consumed by the guilt that we were failing because of me. Because I wasn’t good enough, skinny enough or interesting enough. But he chose to stay. He chose to tell me he still loved me. Is this my fault? Was this him trying to end it and I clung on too much? Have I caused this myself for not accepting we should have ended? Since this he told his mum (who is very ashamed and distraught by it all) that he “thought we were breaking up” and that’s why he engaged in this relationship with someone else. Tell me I’m not going mad and I couldn’t have changed this?

It’s been three weeks since the revelation. I’m stronger than I was at the beginning. But I feel like he’s taken a piece of me, that I won’t get back.

Yours,

Mel

Dear Mel,

None of this is your fault. Your ex-boyfriend has AGENCY. He was gaslighting you. Let’s jump right to the questions.

I felt consumed by the guilt that we were failing because of me.

Really? Were you pulling away? Not coming home at night? Acting shady?

No. You were in the relationship trying to figure out what was happening, and the biggest data point was missing. (His cheating.)

Your options at that point were to ask for clarity, you did that. State your needs, however scary that is. Like hey, as someone who lives with you, I think I deserve to know where you are and when you’re coming home. A roommate needs that basic level of consideration, let alone a partner who’s invested five years.

Missing data point is what he’s hiding. So, do you become the relationship police? That never feels good. You could break up over his inconsideration — but that seems flimsy. There’s so many ways to beat yourself up here for not choosing Sucky Door #1 or Sucky Door #6. Recognize the game was rigged — you didn’t have all the information.

That’s not your fault.

Because I wasn’t good enough, skinny enough or interesting enough.

Is HE good enough? He seems like a shady sonofabitch to me. Is HE racking himself with self-doubt and loathing for being a two-timing jerk?

Have you considered his shittiness has NOTHING to do with you? He would VERY MUCH like you to think that it is. That’s what his behavior says, (more on that in a moment). But you can choose NOT to internalize his rejection. YOU set the value on you. NOT him.

Did the girlfriend job come with strict parameters about the width of your thighs? No? You didn’t fail at the job. Jobs need to be defined. You didn’t have all the information.

WHY did he tell me he loved me when he didn’t…

POWER. Impression management. Cake.

By letting you twist in the wind and wonder if the problem was you — HE gets an ego high. HE gets all the benefits of Mel loving him AND his bit on the side. He let that situation go on for months. Your letter isn’t clear what ended it, but I’m guessing from your clues, that you contacted the other woman and compared notes.

He created this crisis by DENYING you information, and ENCOURAGING you to invest further in him. So, when he devalues you and is suddenly gone? — Now your distress comes off to others as Poor Chump Who Can’t Get Over Him.

Behind the scenes was all this mindfuckery of I love you, I miss you, can’t wait to see you again INVESTMENT.

Now that the Missing Data Point is revealed, he can pull of the impression management of I Have a New Girlfriend and My Old Girlfriend Can’t Get Over Me.

Cheaters do this to chumps and they do it to affair partners.

Why is she calling? Oh, that’s an old girlfriend Who Can’t Get Over Me.

Behind the scenes: love you, I miss you, can’t wait to see you again…

He’s keeping everyone off balance, investing in HIM, and the power dynamic makes his dick hard.

So Mel, this asshole was NEVER worthy of you. I know he took five years of your life. But he can’t have YOU. You get you back. There is nothing here to beat yourself up about. He LIED.

Big (((Mel))) Hugs.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Sorry Mel at least you found out early. He sucks. You deserve much better treatment. Run for the hills. Don’t look back and fix your picker please!

      • Yes. Who thought that there were really people out here like these liar cheater fraud predators? Not me. Now I know better.

  • Dear Mel,

    I went through the same and I will tell you that you mucsthave been doing something right because he didnt just want to dump and run, there was some value in you that made him want cake. I was a fabulous wife-appliance…I ran his life well and he didnt want to lose the benefits I brought him, so he lied and snuck around.

    What you experienced in the fall was cheater-speak of hiding cheating (we here see it as clear as day, but we all had time when it baffled us too). Im guessing you have a nice place to live, sweet skills, a cute kid or a well paying job (the benefits of which he didnt want to lose).

    They claim love and throw some red herring of “if you would just____ then it would be better”
    and often its something impossible or very distracting (mine told me he wanted me to get along better with my parents and learn to cook better – neither of those things will ever happen). The “love” think is crumbs thrown your way to fuel the wild-goose-chase they sent you on with hope.

    I spent a number of years wondering and wondering because I could not face that he was really duplicitous and mean and selfish enough to do what he – in fact – did.

    It is horrible and painful…he stole time from you that you will never get back. If you want children, waste no more of your biological clock on him. Im sorry this happened.

    • ”I went through the same and I will tell you that you mucsthave been doing something right because he didnt just want to dump and run, there was some value in you that made him want cake. I was a fabulous wife-appliance…I ran his life well and he didnt want to lose the benefits I brought him, so he lied and snuck around.“

      Why I LOVE this blog. Why I don’t love the XAH anymore.

      THANK YOU THANK YOU Unicornomore!

      Oh my gosh! This observation, which is TRUE, is going into the Chump Lady Hall of Fame in Notes on my iPhone.

      ❤️

      • I agree that this is a great perspective to take and one I had not considered before. The idea that if you were truly so horrible and life with you wasn’t worthwhile, then why didn’t they just up and leave long time ago.

        It’s because they believed themselves to be in love with you. They thought they were invested. They thought they were putting in the time. They believed they were the image they created of themselves with you – “See, I am husband. See I have house. See I have kids. See I am family man.” They go along with it and think they are really that.

        Then, somewhere along the way they can’t keep it up anymore. They realize they can’t do this. It’s too hard. They are dissatisfied. There isn’t fun in it anymore, or validation, or it just isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. They start to devalue you and then they discard. But, because they truly don’t understand what mature love is and lack solid relationship skills and life coping skills, they can’t even handle the discard like normal people. They are cowards, worse than teenagers in their logic and emotional maturity.

        The reality is that their life with you was just fine and they know it on a certain level. They hum and haw because a part of their conscience is saying to them, “Come on. Don’t be a fool. If you leave, there will be all this stuff that you’ll be giving up.” But the rest of their disordered selves just can’t seem to find satisfaction or joy in any of it. And because they don’t really have a fully formed identity, they become listless, self-victimizing, entitled and cowardly. Oh poor them. We just don’t understand their agony.

        But, in the end, we were great to be with. We were worthy and we created really great lives, not because of them or even with them, but in spite of them. Even my ex acknowledged that there was nothing really wrong with our lives that warranted the end of the marriage. He would flip-flop between blaming me and insulting me, and then telling me that this isn’t about me. We are not the disordered ones. Their inconsistency, malarky, childishness, cowardness is a reflection of the white-hot mess inside their brains.

        My experience in reading people’s stories is that typically most of us chumped go on to have really decent lives – the biggest long-term challenge for some is if there is financial hardship. Although there is a lot of trauma to heal from, most will acknowledge that we become wiser, more self-aware, better in relationship with others. We become mighty.

        We are able to do all this because we were really worth while. We are an asset. Our plus column is vast. We were beyond the partners that we unfortunately chose for ourselves, but we didn’t know our own worth.

        • You saw truly. It sure takes awhile to sick in, the depth of their toxic worthlessness which somehow messed up our self-perception. My discard was decades ago, and occasionally I still run across a bad idea I got from him. He criticized my strengths most.

        • Malarkey is the perfect word for what they peddle! It’s all confusion and mess. And since my name ain’t Marie Kondo, I decidedly do not love mess.

          • My Dad who just passed away in March used to ask if I was giving him a bunch of Malarkey when I was a teen and trying to get away with something. I never hear anyone else use that word. It is good to hear it right now :-).

        • Option:
          THANK YOU for this. Your observations resonate with me in a way I didnt think possible. It will be one the the gems I read daily.I have tears in my eyes as I am typing this. Just thank you.

        • It’s because they believed themselves to be in love with you. They thought they were invested. “They thought they were putting in the time. They believed they were the image they created of themselves with you – “See, I am husband. See I have house. See I have kids. See I am family man.” They go along with it and think they are really that.”

          I believe you underestimate the the con.
          After a few times of pulling this exact same shit with other women, I realized he get zero leeway for “believing his own bullshit” and full consequence for “knowing exactly what he’s doing.”

        • This topic is so timely. I am 3 mo and 4 days out from D-Day following a year of his distancing, physically rejection, ILYBNILWY. Most of our relationship was the same loving, kind, friendship and partnership – he still told me he loved me, still shared our day to day, still invested in house projects, etc. Believing that my STBX was going thru depression once he started losing weight, I invested MORE, giving more patience, love, support and understanding – believing this would get us thru. I told myself all last summer “we will get thru this because I know he loves me”. Why… because he told me.

          OptionNoMore – yes… he was a fucking coward. He told me “I’m a coward”. He also told me he was a liar. And i didn’t believe him because I chose the focus on good – which I still believe faaarrr outweighed the bad.

          So why is my 13 year marriage and 20 year relationship suddenly over if he loves me like he claims to? “I love you so much, I will love you forever”. I finally came to the conclusion that its because he didn’t love me anymore, despite his words. Because when you truly love someone you don’t risk hurting them so deeply and you certainly don’t risk losing them. IF he loved someone, it wasn’t me. He lied to me because he didn’t ever want to face the consequences of his actions. He cheated because he he could. He used my most precious gifts, my love and my trust, against me and played me for a fool.

          I was package deal, and I was an excellent package. He will never have another piece of me again.

          • Thank you. You are doing great for three months out. My relationship had similar tenures, I too danced. Saw him at the grocery the other day and cheerily bounced by with a hello. 3 months divorced almost a year since DDay.

        • Thank you, Option. I needed this after a night of nightmares including the fuckwitty chameleon. When ex was trying to chicken out without admitting to an affair, he told me, he needed to live by himself to function at work, then shifted to his generous-fucked-up narrative of “you are a great women but somehow not towards me” and after I flung my wedding ring on the table and set up camp in the basement, had the audacity of saying, just one thing, wife, with the next guy, just don’t always state what’s WRONG.

          This after two years of devaluation. I told him after he tried to get back with me (and I tell my friends always), we need to do the opposite. We need to communicate our needs and stand up when things are off. Unacceptable behaviour in a relationship? From now on I’m calling it up once, one reminder for clarity, third time – out.

          Oh and I don’t mean actual cheating. I’m talking about all the acts well before.

        • Yes yes yes. This exactly. My fuckwit looked the real deal & was broken hearted when I finally kicked him out. Although his lying and cheating extended right back to our early relationship, we had a wonderful marriage and it looked like he truly was invested. Some would say more than me. He exemplified dedication to our relationship above and beyond what was needed or asked for. I used to think that’s why other men didn’t trust him; he showed them up. But they didn’t trust him because he was untrustworthy & many people were able to see through his very fine impression management to see who he really was . I wish I had that insight.

        • My Goodness, you just described my experience like no one else ever did. I wish people I knew would read this and stop doubting me and trying to get normal behavior out of an abnormal person. This is a guy that had everything and now his life is a mess, sometimes I feel that he knows it and sometimes I feel like he enjoys the mayhem. But now I can clearly see how disturbed he really is and it scares me.

    • Thank you for giving me a different perspective on this. I torture myself over the fact he told her, he loved her. It stings so much even to write that. It made me feel like I was the worthless, ragged, old (28yo) girlfriend compared to the young (23yo) bit on the side. She told me this btw, she decided telling me this would do good and wouldn’t tear my heart out. It’s hard to accept, but I acknowledge that being in that relationship blind again would be a far greater pain. I hope you’re growing and finding happy again x

      • Hi Mel,

        I replied to you somewhere else on this thread, but I just wanted to say that I know the exact feeling!

        I’m 33 and was by my 31 year old bf, with a 38 year old woman. Apparently, she’s just soooo much more worldly and mature than me. And, whereas he used to poke fun at any weight gain on my part, he said he loooves her curves. They’re liars and gaslighters and quite frankly, just straight up losers.

        We are lucky that we didn’t invest more time or have life-long ties, but it sure doesn’t feel like luck, does it?

        My brother told me, “rejection is God’s protection.” Idk if you’re religious, but I think the phrase applies no matter what. There was something insidious about this person, and it sounds like the people he involved himself with. I know my ex was up to all kinds of bullshit, that he was very happy to divulge (some, not all, mind you).

        I keep telling myself that he is sick, and I was becoming sick by being around him.

          • Totally, Langele! I’m still trying to remember who the hell I am. All good thoughts about myself went *poof* Hopefully they’ll return.

      • You’re 28. That’s 40 years younger than I am. When you talk to an AP, you’re never going to come out feeling good about yourself. You are injecting poison into your emotional system. She’s a liar and a cheat, too. She deliberately hurt you, too, although he’s the one that broke his promise and your trust in him.

        Talking to either of them, communicating by text or messaging, emailing–don’t do any of that.

      • Sounds as if your cheater & the little skank are meant for one another. I posted this before but consider yourself lucky that at the very young age of 28 you found out he is nothing but a loser. Here is a warning though……when he is going through a period of feeling down in the dumps (for whatever reason) he will more than likely reach out to you, try to make you feel sorry for him and tell you what you want to hear. As soon as his life picks up again, the undermining will repeat. Please do not waste your time with this guy! As someone said above, the rejection is a way of the universe protecting you and doing you a huge favor.

        • They tell you whatever it takes to keep you wherever they want you to be and it’s not even about you.
          It’s about what works best for them.
          So they love you, miss you, want to reconcile soon…if only you don’t spoil everything by demanding actions to back up the sweet talk.
          Meanwhile they are telling the sidechic just enough to keep her invested…they love and miss her too and will be leaving real soon.
          When the jig is up they often get nasty…well if only you were more this and less that then maybe none of this would have happened.
          It took me a while to realise that I did not have the power to remotely control another adult and be in charge of their behaviour or decision making.

  • My ex still says he loves me. But he wouldn’t give up taking drugs and alcohol. He has now, but he was a fuckwit. my ex is incapable of giving you a honest answer.
    He phones the kids, I just talk about the kids when he calls, I can hear him crying, but he made his choices.
    The ow was a alcoholic, drug taking piece of crap, so was ex, who had sti(s).
    7 years he’s still selfish, she hangs around, looking for fuckwit, he wasn’t actually nice to her, its a bit like a Greek tragedy.
    I don’t know why she hangs around we split up 7 years ago.

    • Stop taking his calls. I promise that will help. If the kids are old enough to talk to him, say Hi and hand the phone over to a kid. If he asks them to give the phone to you at the end of the call, take it, say Bye and hang up. NO MATTER WHAT HE’S SAYING OR DOING.

      If the kids are too little to talk to him, let him use his visitation to get his kid-fix. Inform him, by e-mail, of anything super important; kid is very sick, kid has broken arm, kid has been kicked out of daycare. The rest? If he wants kid info, he can parent.

      He’s still using you. He’s still getting into your head. Only you can stop it. It’s not worth the minor satisfaction of hearing him finally recognize how badly he’s fucked up.

      • Get a phone for the kids to use or get a cheap landline. Don’t take his calls or your phone. If he’s calling and crying to you, that’s way too much contact.

  • Side car but still damn important: If you aren’t skinny or otherwise visually appealing enough for any person, you might be able to make yourself skinnier or otherwise different-looking in the short term.

    But what if later you aren’t some other appearances-specific thing enough? Like un-cancer-y enough? Or un-frozen-in-time (pesky inevitable aging), un-injured, un-your-race, un-your-gender, or just plain old un-novel enough?

    People who peseverate on things like appearances, age, and novelty will tire of you even if you spend every moment of your life energy attempting to fulfill their fleeting and unfair desires. Their immature, unevolved, and unfair expectations of the world are their failings, not ours.

    A healthy adult is justified in rejecting a person for being an unhealthy, immature adult.

    Don’t change you for an asshat. Remove the asshat.

    • In my case, his previously unknown (racist predatory) fetish for women of another culture would make Jumping Through His Hoop literally impossible. I am blonde, Caucasian, and will never be Asian. He actually told me he had always been attracted to Asian women but had never acted on it because his parents wouldn’t have approved. Sweet smoking Jesus.

      Further proof of how sick HE is? After he moved out he was caught on Tinder by our daughter. She was watching a video on his phone when he got a drop down message from….blonde Caucasian Amanda…and he was living with his Asian adultery accomplice “Sole Mate” that he had shopped for on Craigslist Causal Encounters. So much for “I cheated because I was unhappy with our marriage but I’m Really A Great Guy.”

      This whole nightmare has nothing to do with me, how I look, happiness, love, soulmates, or any other BS reasons that came out of his mouth. He is just evil personified, and that is all this is. For him, it’s crystal clear that people are objects to be used and I can’t get away fast enough or far enough.

    • This comment resonated. Mr. Sparkly Pants moved out of our bedroom because I was no longer attractive enough to physically satisfy him. After the cancer, I had scars. My hair grew back dark brown and curly instead of blonde and straight and it definitely wasn’t LONG anymore. For a long time, I tried to improve the looks, thinking that was really the problem. It wasn’t. But even if it WAS the problem, it takes a pretty shallow asshole to reject his wife because she got cancer and got older.

      • The Ex Mrs SparklyPants,
        He was a shallow asshole LONG before you got cancer. Cancer can be cured; assholery not so much. I’m so sorry that he was an unworthy of you and unfit to be a supportive partner when you needed one the most. I hope you are in remission from both your medical and relational cancer. Hugs!

      • Darling, I am 5’7″, 120 Lbs, long luscious highlighted hair, fashionable, PTA mom, speak 4 languages, watch Ken Burns Documentaries, volunteer in charities, beautiful face. NOTHING made any difference. In 4 years after he left me I never had one relationship, had two long distance with two guys and that’s it. OW is NOTHING that he found attractive in a woman and still even looking like that and being someone he was very protective of, he told me once that he would be happy for me when I found someone. That was so cruel to say to a heartbroken woman and at the time I just thought he was out of his mind and had no idea how evil he was. He never asked me back and the fact that he doesn’t care if I meet the next Ted Bundy and bring him home to be with my kids makes me sick.

  • Mel, this is what love means to him; you do all the work while he lies and cheats. It’s meant to be confusing because he enjoys the game being rigged. This OW or the next does not matter. There’s always a next. You made a bad investment; no more sunk costs. Dump him. You deserve better.

  • For the cheater, “love” is merely a word with no meaning other than the fact that they’ve learned it can be used as a tool to manipulate. Outside of that a cheater has little understanding of the concept of love.

    I’m reminded of Steve Carell’s weatherman character in the movie “Anchorman” when he says “I love lamp.”

    • “For the cheater, ‘love’ is merely a word with no meaning other than the fact that they’ve learned it can be used as a tool to manipulate.”

      GratefullyDivorcedDad, this proves that it’s never too late for me to learn something new! My serial cheater XH dumped and divorced me almost 5 years ago, so I’m pretty far along on my rebuilding journey. But when I read your comment, a lightbulb still went off! Every day of our 40 years together, XH would effusively state that he loved me, that I was his “safe harbor”, that all he ever needed was… me. But in the years since he left, I’ve come to realize that I was really just a Wife Appliance (not really a Wife), and he used and abused me in multiple ways to extract the very best of what I had to offer. Your statement has beautifully explained that his loving words and affirming pet phrases of devotion to, and gratitude for, me were nothing but lies… they were just more tools to manipulate me so I would continue to run his life impeccably well.

      • I think they do love, in the only ways they can;

        – infatuation, which necessarily wears off with time
        – use, whether it’s practical spouse-appliance, sexual object, provider of security and kibbles ….

        And they don’t get it, when we are not satisfied with those limited types of love, because THEY REALLY DON’T REALIZE there is another, fuller, truly-bonded, reciprocal kind.

        AND of course, they know the ‘love’ word is great for manipulating.

        • KarenE, thanks for this powerful redefinition of what “love” means to cheaters and other disordered people. Many chumps really struggle with projecting their own goodness, decency and idea of love onto people who are not capable of those things.

          • Yes…the definition of “love”. Cheater shared a life with me but didnt “love” me…and I dont doubt it. He blamed me for every single item of tedium in his life. He couldnt do otherwise because he had no coping skills…blame was all he had. If I thought a person brought to my life what he thought I brought to his life, I wouldnt love them either.

            What I missed for too long was that his blame prevented love and I could not do anything to “refuse blame”.

            In addition, although I know there is a “je ne sait quoi” of why we develop love for some and not of others, I believe that love is nurtured and considered before one “falls” in it. I have developed a distain for the phrase “falling in love” as if it is fairy dust we have no control over.

            Being decent, charitable and devoted to ones partner allows you to renew your love for them over and over again.

    • Exactly this. So well put.

      I LOVE LAMP is now my new mantra when I have to deal with with cheater coparenting. Thanks for giving me a new tool to deal with the tool!

  • Block him, go no contact and no more conversations with his mommy. You have been handed an opportunity to have a great life and not be someone’s “well just in case it doesn’t work out with so & so Mel will be around”. Don’t feel good about yourself? Well take this time for you. Start an exercise routine, adopt an unwanted dog (they are the best), take a class, learn another language make this all about you.

    You’ve been with him for 5 years, even before you found out about this OW, the relationship was shitty, so more than likely you are afraid of the so-called stigma of being single than losing the cheater.

  • Mel, these people manipulate and devalue us so much that we begin to question our worthiness of holding onto someone who cheats. When we were strong and full of energy (before we got tied up with them), we KNEW our worth, and a cheater would not been given the time of day. You are absolutely enough. There is nothing wrong with you. The problem lies with the cheater. He has a shitty character. He is not worthy of your love. It’s tough to exit in these trauma-bonded relationships to fake people, but please save yourself and get out. Someone better deserves your love. Big hugs.

  • This sounds very similar to what happened to me. It was a 6 yr relationship, but was LDR. We were engaged and had plans for me to move to the states (I’m in Canada, 1 1/2 he flight away) after I finished my nursing exam.

    While I was studying for my licensing exam, his shady behavior became apparent. Yet he denied everything, blamed our dwindling relationship on me being suspicious, and continued to tell me be loved me and wanted to marry me despite taking the OW on dates.

    I had offered him some space to figure his shit out (also, I needed a break from the insanity). He said he only needed a few days and that he’d miss me. That was it. He ignored me from there. In the end, he didn’t even want to break it off properly. He was ghosting me, after 6 years.

    His birthday came up in the midst of this all and I continuously called him until he answered. I wished him a happy birthday, he coldly said thank you. I asked if he was still my boyfriend and he said I don’t know.

    The next day he finally agreed to talk to me. He admitted that he was having an affair. It’s crazy, but I felt a sense of relief.. “I knew it”. My own reaction surprised me. Because as you said, I had been twisting in the wind trying to make sense of lies that didn’t add up.

    I doubt he told his family anything. Knowing the coward he is, he would’ve dressed it up as us breaking up before be conveniently slipped into a relationship immediately with the OW.

    I did tell his sister though, as I said my goodbye and explained why. I didn’t want to broadcast it, but I needed somebody on his side to know the tweet atleast. She was appalled by his behavior, but what can she do anyway, she’s his sister after all. This was 2 years ago..

    6 months later, he knocks up the OW. How crazy is that? Meanwhile, I’m thriving as a nurse, even during this covid pandemic. I’ve been dating a local man for a year now, and he treats me so well. I traded up.

    I look back and view it as a waste of my time. I only wish I left him sooner. I’m lucky I got out before we got married, before I moved over there, and before he knocked me up.

  • Lies are robbery of reality, which is the most precious thing to own, because without truth and reality no one is capable of operating.

    So whenever someone tries to downplay lies, remember that they’re thieves and they are committing a crime just the same.

    • “Lies are robbery of reality, which is the most precious thing to own, because without truth and reality no one is capable of operating.”

      Damn!
      Mic drop, Quetzel!
      Thank you

      My reality was robbed from me by age 7 by well-meaning, if misguided family who had no toolbox for supporting me through abuse: “It never happened. It was a dream. Don’t tell anyone about it.” Thus I was programmed and ready for fuckwit.
      Taking my reality back 3 years ago – after 32 years of shit sandwiches – was miraculous. No one will ever hurt me like that again!

      • It would be very interesting to know just how many chumps were abused as a child. My psych said that was the reason my Fuckwit chose me.

        • There are a lot of us here who were raised to tolerate abuse and I was one of them. I was a fixer, responsible for everything. How my cheater sensed that a mile away is eerie.

          • Add me to this list. I was the fixer, too. My father was a violent man who physically, verbally, and emotionally abused my mother (and he was a cheater, too, although I didn’t know that when I was a child), who stayed through it all. Plus he abused me sexually when I a young child. Because I was his “favorite,” my mother used me as a weapon in her arsenal of managing my father’s moods.

  • Thank you CL. You are always spot on. This really helps and sheds light on why cheaters do and say what they do.

    When people are hurt and want to find a reason so often we turn inward for the answer.

    Cheaters are selfish, self serving, scum of the earth. Not good, decent human beings. We would never, ever willingly and knowingly want to invest our hearts, time and energy into someone with such lack of character and integrity. They are skilled at deception and deceit for purely selfish reasons. I lay blame at their feet and their feet alone.

    What type of person claims to love you and then treats you with such gross disrespect. A shitty person with shitty character. If they presented themselves to other people as they truly are they would never be able to get what they want out of life so they lie and deceive. They don’t know how to truly give love and feel love. That’s their problem not yours. You can’t fix them.

  • Mel, he’s not worthy of you.

    Yes, he took 5 years of your life, but you know what? You still have YOU. Dump him and go no contact. You don’t have a mortgage, children, or a business venture that your solicitors will have to deal with. This is about as clean a break as you can get, though obviously from an emotional perspective it hurts like a mofo.

    You don’t mention how you found out about the cheating. You mention that you suspected, but you don’t say just what led to the final discovery. Did you get contacted by the Other Woman? You mention that she claimed that she didn’t know about you, that he said the two of you had broken up.

    What you are being told is that your boyfriend is not only a lying, cheating bastard, he’s a psychopath leading a double life. RUN!

    Most of the time, the Affair Partner is complicit in the affair. They know their person is in a committed relationship, but they have some sort of excuse. However, sometimes they’re as much in the dark as the faithful partner/spouse. I’ve known at least one instance and when the unwitting AP found out, the guilt–even though he was not the deceiver–was crippling. In your case, it sounds as if the AP reached out to you to do the one thing that she could do: let you know your boyfriend is a cheater.

    By the way, now that you know he’s a cheater, you know of only this particular time. Dollars to doughnuts that this is not his first time. It’s just the first time you caught him.

    Your cheater can’t handle the fact that you now see the monster under the human mask. That’s why he’s trying to gaslight you. And that lie he told his mum–that he thought you two were breaking up and that’s why he was seeing AP? Does that make sense? NO! It’s bullshit! Breaking up isn’t a fuzzy issue. You either are or you’re not. If you are, then you break up with them, not play house with them. If you’re not, then you don’t cheat on them.

    I’m really sorry you’ve gone through this, Mel, but I want you to know that it does get better.

  • People’s actions always reveal what they really believe and value. Words are just words. I’m so sorry for your pain, but you’re in the right place. Good job recognizing you’ve been conned and moving on.

  • Hon, if you don’t know what to believe from him or her, then believe nothing.

    Seriously, don’t trust a damn word they say. Why should you? He’s demonstrated he’s untrustworthy and blames you for it. And he’s lied to her too (I guarantee you he has. It doesn’t matter if she knew about you or not. He lied to both of you.)

    I had an ex who did the same thing. I caught him red-handed and found out what he’d said to the other woman was “I told her we broke up and you were just giving me shit over it.”

    Voila! The Crazy Ex Who Can’t Get Over Me narrative. Despite it being a total lie.

  • I had the same thing, except we were married in the last year and he was stepfather to my children. I could feel something was off the year we got married but he kept saying everything was fine, it was just work, I still got the proclamation of love, over-the-top affectionate greeting cards, holiday planning etc.
    I am five months post Dday and abandonment for younger married coworker with children and it still bothers me that he wore his wedding ring up until our separation agreement was finalized.
    For one, it was very confusing as he’s the one who left me and yet every time I saw him for 2 months post Dday he was wearing his ring. When I asked him why, he said because it wasn’t official yet (agreement not done).
    I regret demanding that he take it off. The wedding ring didn’t stop him from engaging in a long-term emotional affair, sealing the deal and then dumping me.
    He told people at work that we were separated because they were all wondering why he looked and seemed so unwell. I’m sure they thought I was leaving him given that he was wearing his ring.
    The minute the papers were signed the ring came off.
    Question #1 why the ring? Question #2 how do you get over the pain of not hearing from your former loving and sparkly in-laws- especially during the pandemic?

    • My ex phony continued to wear his ring even after the divorce was final. It was his way of protesting the divorce and trying to convey the image of a devoted family man, not the nasty passive aggressive controlling phony who carried on with his ex gf our entire relationship.

      I think his social media page still has his ring visible and we’ve been divorced for 2 years.

      He was a nop notch phony. I remember the holiday before the judge signed the agreement and the papers were sitting on said judge’s desk, ex phony commented that he was glad we were “still married” and was I cheating on HIM?

      Rich.

    • Some people just get off on cheating. Still wearing the ring upped the game and gave him a little rush. To some people a ring helps pick up their kind of “date”.🤢

    • OMG THIS about the stupid rings!
      I remember reading here on CL that one cheater took off his ring FOR his chump “because women pursue married men” …???WTF??? Mine wore his ring, along with his sad sausage face all over our small town, long after I kicked him out. Until, when I went to the bank to try to get a small personal loan to survive, the young female banker said, “You should really forgive your husband. He still wears his ring. It’s obvious he still loves you.” I was DUMBFOUNDED (rarely me). I wanted to spew a lot of truth at her, instead, I just quietly finished learning that I didn’t qualify for the damned loan anyway. I had planned to report her to the bank CEO, whom I knew from church. But I didn’t. It was completely unprofessional, unwelcomed and unacceptable! But seeing how people can be duped by his shit was a great lesson for me, nonetheless. Hell, I was his biggest CHUMP, how could I not understand how easy it was to believe his bullshit?
      Hope Springs – you got that exactly right – the ring helps them pick up their kind of “date” – other cheaters. I think they know, on some level, that is all they deserve. Easy pickings, low expectations. Hey, they can meet that low bar!
      Pigs.

  • This one isn’t hard to figure.

    He liked cake and was hedging his bets.

    He’s a piece of shit and you’re better off. It sucks that you invested 5 years, but be glad you didn’t invest decades. I spent 13 years with my piece of shit and that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the time invested by many here.

    Do you and someone will appreciate YOU.

    • LOST:
      3 decades.
      My entire youth (which, thankfully, I’m learning wasn’t the “Peak” of my lifeline – I’m still rising toward that!).
      My childbearing years (We had 2, I lost…many)
      My naivete.

      a cheater

      GAINED:
      A life.
      MY life

      no cheaters welcomed

      We can’t compare pain here. Being blindsided by the person we trusted most is devastating. My learning curve was very “flat” at first, but got mighty steep these past few years. But the result it s better, deeper life that is all mine and I can choose who is in it & who isn’t. That;s a gift.
      Whatever time you have invested in a dud stock like these clowns, try to see it as “school” and Dday & aftermath as graduation. Lessons learned. Life will pick up, go on & be full of far better things than being treated so poorly by someone handicapped in the commitment, love and loyalty departments. And the door begins to open for healthier, true love. IF I learn my lessons well. I’m still finding, as my dating life progresses, that I am attracted to selfish people. So – looking for different types of people is delivering different results. I want different now. I can see red flags FAR sooner (6 weeks last time, less than a week this time! PROGRESS!).

      We never have to settle again.

    • “This one isn’t hard to figure.

      He liked cake and was hedging his bets.”

      I was not skeptical enough of my cheater to see this when it was right in front of me. He even told me once that his goal was to be rich enough to have a trophy wife….yes, we were out on a walk shortly after I discovered his affair and I was so entrenched in “trying” that I didnt even see the writing on the wall with that statement.

      That is one of the moments Im incredulous over, looking back

  • Allow me to translate from cheaterspeak:

    I love you = I love using you.

    I don’t want to lose you, forgive me = you are still very useful to me and it would be very inconvenient for me if you actually left me.

    I’m really sorry I hurt you, I didn’t mean to hurt you like that = I totally meant to, I love watching you cry, your tears are making me drunk with power.

    I will do anything to make this up to you = let the mindfck games begin and make no mistake I’m the master manipulator here while you are just an easy to dupe chump.

    I was unhappy = I’m entitled to do whatever I want, but you aren’t supposed to know that, so let’s go with “I’m unhappy” because that will make you feel bad.

    I had to cheat because you didn’t fold my socks correctly = let’s not focus on my cheating and betrayal, let’s focus on your imaginary shortcomings because I want to see you cry and blame yourself and beg my forgiveness instead.

    So Mel, I hope you never ever blame yourself and understand that disordered is disordered. Cheaters cheat because they enjoy the act of deceit. Also, when your relationship seemed on the rocks, when he suddenly was out at all hours and not coming home…..he was already cheating.

  • (Love you CL.) Be so happy Mel. You didn’t invest 25 years with this jerk. You didn’t have kids with him. This is a BLESSING that you’ve been given. Find someone who sees you…or not. Love yourself first. Really truly love yourself and every last imperfection. Forgive yourself for not having the strength to do so sooner and for buying into his world view of who you are. Be quiet and hear that whispered voice that knew all along what was going on. That is your way forward.

  • The big question I have is why when someone lies to us, we continue to believe what they say. In your case, Mel, he’s lied continually and repeatedly about his motives, his actions, his “love” for you, his status in the relationship, his whereabouts, and his intentions.

    When guilty people without conscience are caught, they lie. They shift the blame. They gaslight and manipulate. Once you see that lying, blame shifting, gaslighting and manipulating are your partner’s main tools in the relationship, it’s time to end all contact. You need to get your mind clear so you can see what he is and what has happened to you.

    Mel, I’m not sure by your post that you’ve left this terrible person. He’s a boyfriend. You don’t have to go through a huge divorce. You don’t mention your age, but it’s likely that you are young. You have a lot of time to learn about disordered people and fix your picker. You’re capable of love and commitment. What you want is a partner who is a real match for that. You can’t find that trying to fix someone who is disordered or save a relationship with someone who doesn’t have your best interest at heart. He cheated because he is a hollow man with poor character and shitty values. No contact. No contact. No contact.

    • So please–do NOT take in the LIES he told you about why the cheating is your fault or what is wrong with you. Don’t trust a liar. Trust yourself. Trust your perceptions. Trust your common sense.

    • LAJ…many years into healing, I think the issue of when we believe them and when we dont is important because in the worst of the storm, I think that many chumps error on both sides of this.

      Cheaters tell a lot of lies that we believe but also occasionally throw an important truth into the that we ignore…possibly because it doesnt fit the narrative that we are trying to write in the midst of our disaster.

  • Cheaters cheat.
    Liars lie.
    And you can’t fix stupid.

    Let him go cheat on, and lie to, some other poor Chump.
    And he’ll still be stupid

  • Exactly Traci just tack him up to a shitty person, just be glad you weren’t married nearly 25 years, a mortgage and two kids when you found out!🥶

  • We all agree it’s not your fault, you need to disengage to free yourself, be glad you only spent 5 years of your life on this cheating shallow person. But something has to be done legally about married people who cheat, women especially lost much through no fault divorce. Financially, morally, and ethically we stepped down. Facts are true there is no shame on you for being cheated on. I stated infidelity as my cause for divorce and was told nobody cares, well, old people like you and I (I’m 71) care but young people don’t care about infidelity. What a shame.

  • St. Thomas Aquinas says “Love is willing good things for the other.”

    By that standard, he can say anything, but his lack of love is clear. Narcissists can’t understand that others really exist, let alone want what is good for them.

  • This sounds like what my ex husband did to me. But we were married for 12 years with a child. The gaslighting was extreme and just like this guy. And all the while, he had 30 year old ho worker breaking up her marriage and ours. Now 2 1/2 years later, my kid has to spend weekends that tramp. My ex bought Ho Worker a French Bulldog puppy to make her look like less of a homewrecker to our child.

  • Mel here; thank you ChumpLady for your powerful response, and thank you to everyone who has commented providing further strength and perspective.

    Because some of you have asked, I’ll fill in the blanks..

    I have ended it. He left our home and I have yet to give him a day when I feel he can come and pack up his things. This will happen on my terms.

    We don’t have any children and while I appreciate I may have gotten off ‘lightly’ by only spending 5 not 25 years with a Narcissist, it doesn’t make it any easier at the time. Your reality is gone and the life you thought you had, has vanished. I consider myself very lucky I don’t have children or a mortgage with him.

    I found out because when he claimed to be at work, he was featured on her Instagram story in real time. I called him, and he buckled. She got a face to face revelation, or so I’m told, I’m tired of trying to work out what’s true and what isn’t. And I got told via telephone that my relationship was a farce and the man that I loved, was a lying, cheating pig.

    Whenever I want to fall down and return to hours of crying, I try to remember this; I’m free. I’m free from the worry of being lied, the worry that something isn’t quite right, the worry when he doesn’t come home at night and the worry that I am not worthy. It still hurts, but we’re free from the unknown.

    • You go Mel! I know it sucks. But he really sucks and always will suck. NEVER FORGET THAT HE SUCKS!

    • The pain is the pain, whether you are married or have kids or a house or pets or a large social circle. The difference comes in what recovery looks like. I am almost certainly a lot older than you are, and I didn’t have children with the cheater, but the pain of deception and the agony of twisting in the wind, wondering, where he is and what’s going on–that’s intense and real.

      I cried for a long time. Sometimes I couldn’t stop. I cried through Midnight Mass a month after D-Day. I cried in yoga on Valentine’s Day. Cry all the tears. Feel it all. That’s the first stage of gaining a life after a cheater. In your case, you can make a clean break. And please—never doubt your worth.

    • Whether you were with a cheating fuckwit a few months or 45 years…pain is pain and betrayal and betrayal. It just hurts.

      I’m so glad you booted him and I hope you stay resolute in that. More importantly, I really hope you internalize the fact that you, who you are, what you look like, what you did and didn’t do, has NOTHING to do with his choice to cheat.

      He played the pretend game because a large part of the excitement, the high that cheaters get, comes from duping others. He was lying to you and her and he was getting off on the idea that neither one of you have a clue. The only thing he is sorry about is getting caught. That blew up his game and made life a tad uncomfortable for him.

  • Mel, I’m so sorry this happened to you it is a horrible feeling and it shifts your reality, all memories are tainted and it freaking sucks!
    But you are blessed, no strings, no divorce, no children that is a huge relief. You are not obligated to spend time with this person ever again or have the beautiful human you created also spend time him.
    Run for the hills, no contact is the best medicine.

    It’s very important that you know you are not boring, or fat or any other horrible word you are calling yourself now. TRUST ME, I struggled deeply with body image when I found out my ex was cheating while in was pregnant, even more when I gave birth.
    Don’t let those thoughts contaminate your head, they are toxic. Become aware when you start spiraling on that mindset and change your focus to something else.

    Its really hard to make peace with the fact that its not the person but the action that gets them high, she’s not better you are not worse. He is just an entitled dick.

    I really hope you focus your time in healing, obsessing on the why he did this never helps anyone but him, maybe there isn’t much that you can do now, considering we are locked in. But download audible and listen to books that help you grow, watch new movies that make you laugh, don’t let this define you ever.

    Big big hugs

  • I think it’s quite clear that people who can’t finish one relationship before starting another, are just enjoying the sick thrill of having sex with multiple partners. This chicken shit guy didn’t even have the decency to let YOU choose to not share some skank’s STD.

    If you are being lied to, then it is no more your fault that he cheated than it would be your fault if someone pulled a gun on you and robbed you. He deliberately deceived you. His mother knew and didn’t call him out on his behaviour. She just “felt bad”. Well, if it were my son cheating on his partner, I’d be round there boxing his ears not wringing my hands.

    You need to get angry that you were deceived, rather than being angry at yourself. The real answer is to be kind to yourself. You are lucky you got out now rather than after 30 years with him.

  • Very timely article…thank you Mel, and so sorry you are here. I had a similar question as to why they still say they love us. We have been apart for 14 months (living separate), married 15 years. She left after discovery of a 4 year affair that she said ended four years previous, was an alcoholic…during the last 3 months we attempted a half-assed attempt at reconciliation, she was seeing someone…again. I finally had enough and hit the lawyer up to save myself from this rollercoaster. Now when she texts, which is maybe once a week, she will throw in, “I love you, I still don’t know why you are acting this way with me…”, or, “I will always love you…..
    Tell me, why does she keep saying this, when I can read in her emails I get from my lawyer that she calls me punitive and difficult (we have custody issues with our daughter on account of her drinking). Am I crazy? I STILL have not fully accepted the loss, it is hard, it feels so unfinished, zero closure.

  • Mel, this is your future calling…. fast forward 25 years… thank God you went no contact on the lout and never took him back. You cut off his access to your mind. You built an amazing cheater-free life. You cannot believe you ever cared one whit for him or blamed yourself! You can barely even remember his name. You feel nothing but gratitude for the huge bullet you (and the wonderful family you have now) dodged.

    Stay no contact.

    Never look back. Your future is AMAZING!

  • This sounds eerily similar to my story! 5 years, living together, gaslighting me to all hell, and destroying my self-esteem, all while involving his mom and lying.

    I also talked to the AP, but she smugly just said they cared about each other and wouldn’t answer a single question. They deserve each other, those freaks.

    I moved out, and 9 months post DDay, I still cry. But I feel safer and have more stability. I’m not on edge all the time! I still struggle with the “why” questions. It pisses me off that even after everything blew up, he still wouldn’t tell the truth.

    Lucky for me, he cut off contact, but I do still have that gnawing question of why? First, it was why did he do it? Now, it’s why wouldn’t he ever give me the details? It’s like he enjoyed it.

    Mel, I’m glad to hear you kicked his ass out!

    In solidarity, ChumpB

    • Because he is a coward. Cheater=poor character. Trust that he ducks. Who I thought I knew, is who he became while with me, it was as if I expected answers from someone with MY character. Instead he was a parasite narc with no identity of his own. Once I started trusting that he sucks my need for answers went away. In high school ran with the cool kids, got off on stuff like sneaking in the house, while high, chumping his mom. Thats who he still was.

      • Yes! It is so easy for us chumps to project our GOOD values onto other people.

        Picture my mind as a filing cabinet filled with Reason folders. In my mind, I had to have a reason for everything he did. I mentally sorted his actions this way.

        For example: He yelled at me when he came home from work. I put it in the Bad day at Work folder.
        He did not do the chores he agreed
        to do: I put it in He’s stressed and depressed folder.

        Finally I realized I didn’t have a He’s a Disordered Asshole folder. Well, now I do!

  • What a mindfuck, huh? Your ex is a dick. He even lies to his mum.

    Ugh. I think we can all agree the gaslighting by a cheater will knock us down HARD. It’s not normal what happened to you. It is wrong, It is hurtful. It is manipulative. And it makes you spend way too much time analyzing what the hell just happened. In retrospect all of us who have moved beyond the crush of discovery will agree, what a waste of f*cking time we spent analyzing wtf just happened to me on someone who is a POS and deserves a karma kick.

    I’m sorry you are in the club nobody asks to join, but I’m glad you found CL. Keep coming back here. Some of us have been coming here everyday for years. 🙂

  • “By lying, we deny others a view of the world as it is. Our dishonesty not only influences the choices they make, it often determines the choices they can make—and in ways we cannot always predict. Every lie is a direct assault upon the autonomy of those we lie to.”–Sam Harris

  • Oh, Mel, you remind me of the asshole me when I was 22 and told a 27 year old that she looked good for her age. I wasn’t intending to be insulting, but obviously it was. However, from my vantage now, 28 is a baby and 23 year olds know squat. I’m sorry this jerk is so hurtful. He is an idiot. Be mighty, because you are.

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