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Why Blame the Chump?

Dear Chump Lady,

Why are these so called experts so rabid about blaming chumps for their part in creating a situation where they got betrayed? Can’t they just admit that cheaters are sick fucks?  Ugh.

I loved my ex-husband and he knew it.  I did the whole forgiveness thing and he acted remorseful and ultra loving.  Our marriage went bad, he was bad.  I have no responsibility or accountability for his dysfunction.  Blame his mother!

WTF is wrong with these people that insist in blaming us???

Carol

Dear Carol,

Good question. I think the bigger question you’re asking here is why is infidelity such a big shrug in our culture. Something we should tolerate in a marriage, work through, and stick with — unlike, say, alcoholism or physical abuse. (Other things chumps have been blamed for “driving” spouses to in the past too.)

If you understand the cultural assumption, I think you will understand the blame.

First, I think it’s a result of poor critical thinking. We don’t make people DO things and control outcomes (ah, that we did… if that were the case, that winning lottery ticket would be MINE!) Shrinks perhaps are guilty of getting too deep into the weeds, looking at the “causal” influences that drive behavior. Oh, he must have deep neurosis, insecurities, and inadequacies that drive his desire to cheat. The marriage must be deeply unfulfilling and it’s that environment (created by the chump) that creates the conditions in which cheating occurs. So if we change the environment (bad chump! improve chump!), we can fix the cheater. And if we shore up the cheater (poor sausage, what did that bad self-loathing make you do?), we can improve the marriage.

This is why I like Dr. George Simon’s work, because he debunks that whole poor sausage, inner neurosis shit, and says essentially, no, what you see is what you get. They have disturbed characters. They actually DO think they deserve to behave appallingly and don’t feel one bit ashamed about it.

The more cynical of us would point out too that the whole Reconciliation Industrial Complex is predicated on fixing cheaters and chumps. And you’re not going to keep a cheater in therapy unless you put part of the rap (or all of the rap) on the chump. Chumps will take that shit sandwich out of desperation to save the marriage, to feel a sense of control in a terrifying situation. Yea! I can fix this! I control this outcome! Show me how! Sell me that book! The couple goes round after round, and the therapy bills go up and up, because no one is prepared to call the cheater on their shit. (Reconciliation is a delicate thing, don’t scare the cheater away!) Oh sure, they have to admit they cheated, but that’s easier to admit if you have a bunch of therapy-approved “reasons” why it happened. (Bitch set me up.)

Second, chumps get the blame because IMO a lot of people view the dynamic of an abusive relationship through the lens of who they identify with, or essentially, who they’d rather be — cheater or chump. And let’s face it, the Devil always gets the best parts. People who haven’t experienced infidelity can fantasize about an affair. All that crap is in our popular culture — the star-crossed lovers, the harridan and the poor long-suffering husband who has his head turned by the ingenue.

It’s natural to find other people attractive, or sexually fantasize about people who aren’t our partner, so when it comes to imagining who we would be in the Hypothetical Cheating Situation — a lot of people are going to go with cheater over chump. They can fantasize about being edgy and bohemian and risk taking for hot sex. They can’t imagine being used, abused, and defrauded. (Very sucky fantasy there.) To avoid guilt (or critical thinking) about who we identify with, it’s helpful to come up with reasons for Why Chumps Deserve to Be Cheated On. They were controlling, sexless, withholding, etc. They held our hero back from reaching his Full Creative Potential. Now the sexy fantasy can move forward. Now we don’t have to feel bad about cheaters we admire, because hey, they had their reasons.

Third, I think chumps get the blame for cheating because our culture excuses it. Lots has been written about whether or not we live in a more narcissistic age. Articles point to technology as a reason why cheating occurs, gosh, it’s just so easy! So let’s everyone lower our expectations about monogamy. But I would argue that Ashley Madison isn’t the reason that people cheat. You’d never know Ashley Madison exists if you didn’t go looking for it. No. You cheat because you gave yourself PERMISSION to cheat. And that comes from within. And, IMO, that inner conversation has changed for a lot of folks because it’s okay to be a narcissist.

Sure, some people are wired wrong. They’re truly sociopaths. They’re going to be hurtful monsters because they’ve got zero empathy. Nothing in their head sets off alarms that actions are wrong. In the parlance of shrinks, they have “no adaptive anxiety.” But not every cheater has a personality disorder — some are just greedy, permissive, little piggies.

Eons ago I was a student at the London School of Economics, and my favorite class was Prof. Donnelly’s “The Ethics of War.” I remember this fascinating discussion about the history of submarines. For years, the technology existed to build submarines, but the British wouldn’t do it because it was considered unsporting and sneaky to come up on people from below, attacking them from under the water. You might say, oh, but all’s fair in war — and you’d be wrong. There were lots of rules about engaging in combat. What changed, argued Donnelly, is the ethics. The culture had to decide first that it was okay to fight this way. The British had to erode their ideal of what was sporting and what was not. And only THEN could the technology go forward to build a submarine.

We don’t have guillotines for babies. Even though we could build such a contraption. For baby guillotines to take off with any great success, first we’d have to agree as a society that it’s okay to guillotine babies. (To use an extreme example. We have no reason to execute babies, oh but I’m sure more evil minds could invent one… but we can think of reasons why we need to use submarines to spy on and attack our enemies.)

When chumps take the blame, it erodes the ethics around cheating. Chump blame creates cheater permissiveness and rewards entitlement. And that’s why it is so important to speak out that infidelity is abuse. Take on the commenting trolls or the boorish uncle at your next family gathering. Dude, cheating is pathetic. It’s what losers do. It makes your dick look small.

So, go fight the good fight, chumps. Don’t take the blame!  

This column ran previously.

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.
  • It’s always easier to blame the victim. My Ex-MIL criticised me heavily (and in public) for challenging my now-Ex-Wife’s cheating behaviour. Backstory; the kids found out she was cheating because her iPhone was synched to her iPad. They gathered evidence (screenshots of her texts to AP) and then told me.

    According to her (Ex-MIL), had I ignored it – and sworn the kids to secrecy – it would have all blown over/gone away. In her world it was me calling my Ex’s behaviour out that caused the marriage to end because “I forced her to make a choice between me and the kids or her AP.”

    Thanks but no thanks.

    • My Ex-mil told me the same thing. If I said nothing, our marriage would be saved! (I later found out from my ex sil that mil ought to know, it had worked for her when she had affairs in her own marriage. My fil was good enough to keep quiet, and they made it to 50 years of marriage. Didn’t really work out well for any of the kids, but cmon, mil had fun!)

      You did the right thing for yourself, and for your kids. It’s taken me a while to overcome my upbringing and come around to the idea that divorcing a cheater is modeling healthy behavior and we shouldn’t stay “for the kids.”

      • Oddly enough, my Ex-MIL was a chump rather than a cheater. Ex-FIL had an affair, got AP pregnant and coerced ExMIL into adopting the child. You could not make this sh*t up and yet she took her daughter’s side and refused to criticise her – at least initially.

        Thankfully she (Ex-MIL) subsequently had something of an epiphany and seen her daughter for who/what she is and apologised to me. She went as far as to say “Thank goodness that your kids are with you and not my daughter.”

        No sh*t Sherlock; that’s why I fought so hard in the divorce.

        • The MIL who was a chump but now helps the cheater is a weird recurring theme. I had one of those too.
          It started with her desperately clinging to her son (my ex) following her own divorce/chumphood and practically making her son her substitute husband. This went on for 20 years, during which she also moved every 6 months because ‘her house was making her unhappy’. Then when she found her son cheating she went all in on protecting him. She was in on the deception while smearing me to the family behind my back.
          The alternative – realizing her son to whom she clung for 20 years in her grief is actually as bad as her ex-husband would have broken her. More than she was already broken.

          It leaves me wondering what the heck did I do to this woman to make her treat me this way? As with cheaters, the answer is ‘nothing’ except failing to put my foot down and keep her far far from my life.

    • My husband actually said this to me today: “ If you put a fraction of your energy into anything other than accusing me I wonder how much would be different.” Like really?! I’m super insecure so part of me believes this and the other part of me is like, really? YOU CREATED THIS. It’s infuriating!

      • Hey Scared, turn it round and put it where it belongs, “if you put a fraction of your energy into anything other than cheating on me, I wonder how much would be different?” Which, if you are the Scared from the post a few days ago, is just another urgent reason why you should get lawyered up, line up your ducks and get out of there pronto (or get him out).
        In his nasty cheater world you’re supposed to start pick-me dancing with AP, not hold him to account and impose consequences. Stop discussing it with him, he obviously is completely unremorseful and is manipulating your hurt and tender heart. Time for that to stop and for you to act in your own best interests ASAP. Ask me – ask anyone here – how we know.

    • You mean you set boundaries and refused to take the risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases? And you parented instead of showing the kids how to hide dysfunction. I must have missed the part of the vows where it says “Do you promise to take this person even when they are unfaithful, abusive, put your health at risk or beat you into the hospital?” I’m so sorry to hear that the MIL or FIL did choose to take those vows.

      On a side note, is there a record where this could be shown in court that the kids had to discover this? Or how about a diary where the parenting of the children is taken into account on a dated day to day basis? The courts might be interested in this information.

  • I think we can add fear to this list. We all fear being abused and abandoned by our partner on a very deep level. Its frightening. If we can blame the chump, we can assure our selves it won’t happen to us. Not me, I’m nice to my husband/haven’t gotten fat/always dust the baseboards. If we insist its caused by the partner’s poor behavior, we can “affair-proof” OUR relationships. Its magical thinking, but very reassuring.

    • Yup. Victim-blaming is reassuring – even to the victim. If you caused it, then you can work to fix it. Admitting that the only fault you possibly could have had was being too gullible? That’s scary.

      • My husband actually said this to me today: “ If you put a fraction of your energy into anything other than accusing me I wonder how much would be different.” Like really?! I’m super insecure so part of me believes this and the other part of me is like, really? YOU CREATED THIS. It’s infuriating!

    • Yes. Many a Switzerland friend of mine was let go as a result of this type of comment or insinuation. But, it was clear from their demeanor that they were more concerned with defending their own relationships–or foreclosing any question of cheating–than my feelings.

  • This is a simple question. Chumps are blamed because a lot of people are conflict avoidant and find dealing with the asshole far more difficult. Its much easier to avoid boat rocking if you bully the one who’s easier to bully, and chumps are usually easy to bully.

    If all chumps became raging bitches you’d see a lot of that stop.

    Fuck his or her world up and go nuclear. Cut off and block an in law who pressures you and see how quickly everything stops.

    I realize in retrospect that I wasn’t nearly a big enough bitch…that’s why my ex threw me under the bus regularly. I just didn’t make it unpleasant enough for him so he worried more about placating those who did.

    • When I found out about his whore I should’ve trashed his stuff, fucked up his life, called everyone I could think of, and made his life a living hell. Instead I got upset and showed some vulnerability..
      he took that and went for the jugular, because he’s a bully by nature. Although in fairness he didn’t blame me…in order to blame you have to admit to something. He admitted to what I could prove and downplayed it, and lied about everything else right up to the divorce.

      All while he cried crocodile tears.

      Ha ha….he thinks nobody knows he’s still involved with her.

      • My ex MIL blamed me also. Said, “If you were nicer to him, this wouldn’t have happened.” My response: “You’re the one who hired the whore.” Crickets…

      • Your comment hits home. When I found out about the affair; filed for a divorce (it was my boundary) realized it was the only one I had (have been learning to set more). He tried to destroy me to everyone-tried to make it like I was crazy. He threatened me out of the house- then told everyone one I exaggerated what happened and left. (Police advised me to leave) The affair partner lived in my house while the divorce was going on. He kept her hidden to everyone like she didn’t exists (aka make me look crazy.) When we got to 1st round of mediation- there was his “Delusions” and then there were all the screenshots. I left with majority custody of the kids and 1/2 assets we had(wasn’t a lot). Some people still think I am crazy-“but they aren’t my tribe”. My ex still threatens me on court server (but boundaries-I ignore). I have moved on – I have acquired a great job, bought a house and have some really great friendships. They have to blame someone because “it was never them”. My ex still tries to play the victim to our daughters. But I know the truth!

    • >>Its much easier to avoid boat rocking if you bully the one who’s easier to bully, and chumps are usually easy to bully.

      Yep. Although a Karma bus might come for someone who doesn’t realize they are being cowardly.

  • It’s still traumatizing to remember the therapists, who was also an elder in our church, making me take the blame over and over for his poor behavior, and that was even before the final DDay. I needed to give him more sex, I needed to keep him from spinning out of control. It was me that could control his temper. But it wasn’t. So much pressure and I was just so beaten down and scared. Thank God I finally went to a different therapist, also an elder in the church, who told me the X was an abuser and I needed to leave. It took years to get myself strong enough to do it, with only the support of a handful of family and friends, and the final DDay, but I got out. I’m still a bit angry at the first therapist, who tried to keep us together knowing what my kids and I were going through. When I finally decided to divorce the X, I went back to him and told him. All he could do was tell me “divorce is hard.” Yes it was, but living with a soul-sucking monster was even worse. So glad I didn’t take his advice.

      • Chumpkins, indeed there is, so much wasted time in therapy our entire marriage until someone finally told me the truth.

        • Even therapists will deceive themselves thinking they know what’s right when they tell you that you have to own up to your failure in the marriage as they want you to stay married no matter what. I’m glad you found someone that called it for what it was, i.e., abuse. And your first therapist was a coward. It’s easier to say, “Divorce is hard”, rather than, “Maybe I made a mistake, I’m sorry, and I’m glad that you found your freedom from the continued abuse.”

    • Therapist is a vague term. A church elder likely has zero credentials to do little more than listen and offer spiritual support. I am a believer (Christian Protestant). After the abuse I experienced in my marriage, I began to see the very real problem with gender bias in the church. I’m guessing these elders you’re referencing were men? The way you were treated is especially alarming considering adultery is biblical reason for divorce. God does not ask you to live in an adulterous marriage, but the elder wants you to shoulder the blame? People have many motivations for maintaining the status quo. It sounds like you were being told to “know your place.” Even when seeking spiritual guidance, do your own thinking.

      • Yeah, listen to Jesus in scripture, as he says infidelity is the exception, and divorce is allowed, period.

        Good thing too, because my cheating wife wouldn’t take step one to rebuild trust with me.

  • Before I fond CL I was frantically searching about what just blew up my life

    Marriage issues – no I ever told me I was having marriage issues

    Not meeting his needs – I could not do one more thing for that man he had everything handed to him on a plate

    He was unhappy – why didn’t he tell me he was unhappy? He sure looked and acted happy

    All the time he was living a double life not me

    So I read all that and took it all to heart , took all the blame even took the blame for every single disagreements over the course of 19 years

    Thank God I found CL and CN

    • Karen, I always say we were in the same marriage! There really is a cheater playbook- you cannot make these Coincidences up! Until Dday when kids caught him red-handed I thought we had a great 25 year marriage based on:
      -XH never once expressed he was unhappy;
      -we had passionate sex several times a week;
      -we had many joint hobbies;
      -he expressed his appreciation and gratitude and love for me frequently and in private and public;
      -I did everything he asked of me including all household work, ran our side business and went back to paid work so we’d have greater HH income even though he made plenty; and
      -we rarely had disagreements. . . .
      I was completely and totally blindsided. It was all an elaborate 26 year-long con job. He’s a master manipulator. Probably a sociopath.

      Thank God I got away. Thank you Tracy from the bottom of my heart. And thank you Karen, Peacekeeper, VH, and all of you here! Life saving!

      • It seems everything you experienced as I did which led to complete shock at DDay. There were no clues that everyone always assumes must have been there. I’m now over 6years out of divorce and even without the rose colored glasses when I look back still no red flags. Which being the scariest part of it all that someone could hide their true self from wife, family and best friends. I absolutely wasn’t the only one who couldn’t believe what was happening before our eyes.

        • I often wonder about whether the current no-fault divorce laws have contributed to adultery. In most states, there is no financial penalty for committing adultery. These no-fault laws were supposed to make it easier to divorce, and for that they’re good. But if you break any other contract, you suffer financial penalties. In most states, judges are not allowed to consider bad behavior in dividing property or awarding alimony In a divorce. This makes no sense. Why can’t these laws still be no-fault for the decree, but not no-fault for penalties? I wonder how many people would think twice before cheating if they knew they’d suffer financially?

          • I agree with CL. It’s a matter of entitlement. If there were financial penalties associated with adultery, there would still be the same number of people cheating, they would just be sneakier about it. People are people and it has been happening since the beginning of time. But because in the last 20 years the stigma about cheating just disappeared, we have the Wreckonciliation therapists. It’s what they learned in school. Until the learned-thought changes about cheating, i.e., that it’s actually abuse (and not just an unhappy person), then it will continue to be accepted and the therapists will continue to blame the chump. But as the new crop of therapists start learning more and more, then they will change their recommendations and it will be taboo because it’s “ABUSE” (and not because somebody found out and let the cat out of the bag.) I’d give it another 10 years before the next breed of therapists change their outlook on cheating. Even so, there will still be switzerland friends.

          • I totally agree! Why isn’t it seen as abuse and spousal abandonment by the court? I get screwed in a no fault state no matter what he did. My daughter and I deserve some legal validation that this is screwed up!

            • I also was completely blindsided by my ex. He seemed as happy as usual. He posted nice things about me on Facebook. We were building a retirement home together – but like all of you, he was hiding. This treatment is insidious! I feel like I will never completely trust another human being again. But, since this happened to me, I have been fixed on this idea that we need to go our our legislators and tell them that no-fault divorces hurt people who have been played by their spouse! I could have pulled 50 people into court that would have said me and my ex seemed completely in love – from family to friends to colleagues. My ex fooled his father and brother! We have this support group here in Chump Nation. We need to band together to make this an issue. My own sister tried to blame me for my ex leaving. And, I knew then, and know now, it is only because she could not handle the idea that this came from nowhere and could also happen to her marriage.

      • ❤️❤️ MC99

        You and all of CN has helped me beyond words

        I just hope I can be as strong and mighty as you one day

      • Motherchumper99

        It is downright amazing how covert these guys are. Everything seems loving and fine then boom you learn they were faking it all along and the main iceberg of their life was below the water’s surface. Takes your breath away.

        As far as the therapy industry it is driven by $$$. If the chump is to change and be blamed, then the cheater feels good -keeps the money wheel going for the therapist via sessions continuing. The Chump continues to go to fix the marriage thereby also keeping the $$ wheel going for RIC. Who is smiling—the therapists that are raking in the money every session and book sales- seminars. The longer couples go the more money they earn. There is no incentive for the RIC complex to not play this game. In so doing they revictimize the victims (chumps) by abusing them a second time.

      • I believe this lie ultimately comes from the devil. His mission is to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10). And the lie has been very effective at doing just that our culture. It often destroys the marriages and reaps destruction in the lives of both spouses (but especially the faithful spouse) and any children. That’s why it’s so important to know the truth and stop untangling the skein. We DON’T have to take the lies or the abuse. And for those who are Christians, know that God Himself didn’t manage to be perfect enough to get people to love Him or be faithful to Him. If almighty, perfect, omniscient God didn’t accomplish that (because He gave his creation free will), why does anyone expect mere humans to be able to usurp this free will?

      • Ho-lee-cow. That sounds like my cheating wife and I. I had her so well sexed, surely nothing could go wrong like interference from other men. Ahem…

    • I know exactly mine also he wasn’t happy he told our 9 year old son he wanted a divorce. Then I found out about the first affair in my family home. He wouldn’t apologize, do counseling or protect himself so that was it! It was close to Christmas and I filed in the Feb!

    • Yep I can put my hand up & say I thought our marriage was very happy. We did everything together. I thought he adored me. But I had d-day after d-day each one more traumatising than the last. He blindsided everyone including my kids. But when I look back on our relationship there were red flags everywhere. Just not the ones you’d expect. The neediness, the love bombing, the saccharine way he expressed his love, the neediness, his lack of male friends, his sudden interest in open marriage, his touch feely (v creepy in hindsight) way of saying hi to my girlfriends. He lied & cheated the entire 14 years we were together. He finally told he’d cheated on his first wife too. This colossal disorder is sociopathic & I doubt I’ll ever get over it to trust in another relationship. My friend who is also a chump asked me how far away from meh I am. I told her I’m years away from it I actually doubt I’ll ever get there. It’s been 9 months since I dropped the Hopium pipe and booted him out.

  • I think a good idea is to use another popular narrative – informed choice. For example, would the guy still service wife’s car and a woman cook fresh food every night if they knew their partners are cheating? (Please, these examples are irrelevany, could be vice versa). Would they continue to invest time, money, effort, feelings etc.? Endure mistreatment?

    Also, this idea that we can drive or make somebody do something is so entrenched in the culture and widespread among individuals (especially women). I always point out that if I had a power to make somebody do something, I’d make my partner to shower me with silks and golden jewelry. Usually, not happening.

    • I LOVE this.

      I’ve said all along, the problem isn’t that he wanted a “poly” sex life, the actual problem is that he wanted to have it without telling me about it. I don’t denigrate his wish for multiple sex partners, I denigrate his wish to lie to any one of those multiple sex partners about his multiple sex partner reality.

      The actual, primary, specific issue is that I did not get enough accurate information to grant informed consent.

      Spot on, Friend!

        • I agree they can sneak around like little “bad Girls and Boys” it’s like reliving their childhood.
          My cheater was very immature in many ways and always looking for something new and shiny. I was the sensible one looking after our lives, like raising kids, elderly parents working at a career while he was the “fun seeker”. He needed to get his “high” from other people there was no soul inside him.

          • Yes, I remember calling him Mr. Fun Fun Fun on several occasions so that he could attend whatever concert, sporting event, etc. with his friends but never checking if I wanted to go just assuming that I would watch our young kids. And his need for instant gratification – latest iPhone, iPad, speakers, etc. It’s creepy now looking back and I remember how some of his friends and coworkers fell all over jokes and just thought he was the greatest guy. I remember telling him that gee insert name worships you like an idol. Now I see how he got off on the attention.

        • Yes absolutely. He’d conned me into accepting the bullshit about an open marriage & still he lied to me and to them. They get off on the secrets. They’re sick fucks.

        • Yes. Duper’s delight.

          The fucktard actually *planned* to have me living with him and his rat faced whore in his flat – the slunt was “your friend too”, and her share of the rent and bills “will mean more money for us”.

          Luckily I found out they were fucking before that but can you imagine the mind set of two people who could actually *plan* such a thing? 😳😱

          What a thrill for them, ‘*you* don’ t know what *we*know snigger snigger. Vomit., 🤮🤮

      • “Poly” was a lie. After about 5 more years of abuse and manipulation and gaslighting and physical threats, I gave in to polyamory. But as soon as I had another partner, cheater flipped out and got more abusive and demanded monogamy again all the while continuing to secretly cheat behind my back.

        • My ex did this to his second wife. He wanted poly until she got another partner which coincided with when things didn’t work out with his other partner. Then, he wanted monogamy again. I don’t believe there are many people who can handle doing poly. But, these types can’t honor any contract whether poly or monogamy.

      • Mine asked for “poly”. From the timing, it seems to be shortly after he started cheating. I believe it’s a way to cover his tracks.

  • “If we can blame the chump, we can assure our selves it won’t happen to us.”

    THIS. I think this also accounts for the #1 annoying question people ask when they find out about your marriage collapsing: “Did you see any signs of this?” Even when phrased and asked in a gentle, sympathetic way, it’s still so annoying. Really? You imagine if I’d seen this abyss of narcissism, deceit, and gaslighting, I would still have jumped in with both feet? Do you think I enjoy spending tons of money, lavishing love and attention, and sinking the best years of my life into a one-sided marriage? GTFO with that question. They only ask it because they’re frantically running a comparison study in their mind, combing over the decades of details in their own relationship and seeing if anything lines up, and then being able to reassure themselves that no, this will never happen to them.

    Either that, or they’re just doing a sly bit if victim-blaming, cloaked by some fake sympathy.

    I grant that some people just say it because they’re stunned and have no idea WHAT to say. But I still roll my eyes at this question.

    • Yes, I found it very offensive when my best friend at the time said “but mainly if I were you, I’d try to ask him and understand the reason WHY”. (To be noted, this was months and months after all those dehabilitating “conversations”, like…gee, I didn’t think of doing that, you know, “friend”?)

      That’s where the focus is because, frankly, we were raised to outsmart people like in a sit-com. I’m guilty of doing this for years. I thought I was “smart” for trying to understanding people, whereas, in fact, apparently I understood nothing, because you can’t be in the head of someone who actively shuts you out of there.

      Like there’s any WHY that could ever justify betrayal. UGH. I’m disgusted because I bought into that line of thinking myself, for far too long (I have a Master’s in Psychology, that’s how invested I was in understanding people, and yet…)

      • >>I thought I was “smart” for trying to understanding people, whereas, in fact, apparently I understood nothing, because you can’t be in the head of someone who actively shuts you out of there.

        Same here. I thought I was in an episode of Star Trek, where superior understanding would win peace. Instead I was in a Shakespearean tragedy like Othello, where I’m up against a character like Iago, a textbook vindictive narcissist.

  • @kim
    I’m with you. I wasn’t tough enough. I believed being kind, open to listen to Sad Sausage’s story (which changed. A lot.) would make him wake up. I did all kinds of personality gymnastics to be who he wanted me to be (but could never really say.) In other words, I was already f$&@ed. He watched me jump through hoops as he feigned remorse to the therapist and fired up more secret texting apps. If I only had the kahunas to get tough instead of ‘sweeter’. The RIC and our therapist led me down the WRONG road. I’ve wondered if I could give her a bad Yelp review, or sue for malpractice. I’m kidding, of course, but the advice coming at Chumps at their most vulnerable moment is heinous.

    • >>If I only had the kahunas to get tough instead of ‘sweeter’.

      Some of this is chump giving what they most want, kindness and understanding. It’s hard to remember the days when we had no clue this kind of evil existed.

    • Definitely do the yelp review. That therapist could be causing serious harm to a lot of people.

  • People find it easier to accept if they can justify bad behaviour. My cheater after 42 years of marriage decided he wasn’t happy, no discussion just no happy hadn’t been for years etc. Of course had his Schmoopie waiting in the wings. One year later he was dead from a brain tumour. Now here was a perfect excuse it was the tumour that’s why he did it. Well the fact is this wasn’t his first rodeo he’d cheated before and I took him back 20 years earlier. My adult daughter decided it was her job to organize his funeral with his family, friends and Schmoopie. Now I can understand that she felt the need to attend his funeral but to actually organize it and hold court with all these people was a real slap in the face. She even had some of my closest family members there. She simply can’t understand that her public display of acceptance of his behaviour validated Schmoopie and his cheating. “he couldn’t have been that bad, must of had a reason probably the cancer etc”. This has damaged our relationship to the point that we barely speak. Cheating the gift that keeps on giving. I might add that this is my daughter, cheater’s step daughter which really just adds to the drama! People don’t get it.

    • Amazing (and very sad) how children, siblings, spouses, etc. will still try & please these selfish abusers, even after death.

      • What really irks me is the fact that I know many friends, family etc. believe that it was the brain tumour that made him cheat. I have been asked by well meaning people (because he was always such a nice guy to everyone) do I think it was the cancer? I simply say no he was just a cheater with cancer it wasn’t his first time. But I know they excuse it because they feel sorry about his death. UGH!

        • Girl I am so sorry, and you are so right. None of this shit is normal and I too am sick of everyone, even people who claim to love me, excusing it.

          My husband (with the help of our family pill-pushing doctor) developed a bad prescription pill problem behind my back. This and his first round of cheating lasted a couple of years. I figured out, he got clean. Oh it was the pills, says him, and everyone else. I “forgave” him but in the back of my mind realized that nothing much else about his life seemed to change, like losing his job or wrecking cars or doing other reckless obvious stuff, he just became a cheater.

          Three years later, same shit. Minus the pills. Luckily he did me the favor of walking out when I found him snuggled up in a bar with his girl this time. They have an excuse for everything.

          • It seems society has accepted cheating as just a fact of life. It just happens, as CL an said many times, it is the subject of Romantic Comedies, Farces, and Murderous Dramas and we have been brain washed to think it’s normal and there must be a reason. Then it happens to us and we realize the soul crushing and heat break it causes. The collateral damage that it does to families and future relationships is nothing but total devastation. Most of these “love affairs” don’t last and are just for the thrill and yet it’s viewed apparently as an acceptable concequence of unhappiness with our lives. It is just sick!

            • My heart goes out to you Linda, through no fault of your own you are placed in a no win position. There is so much more loss in divorce than anyone who hasn’t been there can imagine. Four weeks before our 50th wedding anniversary my then husband told me he had been cheating for years. I insisted the divorce decree stated the cause as adultery. My attorney said people our age care about adultery but to young people it means nothing. Nope,” If it matters to you, it matters “

              • Thanks for the kind words, Bea. I’t 3 years since I bought my own little house in another town and I’m doing pretty good. Thankfully I did have a career and a decent pension. I feel fortunate that I can support myself comfortably and have relatively good health. It amazes me that these idiots are in relationships for decades and our cases a life time (42 and 50 years) and then without any conscience or discussion just decide it’s over. I can’t feel anything about his death I really don’t know who he was after 42 years.
                It’s actually all a bit surreal.

          • one general societal trend that is working against us

            Is the cultural prioritization of “feelings” over pretty much all other considerations…and the corollary that NO ONE can ever be JUDGED for an action they say (retroactively, of course!) was taken because of their subjective explanation that they did it because of their feelings

            It’s odd because in the realm of sexual assault, (American) society at least has made some pretty rapid progress in understanding that the “feelings” of the rapist are irrelevant to the choice to assault

            (eg: we no longer accept the contention that “what she was wearing” created “rape-y feelings” that really NO ONE could be expected to control!)

            But in terms of infidelity, we still have some ways to go

            • I actually think that it’s more about POWER than feelings, although it currently gets covered up by the ‘feelings’ talk or the ‘timid forest creature’ talk.

              Because the only ones getting away with sexual assault, domestic violence, etc were people with power. Think about that Stanford swimmer, whose life was being ruined by the court case after he raped a woman, about all the H. Weinsteins, the rich/famous people (I’m looking at you, Mel Gibson) who are excused from their bad behaviour because of their addictions, brilliance, etc.

              Nobody’s interested in the feelings of the poor, the disadvantaged…

              The reason it’s changing is that power relationship are very very slowly and gradually changing. Bullying and taking advantage of people, in all their forms, are becoming less acceptable. But it’s gone by steps; for a long time powerful people could simply get away with whatever they wanted to do, including violence, sexual assault, taking advantage of others. Now, it has be justified by their frailties and feelings.

              Soon, hopefully, we’ll get to the point where, like beating children, sexual assault, bullying of students and employees, and intimate partner violence, cheating will be seen for what it is, and become unacceptable.

              Cheating is 100% taking advantage, often with a side dish of bullying. I am doing everything I can to push for that to be recognized, and I’m so glad CL and CN are too!

              • THIS is one of the reasons why I love Jesus Christ. The Pharisees had a habit of bullying and criticizing other people. They criticized the disciples for not washing their hands. Jesus turned it back on them in one of his many “woe to you Pharisees” speeches. (Matthew 15:3-20). A prophecy in Isaiah 11:4 says “But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”

                Oh I think he smited the earth with the rod of his mouth and slayed the wicked with the breath of his lips!

        • Linda. I’m so glad you’re no longer dealing with the cheater. My cheater-ex had his skank on the side for 11 years before I found out. I was so messed up after SHE TOLD ME (she must have got tired of waiting for him to tell me that he wanted a divorce.) It was at my 26th year of marriage and I had ‘so much invested’ so I chose to believe him when he said that he wouldn’t do it again. 4 years later (at my 30th year) I found out that he was right back with the skank. But fortunately I had some kahunas by then and divorced him. I was still quite messed up in the head for a while, but I will tell you (if you’re not yet at meh) that it’s such a pleasure not having to deal with fuckwits anymore. I also agree with you in the respect that cheating destroys lives. My relationship with my youngest son is broken because he chooses to believe his dad when he was told that “we just grew apart.” You cannot make people behave a certain way and you cannot make your children think a certain way. I think they choose to purposely ignore the obvious because they don’t want to have to make a choice, i.e., “Do I stop liking dad because he cheated on mom?” You cannot blame them for not wanting to make a choice, especially when they know that you, the chump, will still love them no matter what, whereas, their cheater parent might be angry with them and cut them out of the will (or whatever.) I go on by having faith that it will all come out for the best even if it may take 40 years. And the best…., it’s the fact that I no longer have a fuckwit in my life. I miss my son, but so be it. I couldn’t make his father see values and I certainly can’t make my son. I have to just be happy for me.

    • Linda, you are such a strong inspiring woman. All that you’ve been through and you’re here giving strength to others, telling your story and showing how strong you are to keep going. The shutdown of our country has caused so much mental depression for people for various reasons and in my case has been difficult to be alone during all of it. It makes me sad to know had my soon to be exhusband really been the man I thought he was, we would have had so much quality time together through this Covid shutdown. Time that we never had the chance to have. He wasn’t who I thought he was and it’s weird to miss someone who never even existed isn’t it? I miss what I thought I had but not him because that wasn’t really him turns out. I have this song, it says “I’m in love with what we were but not with you” and it rings so true to me. I hope I stop missing someone who never existed. In the mean time, I’m proud that I decided to end our marriage and take him to mediation and file for divorce. Everything will be finalized in the next two months or sooner. I’m starting over, alone and afraid but I’m strong enough to know I’d rather be alone than continue a life with him. Alone and Afraid > Him

  • Some of the reasons chumps get blamed for the cheating is unbelievable and acceptable to some. After 35 years married I was gutted when he said “I fell out of love with you because you nagged”. Strange he said that because I gave him all the freedom a married man would want. He was sleeping with me the whole 2 years he was cheating with the Owhore.
    The original Owhore died few years ago and he quickly moved into another woman’s house. Any Port in a Storm I’d say. 😏

    • Kathleen, you have to wonder it took him 35 years to figure out he wasn’t “in love ” with you because you nagged?! Mine took 42 years to figure out he wasn’t happy. Not the sharpest knives in the drawer!
      It’s absolute stupidity!

      • Linda
        I’m sorry you had to experience the humiliation and betrayal also. They believe the grass is greener with another, but in time they discover it’s weeds they found.
        Best of luck to you. Stay strong 💪🏼

      • I think it’s not that they can’t think of a better reason, that they’re bad thinkers; I think it’s that they are so unconcerned and disconnected by that time that they reach for the the most convenient attack line, to deflect the blame onto us. They don’t care enough even to come up with a better one.

      • My ex wife took 24 years to tell me “it never felt right” which blew me away. Of course she was already sleeping with her AP on the weekends “away with the girlfriends” just lie after lie at that point, no way to live anymore. I was heartbroken then but now feel generally ok and accept I’m better off without those stressful times waiting for a text response etc

  • I never thought about that, who the flying monkeys identity with, mentally its easier being the cheater than the chump. The flying monkeys get swept up in the crap the cheater tells them.
    Society tells women what your supposed to look like. a neighbour actually said once, ANY MAN IS BETTER THAN NONE. She wasn’t the worst flying monkey either. they can send a man to the moon, but you can’t help how some people think.
    You can only make yourself happy.
    Fuckwits can fuck off.

  • If we control our spouses feelings and behavior, I would have someone who happily cleans alongside me and who would have replaced the broken ceiling fan by now. It’s only been three years.

    I could, but it’s the principle of the thing. So I glower and use my box fan instead.

    • The solution is for you to move out and get your own place. If you rent, the landlord would be more responsive. And if you own, you can either hire someone or get on youtube and figure out how to do it yourself.

      Take it from me: If he’s ignoring a ceiling fan now, he’ll ignore much more fundamental problems later. Over time I took on more and more of the home care because he refused to give it any attention, fighting with him at every turn when I needed to hire someone–until I decided (after 20 + years) that I wasn’t going to do it anymore. It took a literal collapse of the plaster ceiling and wall onto the floor below to make him acknowledge what needed to be done, and that’s because I left the pile of debris in the middle of the kitchen floor and he had to step over it to get to the refrigerator. I don’t think it’s an accident that after I hired someone to come in and fix the extensive water damage, and the work was complete, I was ready to leave. And I did.

  • Carol – Great question. I spend hours reading articles online and so many ‘lists’ never fail to include “look at your part in the breakdown of the marriage” – which I guess for me was giving my husband the “space” that he always seemed to need (?) and trusting him too much.

    Re: “Blame his mother!” – My STBX announced last year that he was going to start seeing a therapist (“I don’t want to hide it from you but I need my privacy on this” ((*scoff*)). To which I replied “I’m your wife, why can’t you tell me what’s going on? Is it our marriage? What can I do to help? Can we go together? (yeah – I’m REALLY unsupportive). In weeks following when I asked how it was going (while still trying to pry) I heard the same kind of cliche bullshit that I read on this blog… 1) he blamed his dead mother for ‘shaming him’ and telling him he was a liar (that woman didn’t take any shit) 2) his therapist said he was codependent (WTF?) 3) he needed to learn to be more ‘self sufficient’ – I guess because I’m always doing shit for him, taking his car in for service, handling the books for his business – all stuff he asked me to do! All things he told me BEFORE I finally figured out that he was fucking around. To think back to these conversations now just makes me angry. I wish the therapist would have just said “hey asshole, what your are feeling is a consequence of your shitty CHOICES”. The therapist later dropped him due to ‘scheduling conflicts’ but I like to think that he got tired of STBX bullshit.

    I’m close to D-Day + 4mo (this week) and still I spend too many hours of the day trying to figure out where I went wrong, wishing I would have said or done this or that. I am mighty in the sense that I know this marriage is dead and that I can never forgive him for destroying my trust and breaking my heart. Some moments I’m very confident in my ability to get thru this, most others I’m just puddle of snot wallowing in my grief and regret.

    • You will get there I See You

      It’s still very raw and very new . I’m 14 months out now and only a tiny bit better .

      I encourage you to read the archives here they are a wealth of power and knowledge and if you wanted to please create a Reddit user account and ask to join chumplady nation it’s a private closed account for members only . This is great for any real time help and support

      ( hugs ) it will get better

      • Thanks karen – I’m reading CL blogs and archives daily. I just found Reddit – but didn’t know about the CL Nation. I’m called ‘Truthy3″ on Reddit. I really really hate to think that I’m still going to be dealing with this emotional train wreck a year from now, but guess I need to be more patient with myself

        • ISeeYou, You may be dealing with it a year from now, but it will be substantially easier. Think of a volume knob; you are at 10 a lot of the time now, but next year your volume could be a 4 with occasional spikes. You are enduring the hardest part of this journey. It will get better. I am much further out than you and I can take a deep breath and realize I feel NO pain.
          Volume at 3 or 4 is like being in a warm bath compared to the horrors of 10.

          • I’m 2 years from D-Day and i’d say my volume is consistently at 8. Two years is a long time, yet it feels like almost just yesterday. If this is the way it’s going to be for 2 more years, (maybe down to a 7 by then), I’m not sure how to handle it. I’m so exhausted. So tired of feeling the pain all the time. What if for some of us it just doesn’t ever go away?

            • Fearful, the pain will go away and you will live a happy life again. You have to learn to love yourself again as so many of us, were so busy putting the cheater and everyone else first, we forgot about ourselves. It takes time to realize that the person you thought you were married to or in love with, was not who you thought and really is a stranger. It’s especially hard right now with the virus everywhere. Be kind to yourself get some counselling if you can and know that this will pass in time. It does get better I promise. Hugs Linda

            • Fearful&Loathing,
              I am so sorry you’ve been at an 8 for so long. I am 6 years out from Day and 4 years divorced, so more time has passed for me. I was up at an 8 for a couple of years too. It is so exhausting. I tried hard in therapy and also started taking drugs to sleep (I take the old tricyclic antidepressants but instead of 75 mg they can compound them for you at 6 mg- the dose for sleep) I think Amitriptylline, Doxepin etc are in this class. It might be worth talking to your dr about it to help with the exhaustion. Reading good books, walking – listen to podcasts so you don’t ruminate. There are so many things that can help just a LITTLE bit. But all those little things can add up over time to a major change. Please keep the faith. I think you will heal and find peace. (((Hugs)))

            • Fearful-this. I’m a year and a half out from D-day, the day she left me and our boys, and six months past divorce. I’m still messed up and wonder if this is how my life will be forever. Spent nearly half my life with her ( 21 years married-23 together).

              I’m now 55, raising my boys alone. They’re my world, but I still miss her sometimes. A female friend of mine wants to have a fwb relationship with me, and while I miss intimacy and companionship, I’m not emotionally ready for attachment and quite frankly I’m afraid of getting involved with anyone, even though I’ve known this person for 14 years. I’m still emotionally distressed over what happened and not sure if I ever want to trust anyone ever again.

              • Don’t feel time pressured to start dating again. If you broke your leg, the doctor isn’t going to tell you to start walking again. Same goes for a long marriage. Dday was 10 months ago, divorce finalized 2 months ago ending 13 year marriage/together 22. At times, I think oh I should start an online dating profile and then other times – seems like too much work. I certainly don’t want anything serious but miss companionship. For now, I’m just going to chill and enjoy a summer with my kids not worrying about squeezing in dating when they’re at that their dads. Their dad I’m sure is still seeing his married howorker. I need more therapy once therapist resumes appointments and to focus on my own interests for awhile before I start seriously considering dating.

            • I’m 3 years out from D Day, and the Decree Absolute was Feb of last year, so 15 months ago.

              I very rarely feel pain/grief now, but the *rage*, at them, and myself for being so trusting and easily duped, is still very much there.

              Some days I feel meh’ish, but the fury always seems to be there underneath.

              On the other hand, I’d rather feel rage than grief; at first it was an amalgam of both, now it’s just rage.

              Like you, I wonder if it will ever stop, will meh ever park itself permanently?

              Of course, gaining a life, time, doing for oneself all helps. Although this wretched virus has put a stop to all the things I was trying to do for myself – clubs, activities, cultivating friendships, so that makes it harder.

              Hugs to you, Fearful, you are not alone. 🤗😘

  • I blamed myself until I didn’t.
    Thank you CL & CN for supporting the truth: he didn’t even think about me when he was cheating.

  • I agree. It’s due to a bad environment. Help the cheater and change the environment by walking out the door.

  • I may be unpopular, but I do not think it’s “natural” to fantasize about other people sexually.
    I’m frankly a tad shocked to read that here, it’s triggering. Of course you can notice if someone is attractive or has pleasant qualities, but to picture them in a sexual or romantic scenario…? Why would anyone do that? Where does that drive even come from? Would we be that comfortable sharing that with our spouses or have our spouse share that with us, without being majorly hurt and threatened? “Hey, honey, that chick from HR, whoa the rack on her..! Oh what I’d like to do to her… but won’t, because I’m a good boy”. Wut?

    And if we wouldn’t share it, that’s because we know it’s crossing a line and is cheating.

    To me, a partner who fantasizes about others is a partner who is not healthily attached. I have my own experience both ways to back me up. When I did fantasize about someone else, I can stand to say I did not have a healthy attachment to or investment in my partner. When I was committed, those thoughts did not cross my mind at all. And I more than willingly share about people I just happen to like.
    I want my partner to be inside my head, before my body.

    And I don’t want fancy titles to describe this. I’m not demi-sexual or other stuff.
    I just mate monogamously and mean it. Sorry if this is controversial, it’s how I feel.

    • I felt the same when I read this. I also agree with everything you wrote in your comment. Famtasizing about others sexually is not being completely invested in the relationship as you’re investing in someone else when you fantasize about them. It’s also not fair for your partner, what’s the next step? Closing your eyes during sex with your partner and just pretend they’re the other person? It definitely crosses a line imo.

      • I totally agree. I was told years ago by my husband that he thinks about other women when he was with me. I just let it go as much as it hurt. Now I realize it was one of those signs I should have paid attention to.

    • I appreciate Tracy’s fairness (as well as all chumps here) in calling out behavior objectively rather than through any sort of ideological lens. I can’t help but smile (rather bitterly mind you) at how many of my STBX’s friends are siding with her narrative about how sucky and unfulfilling I must have been to have caused her to leave me and her 3 beautiful kids for a fuckwit well-admired in my community. I know if the tables were turned, I be castigated and read the riot act by these same people. Right is right. Wrong is wrong. End of story.

      • Yes TM, I’ve got similar experience. When a friend of mine got cheated on, poor her and bad husband (he was POS). But when our acquaintance got involved with a married guy, no wonder, his wife is so controlling and jealous (such a controlling wife yet he spent the whole weekends with his mistress).

        The thing is, don’t pay attention to their shit. You don’t need people in your life who thing deceiving others is cool.

    • When I was with my ex, I didn’t think about other men. When I struggle with thinking about any man, it’s because I don’t have any man to mate with. If I had a husband, I’d think about him.

    • Quetzal and others who responded, I relate to this so so much. I’ve actually never fantasized about being intimate with another man while in a relationship whether it be just a boyfriend or my soon to be exhusband. I just don’t have it in me. When i’m committed, I’m loyal even in my mind. I guess for me, I just find it odd that I would want another man to have my body in that way when I’m committed to someone else. Sure, I’ve slept with three men in my life I didn’t love but even thinking about those situations gives me shivers and I highly regret doing that. So yea, it’s triggering to me too when I see that others fantasize sexually when they are involved with someone else. I just don’t understand it and I genuinely mean that (not saying this to be harsh). It’s actually hard for me to grasp that there are more people like that than like me. Which makes me feel very alone, like i’m some strange breed of a person. Am I making sense here?

  • It makes your dick look small. Perfect.

    Point and laugh people. If only the dominant thinking was that cheaters are pathetic and ridiculous.

    Give it time … the CL and CN mighty will germinate and spread. Once rationality and decent morality takes hold, maybe we will find ourselves in a braver new world.

  • Kind of a side issue but related…

    It seems so simple, and yet so rare — the therapist should be able to mindfully consider who is in the room.

    The therapist is supposed to be delivering medical treatment, not witnessing events and texting codes to choose their own adventure in an interactive drama.

    So, if you’re a therapist who is alone in a room with a cheater, sure it makes sense to attempt to treat the mental landscape of that person. Be non-judgmental, explore the “why”, and do whatever is appropriate to address that person’s mental health.

    When you’re in a room with a couple, though, the entity you’re treating is the couple. Individuals’ issues may need to be addressed in an “it would be useful for you to explore that in individual sessions because it contributes to the partnership issues” way, but I don’t believe it’s appropriate or useful to spend much energy on most of an individual’s “stuff” during couple treatment time.

    In my opinion, couple treatment time has a few key purposes. One is a conversation ground – eliciting robust communication that doesn’t otherwise occur. Another is empathic ground – building space to allow empathy, both to test its shape (well, and see if it even exists) and to turn the volume up on it. And another is, frankly, to help the people identify whether continuing their current partnering arrangement makes sense for both of them, identify whether adjusting agreements is a workable option to allow the partnership to continue, and, if the partnership isn’t wise to continue, figure out how to part from it with minimal fallout damage.

    And AAAAALLLLLLLLL of that assumes that both partners have generally positive intent. If either doesn’t, the therapy model is just powder, mist, a structureless nothing.

    That’s my POV and I am sure there are many. Bottom line is, I am dubious at best about any therapist who sits with a couple and doesn’t clearly speak truth to either person’s justifications for doing a thing that’s directly harmful to the other partner. There isn’t a world where it is acceptable to deliberately harm a person who has agreed to share the bulk of their life with you. Therapists who use the treatment model as a tool that allows intentional harm of one of the parties receiving the treatment raise an eyebrow at a minimum and detract from the profession as a whole.

    If your partner lied to you about where their genitals have been or any other agreement in your partnership and your therapist feels the lying was justified, it is my opinion that the therapist in question is… questionable.

    • Yeah…I am really interested in this issue of Therapists failing to speak truth truth to cheaters

      because it could somehow compromise their impartiality

      When I took my STBXw to Couples Therapy, the therapist laid out how it was a place of honesty, no secrets, we’re here to say the things that are deeply uncomfortable, etc

      And I was upfront about how my STBXs behavior had deteriorated in ways that made me openly suspicious that she was having an affair, which she denied.

      But after about 5 sessions in which STBXw did every basics cheater move in the book…

      …all we got was “wow, it seems like there’s a lot of contempt in this relationship…and contempt is very difficult to move past. Perhaps you should start visualizing a post-marriage reality”

      And as I explained to her, I had done plenty of “visualizing a post-marriage reality”

      and was concerned that unless I was able to find the reason for my STBXw’s sudden desire to end the marriage (15 years, 2 wonderful kids)

      STBXw would continue blaming me for the failure of the marriage as a way of evading responsibility for her own conduct, which had all the hallmarks of someone trying to choke out their partner before they got caught

      I’ll never forget how the Therapist responded

      “Would your life *really* be better if you knew that?”

      And I said “Yes, it would be a LOT better, because then I would be able to divorce without a second thought. And then I would be able to move forward without the self-recrimination that plagues those who suspect their spouse of infidelity, but were unable to prove it”

      “Okay…I hadn’t thought of that”

      #yeesh

    • Yes, the therapists who do that are questionable! Given that cheaters can infect their partner with an std, the health and safety of the faithful spouse should be the first priority. We wouldn’t expect a battered wife (or husband) to ask themselves what their “part” in the marriage problems that led to this abuse was. We’d get that man or woman to safety first. Then, we’d see if the abuser was actually ready to change and deal with their own issues. Oftentimes, they are not willing or ready. But if they actually were, we’d take things really, really slowly AFTER they worked on their own issues. Finally, after ALL that, BOTH people in the couple could work on how to be the best husband and wife possible. Not because any faults in the battered spouse caused the battering! The working on the marriage would be about moving FORWARD not backwards, because any marriage can benefit from learning how to be the best husband or wife possible. But, the issues with one spouse putting the other’s health and safety at risk needs to change first.

  • My cheater probably told his family it was my fault and I’m sure he justified his hate for me inside his disordered brain. During the first meeting to discuss the MSA, I finally told him I knew he cheated. I said it four times before he said, there was alot going on on. I told him to save the excuses, i did not need to hear it. Yah, there was alot going on in his brain – how do i plan, lie, deceive to cheat, hide money and live a double life. He said he has to remember I’m the mother of his children. How kind. Not. I don’t think he would confront me about his cheating being justified because I would stand up for myself and i would have an answer for any bullshit coming out of his lying, selfish and entitled mouth. I may be a chump but I’m a stubborn chump…

    • Too bad he didn’t remember you were the ‘mother of his children’ when he was screwing around. These cheaters are truly insane! Who says this, who are these people???

      • I guess I was a bad wife because I stopped being the compliant door mat, didn’t follow his orders and no longer treated him like the king of the house. I detached from him and was lining up my ducks. He used me the whole marriage.

  • What makes me laugh is that my ex will NEVER find someone who will treat him as well as I did.

    Never. I was good to him, always tried to understand him, help him. He is older now, in poor health, and he lost his most valuable asset in life, ME. He still tries to poison our adult kids against me, and they tell me he is beyond miserable. Too bad too sad. He shit on me, and he is still in shock that I said enough.

  • I think “blame the cheater” goes deep into history and our patriarchal society. I know there are lots of male chumps, but I think in the reach of history, large-scale infidelity by women is a much more recent occurrence (since women have more agency and freedom in the last 50-70 years). Women have been the “property” of men for millennia, and having harems is not a new idea. There were always young women growing up to join the harem. Even in monogamous marriages, fathers paid large dowries to men to take their daughters. People looked the other way if men satisfied their “natural desires” with someone “on the side,” but women were stoned or shunned if they lost their virginity before marriage or stepped out. (There don’t need to be equal numbers of women and men willing to engage in infidelity -just a few houses of “ill-repute“ and let’s not forget how common sexual assault has always been). Women couldn’t support themselves if they left their marriage, so they stayed even if their husbands cheated so that they and their children could eat. Marriage existed to serve society (raise children and pass on wealth) not for love or happiness.

    Fast forward a few millennia, and women have rights and economic freedom. And now many are using that freedom to abuse their husbands with infidelity! And it’s illegal to have sex with underage minors…..but society hasn’t caught up on its advice for either sex. Many religions and conservative folks are desperately trying to put the genie back in the bottle and control women (partly by preserving the institution of traditional marriage regardless of the cost to the individuals within) like they once did. The RIC is a remnant of that. Be a good little girl or boy and be nicer, better, more subservient, and it will all work out for you. Not!

    I’m so grateful that chump lady is changing the narrative. Chump nation is the “me too” movement for chumps of all stripes. I’m hoping that our children are watching, and won’t accept abuse like we did.

    • I agree completely and while we’re at it, let’s change the “marriage is hard narrative”. It’s hard when you’re married to an asshole. It’s not all that hard when you’re married to someone who loves you.

  • My wife, roughly 5 months into her affair (which I did not know at the time) actually called me a narcissist. My loving wife of over 2 decades, WHO WAS CHEATING AND LYING TO ME, FAMILY AND FRIENDS, showing no affection to me, treating me like crap………called me a narcissist. Huh?
    Ask any of my friends, co-workers, employees, family and most importantly my children….they will describe a hard working, loving dad, good husband who was an involved parent (coaching, transportation, appointments) and provided a stable life and very nice home. I sacrificed for my family (I am a professional, but I have never driven a new vehicle…. I let my wife drive them). The few things I did for myself I always felt guilty….but somehow….in her alternate reality…..I am a narcissist. (It’s just laughable).
    I didn’t know what was happening and I was naïve…..never in a million years thought she would cheat. Every time I called her out (I said she was breaking her vows by wanting a divorce……the next day she told me “well you broke your vows too!”……I asked her if she trusted me…..she said yes……..the next day she says “I don’t trust you”)….she would simply turn it on me. She could not handle her guilt and shame.
    The blameshifting and gaslighting started after I called her out on her affair……I was “controlling”, I “held her down”, I “made her the way she is”. I don’t think anybody on this forum thinks they are perfect….I’m far from it and have my flaws……..but I venture to guess that most of us are genuine and good people.
    I could go on and on about her lies, broken promises, double-standards, hypocrisies, emotional outbursts, illogical statements.
    It makes me ill to think she was asking for empathy (before I discovered her lies)…..she said “you need to put yourself in my shoes”. (Vomit)……trust me….those are shoes I will never, ever wear because I am a man of my word…..honest, loyal and full of integrity.
    And to boot…..after all the hell….after all lies…..10 months after her affair started (and after she found out I had moved on with my life)…..she wanted to meet with me. She told me she still loved me and thought we could date?
    That’s pretty normal….right?

      • Yes, normal for cheaters. They want kibbles & cake & triangulation. You are Plan B! The fallback guy!

        • Wow…..plan B! That is exactly what I said to her months after she filed for divorce, got caught lying and cheating, and I moved out. She wanted to meet with me, tells me she loves me and thought we could date. I said, “what did you think I would crawl into the woods and wait for your affair to be over? Did you think I was plan B?” No thanks, I have wayyyyyy too much self-respect for that. Once she did not get the reaction she wanted and did not hear reciprocation, the blameshifting took on a new life.

          What kind of rational person would think a partner of over 2 decades, with 3 kids together, would be ok with having their heart broken (more than once), finding out “the love of their life” had an affair (with their sudden new love of their life), discovered uncounted lies…..and would somehow want to date them again……like nothing happened? ***Poof….mind-blowing***

          I actually think I was plan B even a few years back…..I think I was unknowingly chumped then. I felt proud then that we “saved our marriage” and I was chumpy enough to believe we would be together for the rest of our lives.

          I feel like I got Rick-Rolled!

          • Nothing Compares 2U,
            Yes Plan B indeed, I feel I was the ‘insurance policy’ while he was looking for a “fling” for years. Now of course, I see the red flags. He wanted to make sure that it was all systems go before he confessed to the “been unhappy for years” nonsense. They don’t leave without a soft place to land. Of course they are so egotistical that when things go badly, they think they can just walk back into their old lives. It’s amazing narcism!

            • Plan B…Been there. After D-Day he became remorseful and I did believe it was just a mistake he made and he genuinely loved me. But then there were other things and others…Each time I was confronting him and he was not so remorseful anymore…Then he started “I was unhappy” conversations and I made mistake of not kicking him out. After some time I felt HE IS WONDERING if he wants to stay. Like after all that I was waiting for HIS decision:D Geee…..All that blameshifting gives us chumps such a mindfuck! We are not divorced yet (coronavirus…eh) but I told him clearly I will not be somebody’s Plan B. For my man I will be A or I will be alone which is also fine by me.

  • The therapists in my world stop the buck cold when the traitor tries to shift blame. They are worth their weight in gold for that one chess move.

    If anyone here is new and is jumping for joy that your cheater wants to go to therapy with you, let my story be a cautionary tale.

    I BEGAN my relationship with therapy, with the intention being preventive maintenance/learning the skills. We both grew up with parents who had marriages that I did NOT want to re-enact. He went and sat with me on the couch FOR 27 YEARS. Went to AA meetings alongside me FOR 27 YEARS.

    For my 20th wedding anniversary, I found out he was having an affair with a Chinese national he had found on Craigslist. He told me he had always been attracted to Asian women but had never acted on it. I found out he was a frequent flier at illicit Asian massage parlors. I realized all those Asian dating and sex website emails in the inbox weren’t accidental spam as he said. My so called Nice Guy husband turned into a disgusting predatory women-are-objects stranger before my eyes. (I am Caucasian, blonde, blue-eyed. So there’s “my part” in it….)

    More cautionary tale? He moved out FEB 2018 to “work on his life” and starts seeing his own therapist (he asked me
    for a referral!) He then is almost completely MIA from our daughter’s
    life. In FEB 2019 I found out he’d been living not where he said but in an apartment with Craigslist. I found out he’d been hiding money from me for 20 years. My daughter caught him on Tinder (blonde Causasian women!!) while she was using his phone. The Craigslist cockroach caught him going to the illicit Asian massage parlors. All proof that cheating had ZERO to do with me or our marriage.

    Cheaters cheat because they want whatever thrill and payoff that cheating gives them. It’s that simple for me now. In order to cheat, they need a mark in the dark they can dupe. The cheater/parasite needs a mark/host that does many of the boring tasks of running an adult life. They need someone to run the lair while they conduct their seedy, creepy
    double-life.

    He’s still going to own therapist (one of the buck-stoppers…the therapist I referred him to and I do really like him) since he moved out. But therapists aren’t
    magic bullets and don’t have magic wands and can’t make someone tell the truth or follow their suggestions. My XH continues to try to shift blame and rewrite history. He reminds me of my daughter when she was about two. She had emptied her Easter basket all over the kitchen floor. I asked her to please pick it all up and told her we needed to stay in the kitchen until it was picked up. She refused and every time she tried to leave the kitchen I blocked the doorway and said we could leave when she picked up the Easter basket. I got a book and sat, reading on the floor blocking the doorway of the kitchen. She continued to try to leave the kitchen and every time I would say, “you can leave the kitchen when you clean up the Easter basket.” I sat in the doorway of the kitchen reading FOR AN HOUR before she cleaned it up.
    😩
    (She was often super responsive from then on; well worth my hour investment sitting in the kitchen doorway entertaining myself while she weighed her options. 😜)

    I think “toddler” is the developmental level where cheaters are. I now think going to therapy after infidelity is like getting out the fire extinguisher after the house has been burned down by the cheater.

    JUST LAST WEEK he was making attempts at blameshifting. Still trying to get out of the kitchen without cleaning up the Easter basket. Two years and eight months after DDay. I now think even going to therapy with the cheater is tacitly accepting a part in it…..

    Whatever his problems are that motivate whatever he does, they are DEEP and he is the owner of them, not me.

    If they were interested in and capable of personal growth and introspection and intimacy, they’d be talking to you instead of talking about you while screwing around with Mr. or Ms. Drug of Choice.

    • Developmental age = toddler.

      I’m a high school Guidance Counsellor. There are often times that I sit through teenagers irrationally blameshifting when they have done something wrong or minimizing their actions or claiming their devoted “love” in a relationship, and I’m struck by how much my ex acts like this. It’s as if somewhere in the development of his identity he got stuck in a certain year in his emotional maturity.

      I really think that he was playing at being an adult the whole time I knew him when really he is perpetually an 18-21 year old single guy who wants the relationships of that age – fun, flirty twu wuv. He likes to work to make money. He loves his kids and enjoys being with them. But, he doesn’t want any of it to be too hard. His tolerance for the complexity of adulting is finite, and he’ll always choose the path of least resistance.

      He complained that life with me was all about responsibilities and busyness. Yep, that’s life in your mid-40s when you have two kids (one with Autism), a sick mother that you care for, a house/mortgage that’s a fixer-upper, and a large extended family, plus I was supporting my ex when he decided to return to university for 3 years of full-time study (that’s when he started cheating). Familial responsibility…that was the purpose of the marriage when we made those vows at the Catholic church…to build a family and devote ourselves to one another in that purpose.

      He wanted more fun in his life, yet he was the bump on a log in our marriage. I was always getting us to travel, hosting bbqs and dinner parties, suggesting we go away for a night to take in a concert or ball game or show. In fact, one of my grievances in the marriage was his lack of initiative at getting us to do things (or get things done in general). So, it was ironic when he said that he liked being with the OW because she’s a good listener and likes to have fun, as if he was some party animal that I had chained up for years.

      To blame me for my ex’s cheating is so misguided. I couldn’t fulfill needs if I didn’t know there were any. I couldn’t be a good listener if he wasn’t willing to talk. I couldn’t be much fun if I was having to keep all the balls in the air in order to give him greater opportunity in his life. I couldn’t be sexy if he wasn’t having sex with me (and I was definitely the more passionate one in our relationship). There was a time when I would have given anything, and I gave up my self-esteem trying, to hear that man tell me he wanted me, that I was worth it, that he wanted to go out some night, to have him share something insightful about himself with me, to have lounged around drinking wine all night, to have gone on kooky dates. Basically, to do all the things that he was doing with another woman elsewhere.

      You know when it comes to needs and affairs, the affairs existed because he wasn’t willing to fulfill my needs. But when they have checked out, or were never really checked in, there is nothing to work with. I wish more people understood that.

      Velvet Hammer – You’re right that their problems are DEEP. When I pointed out to him that, for someone who claims to want to have more fun, I couldn’t recall him suggesting much fun in our relationship, his answer was that he just didn’t want to have fun with me, thus leading to the “I never really loved you” bomb drop. But this woman inspires him to be his “real” him. The real him?!? Would that be an asshole?

      • Option No More, There is no winning with the disordered. This was my marriage as well. X couldn’t find fun in 27+ years and we had everything. He was miserable by choice. I suspect it was because he was so busy juggling his House of Cards. You really can’t have a successful marriage when only one partner is honest, engaged, and doing the work.
        Oh, wanted to address CL’s comment about finding others attractive and fantasy in a healthy relationship. I believe it’s normal, unique to each individual, and a topic that healthy partners address. The fun thing about fantasy is that it is exactly that…not real. I think we can find others attractive in many ways (intellectually, physically, etc), and not have it detract from our partner or our commitment to them. Alas, my current mad crush on actor John Nettles (Midsomer Murders) won’t rate when M. Right does come along.

      • @OptionNoMore
        OH MY GOD! My life exactly!

        “He wanted more fun in his life, yet he was the bump on a log in our marriage. I was always getting us to travel, hosting bbqs and dinner parties, suggesting we go away for a night to take in a concert or ball game or show. In fact, one of my grievances in the marriage was his lack of initiative at getting us to do things (or get things done in general). So, it was ironic when he said that he liked being with the OW because she’s a good listener and likes to have fun, as if he was some party animal that I had chained up for years.”

        My husband is rather introvertic, withdrawn. It was always me who arranged things, who was organising parties, playdates, who was ititiating any trips etc. He was always serious and on weekend he would fall asleep in the middle of the day as an old man:) But I loved him anyway, I thought we were matching as “funny me-serious him”. When he tasted the interest of other woman (younger, childless, pretty and smiling in the office) – he lost like 20kg, he started to be active, he said he needed more freedom:) He started to organize some nights out with his team (her included OF COURSE) and so on…While I was at home, alone, with our two children…Well. I woke up finally. Now he can have fun till the end of his days. The problem is I don’t think he is like that. I’ve known him for 15 years and it is a guy who was always choosing his computer/sofa over party or sports…So how long can he pretend in front of young girls…? But as I said – it is his call now…

        “To blame me for my ex’s cheating is so misguided. I couldn’t fulfill needs if I didn’t know there were any. ”
        Right??? I thought we were fairly happy together. He never initiated a conversation stating he felt unhappy with me. Each night we were falling asleep hugging. We had great life – healthy us, healthy kids, holidays, money, careers, nice house, friends. I thought we were lucky. And after D-Day he only realized he was unhappy for years. BAM! He claimed I was shouting at him (I recall only regular marriage quarrels..). In my chumpiness I tried to work on myself and I was saying: “How could I have known about your unhappiness if you never said a word…?” Now I understand it was not me. I was trying to work on “not shouting at him” and I was talking to him like to a baby (can you see me walking on eggshells, right?) but when I dared to have a flashback and get carried away with emotions – he was starting to cry (!) saying that it was too much for him:) My Lord….Really – it is NOT us.

        ” I couldn’t be a good listener if he wasn’t willing to talk.”
        Yep. Same here. He claimed “ahe was listening to him and smiling to him”. If only he talked to me maybe I’d listen as well…Each time he was coming home from work (always late as he got high on corporate ladder) and I asked how the day was – he used to say “OK”. End of conversation. Sooo….

        ” I couldn’t be much fun if I was having to keep all the balls in the air in order to give him greater opportunity in his life.”
        Exactly. I am definately more fun than him. I like to laugh, dance, joke, play with kids. He is grumpy, serious, sad and nothing is spontaneous about him. But somebody had to look after kids and house (and work at the same time) while he was making his career. This is my “thank you” I got after almost 10 years of marriage.

        “I couldn’t be sexy if he wasn’t having sex with me (and I was definitely the more passionate one in our relationship).”
        Same. Tired sad sausage. Although we had some sex life. I didn’t complain.

        “There was a time when I would have given anything, and I gave up my self-esteem trying, to hear that man tell me he wanted me, that I was worth it, that he wanted to go out some night, to have him share something insightful about himself with me, to have lounged around drinking wine all night, to have gone on kooky dates. Basically, to do all the things that he was doing with another woman elsewhere.”
        Yes, we chumps all were there. Hoping we could be enough…For some time we were doing that – concerts, “new” sex (he became much more passionate and adventurous in this field), dates, nights out, behaving like we were at the beginning of the relationship again… But after some time I felt I was trying to prove something, prove I am as fun as she was, that I am enough…Deep down I felt it was like I have to SHOW HIM I fulfill his needs and he doesn’t have to look for fun elsewhere. Subconsciously I didn’t feel comfortable with this as it became CONDITIONAL – as long as I will be as fun as childless, young females I can hope for his fidelity. How sad!!!! Now I think it was not right. I was enough all over the way. He just didn’t appreciate me. It is his call. I am done. I like to party but there are months when all I want is Netflix at home, painting furniture, board games with kids and “boring” evenings with books and tea. That is me and I am enough. Just not for him. Not for NEW refreshed him.
        Goodbye and goodluck!

  • I was told on several occasions after discovery that I “checked out of the marriage years ago”. He just needed attention (and easy blowjobs) from his employees because it made him feel special.
    Luckily, I had already armed myself with CL playbook and was able to shut that down and be mighty!

  • My husband admitted to what he did, but his excuse was everyone does it , nothing to talk about , We could just continue on , Even though he kept seeing OW Still nothing wrong with what he was doing , If I wanted to keep what I have , My home my things , him paying for everything , I should just go along with it all , Because without him I have nothing according to him , Which maybe true , But once I divorce him I may be the one that has everything . He just thinks I won’t go that far Because there’s no good reason in his mind for me to divorce him Like he said Cheating everyone does it and they remain together so that’s what he thinks we will do too , But what he doesn’t know may hurt him soon.

    • Wow, he truly thinks he’s entitled doesn’t he. Well good for you get a good lawyer and one you get your ducks in a row, go for the jugular! Wishing you all the best. Hugs.

  • Please stop with the British sense of ethics and fair play.
    It didn’t bother them to subjugate and oppress other nations for centuries.
    I can cite the Black and Tans,murderous indisciplined demobilised world war one veterans who unleashed a reign of terror in another land.
    The people they subjugated in the name of Empire might have something to say about their sporting sense of fair play.

    • You best not mention one of those ( B & Ts) in a pub in Dublin Deedee! But yeah they were all rogues and probably had small dicks too!

  • When my ex had his folie a deux, in the aftermath when I was still with him, his mother sent me an text, “For God’s sake, let our son contact us.” when she hadn’t heard from him for a while. As if I had him locked in the basement, bereft of any means to contact them (he had been busy contacting the OW while his mother had been hospitalized a few months previous and was also sexting this woman another relative’s was dying). Mr. Nice Guy was noble enough to acknowledge that he was responsible for his decision to cheat, and didn’t blame me for his behavior.

    I thought about not responding to his mother’s BS, then I texted her one of the screenshots I had captured of Mr. Nice Guy and OW texts, respectively complaining about having to spend time with her children and his parents, instead of sharing their stereotypical BDSM fantasies. Perhaps some will say that I should rise above such petty behavior, but since his parents are all about denying and enabling their sons’ behavior (their other son is a cheater as well), I thought a nice piece of textual art was in order.

    • It’s not petty, it’s just removing yourself from his parental drama by telling the truth. If he’s going to try and use you as a scapegoat with his in-laws, you’re allowed to nope out of that.

    • Ha, it reminds me of my story…Two months before D-Day my husband’s brother (39yrs) was diagnosed with giloblastoma, stage IV:( I was holding my husband the whole night when he was crying after the news. Next day I called my friend whose father was chief neurosurgeon in the hospital to make the operation asap. It worked. I became member of FB Giloblastoma groups, I was contacting people about every opportunities, I soaked all the information…And while I was doing that for HIS brother – my lovely husband was playing around with his female colleague…Yes, really. Really really. I think I was more commited to historia family than he was…After D-Day I quit all the FB groups and dropped the subject of historia brother’s illness, he is on his own…
      Unfortunately I stayed chump for another year, addicted to hopium…But thanks to CL I am on rehab:) Filing soon

      • Free-Soon, I am sure you were more committed to his family. Cheaters don’t commit to anyone even there own families. I saw this first hand with my Cheater. They put on a good show with the crocodile tears and the caring grandparent at the funeral but truth be told, they can’t wait to get back to Schmoopie. It’s quite interesting all the similar characteristics these cheaters have. They are cut from the same cloth. Glad you’re in rehab. Hugs

        • Thank you Linda. I personally believe one’s happiness starts with being grateful for what he has and not looking for things he diesnt. Thus I was happy even though my husband had flaws (he had many!). But he was always unhappy. We came to the beautiful place like Virgin Islands (and we live in Poland, Europe) and I was all “wow wow wow” but he could find weak points. He never was amazed by anything in his life. Never. So if somebody supported me during my brother’s terminal illness like I supported him – I would be grateful. I would appreciate that commited person next to me. But he didnt.
          Now he is on his own. He chose that ..

  • If I had a nickel for every time Cheater #1 rewrote history with some stooopid comment like, “I was never happy” I’d be able to bail out the whole world’s pandemic economy. We’ve been divorced almost as long as we were married now (divorced 17 years, married for 20) and he still says this crazy stuff. Most recent is when we discussing logistics for teenage son and he somehow managed to turn the conversation to “I should have left the marriage long before I did when I realized it wasn’t that great.” WTF? You had someone to manage the bills, manage the household, tolerate your father’s and sister’s bad treatment of me, blah, blah, blah but you never were happy? Welp, you is never gonna be happy as evidenced by the revolving door of girlfriends and the fact that you live in a dumpy rental, drive a 15 year old used car, have filed for bankruptcy, have had five DUIs and went to county jail after the last one. Yep, your unhappiness and all of this *must* be my fault, though I’ve been long gone. Did I mention I left your cheating, useless ass, not the other way around?

    Frankly, my picker is obviously permanently broken because Cheater #2 spouted a lot of the same BS about how “I was so hard to live with”. Yeah, I guess. Same song, second verse: managed the bills, held a job I hated so he could start a business (and fuck the customers), did all the housework (definitely *not* our agreement when we married) put up with his harridan of a mother and nightmare of a teenage daughter, same old, blah, blah, blah. Now his business has imploded with the pandemic, his girlfriend has other boyfriends and he wants to reconcile. Yeah, that hated job with an income plus someone to take care of your BS looks pretty easy to live with right now. Um, no, that’s not going to happen.

    • Secret Sister Wife! I never get tired of hearing the spooky creepy same old cheater playbook BS cliches and tired phrases coming from someone else’s fake spouse.

      THANK! YOU! MOMMA!

    • Blondeness: When he said he should have left the marriage years ago I would have said, yes I wish you had, because being married to a cheater and liar is hell.

  • I wish I could express my total anger over this stuff coming even from therapists. Against my better judgment I tried marriage counseling and found out what a really unfeeling uncaring person I am married to. I had no idea he was so unhappy the whole 30 years of our marriage. He blamed me for him needing to seek out and hang out with 20 something year olds. Ultimately the counselor said he can’t change you need to let him be who he is. After he said I have blocked him from doing what he wants I walked out of the counseling and did not go back. Therapist privately suggested an open marriage. Never called him out of his discarding of me and blaming me for his unhappiness that I did not know about before. Wtf? Seeing a counselor on my own. He is the same. He said why don’t you just have an open marriage? He told me that most people only stay married as long as I have if they have open marriages. He even offered me websites to find young men. I’m not interested in that. I want a partner with someone who is a mature adult. Maybe I’m old fashioned but no thank you to this open marriage business! This forum is the only place I find that does not consider infidelity ok.

    • Wow – what has happened to our world. Since when do we all have to screw around and lie. I am now dating a guy who I really like and he is a chump too (but it was a short term relationship not a long term marriage- I know no pain Olympics but it is quite different)but he has this philosophy that relationships shouldn’t really involve compromise (I can’t really see how this will work so I guess we’ll see). Why does it seem everyone just wants to fulfill themselves? Or maybe I am just attracting the wrong type.

  • It seems to me that doing away with adultery did it.
    A societal change. Accordingly, the law has gone the way of no-fault divorce.
    There you have it. Adultery is no longer a thing.
    What’s that word even?
    Infidelity is the word now. Which would absolutely do. Yet, why doesn’t it have the same bad thing connotation? Clever, how a bad thing has been made to disappear.
    A society that considered adultery/infidelity a bad thing, by definition would put the blame on the adulterer/perpetrator of infidelity.

    • Precisely, Periwinkle.

      The example that CL has used in the past is that if one is mugged and robbed, people don’t ask you what you did to cause the robbery. Or if you are the victim of a spouse-beater, they don’t ask what you did to cause the beating (Though it is common for the beater to accuse the victim of “making them do it”.)

      On another note, the Bible does not tell a spouse not to enable adultery; rather, it addresses the adulterer’s behavior: Do not commit adultery. Same as any other sin: the decision not to steal, lie, covet, murder or any other is solely the responsibility of the sinner, not anyone else, especially the victim of the sin.

      • Her Blondeness,

        Yes, of course, it’s the behaviour that is the issue. Thanks for making the point.

  • I can relate! If u asked me a day before D-Day, I would answer I had a happy marriage, a great husband and pretty damn fantastic life. Ha-ha-ha. When the shit spilled out he was remorseful (later it turned out – false as he was still playing around with “love of his life”). But after some time he REALISED he was unhappy for years! Yes. Wow. He Just forgot to tell me😀 I didnt notice historia unhappiness when we had wonderful trips together, holidays, concerts, sex, family weekends, boardgame evenings and we were all the time falling asleep spoon hugging…I Just didnt connect the dots, my Lord😀
    Now I hear from him that I was shouting at home, making him unhappy. And despite my chumpiness analysing this information over and over again – I really cannot recall anything more than “ordinary” marriage quarrels about little things. So either he is lying or I have Alzheimer’s…
    But u know, I took the blame assuming he was depressed from pressure at work, sad about his brother’s terminal illness blah blah blah….
    But deep down I knew something was not right here….Thank you Chump Lady!

  • Cheaters are the sort of people who don’t usually deal well with adversity or challenges. They might not be good at completing a course of education, or holding down a job, or meeting unpleasant obligations. Frequently it is a loving parent or partner who supports them through that. Frequently, they lie and manipulate their partners, parents, boss, teacher, etc, to get through whatever obstacle it is. They are users.

    When their marriage becomes a hardship for them, for whatever reason, they don’t resolve it constructively. They don’t have any practice at doing that. Instead of putting in the work to overcome the issue, communicating openly with their partner, or ending things respectfully, they lie and manipulate to get around the issue with the greatest benefit to themselves. And they seek out the support of another uninvolved person.

    The state of the marriage is NOT RELATED to the cheater’s choice to solve their perceive dissatisfaction with the marriage by cheating. It’s just how that person resolves things in general – with cowardice, laziness, and lies.

    • OMG! This speaks to me so much. I’m going to print this out and put it where I can read this everyday. Big red flags I ignored..He changes jobs every two years or less…He was newly widowed to a woman old enough to be his mother… He never graduated high school, but did have certifications in his field. When I met him he was in a management position which he willingly gave up to move to my town and sponge off of me and work jobs he was overqualified for and required less work. He knew that I have a brain injured sibling that I was planning to deal with as my parents aged. We bought a house with a mother-in-law suite so that she would have a home. As soon as she moved here, he bailed. Things get hard, leave.

    • It is strong but my husband was on the same company for 15 years now. He is well educated, rather calm. So it is not a pattern

  • Blondness – A couple of years ago, when I was new here, I wrote about how much I was having to carry so many parts of our life only to have him accuse me of being controlling and “too much.”

    Back then someone responded to me that I didn’t need to remove jewels from my crown. What I needed was a man with bigger hands. And so now I pass on to you the same poem that she was referring to, which I printed and have posted on my bedroom mirror to see everyone morning.

    Dear Woman – Michael Reid

    https://www.google.com/search?q=dear+woman&rlz=1CAQIMT_enCA890&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=xfXhzSs8k1mdXM%253A%252CL0wOEV4CkhfsSM%252C_&vet=1&usg=AI4_-kSCNOLObGqRgBfZGMw1FyKwv3gvDA&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwju_e2oiMHpAhUFU98KHVmxADYQ9QEwAHoECAUQFQ#imgrc=Rz0SV6jPx_47WM

        • Ho do you find a man with bigger hands? You are working on being happy, being strong, being yourself, setting boundaries, being grateful for the life you got. Then you will be fuckwits-proof:) I believe right man will come one day and thanks to the fact I will have my boundaries right where they should be – he will respect and love me. And if I don’t find him – it’s a pity. But I will be happy anyway with my crown:) I think the key is to love yourself and be happy with yourself even when not paired with somebody else. Then the rest will come.
          But from my experience – I am not divorced yet but I am on this FB divorce group and so far I have met few so great people! For so many years I have lived thinking my husband was a treasure I somehow managed to get and now I see there are so many interesting, funny and decent people in the world! And some of them are men 😀
          Don’t give up but don’t put pressure on urself.
          Good things will come to good people. Finally.

  • No one really blames chumps. People do however blame chumps who CHOOSE to be chumps. The ones that don’t leave, the ones that keep forgiving, the ones who believe in unicorns, the doormats.

  • There’s a theory of aberrant, magical thinking in psyche used by jury consultants called the Safe World Effect. It goes something like this:

    “God’s in his heaven and good things happen to good people. I am a good person therefore only good things can happen to me. Ergo it follows that if something bad happens to someone, it means they are a bad person and God loves them less. So if something bad happens to you, especially if you are in marked ways similar to me and particularly if I feel subconsciously at high risk of suffering the same plight, I will knee-jerkedly distance myself from you by inventing reasons– even insane, inane reasons (“Tsk, you wear red on Sundays!”)– that this bad thing could only have happened to you and not me!”

    This is appatently why jury consultants for rape trials, for example, sometimes advise nixing prospective jurists who are too similar to the victim– because of the risk this member of the jury will side with the perp in a frantic effort to psychologically distance themselves from the victim and the victim’s fate.

    There’s an element of “staying on the winning side” like CL wrote. The eerie, predictable transition from blaming the victim to going into a kind of psychological boxer’s hug with the perp carries its own biblical punishments, one of which is acclimating to the company of perps and perpetrator mentality. You could imagine how people who reflexively do this end up increasing their own risks by putting themselves in thrall to the dark side.

    It could also partly explain why some cheaters cheat and some poach– to distance themselves from vulnerability to betrayal itself by punishing someone seemingly vulnerable.

    To quote Aristotle, “Luck is when the arrow hits the other man.” Some may go so far as to actually shoot the arrow into you as insurance it doesn’t hit them.

    Among the many never- dine studies I’d like to request from social scientists and academic psychologists is a study of whether victim blaming mentality can actually lead to victimizing.

    • I deny my own typos lol.

      “Appatently” — from Latin meaning patenting an app.

      “Never-dine studies”: Scientific hunger strike.

    • In psychology research, what you are describing is called the ‘Just World Hypothesis’. It is much more common among the rich and the powerful (and healthy). (One of my fave facts; people who INHERIT fortunes very often believe they are more deserving of those fortunes than ‘the average person’.)

      When someone who believes in the Just World Hypothesis experiences significant or multiple problems that are beyond their control, they often become depressed or anxious. Not surprising.

      And the research does show that victim blaming creates more victimizing, which creates more victim-blaming, …. It’s a classic vicious circle. So narcs and sociopaths and plain ol’ mean people, and people of weak character who are in an environment where victim-blaming is encouraged, tend to get worse over time.

  • Karen E– thanks for the response.

    It’s a really interesting and relevant discussion. I think my reference is dated. “Safe World” is mentioned in a chapter on domestic violence by husband-wife researchers Anne Flitcraft and Evan Stark in a 1987 book on posttraumatic therapy. The chapter deals with therapeutic mistreatment and misdiagnosis of victims of domestic abuse and the role of institutional victim blaming in trapping victims within dangerous circumstances.

    I don’t know why the authors don’t cite Lerner as the source of the theory. Maybe because the idea goes back to antiquity or there were some disagreements with Lerner? For one Lerner’s female co-author is often left out of references to “Just World.” Anyway, research politics aside, “Just World” makes it much easier to cross search the concept with terms like Calvinism, so thanks for that.

    It’s sickening that therapeutic Calvinism, victim blaming, “takes two to tango” (etc., etc.) concepts continue to be recycled generation after generation but it’s obviously a reflection of wider politics. “Manufacturing Consent” brings that point home quite well. All apply very neatly to the institutional and social treatment of chumps which suggests that plain old “abuse” is really the wider heading.

    I was interested to see that infidelity was included on a research list of forms of “IPV” (interpersonal violence). That makes sense. But those that make sense of the issue seem to always be in the minority in clinical research. Battered women are still therapeutically blamed to this day and can lose custody of their children for “allowing” the violence to happen or, you know, drawing it to themselves on their pathological Voodoo tractor beams.

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