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How Come No One But Chumps Seems to Get It?

Muffin topHi Chump Lady,

Could you please give some advice as to how I can stop obsessing about cheater apologists?

Absolutely nobody except those who have been cheated on seem to get it.

My own mother told me that she can’t judge all cheaters because she doesn’t know the circumstances — there could be gray areas. That prompted an incredibly long and painful discussion in order to get her to see my point of view towards cheaters and how we cut them too much slack.

My own therapist told me that cheaters are also in pain and cheating usually stems from childhood issues. Somehow that statement just reads to me as no consequences because the poor cheater is suffering.

Everybody knows mugging is wrong, and they don’t stay neutral regardless of the issues the mugger has.

When I mentioned how painful it was that many people have stayed neutral about my ex cheating on me and dumping me for a married coworker (and I thought we were in a very happy marriage, he never once voiced any concerns) — her answer was that they stay neutral because they don’t know the circumstances.

I always come back to the same point which is what circumstances exactly would justify taking a wrecking ball to two families with children? No counselling, no therapy no conversations just the discard because apparently he wasn’t happy!

This attitude eats me up alive and fills me with rage and I don’t know how to let it go.

I listened to another therapist on YouTube speak about the other woman and she said they are often filled with guilt and often the married man lied to them.

Once again I was left with extreme anger because I thought who cares if the married man lied to them? They knew the guy was married. We are not talking about teenagers here we are talking about grown adults with well-developed brains.

Why do people act like cheating is a victimless crime? And how can that attitude be changed? And how can I make peace with the fact that nobody besides CN seems to get it?

Thank you


Dear Fuming,

Don’t make peace with it — fight the narrative.

I think the most persuasive argument against cheater apologists is chump success. Thus the “gain a life” portion of the CN creed here.

When you look at two sets of people — the guy who swanned off for his co-worker versus the mighty single mother who remained and raised the kids — one person here is demonstrably a fuckwit. And it’s not the single mom. If you think a guy who cancels his subscription to adulting is the hero in this story, you’ve got a values problem.

But! But! Gray areas!

He wasn’t happy? There are ethical ways to address that — difficult conversations, therapists, divorce lawyers. Oh, and redefining happiness. (It may not be shiny like a new boat or a set of silicon boobs.)

I think when people argue “gray areas” they’re getting muddled on the God given right of us all to end relationships. You’ve been jilted, they think. It’s “just” rejection. We all face rejection. People have a right to end things and reject us. While that is uncomfortable, if they imagine this scenario, they imagine themselves in the power seat of being the Rejector and not the Rejectee. So, be a good sport, Chump. Leave the field. Stop crying. Shake your competitor’s hand and wish them well.

But being chumped isn’t about rejection — it’s about deception.

This wasn’t a fair ball game. The football was deflated. Someone hid the bases. The mob paid off referee. The whole shit show was rigged. And only THEN was your rejection revealed.

So if you have to convince people cheating is a bad thing (and somehow in this fucked up world we do), explain the defrauding part.

He wasn’t happy? He was quite happy to let me continue investing in our shared life together (and my paycheck, my childrearing, my three-cheese lasagne) while he had his affair.

He wasn’t happy? I got chumped. I’m not happy. Which married co-worker shall I fuck?

My own therapist told me that cheaters are also in pain and cheating usually stems from childhood issues.

Next time you’re at the therapist’s office, set her sofa on fire. Explain that you’re in pain and your arson stems from childhood issues.

When I mentioned how painful it was that many people have stayed neutral about my ex cheating on me and dumping me for a married coworker (and I thought we were in a very happy marriage, he never once voiced any concerns) — her answer was that they stay neutral because they don’t know the circumstances.

If the charred shell of your shrink’s former sofa upsets her, if she demands recompense or explanations — I THOUGHT YOU WERE FINE WITH THAT SOFA! You never voiced any concerns! — tell her you will have to remain neutral because we don’t know the circumstances. Maybe her advice really sucked.

I listened to another therapist on YouTube speak about the other woman and she said they are often filled with guilt and often the married man lied to them.

Don’t listen to YouTube videos about Other Women. It’s not your demographic. I don’t watch YouTube videos about Great Lakes freighters. I have zero interest in that topic. Please have zero interest in the “Do OW feel guilt?” show.

Affair partners do get lied to, of course. But they aren’t victims and those are false equivalencies. A co-conspirator in a crime who was double-crossed by a fellow robber is not the same as the mug who got tied up and pistol-whipped at the bank. Duh.

Why do people act like cheating is a victimless crime?

Many reasons. Lazy thinking. Your pain makes them uncomfortable. It hasn’t happened to them. It’s easier to imagine Star Crossed Love and attractive strangers than it is to imagine sexual humiliation and paternity tests.

Speak up, practice a few one-liners on your chump experience, “I didn’t like his girlfriend” — and then stop caring what fuckwits think. As evangelical movements go, it’s a long arc. Narratives don’t change overnight.

And how can that attitude be changed?

We’re doing it here at CN. Every. Single. Day. That needle has moved. Chumps are setting fires to shrink sofas! (I haven’t got actual numbers on that.) You can discuss it in the comments, but I have seen the change. Comments on Schmoopie Love stories in the popular press now routinely excoriate Twu Wuv. CN-isms like “pick me dance” have entered the lexicon. And times are changing. Ashley Madison hook-ups sound a lot more insane in an age of COVID.

Keep fighting the good fight, Fuming.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • When I was having my life blow up in my face during my divorce, I wondered where all the support for my pain was. If he would have died, instead of cheating and destroying our family, church members would have made dinners and brought them to my house, sat with me and cried Although he didn’t die, grieving such a loss is comparable. You go through the same steps of grief, just no one to share it with or that understands. In fact, people do the opposite and run the other way like you have leprosy. My favorite people these days are the friends that stuck with me or I met after the divorce. The ones I can share my pain with because they went through the same thing. The ones that accept the new man in my life, instead of comparing him to the old charming, but lethal cheater. This does not include my parents or some of my couple friends. I don’t discuss my pain with people who don’t understand and surely do not discuss my X with people that can’t accept the fact he is no longer in my life and I don’t know, don’t care, have no interest in what he is doing or screwing now.

    • You are right it is the same as a death. I think I over shared my feeling with anyone who would listen when my husband left me. I then felt rejected when I didn’t receive the response I expected. Friends who couldn’t accept my pain have disappeared from my life, friends who couldn’t accept my new partner without telling me they missed my cheating but charming ex husband have fallen by the wayside. Surround yourself with people who have sympathy and empathy even if they haven’t felt the same loss and betrayal. It can happen to anyone in any relationship and is never the chumps fault.

      • In my opinion, being betrayed , and being left for a cheating partner is much worse than a spouse dying on you – for all the reasons mentioned above and many many more.

        You still suffer an enormous loss and in addition ….
        -fewer resources in general, you may have to move because there’s no cheater insurance like there is life insurance, much less support, no closure as in the funeral, no hugs from all the people that knew him, you can’t mourn together with his family – you just get discarded by his family, loss of self-esteem and questioning everything you thought you had together, you have to think about explaining being abandoned to people, people you know may form incorrect opinions of you based on things that cheater says to justify his actions … there’s the cheating partner -and the thought of that person brings up a whole bunch of other feelings that you wouldn’t have if there was a death …

        The list is endless

        • This comes up every once in a while. A few of us here did both…we were chumped and widowed. I will tell you here that his betrayal hurt worse than his can feel vindicated in that.

          I also have a lot of widow friends …the ones who had good spouses will likely never find partners as good as the first one ever again. If you told them that your divorce was worse than their husbands death, they really wont understand and they will think you are an asshole, so please dont…there is nothing to be gained.

          I surprised myself.. by a change in my attitude…I really believed for a long time with everything in my being that him leaving for Susan of Seattle would be the worst possible thing. The day my daughter graduated from college, I realized that I genuinely wished he were sitting a few seats over kibitzing with Susan instead of being dead.

        • And you get to see their smiling pictures on Facebook; with their arms around their partner in deception. Or pictures of them with your kids, playing Disney dad or mom.

    • I disagree.
      If he DIED, then you would still have happy memories of him.
      But a cheater?
      You have to look back on all of your happy memories with the knowledge it was all a lie.

      • Then there are a few of us who got both…he lied, betrayed, hurt then died. I suffered the trauma of hearing him tell me I was never loved AND got to find his dead body on the floor AND I have no happy memories AND I cant speak ill of him to most people. I did get to rebuild my life.

        • How devastating for you, unbelievable- I am so sorry you had to go through that –

        • I’m sorry you went through this. My ex died in May, just 7 weeks after our divorce was final. It is a hard grief because of the hurt of the cheating.

        • Unicornnomore,
          I’m sorry. That’s a double whammy and sounds awful.

          I have been told by two friends whose husbands died that they think betrayal is worse. That was unsolicited.

          In your case, you got both. It’s so much sadness. And that you were the one to find him dead only adds to the trauma, I would think.

          I totally get that you can’t speak ill of him, which must be tough and incredibly isolating. I hope you have a good therapist and great friends who can hear ALL of your uncensored feelings.

          • Here’s another scenario:
            Your husband cheats on you and in the course of cheating on you decides, with the cheater partner, that he’s “really a woman inside.” He disavows his maleness, transforms himself into what he believes to be a woman, maybe refuses to allow anyone to ever say his “dead name” again, and begins to refer to himself as “mother” instead of “father” to your children and insist you and they do the same.
            You are now what those of us who have gone through it call “a trans widow,” because for all intents and purposes our husbands are dead–except they’re not dead, and we may have to see or deal with the ghost of the husband that was.

          • Me too- an older woman who lost her husband suddenly at my age said to me she’s lucky because she had fond memories and will always know he really loved her and the children.

      • Exactly I’m glad I’m finally divorced the cheating took place in my “MARITAL” bed it makes me want to vomit still 5 years later! I despise Narcissistic cheaters!????

  • I use that line when people ask “ I didn’t like his girlfriend”. I’m even able to laugh when I do it now. I think that’s mighty after the nuclear war I went through with that wackjob. I’m sure he’s similarly eating away at her life like the parasite that he is. If I’m feeling particularly nasty I sometimes say a parasite needs a host. They get it. It usually shuts people up. I’m good with that too.

    • I TOTALLY do this too. “Oh, we got along great, I just didn’t get along with her boyfriend” is my new go-to.

  • After I told my therapist about my fuckwitt’s 2 years of cheating and the details of the deception, and the conspiracy it took him and his fuckbuddy to keep stabbing me in the back, she read back my account and changed the names. She said what do you think of “Bob” and his wife “Jane”. I sat there in horror over what “Bob” was capable of doing to someone he claimed to love. That was all I needed to propel me forward. This therapist’s aim was my well being and it was about me as a person, not a wife. I lucked out in the therapy department.

    • Same here. Went to therapist to “prove” I was ok because of false accusations. Only guy on my insurance was a young guy. We both wondered if it would work. I’m in my 60s. Well, he worked wonders for me. Gave me a male perspective which was to be strong! Every time I started feeling sorry or got soft, he’d say, so you’re talking about someone who wants to destroy you, take your life’s savings, and kick you out of your house your late husband bought. … don’t you dare feel sorry for that type of person!

      • I also got lucky with my 3rd therapist. He was a younger man, but he had a dad that pretty much did the same to his mom. The first therapist told me that I should wear dresses, fix my hair, and put on makeup. The 2nd therapist keep up with ways to save my marriage. Thank goodness I wasn’t comfortable and kept on looking. Third time was a charm for me.

      • I still can’t get two therapists voices out of my head that asked me “what was your part in the failure of your marriage.” I blamed myself so I could feel control over the trauma and then my STBX loved that and used it to continue cheating and then therapists saying I failed too – it’s been so hard to not sink back into blaming myself for not being a more “loving” wife.

  • CL doesn’t say anything about your mother’s comment, but I will, because I heard similar things from my own mother. I think one reason we are chumps, why we spackle and smoke hopium, is that we’ve been trained by our FOOs to second guess ourselves, and that our parents have not had our backs. Maybe it’s time, next time your mother says something that undercuts you, is to tell her that what you need from her is support. You don’t need to be undercut, or to have her provide cover for others. That undermines you and minimizes your own situation. Your mother has shown you who she is, and you should act accordingly. She is not a safe person to share this part of your life with.

    • Absolutely this.

      Chumps aren’t born – they’re made.

      Part of gaining a life is often doing the emotional archaeology that got you into chumpdom in the first place.

      Who trained you to think this kind of relationship should be acceptable to you?

      • My mother trained me, that’s for sure. My father was a cheater with a long time cheater-partner, something I didn’t find out until I was in my 20s, and my mother stuck with him for 30 years. She stuck with him even though he was physically, sexually, and emotionally abusive to her and to my brother and me. She stuck with him even when I once, as a young teenage, rescued her from his physical abuse–he had her down on the kitchen floor choking her.

        Then, when I finally called it quits three years after trans-identifying cheater dropped his bombs, she said to me, “I thought you’d never leave him.” I thought, “Wow. Have a little faith in me, Mom,” but what I said was “And just who was it that taught me to endure abuse, Mom?”

        • I know this is years after the fact and splitting semantic hairs, but I think it is important.

          He wasn’t choking her, he was strangling her. Choking is internal – like when a pitch pit gets lodged and someone needs to get it out. Strangling is external and that was attempted murder.

          squeeze or constrict the neck of (a person or animal), especially so as to cause death.
          “the victim was strangled with a scarf”

          I am so sorry you and your brother endured any of that and so glad your legacy is to have broken the pattern.

          • Yes, yes, he was strangling her. I thought of it as choking at the time, and the incident presents for me as it did then, despite its being over 50 years ago. But you’re right.
            he was strangling her.

            • I never thought of that in such a way No Shit Cupcakes. My ex husband once strangled me until I almost blanked out in front of the kids. I never thought about it as attempted murder. I left him and he came crying back promising to go to therapy, and we did… Except that there was little to no remorse from him naturally, duh.

              I stayed with him because it was the first incident of physical abuse and there would only be one more instance five years afterwards. Lots of mental, verbal and of course emotional abuse later and I am so so proud to say that I’m finally divorced!! It was finalized last week hooray!!

              • (((ChumpedOut)))
                I am so proud of you!
                You are so Mighty!
                I wish you many years of tranquility and peace.
                You certainly deserve it!

        • Unfortunately many women of earlier generations were made to feel themselves a failure if their marriages didn’t work out. Shoot, for that matter (I’m 60), I felt a failure and that’s why I hung in there for an additional 4 years (30 total). My mother was also subjected to a controlling, abusive man for a husband. She married him at age 18, had her first child at 19, and then continued to have 10 more children (11 total). The last time my dad hit my mom was when I was 16 and we had to take her to the hospital. As blood was bleeding out of her scalp, she was saying, “No. I can’t go. How will I take care of the kids?” There were still 5 younger than me at home. The older ones physically removed her and all of us kids from the house. They helped her get settled out of state where it was too far for my dick-dad to abuse her. My point in this narrative is that though our mothers may have taught us to be chumps, it wasn’t often their choice. Sometimes they marry way too young and with no education and lots of children, they find themselves stuck. There were no abuse shelters when my mom was raising children and men pretty much could do what they want with their families. Though I put up with crap for 30 years, I’m very grateful that CL and CN is now available to chumps everywhere. It’s changing the whole cheating philosophy little by little. At least your mother said, “I thought you’d never leave him.” She recognized what she went through and she was happy for you that you got out and didn’t live her life.

          • Amazon,
            I love your story. It’s beautiful to think how you and your siblings showed your love for your mom and got her outta there.

        • I’d ask who taught a chump to be a caretaker, a giver and to provide unconditional love. In my case it was was BECAUSE my father was abusive and in that family dynamic one becomes a caretaker, one who rescues.

          And a mother who is at this level of abuse loses her identity, her needs are very small.

          I’d rather blame the abuser, not the abused. My mother told me the Limited was a GOOD guy after he cheated with a woman in my home. I believed it because compared to my normal he looked good.

          My mother had Stockholm syndrome and an amazing loving mother. I couldn’t save her.

          Now I model strength and intolerance to abuse to my daughters and granddaughters. This is generational in my opinion.

        • Gosh- that was my childhood too.. worst thing was after it all “ calmed down” my mother would make excuses for him / stressed – work etc…And utter the words “ But he has a heart of gold” – and I wonder why I count get to grips with throwing my serial cheater out?! One therapist explained it by saying – you have a high tolerance for abuse – what you accept as “ normal” is NOT. Took my a while for that to sink in – after years of brainwashing that no matter what an abuser did – it was Ok – and you still made them a cup of tea afterwards – because they didn’t really mean it…

          • “One therapist explained it by saying – you have a high tolerance for abuse – what you accept as “ normal” is NOT. ”

            That is the core reason why I stayed for 25 years in an emotionally and financially abusive relationship. My idea of what was within the normal parameters of a relationship was so warped I didn’t think I had it too bad. I thought I was involved with someone who had a hot temper, and didn’t know any coping mechanisms for controlling it. I knew his behavior was wrong, but I didn’t see it as truly abusive. I thought there was a good person deep down inside him. He suffered horrific abuse at the hands of his father. I thought he was just acting out because of his past abuse. It is still hard to think of him as actually being a bad person. I just have to trust that he sucks. I don’t need to untangle the skein to figure out why. I am sure he won’t change.

      • Lola–

        I agree with the value of doing the archeological emotional dig but possibly digging in a different direction. I think the key lies more in the methods used by abusers and also the culture that hems in victims in many ways.

        From my experience as a survivor of stalking and assault and the time I worked with an advocacy network for survivors of domestic violence, I question whether generalizations can be made about the childhoods or backgrounds of victims of domestic abuse that contribute to the risk of being abused or risk of being entrapped in an abusive situation.

        I first learned about the “psychological deficiency theory” of domestic abuse victims when I went through the criminal prosecution process against a violent stalker. Eight times out of ten, the medical specialists, social workers, cops, DAs, etc., that I encountered during this time would coldly ask me if I was “involved” with the perp. When I said no, it was a crazed coworker, they would warm up and start to confide their contempt for battered women.

        Apparently as a victim of quasi-stranger-danger, I was viewed as a notch above victims of abuse by intimates. I was supposed to be warmed by this comparison. I won the victim contest! But these attitudes pissed me off and shocked me. I thought it was an abuse of power since I depended on these people to support my case and get me through the process alive, yet many were trying to use me to bolster their smug views of other victims by feeding me “hubris fodder” (“At least you’re not like those women…” with their “low self esteem,” “zero self respect,” etc.). In order not to feel complicit in the trashing, I would ask wide-eyed questions like “What about Stockholm syndrome?” just to mess up the script.

        I was seeing a posttraumatic stress specialist on the faculty of a top 10 university at the time and asked “WTF is this?” He explained that the blaming of victims knows no bounds and he had even seen clinical blaming of child victims of sexual abuse. He talked about the old theories like psychological deficiency theory– the view that battered women typically came from abusive backgrounds, had psychological and self esteem issues prior to abuse that “attracted” them to abusers or blinded them to abusive traits or prevented them from escaping. My therapist explained that this was not only a simplistic view but also damaging to survivors and statistically unfounded. He warned that I’d encounter people, sometimes even “helping” professionals, who would assume wearing a short skirt or yoga pants or acting flirtatious could “cause” stalkers to stalk and rapists to rape. He said this was the “second injury” of abuse and often shamed victims out of seeking help.

        I know men can be battered and women can be batterers as well but, at the time, the dynamics I witnessed and the books I read focused on female victims and male perpetrators.

        My own research on the subject only underscored what my therapist had told me. Newer, statistically grounded research argues that there’s no statistical common denominator determining which women will be assaulted by partners, not by childhood experience, level of pre-assault self esteem, etc. But because most clinicians first encounter abused women after periods of abuse, researchers Anne Flitcraft and Evan Stark warn that therapists can be “seduced” into reversing contingency– making the assumption that the post-abuse chaotic, traumatized and confused states of victims were evidence of baseline personality disorders, not simply a result of trauma, gaslighting and violence as well as systematic mistreatment by the helping professions themselves.

        Of course that doesn’t mean that people who experienced harsh childhoods can’t be abused as adults, just that they’re not over-represented among adult intimate abuse victims.

        As I mentioned in another comment, one frequently cited researcher even proposed that, since batterers tend to operate on a “beat by need” basis (no point in beating someone down who’s already lying on the ground), it was actually women with higher than average pre-abuse self esteem who were at the greatest risk of being assaulted by partners. Another study found that women from harsher childhood backgrounds might sometimes be quicker to recognize and escape abuse. Poor women might have more difficulty gathering resources to escape abuse, though arguably richer perpetrators have more means to track down and control their victims. Wealthy victims may be less likely to be counted statistically if they seek help from private resources so the statistical rate difference between rich and poor victims may be moot.

        Basically the idea is that victims come from all walks but perpetrators, on the other hand, are very predictable. According to Canadian criminologist Donald Dutton, most batterers had experienced some sort of severe neglect, abuse or shaming in childhood at the hands of a role model or caretaker. Unlike the therapist seems to be doing in Fuming’s case, Dutton doesn’t argue that his research subjects– all of whom were in prison for assaulting or murdering partners– should be coddled or protected from consequences because of their sad pasts. Dutton reports that prison time coupled with anger management are evidently the only approach that seems to slightly reduce recidivism, which for domestic batterers is over 90%.

        Dutton mentions in one of his books that adult batterers tend to dissociate their own experiences of abuse or protect their own past abusers to the extent that they integrate the worst that had been done to them. They either don’t remember or they lie to cover up the abuse they experienced as children. By the same token, most also don’t remember details of the assaults they commit against partners and their children, something else that argues for dissociative mental states and depersonalization. Sad stories of course but… jail.

        The one place where abusers seem to vary is regarding their taste in prey. Some like to play rescuer to those who’ve already been wounded while others like bagging “big game.”

        One could speculate about the fact that so many are drawn to independent, healthy targets with high self esteem. Do some abusers subconsciously want to be caught and stopped? Do they go from partner to partner assuming it’s the job of the “right” partner to “inspire” the abuser to be their “best selves”? Do they like the challenge? Do they hope to be included in their targets’ healthy, strong family bonds, as if they could inherit a different childhood and a different character by adopting new and better parents?

        In any case, Dutton and other researchers argue that the reasons why victims don’t immediately escape abuse have more to do with the methods used by abusers to hobble and control their targets than with the victims’ preexisting self esteem issues. Even highly trained intelligence specialists with combat experience are only given small parcels of sensitive information since anyone can be broken down if captured and subjected to enough stress and fear. Dutton states that batterers use virtually identical methods of triggering captor bonding in victims when compared to professional “refined interrogation techniques” used against POWs and suspected enemies of the state. The East German Stasi barely employed violence in comparison with other totalitarian regimes, yet managed to break souls simply by threatening to take away children or through the use of other psychological methods.

        Personally I do think that having even one traumatic adult experience can warp the “picker” a bit which may be why roughly 50% of women who experience domestic violence from one partner may experience it again from a subsequent partner. There are always those abusers who wear the guise of “rescuer” that’s so much more “rescue-y” than the average, harmless person can muster. No one plays a better “ally” than an abuser wearing a guise. But perhaps some still like tigers for the trophy value, just ones with a slight limp.

        Frankly I think cheating is closely related to domestic violence. It’s a “mate retention” strategy after all, otherwise why wouldn’t cheaters simply request an open relationship? For fear their partner will leave before the cheater is ready to let them go. The patterns, motives and methods of psychological control are nearly indistinguishable.

        • Hell of a chump! You put so much into words, in a way that has not been written before. I sure hope you will write more, publish papers and books, if you aren’t already doing that. What you write is so illuminating for me as an older woman with a few degrees and a couple of bad maarriages and lots of Al-Anon 12 step work and lots of spiritual and psychological therapy thrown in over many years.
          “Personally I do think that having even one traumatic adult experience can warp the “picker” a bit which may be why roughly 50% of women who experience domestic violence from one partner may experience it again from a subsequent partner. There are always those abusers who wear the guise of “rescuer” that’s so much more “rescue-y” than the average, harmless person can muster. No one plays a better “ally” than an abuser wearing a guise. But perhaps some still like tigers for the trophy value, just ones with a slight limp.”
          This explains volumes in my own experience. From an early marriage to an alcoholic (of course I didn’t know that at 21) to a later marriage to the narcissist who I had known for years (but not the “real” package) – yeah I was a rescue case and he admired my family and my children, wanted to belong, and then to destroy it all.
          Please keep writing your long and extremely insightful comments.
          Thank you so much.

        • Thanks for writing this. Ever since I admitted how abusive my marriage was (10 years ago) I have been seeing myself as having some sort of self-esteem deficiency which led to my poor choice. And worrying a bit about how to prevent the same problem again. And at the same time, that narrative didn’t really make sense to me.

          If I think of my self as “big game” (from my EX’s point of view), a lot of our relationship dynamic makes sense. And when I think about his history, I realize, he probably shifted from going after the “wounded game” in his 20s and playing the rescuer to tracking the “big game” in his 30s. Following our divorce, I think he shifted again, based on what I know about his attempts to date. He began presenting himself as the “wounded game” in need of rescuing (and then if the crocodile tears drew anyone near, he’d have bitten their limbs off). The one thing that never changed–he was the predator.

      • Absolutely not victim blaming. Never have.

        I personally found my archaeology very revealing, and it also provided me with the keys to protecting myself better in future.

        Lots of Chumps spin their wheels and ask rhetorically ‘Why did I put up with it?’ I think it helps to ask it literally.

        • Chumpedchange, Eilonway and Lola–

          From following your comments and marveling at all the intricate insights, I think those exes were definitely hunting tigers whether slightly limping or not.

          Is it possibly that cheater rage is partly the festering existential crisis of formerly neglected toddlers… like “You were supposed to stop me from climbing on the roof or bashing my infant sibling on the head with a block or drinking dish soap, Mommy. Where were you??”

          We were taking care of kids, doing our jobs, attending to life and assuming we weren’t married to 200 LB two year olds, that’s what.

    • Hi, thx I wrote the letter and a big thank you to CL for publishing it.

      Perhaps I didn’t explain mom situation properly. My mother was very supportive of me and my particular situation.
      It was her statement that she can’t judge all cheaters because she doesn’t know the circumstances for other people. It was that statement that burned me because I know many people aren’t judging my ex because they think they don’t know all the circumstances.
      My mother feels my pain, but still thought that for other people there could be gray areas. Anyhow she now understands my thinking.
      But I know that many other people think like her.

      • Still Fuming,

        So glad your mother came around. I think the circumstances under which it would be acceptable to cheat are so rare that it’s an absurd exercise to make that case.

        Example 1: A battered woman living in a dictatorship– in which her abusive husband has political status and only husbands can initiate divorce– who escapes with her children over the mountains and starts a new life in a democracy.

        Example 2: I’m stumped.

    • So much this. I’ve always thought my mom was the most supportive and loving person. She can be but during this divorce she’s often told me to stop having a pity party, get over it, stop being selfish. I understand people get frustrated when it feels like someone isn’t recovering on their timetable but a bit more empathy is helpful. Then I question myself..why am I not over this? How is mourning the loss of my marriage and losing half the time with my baby selfish? I think this is a long road to recovery for me but no one seems to like that thought process.

      OP I get it. I feel enraged at the unfairness. This man completely destroyed what I thought was our happy life and people just accept his decision and narrative. Truly maddening and difficult to explain to others who haven’t been there.

      • My mother told me I had made my bed, now I had to lie in it. She had absolutely no sympathy — probably because she spent her entire adult life (age 18 to 78) with my cheating father. My father told me, “All men cheat. It’s no big deal.”

        So not only was I losing my husband and all of the people on HIS side I considered family, I lost my own family as well.

        It’s not selfish to mourn the loss of half your life and half of your time with your child. And it’s not selfish to heal on your own time. And you’re right — no one seems to like or understand the thought process. I’m grateful for Chump Nation. We get it.

    • Very true. If your own mother can’t get angry on your behalf (cheating would be a valid reason) what the hell? Even if someone is a psychotic narcissist that makes everyone is their sphere miserable, you tell them, I’m leaving you due to x, y, z. You don’t have a long term affair behind their backs and then discard. I think you should let your mother have it with both barrels….I don’t care how sweet or nice she is….your her goddamn daughter and she should have your back.

    • Thank you for saying this! I’ve come to realize there are MANY people in my life who aren’t safe to share with. So disappointing, but I’m glad to know. Now I just need to work on remembering to enforce my boundaries!

  • I am three years out from divorce. Infidelity often includes not only cheating but other despicable behavior like hiding money and in my case putting down our beloved family dog without telling anyone including his children. Anyone that can remain neutral to that behavior are not my people and were cut out of my life long ago. My circle is smaller now but my life has peace and so much joy which is priceless. Don’t try to understand people’s behavior as it will crush your joy. Trust me I’ve been there.

    • Ironbutterfly what is it with pets? The wackjob took one of our cats and didn’t tell me or my daughter. We searched for him for 3 days and then my daughter told him we thought a coyote got him. ( as happens where we live). That’s when he told her he took the cat. He also took the dog( it was his dog but was bonded to me) and gave him away( the dog was 11and that breed lives to 12). I would have kept the dog if I had known that. Side note: my daughter keeps me informed about the pooch he is now a very elderly 16 has no teeth and is blind but well taken care of and loved by a single man that is a friend of her dad’s.

      • Cruelty and control. I think it’s in the same book but not on the same page as family annihilations. They can’t just leave the home and pay child support and leave the pets with the spouse or kids. They have to fight over the spouse’s family heirlooms and pension. They have to have the pets put down, give them away or take them and neglect them. It’s sort of a symbolic killing of the life that was.

        • LAJ so true. He actually said to me “ I have to get rid of my old life to get a new one”. Oh really ? Including our kids and pet family? SMDH

      • Mine took my dog, this got ugly…he thought he had me to scared to fight….I asked to meet him at a park, asked him to bring my dog for me to see…when he arrived I had my side arm on (I have a legal carry) I took the leash and walked the dog to my car….then drove away. I never said a word, did not threaten him..just walked up and took my pup…who is had long before I’d met him.

        He actually did me a favor….that solidified any lingering doubts about him.. he told a mutual friend that he saw crazy in my eyes…. lol, no you saw me not taking any more of your narcissist bull shit!!!!.

        I took back his truck, cut off his cell phone and stopped the credit card….had he not tried to hurt me by taking my dog…I’m not sure I’d of had the fire to stop him from affecting me more. Still a ton of financial obligations but it’s what it is..

        Of course he told the sad, poor me story….but I gave no fuck. 4 years and I’m just happy to be here on my own..

        • Hey, if someone came in and took my cats, they would for sure see some crazy in my eyes.

          • What kind of dirt bag takes a dog you had before the relationship???

    • Mine also hid financial abuse. Refinanced our home multiple times without me knowing. I always tell people about that as well as the cheating because that seems to be something they understand. When I say “$80,000 is missing” something clicks for them. Then they can imagine themselves as the deceived party. When they ask what he spent it on, I now just laugh, shrug, and say “I don’t know, cocaine and bitches is my best guess” or in more polite company “life’s expensive when you’re dating half the town”.

      • I laughed at your response, we must be a lot alike. We had a appraisal done on our house for the divorce. The appraiser tells me she did a through appraisal and that my soon to be ex told her he worked all time and going through a divorce was hard. My response was “he was working his dick on a girlfriend because there is no money from actual work. She laughed so hard !

      • Same here. Except that he also scheduled a closing on a refi when I could not be available and I stupidly gave him a power of attorney which he used to take my name off the deed to our house. Asshole.

  • Women, the deluded ones like to think the chumps are to blame for being cheated on. Ow more interesting, slimmer, better at sex, no they fake it better, telling men take they are good at sex, men the stupid ones believe it.
    My neighbour told a friend I overheard my ex should be with her because I was fat!. she said I don’t have sex with my then partner, how would she know that.
    I developed a series illness lost 6 stone she wasn’t happy.
    Life is full of flying monkeys.
    She looked pissed off when daughter is supposed to get good grades in exams. Which sane person would look pissed off at a teenager who should get good grades. She pretends to be a friend. She can fuck off.
    Unfortunately she is my neighbour, I have heart failure, told her and she laughed.
    That is how shit some people are.
    That is the last time I will tell her anything.
    She can fuck off with the rest of the flying monkeys
    She told me
    that was probably were I went wrong

  • I used a similar comment to I didn’t like his girlfriend. Mine was – you’re not supposed to have a wife and a girlfriend at the same time. It made my point succinctly.

    • I tell people “he didn’t tell me he decided we were in an open marriage.” It covers the cheating, the deception and the unilateral selfish decision-making, which I think is important.

    • I say, “We had a difference of opinion. He wanted a skank in his life. I didn’t. So I had to divorce him.” For the most part, it shuts people up. The last time I said that, the man was extremely sympathetic, told me how sorry he was for me, and then told me to read Psalm 91 in its entirety. He said that God will take care of me. He was older and probably wiser than a lot of other people out there. I thanked him and did exactly that, I read Psalm 91. There are good, wise people out there. It’s up to us to enlighten the ones that aren’t so wise.

  • Amen! Fight the good fight and change the narrative????❤️. In the beginning, you are fuming and will be very passionate and probably very emotional (rightfully so) when you engage in these narrative changing discussions. Slowly, your fuming rage will shift and when these difficult discussions arise your body language, facial expressions, voice cues and verbiage will turn into those from a very articulated, intellectual, passionate and wise chump. One who can talk the talk and walk the walk….one who will change the narrative of the small minds you are surrounded with right now. For those who you encounter and can’t change their mind immediately, you will find the strength to set healthy boundaries. Be prepared to give them time, at some point they will either come around due to their own chump experience or enlightenment and finally understand or they will forever be an acquaintance….either way, they will know where you stand????❤️

    • I just decided on a new one “ he’s disordered and decided we were in an open marriage. I guess he forgot to tell me”.

    • My go to is “I thought everything was fine until I got the letter from his girlfriend’s husband”.

  • The game is rigged. Very few people understand the breadth and depth of the disordered mind and those layers of deviance are incomprehensible to those harmed aren’t they?

  • I felt extremely alone and isolated after DDay #2. No one knew about DDay #1. My own family told me to maybe “give her another chance”. My STBXW said things like “maybe we can see each other once or twice a week and go on dates with each other”. People around me were like “that’s nice, maybe the two of you start slow”. WTF does that even mean??? We did start slow, it’s called dating and spending 9 years together before we tied the knot. She started her affair a year after our honeymoon!! They didn’t see what was going on like I did, they didn’t see that it was stringing me along like she I after DDay #1 and how she took the affair underground for almost another year before DDay #2. I’m 10 months out from DDay #2, we’ve lived apart since then and the divorce has been filed with the court. She essentially ghosted me after I wouldn’t play the pick-me-dance this time around. She even told me that she was shocked by my reaction this time, she doesn’t even know who I am. Yes, this time I did not cry and beg for you to love me and pick me. This time I stood up for myself when you texted me your confession after 2 straight weeks of lying after DDay #2.
    Unfortunately, the only true and ongoing support I have had has been this group. People who truly understand what you’ve been thru and are still going thru. Now when people ask how I’m doing, I just say “fine”. It hurt too much to see their frustration when many months after the break up, I was still having horrible days or when they would say “you just need to move on”.
    I’ve only started to heal once I stopped talking about what happened to me. It’s sad, but it did help. When I need support, I read and respond to CL’s posts and I talk to my therapist. To everyone else, “I’m fine”.

    • 9 months out for me and I am definitely not fine. Like not at all. But like you I have to pretend that I am because most people believe this is something you can quickly bounce back from. Hang in there.

    • You were abused in a terrible way. The ones who live a double life when they should be in the honeymoon stage of marriage are particularly f*cked up.

      Your post is really important for a couple of reasons. Don’t keep infidelity secret. Chumps should tell family and close friends when DDay #1 happens. They can find out right away if they have a support system or not. In your case, your family was a DDay behind you. That’s not to say they would have been more helpful or supportive, just that you would know what you’re dealing with in terms of the family reaction so you could decide how to manage your situation.

      But you hit on an important truth: You “only started to heal once I stopped talking about what happened to me.” At some point, talking to friends and relatives (or in some cases, the adult kids) about “what happened to [you]” just keeps you stuck. No one has an answer or solution for private grief. That’s why grief support groups are useful and why this board is important. It’s a safe space to process your deep feelings. The act of writing out what you think and feel in response to others going through the same thing was so transformative. At some point, I notice I didn’t have to tell my story over and over again (early posts here always started with “what happened to me.”) Eventually, I got more interested in the things I could change in me, how learning about these character-disordered people made me a better judge of character. About how to make the walls in my house sing, to hark back to yesterday’s CL post.

      How my friends and family helped me the most was NOT talking about it but rather doing things with me. That’s what I remember. I needed to tell the story over and over. I just did. But once I stopped expecting others to hear it (again), I was able to stop reliving the trauma and process it here and in therapy.

    • Amen brother!! Nobody wants to hear anything except “fine”. When I meet someone new, it is none of their business why I am divorced. If they want to become a friend, maybe I will share, maybe not. I try to not give headspace to the cheating or past marriage except on this website. I’m fortunate in that I never had to deal with X once it ended.
      If a chump has one trusted friend/relative who is empathetic at the time of divorce, that could be enough. Not a therapist who is getting paid, but someone who truly cares. No one in my world except for 2 female relatives cared about what happened with X. I knew better than to talk about it with others. People are very uncomfortable when they encounter chumps, so…do not try to be friends with The Swiss.
      I don’t hang out with anyone who is not militant against cheating. Wishy-washy people are not a part of my new life.

      • Dearest Chumpalou, What a champion of chumps you are! There is so much more collateral damage in adultery it’s beyond explanation but would be such a Godsend if friends or family would listen and validate the chump. I have so much respect for your ability to no hang out with wishy-washy people. I am working on coming back to my old self and I hope to be like you, have your attitude and confidence. You did me good today!

        • AuntBea619: thank you very much! I used to put up with “friends” who were not dependable. I’m finding as I age, others don’t argue or mess with me. It took me a year to heal after X left, no formal therapy…I had been down that road during his first cheat. Rather, I simply immersed myself in the Word of God daily and let Him do an intense work in me. Now I am free, peaceful and content.
          I have a couple of trusted friends and my kids are cool.
          It takes a while to gain a life. However, we should not stay stuck after years. Untangling, anxiety, fear of what others think, fear of the ex…all that stuff should evaporate as we experience the good life free from a cheating spouse. You’re gonna be just fine 🙂

    • Justin,

      The pretending to be fine is so draining. I remember doing it, for a lot longer than people were comfortable. Hold tight, CN is a great and supportive place. I was doing my counseling internship as my life was blowing up. One of my first clients as an intern was processing that he was marrying a woman who he didn’t love and was vocal about his need to have affairs. I remember sitting there thinking “you piece of crap”. It was eye opening to see just how disordered a person can be. Now, I am sent clients after divorce. I refer many to Chumplady. I refer to affairs as abuse and work with clients to value themselves and push back on the narrative that “they owned half the marriage”. Five years makes a huge difference. Big hugs.

      • I would recommend not pretending.

        Rather, I would say, “I don’t want to talk with you about my situation.” And when they recoil and probe at that, “I said ‘I don’t want to talk with you about my situation’.” Then change the subject.

        Don’t pretend. You can always do the same thing but less confrontationally: “I can’t talk about my personal life here” (if at work) or “Thanks for asking. I’m going through a tough time but I’ll be OK.”

  • My first husband was the organist in his church. He fucked the choir director, a couple of sopranos and the nun who led our pre-Cana classes. I pick-me danced for nearly a year after catching him in bed with the Alice and Dairyland first runner up. During that time, though, I religiously swallowed my oral contraceptive. I didn’t want to find myself pregnant at 24 if I were going to have to divorce him. It turns out he continued to cheat, and I did leave him.

    In 1999, I was preparing to wed the latest cheater, and he wanted to be married in the Catholic church, so I found myself a tribunal advocate at our parish and set about annulling my prior marriage. The tribunal would not grant me an annulment because he cheated with fellow parishioners, nuns, total strangers, co-workers and my sister. They wouldn’t allow an annulment based on the fact that he refused to deposit his paychecks in the joint accounts, didn’t contribute to living expenses and spent the rent money *I* put in our joint checking account on affairs, jewelry for other women and toys for himself. I finally got my annulment . . . the grounds were that I had declined to breed with the cheating fuckwit. That, apparently, was a far greater sin than pathological lying, cheating, financial abuse or just generally failing to adult. The tribunal advocate, who was supposed to be on MY side, described that first cheater as “a little mischievious” and said that “nothing in your description explained why you couldn’t fix your marriage.”

    People are finally starting to get that cheating is wrong — possibly more wrong that declining to breed with a cheater. Thank GOD!

    • Wow! I guess cheating being in the top ten isn’t sufficient for an annulment. No where in those commandments does it say thou shall breed. Sorry for that level of crazy! Hugs

    • I’m glad you got your annulment, but I’m sorry it was at your expense. Something was wrong with your tribunal. And I’m curious to know how long ago that was. The narrative may have changed since then. I filed for my annulment a little over two years ago. I filed under grounds of adultery. The tribunal came back and changed the grounds to “No intention on the part of (the dick) for sexual fidelity.” Apparently, adultery is not grounds for annulment. I’m assuming it’s because (the dick) could have been remorseful and have changed and then I would have to forgive him and continue the marriage. In my case, I didn’t have a unicorn. I had a dick for a husband. But once they changed the grounds for annulment to ‘no intent of sexual fidelity’, and the many testimonials also showed that he was rather promiscuous throughout our marriage, the church had no problem granting my annulment within a year. Just like with CL, the cheating narrative is changing; subsequently, grounds for annulment is changing.

      • That was in 1999.

        I have come to believe that the Catholic Church is pretty misogynistic. When my second husband was bashing me into walls, throwing me down stairs and threatening to “Go fuck something,” Father Steve told me it was my duty to figure out what I was doing to make him so angry that he had to be so violent. When I expressed my concerns that Cheating Abuser was quite possibly attracted to his best friend, father Steve said that wouldn’t be cheating because it wasn’t sex. It wasn’t sex because there was no possibility of procreation. (So you mean my surgery for cervical cancer means that he’s not actually having sex with me, either? Crickets.) Later, I found out that Father Steve was the one he was fucking. Father Thomas said I needed to forgive him and Father Steve because marriage is a sacrament and it is my duty to make it work — even when he is bashing me into walls, throwing me down stairs and fucking the parish priest. Of course, that was in 1986, so things may have changed somewhat.

        I don’t go to church much anymore. Perhaps when my Tuesday has arrived and my boundaries are solid. I don’t think I’m strong enough yet to be told that the cheating and abuse were my fault from yet another pastor.

        • To be clear, Meh arrived for Cheater #1 and Cheating abuser #2 decades ago. It’s Cheating Abusive Douche whom I left 2-1/2 years ago I’m still having difficulties arriving at “meh” for.

    • When will these cheater apologists realise that you can’t fix your marriage when your other half is actively sabotaging it?

    • “… the choir director, a couple of sopranos and the nun who led our pre-Cana classes.”

      Please write a book.

  • For 40 years there’s been an empathy deficit, in the US at least. The shadow side of a culture based on competition and consumption is “I got mine, so screw you.” IMO that’s a component in the historical response to cheating (cheaters get a pass if they’re beautiful, or rich, or famous, or persuade people it was Twu Wuv, because that makes them “winners”). I’m hopeful that recent events show people are increasingly fed up with this framework, and change might be possible. Perhaps we can replace #winning with #empathy or #justice.

    • I agree. It’s rampant. People who aren’t directly affected by a situation simply don’t care about it, especially if it might somehow impinge on their selfish desires. I see this going on in several of the difficult situations that we are facing in our world right now. I see it even within my own family (not with cheating but with other global events). I wonder when people will get sick of “winning.” It doesn’t seem to me that are many people who are “winning” anything.

      • Agreed. If we believe cheating and stealing family money are abuses, and we expect other people to see that, then we can’t close our eyes to how other people not in our social or racial or ethnic group are being abused.

    • Yes looking at the USA from Australia we as a nation are perplexed by the cult of the individual you have embedded in your culture. From gun laws to health care there’s a selfish ‘my freedom to do what I like trumps your safety’. Maybe that’s why I’ve never experienced anything but sympathy & kindness for how I was abused by my Fuckwit. Even from my in-laws.

  • This is so brilliant, we are so grateful to you CL. If it wasn’t for you the narrative might never have stood a chance of changing. This afternoon I am to have my first session with a new therapist. The previous one said she had some cheaters in therapy and they were “really nice people”. She didn’t like it if I used the word “deceit” and wanted me to talk instead about him “protecting himself.” Fuck that shit! Im not paying to listen to that. I now do all I can to change the narrative, cheating is never acceptable. Period.

    • “Really nice people” don’t do this shit! Good for you for pushing back on a cheater apologist and standing up for your values with strong boundaries. I feel like this might be a lonely road to travel, but at the end of the day, we have to be true to ourselves and honor our values.

      • Agree 100%. And that won’t change unless all of us who see it challenge that narrative, too.

      • “Very fine people on both sides.” ????

        Where have I heard that before?

    • Years ago, with three young children and before his affair, my ex and I went to counseling. At that time the topic was lying, i.e. my ex would talk to his clients as if he rowed varsity crew for four years when in fact he rowed one semester before the lightweight program was cut. (Exaggeration, hyperbole, but it’s okay because he’s charming!) The therapist let my ex merrily lead us down the rabbit hole of “everybody lies at one time or another” so why do I have a problem with this. It was my first time in therapy and I was too young and postpartum to call the therapist out. Huge mistake. Lying is lying is lying. And most importantly there are bad therapists out there.

      • I say the first session should be an interview with the chump asking the questions.

  • I’m out 7 years and still have questions, even though I would say I am “thriving” But i think the narrative is slowly changing (Thank you TRacy!) I juts finished this book that was written 2019 “Cheating in a Nurshell” and how it affects the victim. It is very validating and next to LACGAL – the best thing I’ve read, and I read a heck of a lot.

    • Second this book. Really helped me reframe the “it takes two” and “own your part” garbage I heard in couples therapy. Highly recommend and thank you to the person(s) here who suggested it.

    • I downloaded “Cheaters in a Nutshell” this morning and can’t put it down. Already journalling their advice. Thank you chumpedchange for the suggestion.

      • Another thumbs up for “Cheating in a Nutshell”. I thought the explanation of the stages you go through was a great road map to “Meh”

  • It’s like the cartoon where a guy has been beaten up and is lying crumpled in the gutter. Up walks a priest and a social worker. The one says to the other “Whoever did this needs help”.

    Good Samaritan ass-backwards.

  • LYING by Jonathan Wallace. I think I found it on this blog several years ago. I have it saved.
    I was asking a friend how she could “friend” my brother’s cheating ex and the response silenced me. Her answer is that she wasn’t involved in all that. Huh? That makes it ok? That makes the explosion that took place in the family, that battered little children’s hearts not a concern? I dunno. I guess it is considered no one’s business.

      Let’s just stay out of it
      That’s not our life
      I don’t know what really went on
      It’s just easier for everyone to not take a stand, to not have an opinion to not get involved -just like they used to about other types of abuse in the past
      – nobody except for chumps think of cheating as any type of abuse
      they just don’t know the damage it causes

  • When people who don’t know we are not together ask how fuckwit is. I tell them. I say in the spirit of the “Me Too” movement they would have to ask fuckwit’s girlfriend and that he had a secret life filled with affairs and financial infidelity. I’m not taking the wrap for the shame and dirt he has brought into his family’s life. I will tell you my truth.

    They usually look shocked, then I cheerfully change the subject.After 30+ years of marriage and lies it’s hard to let go of the grief. I’m doing all of the right things but there is still a deep sadness that wells up sometimes for a moment and sometimes for days. It’s been bad this week for some reason. I keep saying to myself “Why did this happen to me and my family? and “I did nothing wrong”

    I wish I could make this small but it looms large in my life.

    • I’m so sorry you’re having a bad week, Spoonriver. It’s hard to come to terms with being lied to for years, like we were. It’s probably not just hundreds but thousands of lies, when it goes on for decades, right?

      I’ll throw this out there in case it might help: I read somewhere that a good reply when you ask yourself “why me?” is “why not me?”

      Bad things happen to good people all the time. Why am I not a refugee, living in a tent somewhere? Why don’t I have a severe, chronically painful condition? Other people have those problems, why not me?

      I feel the grief well up at times too. But after reading that advice, I don’t ask “why me” anymore about anything that happens to me. Sending you hugs. (((Spoonriver)))

  • I have used the explanation “His girlfriend didn’t like that he had a wife” 🙂 I am very blessed to have a great support system and am very lucky in that area. My STBX still has not admitted to the affair – even though it had been going on over a year during our marriage and they moved in together almost immediately when I left. They have now been living together for over 4 months. I have evidence of the affair which I have not used publicly. He is trying to protect his position in the community as a “great guy”. I still have anger with the (now ex) friends who buy all his lies and defend him. Some buy his story completely that they are “just really good friends” – I can’t believe that anyone is this gullible. Some believe that he did cheat but buy into his smear campaign against me and feel that I deserved it. These people also spread his smear campaign lies – this was incredibly hurtful. And some play the “I want to be neutral” card. I try to feel meh about these people – but I am not there yet. Its still getting to me.

  • Why does success define the value of a person betrayed, backstabbed, played, financially destroyed?

    What if one is not able to recover after divorce?

    • This is the reality for betrayed spouses. They’re left holding the shit sandwich while the cheater goes off chasing unicorn farts and rainbows with zero consequences. And it’s absolutely infuriating when therapists and others call adultery a “mistake.”

  • (music by Bruce Springsteen, lyrics by Chumped Victims of RIC Therapists)

    Hey, therapist, what’s your hourly fee?
    Will you take my dough and say the problem’s me?
    Hmmm, my situation’s dire
    Oh, oh, oh, couch on fire

    Tell me, therapist, do you walk the fence?
    And do you think neutrality is common sense?
    Uh huh, it’s what I require:
    Oh, oh, oh, couch on fire

    Sometimes I think you will understand, really get what I mean
    Only to be directed to the R-I-C machine
    Sometimes I pretend I’ll expose your m.o.
    Then I’ll sing while drivin’ down to Cabo Mexico
    Oh yeah, and then I’ll retire
    Oh, oh, oh, couch on fire

  • People don’t get it as they think it won’t happen to them .

    Everyone thinks there was problems in the marriage , continuous arguments , dead bed room etc .

    No one understands these things aren’t true .
    As far as I was aware I the same as Fuming thought I had a great marriage , no arguments and no dead bed room .

    People always think what the Chump did for the cheater to run to the arms of another . The Chump is clueless so how could we make them run to another ?

    Not happy / haven’t been happy in years . Well they are either narcissistic liars or Oscar worthy actors . I’ve yet to meet a mind reader or someone happy every day of every year so again how are we to know ?
    It’s funny how the unhappiness only occurs when they’ve got a soft place to land .

    I’m forever grateful for this site and CL and every chump for the help and support

    • Karenb,

      Yes to all that!! They are narcissistic liars.

      My ex (as of yesterday he’s not my STBX anymore!), even wrote to me that “you have to admit that neither of us will ever have better sex than we had with each other.” He added that he wondered if we “could get back together in, say, 3 years,” which is all sorts of effed up. I realize that.

      Still, I know the wagging tongues must assume that we had a dead bedroom, that somehow I “asked for it” or that he “just fell in love.” I have to NOT CARE about these people. I can’t control what they think.

      It’s tougher with close friends. One of our close couple friends (the male of that duo–no surprise there) actually shrugged when he heard of the affair and said, “This just happens.”

      NO, affairs don’t just happen. I mean, people fall out of love. I get that. What’s problematic is the order of things. If you’re unhappy in your marriage or just want to fuck around, then tell your wife that you want marriage counseling and/or ask for a divorce before fucking someone else and spare your spouse the betrayal!!! It’s the betrayal and the lies, dammit.

      Of course, as with just about everyone in CN, I had no clue my ex had fallen out of love with me because he never shared that he was unhappy. He just told thousands of lies and spent marital assets to carry on a 2 1/2 affair with a much-younger woman.

      I guess people will assume all sorts of things. I can’t control that and am getting to the point that I don’t care. I only surround myself with people who aren’t ambiguous about the fact that cheating is abuse, who provide much-needed emotional scaffolding, and who regard my cheater ex as an entitled, crappy person of low character. If they, too, trust that he sucks, then we’re friends.

      I guess the silver lining of this gutting experience is that you learn who your true friends are.

  • It saddens me when Christians do not step up in empathy for betrayed spouses. My own church was guilty of this. There is a lot of spackling going on in churches. This is not the will of God.
    “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder” applies to cheaters more than divorce lawyers. The cheaters defiled the marriage; the lawyer is just doing the paperwork. An AP who knowingly sleeps with a married partner is committing adultery.

    In my case, I got much more support from my knitting and spinning group than I did from my church.

    • And Nanthony stated she was a Christian woman. She hung her rosary beads from a married mans rear view mirror.

  • A lot of people in modern society lack empathy and they avoid other people’s pain because they don’t want to get to close to those kinds of emotions- it’s a “bummer” to them and they don’t want to come down. The world is full of self centered virtue signaling attention seekers that are likely on the verge of committing their own adultery- so why would they have empathy for your situation.

    I also think cheaters are better at image management and weaving a web of lies to scam people than chumps are at defending themselves. I’m in awe of the amount of so called religious women who are giving cheater ex-wife plenty of “thumbs up” and “hearts” on her facebook page on a regular basis.

    • Cheaters have to better at image management as well as FOG-style social tactics tactics just like child molesters tend to gravitate to trusted positions of authority over children and helping professions.

  • I was lucky to have a superb support system and my family was behind me 100%. I had a 15-year-old niece who offered to come beat up CheaterX. My sister told me that when she tried to explain to her 9-year-old daughter that Aunt kb and Uncle CheaterX were divorcing, she said that Uncle CheaterX was not in his right mind and had a girlfriend. The child was incensed and said, “well, she should divorce him!” Kids do get it.

    However, I had two responses that weren’t 100% supportive. One was from a neighbor. They lived next door to CheaterX and me. I told them, the day before I moved, that I had divorced CheaterX for being unfaithful and was moving out. They hemmed and hawed about how two people can grow apart. I did say something to the effect that it would have been nice if he’d clued me in on that. But I also realized that I was moving while they were stuck living next door. So I shrugged this one off. About a month later, while I was shopping in a furniture store managed by the neighbor, he came up, hugged me, and told me he was sooooo sorry. I think he finally saw how awful Schmoopie was. Plus, apparently she started being pretty blatant about cheating on CheaterX.

    The other was from a casual friend who’d come to this country after being raised in an Asian country. It turned out that her parents were divorced because her father was a cheater. She didn’t think that cheating was a reason for us to move out. It turned out that her parents, while divorced, lived in the same apartment until they died. Her father was always bringing home his current Schmoopies. I thought this was terrible, and really, it was. However, I looked at where she was raised and realized that cultural differences along with a real housing shortage meant that her mother ate the shit sandwich to have the daughters grow up in a better place. Still, I am glad that this person lives quite a way off and we were never more than casual friends to begin with.

    What will be interesting is what will happen when one of my friends here realizes that her partner is facebook friends with Schmoopie’s current husband (#4 for those who are counting).

    With respect to the APs, most realize that their lovers are married, even if the cheater has spun some sort of sad narrative about how the faithful spouse doesn’t understand them, deprives them of sex, etc. However, I have known a man who discovered that his girlfriend of over a year was not only married, but had a daughter that was almost a teenager. They’d been dating, but never on a weekend. That’s when she told him that she had to go take care of her infirm parents. He’d seen a picture of her with her daughter, but the cheater told him that the girl was her younger sister. He was talking about moving in together, and while she first agreed, she was never there when he was looking at apartments big enough for the two of them. She kept her credit cards and driver’s license out of sight and he never pried until one day she didn’t have her finger over her name on the credit card. He looked her up on social media (she’d told him that she didn’t do social media), only to find out that she was married and the sister was her daughter. He broke off the relationship, was physically ill, and was left with major trust issues that harmed his ability to enter into relationships.

    At any rate, I do realize that some cheaters are so completely evil that they love having two Chumps, but the vast majority of cheaters are cheating with people who know the cheater is in a committed relationship.

  • Two fairly high-profile women in my town had DDays shortly after mine. While we had been friendly acquaintances before, they have since become dear friends. Nobody understands this hell like somebody who has walked through it. And I am so grateful for CL and CN.

    I had two former friends I have cut out of my life since they are cheater apologists, and, guess what, at least one of them was a cheater herself. I have had two other former friends who ghosted me after I told them what my X had done. I dunno. I guess they were afraid it was contagious?

    Oh, and about contagion…I truly believe if your spouse comes home reporting on a coworker’s extra-marital activities, you can bet said spouse is considering exploring the same. One bad apple CAN spoil the whole bunch.

    • Damn, you have a point about the contagion. My STBX was obsessed with the cheaters at his workplace. Said everyone did it and how they were all disgusting. It’s like there’s safety in numbers. Cheaters see others get away with it, get the blueprints for doing it, and it gives them the green light to go do it too. Birds of a feather flock together. I think that’s a good red flag for future relationships too.

  • It’s not the most common scenario but some other women are in fact victims.

    My ex lied to the other women about his marital status. They were not long term affairs and he was able to get them to invite him to their place or meet them at hotels. I spoke to a couple of them after they found out what a lying asshole he was and they felt awful. One kept apologizing to me (I was actually the person who informed her that she was dating my husband) and I kept telling her it wasn’t her fault – yes, I was actually comforting the other woman. The Python and I were separated in-house by that time but she was quite religious and the idea of dating someone who wasn’t legally divorced really upset her.

    • I wasn’t married to Jackass so he didn’t have to admit to his MOW that he was (supposedly) in a relationship. I thought for a long time that she had to know. But I’ve come to see that I didn’t even play that imoratms a role in his life. The MOW may have had no idea–about me. But her husband and her kids? That’s another story.

  • This is so relevant because it’s an issue that never goes away or is resolved. It’s why I read CL’s wisdom every day – even though I’m years out, I can’t quite ‘get over it’.

    I read the book “Missoula” by Jon Krakauer, which addresses a college town’s difficulty in dealing with the football team’s rape culture. More recently we saw the same attitude when a Stanford rapist’s father wondered why his son should be punished for “a few minutes of action”. This is from “Missoula”, and it helps me understand why people diminish cheating:

    It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering . . . In order escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens. To this end, he marshals an impressive array of arguments, from the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization. After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened; the victim lies; the victim exaggerates; the victim brought it on herself; and in any case it is time to forget the past and move on. The more powerful the perpetrator, the greater is his prerogative to name and define reality, and the more completely his arguments prevail. – Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery

    • Dudette, thank you for the reference material and the excerpts, so clear and helpful.

  • Until you get to Meh (that wonderful destination where you are content and at peace) stay clear of anyone who doesn’t agree that cheating is domestic violence. That means your inner circle might be really small, but you won’t need to fight or educate those supporters.

    After you get to Meh you’ll be so busy with that amazing life you built that you’ll have little time for cheater apologists. But when they cross your path you’ll leave no problem correcting their world view.

    What others think of us or topics is none of our business… and you’ll internalize this and quickly move on to whatever wonderful activity you have planned and give it little second thoughts.

    The mad stage doesn’t last long— long enough to fuel a divorce but not forever. For me, it was about 2 years and 8 months — a few months after the divorce was final.

    I truly just don’t give a fuck about fuckwits now but I have no trouble speaking up at the injustice of cheating and calling it out as domestic violence.

  • Dear Fuming,

    I’m impressed that your skein untangling has hopscotched from personal to political. I like what your fuming over.

    I think it’s a worthy journey. The only caveat is that relatively recent “survivors of something awful” probably shouldn’t try to stomach unfiltered perp-coddling-perspective narratives until the dust settles a bit. Let others filter the nonsense via critiques of those narratives (like CL and CN and books from this perspective) until the moment when the BS just causes fits of snickering and it’s possible to filter nonsense without breaking a sweat to help other freshly traumatized people.

    The next step is seeing the political analogies– all the situations in the world and throughout history in which perps are coddled and victims denigrated and marginalized. We’re never at a loss to find those controversies since this battle to define events sums up history itself.

    Personal betrayal isn’t my first controversy rodeo so, even in moments when I haven’t felt “there” yet– not quite on top of things, still rattled and limping– I have a certainty that I will be “there” eventually because I was able to reach a sense of resolution in past situations.

    At least I have a map. Three members of my family were killed by dangerous but common and vastly profitable commercial medical policies and I’m am assault survivor. I’ve been on the wrong end of the blame-the-victim gun many times, either on my own behalf or those I care about. I’ve seen tragedies occur because the perpetrator perspective “wins” in the moment and then I’ve seen those perspectives lose ground and be overturned over time. For my sanity, I’ve had to deconstruct prevailing bullshit. I had to grasp the reasons why so many inert bystanders or those in the supposedly “helping” professions cop to the bullshit until I developed a radar for expedient bullshit and an understanding of bystander complicity. And that’s the moment the world and history started to make more sense.

    I’ve learned that the muscles built by untangling personal skeins in a political sense take us beyond the personal and turn us into emotional athletes, expand scopes and create empathy and connection with other people throughout the world.

    I don’t think its right to co-opt global tragedies by making comparisons of different scopes. I didn’t endure slavery or political torture for example. But understanding common themes in political and personal events is helpful in “seeing history in ourselves and ourselves in history” as James Baldwin wrote. The end result is that, with this kind of understanding, you could travel to the farthest reaches of the planet and find yourself in animated conversations with people who, for all intents, you don’t seem to have anything in common with. But the shared “faculty” is understanding the ironies of how narratives are twisted by abusers of power of every stripe and how, out of fear, a need to fit in, a dirty conscience or greed/ambition drive onlookers to nod along or even grovel for amnesty from scary powers-that-be by pitching a few rocks at scapegoats themselves.

    I’ve also seen what happens to people with the perp-coddling perspective in the long run. It’s not pretty. I want to have a level of understanding that keeps me away from the wrong side of history.

    I’ve seen people misuse victim narratives for their own gain too. There’s nothing like experience to start more quickly seeing through that charade. Hijacking the victim stance to take power over others has its own lousy karma.

    If you understand micro-gaslighting, you have the capacity to understand macro-gaslighting. The themes and events involved in these stories may be dark but so much light comes from the people who understand these things and appreciate others who do as well that there’s real beauty in it.

    Holocaust survivor and historian Primo Levi argued that the world isn’t black and white nor filled with devils wearing identifiable horns and perfect angels. Life is more gray. But Levi made a passionate distinction between the guilty and the innocent and despised any attempt to blur the lines between the two as “a precious service rendered to the negators of truth.”

    Your therapist is blurring the lines. What other lines do they blur? Do death squad commanders have bad childhoods? Maybe slave traders? Where does the blurring end? It might be better to find a therapeutic supporter who doesn’t “render that precious service” to liars and perps.

    I know that intellectualizing personal trauma doesn’t replace personal processing. But abuse is essentially a form of “perspecticide”– destroying victims’ perspectives and silencing them. So regaining and even building and expanding perspective is part of recovery as well as being arguably good for the world.

    • I’m going to copy this. There’s a lot to think about here: “But the shared “faculty” is understanding the ironies of how narratives are twisted by abusers of power of every stripe and how, out of fear, a need to fit in, a dirty conscience or greed/ambition drive onlookers to nod along or even grovel for amnesty from scary powers-that-be by pitching a few rocks at scapegoats themselves.”

      Thank you.

      • Loved a Jackass and Clearview– Thanks for feedback and we should start a book club. If we’re going to unravel skeins, why not go for the big ones? 😉

            • I mean “big skeins” and big themes. The whole cheater skein thing gets old fast.

              Is that a worthy idea for a post, CL? Everyone’s favorite books (and studies, essays and white papers, etc.) that helped them rejoin the world and apply their understanding to more encompassing themes?

    • Wow!
      I am so sick of the saying “hurt people hurt people”

      I’m a hurt person, but I would never cheat on anybody even now

      I would never purposely hurt somebody else

      If a dysfunctional childhood was an excuse for hurting people – most people I know would be cheaters and narcissist. And that’s not the case
      As we’ve learned on this site, they know what they are doing…
      They just don’t care

      • Chumpalou– Are you a medical professional? If so, please don’t sea-lion me. I’m not going into detail because it would just be controversy ballast on an unrelated forum. But to generalize, I’m talking about the sort of FDA-approved treatments that various whistleblowers later reported were long known to cause x,y and z side effects leading to death.

        • No, I’m not a medical person. I don’t know anything about pharmaceuticals either. Your post was long and confusing. It was an honest question.

          • I’m a medical person and I don’t get it either, chumpalou. Nor am I trying to sea-lion, whatever that is. ????‍♀️

          • Chickenchump and Chumpalou– I’ll grant you that the way I wrote the phrase wasn’t google-able but various versions of it are like “death by doctors,” or “deadly medicine.”

            In my experience, there’s usually something a bit defensive about responses to a comment that ignore emotional content (like dead family members) and ask questions that could be easily googled.

            I’ll never forget sitting on a boat traveling to an island off the New England coast with my bereaved mother carrying the ashes of my father which we planned to scatter in my father’s favorite place on earth. A surgeon and his daughter and his daughter’s fiance were on the boat and asked how my father died. I answered very simply, at which point the surgeon started battering me with a series of technical questions that sort of ignored the fact that my mother was sitting next to me, looking pale while holding a tin of her dead husband. What was worse is that, two weeks before my father died, my mother’s brother died due to the compounded side effects of a medical procedure. It didn’t end there either. The next few years was like the murder medley from The Godfather.

            The fiance of the surgeon’s daughter later came over to apologize for his FIL-to-be’s behavior and admitted that he and his fiance– both medical interns– had long suspected that the particular medical intervention that killed my dad was not as safe as it was cracked up to be.

            What the surgeon was doing was sea-lioning. It’s easily google-able too. If you weren’t doing that, great. You’ll forgive me but my family has been through the wringer. Too many empty chairs at family holiday dinners.

            • Sounds appalling. I’m sorry for your family for their losses. I have a mental Rolodex of patients with comorbiditites specifically to their families. Things only triggered by their genetics that would not happen to the general public. I have a procedure book three inches thick from when I graduated. Things have been added since then. Death by doctors is unfortunately to vague for me. My sincere apologies. I’m not a sea-lion.

              • Thanks Chickenchump,

                I simply meant to reference victim blaming on a more global, institutional scale.

                It’s no surprise that cheaters automatically go into sing-song self-exculpation and blameshifting since we live in a world in which powerful institutions and major industries do the same thing. The “lesson” of dealing with lies, denialism and bullshit is that you get better at seeing through all sorts of lies, denialism and bullshit. And bonus, it’s useful to the world.

                For example, Esther Perel is really no different than the scientists who sit on the boards of front groups sponsored by various toxic industries whose job it is to scientifically spin why the victims of a particular product or industry weren’t really victims, weren’t really harmed, probably aren’t telling the truth, should not be listened to because they’re not scientists and, even if they were harmed, it was from other causes, usually due to some inherent defect in the victims themselves.

                I forget who wrote this but these are the people “who come down from the hill after the battle to shoot the wounded.”

  • I’ve always tended to really dislike cheaters in popular media. Like movies where the protagonist is a cheater and it’s the stupid “twu wuv” narrative where it’s saucy and adventurous etc. or the cheater does some stupid grand act of “I’m sorry” and all is forgiven…basically the same RIC garbage real chumps get shoved on them all the time.

    But I’ve seen that change a little in recent years. This makes me happy. If anyone watches Letterkenny, the attitude toward cheaters on that show is very different. Daryl’s girlfriend is obviously cheating on him and his friends and family tell him don’t go chasing after her, and you won’t get no respect going back to a woman who two-timed you, leave her out of your life. Wayne is in a long distance relationship and has feelings for someone in town and says “Wells it’s not good to be with one person when you gots feelings for another” so he goes to actually TALK to his gf about it, and turns out she’s moving further away and they decide to end it amicably.

    Wayne gets engaged later and catches his fiancée cheating. He spends a few episodes grieving but comes out and says “If she cheats, it’s over. No exceptions.”

    Later in the season his sister dates a real smarmy guy that nobody really likes, but everyone wants Wayne’s sister to be happy. They find out the guy cheated, and Wayne brings the whole group to come beat his ass, because “Nobody messes with family.”

    That’s the kind of stuff I like to see. Enough with the RIC crap!!

    • I haven’t watched Letterkenny, but I’m glad the narrative on TV is changing. I don’t like the movies that romanticize cheating, like “Dr. Zhivago”. And no matter how catchy the tune, I don’t like the songs that romanticize cheating, like “Me and Mrs. Jones.” I immediately make an ugly comment and change the channel.

  • I’ve been fortunate because everyone in my life I’ve told about ex’s skank has replied with what a piece of shit he is.

    In fact, when he posted a sad sausage birthday message on his fb page, which referenced me abandoning him but of course left out his whore, a number of my friends were outraged on my behalf. I’m not his fb friend and don’t give a shit.

    I was a little surprised when a friend told me he got zero sympathy….but I’ve always suspected that a lot of people have him and his phony shit figured out.

    I could make the case that there are different kinds of affairs in that some people have exit affairs while others cake eat and don’t want a divorce, but at the end of the day they’re all pieces of shit.

    My ex was option 2… liked having me around and what I did for his image, but also liked keeping his whore on the side.

    I hope she’s enjoying the pathetic loser that is him. She’s certainly earned it.

  • Brilliant replies, as always after a brilliant CL post.

    My therapist would say that obsessing about how other see infidelity is a distraction. It keeps us from healing. It’s other-centered. Your happiness depends on what others think about you about what happened to you, about your life. It’s just another way to try to control our lives by controlling what other people think, making them see our point of view. As Dr. George Simon reminds us, “It’s not that they don’t see. It’s that they disagree.”

    The person whose opinion matters here is your own, my own. We’ve all had an experience that opened our eyes to deceit, manipulation, double lives, financial and sexual infidelity, compulsive lying, and abuse. So many here had multiple D-Day and didn’t see the cheating as a deal-breaker until they did. Or until the Cheater discarded them. I’m a teacher. And I know that people don’t learn through lectures. They can get information that way, but how we learn is through experience. That’s why films and other cultural stories are so important. Yes, some of them glamorize cheating and criminality. But the best ones are about human suffering and how we overcome it. A good story is a “living through” experience. My students write passionately about whether feature films about the Holocaust or actual documentaries better allow them to feel the impact of genocide.

    CL is right, as usual. It’s about changing a narrative. And we do that by putting our stories out into the world, here. Chumps have writing memoirs and have shared stories here and on our various forum spaces. If you want to make your friends and family to see, the best way is to push on gaining that life, with your focus not on what other people think of cheating but on what you think of you, what kind of life you want to have. And from time to time, someone who just hit a DDay will come into your life and you can tell your story. Then it won’t fall on stony ground. It can take root and help someone else.

    • Your therapist has a point, but, part of processing trauma is getting your story out there and heard. It’s important to talk about it. The other thing is that it really is important what society thinks of adultery. Cheaters are getting coddled in therapy now and Esther Perel’s garbage has gone mainstream. You know, where it’s OK to cheat because you just needed to find yourself! Or childhood trauma! Or monogamy is outdated! Or whatever. Put simply, adultery is abuse and it’s being normalized. That’s really bad for society. We need to talk about it.

      • Yes
        That’s the problem, it’s being normalized. The ME culture.

        So when you’re in deep pain, and having a hard time moving on
        …. you don’t get the validation you need – it’s validating when people tell you that what happened to you was a crime and you were a victim and the perpetrator was wrong and there’s no excuse
        – it’s validating when they have that opinion across-the-board and not just for you and your situation
        I believe that would help people heal
        There just aren’t enough consequences for cheaters -there’s almost no deterrent
        And because we don’t judge the cheater ( because who knows what was going on in that marriage ) because we stay neutral, because we don’t want to get involved, it becomes a slippery slope to blaming the victim

        – parents comfort their children if it was their child who cheated – they abandon their former daughter or son-in-law who did nothing wrong but lost everything
        They do this even if their former daughter or son-in-law was absolutely wonderful to them.
        – because it’s simply easier for them and they make excuses for their cheater
        What is that? They can still love their child but they don’t have to abandon somebody who was in their life for years just because their son or daughter betrayed.

        I believe the way people dispose of people and get away with it is a huge societal problem.
        Even the way the parents of the cheater dispose -all in the name of ‘family’- speaks volumes about our society.

        • This was probably the most devastating part of my divorce. I felt I was being punished for his cheating and lies. But then again, no wonder they come from those families…

      • I agree that we can tell our stories. But Brene Brown (along with my therapist) cautions us to be careful who we tell our stories too. Not everyone deserves to hear the deepest pain we feel as humans. I had a good friend I just stopped sharing stuff with because she was a “get over it” type.

        There’s a difference between telling our stories to close supportive friends and relatives who are capable of holding us up as we heal and trying to convince people to change their minds because we want them to understand us.

        I’m not at all arguing for neutrality. Or silence. I’m saying that at some point, we stop telling the “what happened to me” story over and over. That’s a normal stage. In fact, keeping what’s happening a secret is way worse than oversharing. But it is counterproductive to tell people who judge us or ignore us or act like Switzerland. These people can’t be trusted with our pain and suffering. They lack the empathy and relationship tools to hear and help us in this way (although, perhaps like my mother, they can give us financial help or babysit or encourage us to go back to school).

        And at some point, it’s counterproductive to your healing to be stuck in that same story. Even in therapy, my therapist would let me talk about “what happened” but nudge the conversation to deeper insights. And of course, I think you can write “what happened” here every day for a year. I probably did. and then one day I was more interested in myself and my fellow chumps than in what Jackass did then, is doing now, or will ever do again.

        One thing I learned from my 1st therapist was that I can’t change others; I can only change myself. Talking to cheater enablers and “neutrals” and “it’s your fault” types doesn’t change them. If you want to make an impact, change how you relate to them. Walk away for a while. If your mother or someone you thought of as a friend asks why, say: “I’m going through hell and I can’t spend time with people who don’t understand that.”

        And something I learned here, telling “what happened to me” over and over again, day after day, in difference contexts was that the story changed as I gained insight into what Jackass is and the predictable stages his relationships go through. I learned he was a TYPE OF PERSON, not someone I loved who cheated on me. And that made a huge difference in my own understanding.

        • You are very wise — and articulate. I hadn’t really realized how much my story has changed as I’ve gained insight and learned more about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I fought against accepting that Mr. Sparkly Pants had NPD because I knew it meant he would never change, and I still had fantasies of getting back together. But as I learned more and grew more, my story changed.

          I hope that the day comes when, even if I haven’t fully achieved “Meh,” I can let my own story rest and be more interested in my fellow chumps. I have my own little apartment now, filled with things that have meaning to ME and nothing to do with him. That’s a blessing, and hopefully I’m on the way to Tuesday.

  • One of the lessons you have to learn in life is how to put things into perspective. Any story has to be put into the context of time and place.

    When I was in college, young, idealistic, and inexperienced, I was studying Shakespeare’s tragedies. I was very impatient with Ophelia and Juliet, in particular. My teacher pointed out they were teenagers, in a time where marriages were arranged, and clearly were business deals. This was perspective.

    When I found out the circumstances of my grandmother’s lives, I was outraged. They were not. They lived in a different time and culture, and had different expectations than I did. That was perspective.

    We cannot blame others for not understanding our pain. They have not experienced it, and they have probably been “educated” in a culture which does not understand how our lives are devastated. Many do not want to know, they hope or believe it will not happen to them. The reason Chump Nation understands and supports is because we have experienced the pain. Our narratives make them uncomfortable.

    Cheaters, racists, sexists, sociopaths, psychopaths, violent criminals, mental illness — all these things make us uncomfortable because they are not part of an orderly world. We want to believe that there is a right and wrong way to handle these situations, or that childhood problems caused them, or that they can be “fixed” or healed. We want to believe that others will stand up for the “right” way to behave. They may be culturally blind to the entire issue, and the blind cannot see.

    That is perspective.

    Your eyes have been opened. You cannot change the way others react. You are your own change agent. You can find the balm of Gilead in the Chump Nation, but do not expect to find it in the world at large . Do not waste your time and energy expecting something you will never receive. Concentrate on changing the world view, and do not expect personal comfort. Most of the agents of change I know of led very uncomfortable, and often tragic lives. Hope that eventually others will see and understand without having to personally experience the injustice. Hope for a new perspective.

  • I just wish I could find out who he’s managed to be his flying monkeys or Switzerland friends. I keep running into more triangulation attempts lately. It’s exhausting trying to filter their intentions. Why are they suddenly talking to me? What do they really want? Ugh. He’s got the control thing perfected. He just brings in new people to help wear me down on some new topic.

    • Don’t engage them in conversation but if you do keep it along the lines of the weather. Do not talk about your divorce, your ex, your work or anything that could be potentially twisted.

      • It’s easier said then done. They come straight for you with a specific reason. Then they must go off and text him and they’re BACK!! But, but he said…… I finally started saying “he has to say that to me. I’m sorry. Blame my lawyer.”

        • “Who are you? Why are you asking me this question?”

          And remember you can say, “Put this question in an email.” You can say that to anybody!

          • It’s a mutually known person. Perhaps a flying monkey or Switzerland friend, I really don’t know. She was badgering me via text, literally. I kept repeating the “Blame my lawyer.” The last two times till she finally stopped texting me about the subject of the day. So yes I was on boundaries patrol. I’m just tired.

  • @Portia …… everything you said!

    Perscpective. This is why we read CL & CN, its our tribe. We get it 100 % and will most likely never forget what really happened ( our truth ) and not the gobble de gook we get from people who have no perspective of cheating, lying, deceiving, financial ruin, abuse …. whatever happened.

    My xh was the charmer walk on water type. I believed in him (31 years) until one day I didn’t. I’m a classic case of escaping the vortex of hell and high confliclt divorce. He left a trail of dead carcasses behind and yet I was the one that took the heat, If only I wasn’t angry, distraught, unbalanced, unforgiving …. you get it! Its been 5 years out now and my life is toxic free from a very disordered man, It just takes time. I had terrible counceling, secular and religious, The best advice I got was from another chump who simply said “take all the people you don’t want in your life OFF your plate”. I did.

  • THIS IS THE MOST LEGALLY SIGNIFICANT THING YOU WILL DO, OTHER THAN DYING says lawyer/author James Sexton. Legally significant is the change we Chumps have to make happen. Speaking of adultery as a ” victimless crime” oh how I only wish it was a crime! Why isn’t it a crime? Nowhere else in life can you break a contract without penalty. But we just accept this, that’s why people treat us as if we had to have some part in this fraud. Well, most of us had no part in this crime and we deserve compensation as other victims of fraud. Laws need to changed here folks!!!

    • It was a crime until very recently in South Korea and Taiwan. They have both decriminalised it as both countries become more Westernized. I am embarrassed in that respect of what modern Westernisation means. Apparently it means cheating is victimless and therefore not a crime. Facepalm.

      • Basically we live in a selfish hedonistic society where morality (actual morals not bogus virtue signaling on social media) is cast aside in favor of self.

        You absolutely should not be rewarded for adultery in any capacity especially financially.

  • This isn’t correct. I have never been cheated on by anybody (to my knowledge) and neither I nor my friends approve of cheating. I’m atheist lefty (I’ve been called a moralist though but I won’t be deterred by attempts of shaming).

    But yes, a lot of people are very apologetic. There are many reasons, one of the very common ones is that many people are unfortunately cheaters. Of course they’ll find 1000 excuses why a cheat was/ is justified.

    Many chumps also have problems to understand that quite some people don’t really have very deep feelings, ever. They do have feelings, just not very strong and/or deep. Chumps don’t get it because their feelings usually run very deep. This is especially difficult for male chumps because according to culture, women are supposed to be feeling and nurturing. In fact, many (women) have shallow feelings and can’t understand how others don’t get over difficult situations quickly.

    Two other important reasons are that if your cheaters were so good that they gaslit you, their closest partners, for years/ decades, why wouldn’t they successfully gaslight relative strangers who know them far less well? And if a chump spackles over cheater’s behaviour (I. e. chump gaslights family and friends) and then suddenly turns around and says, I’ve been abused after all image management? It’s not necessarily surprising that other people look at it in the context of divorce and think chump is making things up. After all, before divorce chump didn’t complain or criticise.

    I think the most successful approach is two way. Divorce is no longer shameful or impossible, and a lot of people are in consensual alternative arrangements (like swinging or polyamory). There’s no longer need for secrecy and deceit. None. Secondly, cheaters steal their partner’s time, effort and life. Would you still clean the bathroom after your wife or pay your husband’s holidays knowing they’re cheating on you? In my experience, everybody understands the point of the last sentence.

  • I have a sister (who is an incredibly disordered person) who loves being the OW. She gets high on the sneaking around. She doesn’t feel bad, they don’t lie to her, she just loves lying and sneaking. Oh and I’m a therapist and that YouTuber is a big dummy. Some OW might feel bad but I betcha more are like my sis and are addicted to drama and intrigue.

  • I am just thanking God for Chump lady and every one else on this site because at this point I would probably be heading to another rehab due to my circumstance. I’ve finally stood up to my piece of garbage husband and am totally heart broken by my family’s response. Basically they have taken his side. They think I have gone off the deep end. He has them convinced that I am imagining everything. He is even expecting an apology for everything ???? If it weren’t for this site I might have just caved like I have in the past. Nope, not today! Not ever again. For now I’m stuck here in this hell hole of a home but I’m not going back wards anymore. I have a consult scheduled with a lawyer and it can’t come soon enough.

  • I am just thanking God for Chump lady and every one else on this site because at this point I would probably be heading to another rehab due to my circumstance. I am staying strong and sober because I know my parenting is certainly going to be called into question by jerkoff. I’ve finally stood up to my piece of garbage husband and am totally heart broken by my family’s response. Basically they have taken his side. They think I have gone off the deep end. He has them convinced that I am imagining everything. He is even expecting an apology for everything ???? If it weren’t for this site I might have just caved like I have in the past. Nope, not today! Not ever again. For now I’m stuck here in this hell hole of a home but I’m not going back wards anymore. I have a consult scheduled with a lawyer and it can’t come soon enough.

    • Yes, you’re doing it for you! You said the magic words, you’ve had enough. Keep taking baby steps. That false narrative started long ago way before you were aware. You don’t have anything to prove to them. Speak through your attorney.

      Watch out for the triggers, cheaters are good at pushing buttons to throw you off balance. I hope you have a therapist who gets trams bonds.
      You can do it! Keep coming here for support and join the CL reddit group.

  • A thousand times, yes. Know your worth, and understand that people are lazy/judgy/trying to delude themselves out of their own vulnerability. Live happily and proudly as someone with emotional intelligence.

  • Thank you! The devalue is awful and painful and he says I’m breaking up the family. If this wasn’t my life I would swear it was make believe. His side piece is my freaking neighbor and her window looks directly into my kitchen. It’s a miracle I haven’t gone to jail. (I keep thinking in my head about my son and that is the only thing keeping me sane)

  • At the lunch table the other day my work colleague said her husband would never cheat because he values what he has at home.

    I’m choking on my lunch whilst she apologised to me for the faux pa. But look, this is what people actually think, that it won’t happen to them, that somehow they are doing all the right things to protect the marriage. That their partner wouldn’t do that to them. Utter Bollox.

    Its frightening to think the man you are married to, have children with and a shared life could be so deceitful behind your back. Somehow they think they have some control over this other person. It makes them feel safer that the chumps did something to cause the nuclear war, that we had control over the cheating. Well let me tell you no one has that safety net. Feeling uncomfortable now?

    I think that’s the true reason people can’t wrap their heads round infidelity because it opens up the distinct possibility it could be happening to them.

    • Do they think that any of us went into marriage thinking that our spouses wouldn’t value us and would deceive us?

    • Cheaters do value what they have at home: Cake. Sex without effort. A spouse appliance and childcare worker. Access to the kids without child support docked from their pay. The image of a family. The lack of scandal when their parents find out.

      They also value cake elsewhere, triangles, lying and sneaking around, the high of deception, the ego boost, and the thrill of new romance.

      What they don’t value: kindness, honesty, fidelity, and respect for others.

    • That’s how my ex made it impossible for me to even think about him cheating…..he would be so adamantly against it, judge people, say what a bunch of idiots they were, and how he would never ever ever ever do this to me and act the part in a way that even after he left and it was obvious that he had someone else, he would still deny it and hide it for years. I’m not very hopeful about your friend’s marriage, I’m afraid. It’s that facade of utterly moral perfection that is the problem. I’ve never heard anything about my dad even coming close to cheating on my mom, but I also never seen him being so worried about other people’s perception of him. One thing that I could see it was different from him and my ex, was that if we were watching tv and a beautiful actress or singer would come up, my dad would sometimes say she was attractive and my mom would also have an opinion about it. But with my ex, he would immediately say:” I don’t see why people think so and so is pretty, maybe it’s because I have you t home, I can’t find any other woman as pretty as you'”. Now, looking back, why he even cared about saying that, I didn’t even care about what he thought and he just volunteered his opinion so I would think he was Mr. Perfect.

  • It’s not the circumstances. It is the quality of the people and their moral fiber, or lack thereof.

  • Much of what other people say to you about your situation is really about them, not you.

    The cheater apologists and denialists and enablers? Likely cheaters themselves, or chumps who rug-sweep atrocious betrayals by their own cheater.

  • I screwed up royally today. I taped a picture of a troll to my kitchen window because hubby’s side piece can see right into my kitchen and I was sick of it. (She’s a cross between a sleestak and a troll, really really gross) I confronted them and told them I knew and I told my husband he ruined his family over a bitch that looked line a troll, hence the picture. I’ve been reading if it feels good don’t do it but I did it any way. Any way, this bitch is a real freaking coward. I got a phone call from my husband that she was feeling threatened and was ready to call the police and get a restraining order on me. Unfreakingreal. She had no problem screwing my husband for the last 5-6 years but I put a picture on my window and she feels threatened, this is pure comedy!!! Mind you, I haven’t threatened her in any form or fashion. All I keep thinking is keeping my side of the street clean. These people are nuts. This isn’t the right place for this I know but this

  • ” If you think a guy who cancels his subscription to adulting is the hero in this story, you’ve got a values problem.”

    OMG!! YESSSS!!!

    Now can we please bottle that and sell it at Target to the masses???

    Thank you!!!

  • It’s frustrating. I think all we can do is be frank and tell people, “Look, I know you don’t see it from my perspective, but what I’m telling you is that this person really hurt me and I don’t appreciate you taking their side against me.”

    It’s like this with a lot of things. We do this with abusive spouses and child molesters. Trying to understand how people we know/love/respect can act like monsters. It’s happening a lot these days with racists and neo-Nazis. White people telling people of color to be patient with them and try to understand where they’re coming from, educate and disarm them rather than getting angry or insisting that racists and neo-Nazis not be welcomed in society. Being cheated on, abused, and harmed in other ways can seem like purely theoretical things we can approach with objective distance until they happen to us. People don’t need to understand your exact perspective, but they should respect that your perspective is rooted in personal experience and trauma that they don’t understand.

    • Think much comes down to perspective and how we project our own values. If we simplify it to two types of people -Type 1 those that could not imagine cheating on their spouses
      Type 2 those who can

      Type 1 people have difficulty accepting anyone would cheat on their partners – because that reflects their values and personal experience. Difficult to rock that boat.

      Type 2 is a slippery slope. These are people who are into impression management and entitlement.

      It’s only the select few who really know you which are willing to trust in your expanation over their own values and experience, (difficult to do for type 1, type 2 are a waste of energy and time), other chumps of course get it straight away.

      It’s a spectrum like all things of character – I think many type ones don’t have the time or energy to put in (they have their own lives and issues) to take the time out to invest / research. – Switzerland.

      Those therapists and you tube experts who plough their populast cheater sympathy crap can fook right off – no healing there.

  • Hey Chump Lady,

    You’re like an incredibly comforting wizard for us men and women of CN. I’ll write my own letter to one day but discovering you six or seven months ago was like Neo taking the red pill in The Matrix.

    Just wanted you to know how much we all appreciate you in being there for our journeys so we too can pay it forward.

    Godspeed, wizard.

    – Male Chump

    • I agree – this is my first post. I too discovered ChumpLady/Nation 5 months ago after I realised my STBX continued to lie and I told him to leave – wish I had found it at DDay1.

      This discussion topic is particularly helpful at the moment as our ‘couple friends’ are trying to navigate who to invite to a BBQ!!! Others don’t understand a Chump’s feelings. To me it is black and white – I can clearly see what is right and wrong now – this is all down to Chump Nation.

      Invaluable – thank you all.

  • The conclusion I came to after dealing with Switzerland friends and lots of misled “diagnosis” and bad advice:

    Anyone who can make excuses for the fuckwit’s behaviour, no matter how much they claim to care for you, is no friend of yours.

    Let them go. The ones who will stand by you, will do it without defending inexcusable behaviour.

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