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‘Maybe He Was Right About Me?’

Dear Chump Lady,

I was totally blindsided by my husband a year ago. (Before D-Day I’d say we were a happy marriage, you heard it thousands of times…) He cheated, I was shocked (perfect life we had, right?), antidepressants, reconciliation, later it turns out he was still in contact with his co-worker, then he fell in love with her. (I found letter with “I love you, I regret I have been born 10 years too early…”).

We even went to therapy, during which I found out he was still having business lunches with her (his version) and bought her shoes for Christmas 2019. (His version — he only “lent her money” as they were coming back from lunch and she saw them in the window.) I don’t have to add we were in therapy then, and it was obvious to me they shouldn’t have ANY contact…

Anyway, now we are proceeding with a divorce (which I of course had to initiate) — but talking to him I still get the message that he was unhappy in marriage as I was “shouting at him.” He claims he really felt as if I was always attacking him and his affair was an escape. And later after D-Days (plural) he tried to fix us, but I didn’t let him fix it,  as I was always coming back to the infidelity…

Well, I was discovering new things every 3 months and was holding so much grief, disappointment, pain — that I was in fact “coming back to the infidelity.”

The problem is I really don’t remember our marriage as he pictures it. I am rather determined and very straightforward, honest — and I always say what I think. But I don’t shout as a rule, we had just normal marital quarrels about daily issues. Now I hear I was behaving almost like a monster, he had depression and I didn’t see that (because he was acting normal!) and in this perspective it is me who mostly contributed to breaking our marriage.

The worst part is that I am starting to think that maybe I am too harsh, too determined, maybe I didn’t show him the warmth, I was too demanding… I know it is classic blameshifting, but maybe he is right at the same time? I am very empathetic, I am people person, I have friends and I am easy with people, I value honesty — but with my direct attitude maybe I shouldn’t be in any relationships…?

My head knows it is a blender, but my heart has these doubts…

What do you think Chump Lady?

Free_Soon

Dear Free_Soon,

I think if you’re correct, all of us free-thinking, direct, determined people are going to die alone, unloved and unmourned. Flinty and feral, we’ll spend our last days shouting curses at the wind, and eating cat food. Having no one to be cranky with, we’ll have to invent imaginary partners to scold. “THAT IS NOT THE WAY YOU LOAD A DISHWASHER, MEREDITH!”

Meanwhile all the two-timing, lying, backstabbers will be frolicking about celebrating one another at lavish parties, which they will document in exhaustive detail on Instagram. “Debbie, that is a sensational centerpiece. What is it made from? Porcupine quills?” “No, Roderick, ogre shavings. We’ve compressed all the bitter, ugly people into blocks. The crafting possibilities are endless!” 

Sorry, my imagination is running away with me.

With my direct attitude maybe I shouldn’t be in any relationships…?

Ssssh! Don’t tell Mr. CL! Have you READ this blog?

Come to think of it, he’s pretty direct himself. (Ask anyone who’s ever sat opposite one of his depositions…)

OMG WE’RE UNLOVABLE!

Free_Soon, I’d just like to say on behalf of all the harsh, determined, demanding Sons and Daughters of Bitches out there — partnering is possible. Love is possible. All these qualities are HUMAN. Heck, some of these qualities are even, in the right context, noble.

Determined people change the world. Don’t you want to be a determined person?

Why are you letting a fuckwit set the price on your worth? Who cares what he thinks? He’s a liar and a cheat.

His cheating has nothing to do with you. It’s about his shitty character. You didn’t MAKE him cheat. He did that. We don’t compel people to abuse us, no matter how unlikable we sometimes are. And EVERYONE in EVERY relationship EVERYWHERE is unlikable sometimes.

Oh! You know what else is unlikable? Cheating on your wife. And letting her invest in your relationship further with therapy. While continuing to cheat on her. THAT IS UNLIKABLE. So, which co-worker did you fuck?

Anyway, now we are proceeding with a divorce (which I of course had to initiate)

Of course you had to. He was enjoying cake with unlovable, impossible you. You’re just so awful he couldn’t untether the bonds of your oppression.

He was unhappy in marriage as I was “shouting at him.” He claims he really felt as if I was always attacking him and his affair was an escape. And later after D-Days (plural) he tried to fix us, but I didn’t let him fix it,  as I was always coming back to the infidelity..

Do you see the circular insanity of this?

Let’s try it another way.

He hits you with a hammer and you cry. He’s unhappy because you’re always crying. You there, with your fractured fingers. Hitting you with a hammer was an escape from your crying. He tried to fix your fingers, but you wouldn’t let him, because he kept hammering your fingers to “fix them.” Stop crying!

Of course, you were UPSET because you were ABUSED. This is the classic It‘s Not What I Did, It’s Your Reaction To It mindfuck. It’s DARVO — deny, attack, reverse victim offender.

He is NOT the Real Victim here. He’s blameshifting. You already know this, but yes, it’s hard for the heart to catch up. You blame yourself, and skein untangle,  because that’s less scary than feeling the total vulnerability of being abused by someone you love. “I suck” is more understandable than betrayal. If you suck, then you can fix the suck (therapy!) and everything will be better!

Except it isn’t. Because you were never the problem and this was never yours to fix.

Please, Free_Soon, rock on with your honest, direct, harsh self.

And from me, to your ex — fling a shoe at his head. Make it a stiletto. If it punctures his eye, it’s just a loaner. No crying.

 

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • CL nailed it, as always! Free_Soon word of advice from one direct woman to another, stop going to your fucktwit therapist and find a therapist who sees that your asshole husband was abusing you so YOU can get the help YOU need. It will help your move pass this fucked up skein and move on with your life. I promise!

    • Replace the he’s with she’s and this is 100% my story, minus buying her AP a pair of shoes (at least as far as I know). The worst was being accused of gaslighting her. You know what’s gaslighting? When your husband says, “Hey I think you might be having an emotional affair with Coworker,” and you deny deny deny for over 6 months every though you had been sleeping together for the previous two years. And what’s with making the cheated on partner be the one to file?

      • They’re soooooo unhappy with you but the chump needs to file because they can’t be bothered, they want to keep both cakes and because they don’t adult (and take responsibility). But they’re soooooo unhappy and you drove them to cheat.

        • They don’t “adult”, they certainly don’t take responsibility, and, if YOU file, it is because it keeps the narrative alive that the cheater was willing to work on the marriage (in spite of refusing to give up his marriage-destroying activities). Impression management.

  • “Trying to fix the marriage’ = getting you to stfu while they get better at hiding it.

    Ask me how I know.

    These assholes cheat first, then come up with reasons later.

    Let his howorker have him…..she got a real prize.

    • Seriously, who wants to stay married to a loser? Cheaters are losers and they know it too. It’s why they play victim and enjoy kibble. I don’t need kibble to know my value, I know I’m a catch!

    • Companies need to start to get sued by allowing this kind of behavior. My husband’s boss knew all the time he was cheating, all his work emails (and hers) are monitored, any type of relationship is strictly forbidden at the company and they let it pass? WTF. All I see in every support group I go is co-worker this, co-worker that. Can we please start treating this like cigarettes? Wanna smoke? Go work somewhere else, take your garbage behavior somewhere else.

      • I would love some teeth in the sexual harassment policy. Where do I sign up? I had an asshole boss. He was also the CEO/president of the board. So sorry if you had a complaint about conduct with hospital staff and the business partners you were screwed. Yes, I found that out the hard way. He looked right at me and told me to basically mind my own business.

      • SadSad (but cheerfully direct) Chump–

        I totally agree. Sexual politics is kind of a linchpin for just about everything human, cheating and ill effects on families being just one of the related issues.

        Aside from having children of both genders and being concerned for how sexual politics will effect their work and emotional lives, one of my close relatives is a chair of organizational psych at an Ivy League U. I have another relative who joined forces with the latter and credits the success of his global enterprise to operating on a non-top-down structure which was meant to diminish inequality and destructive competition. I’ve heard and read quite a bit on the subject all my life.

        Since the #MeToo movement and the “Shitty Men in (insert profession)” lists started ramping up around 2015, many companies are getting spooked. Once the harassment can of worms was opened, corporate training organizations and HR advisory organizations started to warn about the high cost of “permissive work environments” and the need for paramour policies as an extension of anti-harassment policies.

        Though it’s mostly been men losing their jobs even for consensual workplace affairs with underlings, as we know, not all women are #MeToo supporters (except when lip service suits them). Not all victims of harassment or skanky office affairs are female. Men pay a price for it too. There were quite a few credible victim testimonies from men who were sexually harassed or coerced by superiors from the outset of that movement. Some men have lost career traction or even their jobs if they were viewed as “sexual competition” by pervy bosses targeting female employees. And male employees have joined employee suits against firms where superiors showed favoritism to paramours.

        Apparently permissive work environments are just bad for organizational health, bad for the bottom line and are invariably associated with top-down hierarchies which are inherently bad for business.

        It’s hard to make real-world comparisons since most organizations are top-down. But it seems top-down hierarchies are almost always less diverse and suffer from many of the limitations of lack of diversity, like the tendency to get rigid, snuff employee creativity and innovation, verge more easily into corrupt practices that harm consumers and the environment and fail at taxpayer expense.

        I think it’s relevant to cheating considering that most modern cheating seems to originate in the workplace. One study demonstrated how women tend to flirt more in male dominated, aggressive work environments as a misguided attempt to compensate for lack of status and how the tactic inevitably backfires, mainly for the flirt herself but also for other women. Other studies describe the various costs of workplace romances and adulterous affairs between employees in permissive workplaces– lawsuits, higher employee turnover, higher employee stress and poorer mental health, lost productivity from divorce and inter-office breakups, distracting gossip, increased rate of drinking and addiction, lost reputations of individual employees, lost reputations of leaders or the company itself, alienation of clients, etc.

        Since most states have laws against marital status discrimination, adulterers can’t legally be singled out for special consequences. It’s also been argued that workplace romance can’t be entirely banned without triggering widespread deception. But it seems like the “middle ground” consensus is to ban superior/underling affairs (for obvious reasons) and institute policies that require employees to report intimate relationships formed in the workplace.

        Because of my family background and my own work experiences (constantly having to fight off harassment for one) and starting my own venture, when I was faced with a cheater’s creepy office affair, I already had part of that “skein” unraveled.

        I pretty much guessed exactly what happened and how it happened: an underpaid intern hired in a male dominated field for her ability to ego-fluff drunken old perv superiors more than for professional ability, expressed her anxiety about future financial survival prospects by hunting around to find someone at work to hitch herself to whom she perceived had growing status and could potentially (if she played her cards right) offer economic security when she, like 75% of women in that field, eventually got edged out of the profession or quit from stagnation and marginal salary. I also guessed what her parents were like, how she’d grown up, the string of failed relationships, etc. I knew everything about her down to the way she looked, how she talked, what films she watched and who her friends were before I even knew her name. I’m no soothsayer. It’s just that she was a trope. Tropes are always political.

        Even if I don’t have deep empathy for fuckwits, I can see the “familial,” environmental and political forces that contribute to their fuckery.

        What I didn’t want to conclude from being chumped by a workplace affair is that we should go back to the days of yore when women were a rarity in the workplace. I don’t think fraternization is the main problem. I think abuse of power in all its forms is the main problem. Abusers of power abuse the power they’re given, no matter how pathetic it might be.

        I accused my cheater of basically slipstreaming in the wakes of the Harvey Weinsteins and Roger Aileses of the world. He may not have been the instigator (too vain and covert to “chase”), but he liked the kibbley attention from economically and politically desperate female coworkers so he benefited directly from that desperation and every political factor that created it. Is a parasitic abuser really less guilty than an aggressive one? I could tell that, for him, it really drained the value of the kibble he received to consider the political implications.

        The CL site has even made me think more about how inequality and permissiveness in the workplace impacts cheated-on men in marriages with women who work in creepy environments or come from creepy backgrounds.

        I’m not sure if it’s been studied but I would imagine that, in top-down hierarchies, there are more ultra-masculine displays by superiors and male employees, sort of like chimps dragging branches and putting on aggressive displays for status. Some might just feel freer to let their creepy freak-flags fly in a permissive environment while others could feel pressured by the cartoon antics to “man-up” and play the creep to keep from being marginalized or dismissed as pussies.

        Would a guy who’s insecure about his masculinity be more likely to have an affair to balm his wounds from abusive competition by other male colleagues or superiors? Would an attached woman in this environment get sucked into the 50 Shades of Yuck fantasy of so many men putting on monkey displays of masculinity to the point that it makes her mate seem “less manly” in comparison, contributing to cheating on her partner?

        The whole permissive workplace creepery issue brings up questions of basic individuality vs. weak identity issues (“agentic” or conformist personality). As social animals, how do people react to environment, particularly when they spend the majority of their waking hours at work?

        That’s a skein worth untangling, at least in a social and political sense.

        • Thank you for taking the time to write this. I found it fascinating and extraordinarily accurate to my personal experiences as a chump, as a professional, and now as a very low-ranking female in a male dominated field. (thanks to cheater making me be SAHM for years.)

          • beenchumped–

            Well you’ve got the clearest view starting from the bottom again but it sounds like you’ve already seen quite a bit and don’t need the “education” (ugh).

            I’m raising a child with a chronic medical condition so I also left the workforce years ago. There really was no choice. It’s also that my former field isn’t conducive to raising children or basic sanity. Massively competitive and massive amounts of harassment. Even if you’re not personally targeted, you’re having to watch others being preyed on.

            It never ends, does it? My last boss was all over the international news a few years ago as a serial rapist. I had no warning when I took the job since the first reports from decades before were snuffed by lawyers and the media. I had to quit after that psycho nearly drove me into premature labor while 7 months pregnant.

            Enough is enough. I’ve been trying to think of a new direction that wouldn’t involve filing criminal and union reports (five times, gad) or shorten my lifespan.

            Have you ever considered applying all your real world experience to social science as a new direction? Put all the rapey creepers, desperate poachers and organizational flubs under a microscope. Fun.

  • “we had been fighting for so long”

    (he would come back from work and say he is tired and he doesn’t want to talk to me and he would either play video games or go out with his friends…for WEEKS.)

    “…and I ran into her by accident one day. we used to hook up long before I met you and we were getting along really well, but we stopped when she had to move out to a different city. Now she moved back here and I met her by accident at the (weekly) social dance and we spent the whole night dancing together until 2am. She asked me if I wanted to go home with her, but I said no, because I respect you and I would never do that to you. I am not that kind of person.”

    twenty minutes later in the conversation, “I am afraid there’s more and I feel really guilty about this”

    “But she asked me if I wanted to meet her for drinks on Saturday night and I couldn’t say no without being rude.”

    (but of course, when I begged him for a date night for weeks on end, he found the strength to say no).

    “You always made me feel so unattractive. It was nice to feel attractive to someone and so pursued.”

    I didn’t even get any of the classic chump games. I ended things on the spot and he was so relieved. All I got was “I just want to say I am glad it was you… I am not the same person I used to be, after the years we spent together, and I mean it in a good sense. I feel deep respect for you.”

    and then he disappeared out of my life.
    and he is still happily with her 7 months later, He was posting online 1 month after D-day about how important communication and transparency are in his relationship with her.

    • Honesty, communication and transparency are important this time around because he fears she is out doing the horizontal mambo with someone else.

      Whatever. Block and move on. The only communication is about how to split the assets and that can go through the lawyers. I don’t know if you were married or not – but it’s still the same advice. He’s the emotional equivalent of smallpox. Stay away from him.

      • thank you! we split assets, we were not married so it was much easier. Since that day, I have been strict no-contact. It hasn’t been easy, especially because I really love my ex-“in-laws”. When things went down, his mother wanted to meet me, his siblings were sending me a lot of messages saying they support me and they are outraged. but it just hurt even more. Learning that I have to reduce contact with them, in order to move on, was the hardest part about it all.

        • Well, beware! It could be a probe. The old blood is thicker than water deal. I’m sorry but it’s true. Watch who you lean upon for solace. They could be just mining for information to feed to him. They may not really be so nice. I know firsthand.

          • Sometimes some of the cheater’s family or friends or work colleagues actually are that kind, miss us, and despise what cheater did.

            But that unfortunately doesn’t mean we can maintain a relationship with them. As long as they also maintain or have to maintain some kind of relationship with cheater, it’s putting our heads back in the blender.

            Sigh.

    • You don’t know that he’s “happy” or they are “happy.” You know what he puts out on social media or what he tells other people.

      Don’t gaslight yourself by assuming what you don’t know and can’t know. First, at one point he looked happy with you–and look at what he did anyway. Second, you know he’s a liar.

      PLEASE EXPLAIN WHY WE BELIEVE CHEATERS WHEN WE KNOW THEY LIE CRUELLY, CONSISTENTLY, AND PERSISTENTLY. It’s especially self-destructive when we internalize their lying excuses for cheating.

      • I agree – don’t assume he’s happy. I have a friend who was cheated on and her ex and his cheater-now-wife put on this act out in public but the kids tell her a whole other story – basically living in separate wings of the house or one at their cottage. It’s all a “save face” happy- they aren’t.

        • thank you so much. As I said in the reply above, I didn’t know what to expect when writing my story here and the comments are very encouraging! thank you!

      • thank you so much. I wasn’t sure what to expect, writing my comment on this post but the answers have really warmed my heart.

  • SO MUCH THIS!

    “Of course you had to. He was enjoying cake with unlovable, impossible you. You’re just so awful he couldn’t untether the bonds of your oppression.”

    This is exactly what I said to my cheaterpants who also made outrageous claims about my character…I was “abusive”, “a monster”… and so much more 🙄

    I finally said, if I’m all of these things…then why do you keep contacting me? 🤔

    Don’t take what he says to heart. Like CL said…he’s a liar and cheat, so why would you let him weigh in on your character??

  • Are we married to the same IDIOT? I have had these same mental conversations. Run away 🏃‍♀️and don’t look back. IM NOT FREE YET EITHER.

  • Oh Free Soon

    I could have written this except he was shouting at me and snapping cutting my head off all the time .
    I had no idea what was going on but I asked him one night to please stop shouting at me . He then went off on one shouting at me saying he wasn’t but shouting at me !! I’m making this all up in my head I do this all the time ( I really don’t )

    It fucks with your head ( D Day was 3 weeks after this ) going over and over maybe I did make it up ? Maybe I did speak to him in a tone of voice ?
    Maybe I did raise my voice ?

    It really doesn’t matter they’ve devalued you so much in their own mind that you could have laid rose petals on the ground for him to walk on and it still would never have been enough .

    Please don’t take it to heart as hard as the words are to process you know it’s not you and never was you

    Hugs

    • Yes! That is perfectly put. They’ve devalued you so much in their mind in order to justify their shitty behaviour to themselves. How else could do what they do?

      I have trouble shaking off all the nasty negative things I’ve been accused of, even though I know it is blameshifting in my rational mind. It’s really hard to get those accusations out of your head. I think there are grains of truth in what the arsehole said about me when he was desperately trying to find reasons to justify himself. He honed in on my insecurities and I therefore find it hard to shake it off, but I know that it in no way justifies his horrific betrayal and treatment of me, and quite frankly, the reasons he gave are pathetic and not ones any person of integrity would ever cite as grounds to leave a marriage. He’s now shacked up with the shameless cow and I mentally stick voodoo pins in the pair of them.

      • I do the same – I have trouble too because I wasn’t perfect – but you know he wasn’t either and every single spouse on this planet can find an excuse or excuses to cheat. Everyone always. Because none of us are perfect spouses meeting all the needs living perfect non stressful lives. You either decide to find that weakness and use it as an excuse to cheat or you don’t cheat ever.

    • It takes 7 years for all the cells in your body to be replaced. Maybe after years of being with someone, most of the cells in your brain and body are oriented to love this person, to take what they say at face value, and to care how they feel. That is somehow comforting to me, knowing that I can trust that somewhere between D-day 1 and 7 years, those cells that still love the cheater and hold them in high esteem will have died out and been replaced with new cells that don’t give a flying flippin’ fuck what he/she says or does.

  • Hi Free Soon,

    Let me give you another parallel:
    The Alcoholic got shit-faced drunk when under stress (that had nothing to do with me). Consequently, because his method of dealing with stress was to drink, he lost his job.

    I objected to his continual drunkenness. He then turned it on me and said he was drinking because I objected to him being drunk. In other words, I added to the stress and he couldn’t handle stress. So now his drinking was (supposedly) my fault.

    The truth was that he had shitty coping skills. I didn’t make him drink, and I couldn’t stop him from drinking. Furthermore, since he had a bed to sleep in all day and a TV to watch all night, he didn’t want to get sober. If he got stopped drinking he’d have to deal with the reason he lost his job in the first place, which he didn’t want to do.

    He was completely wrong about me. I did get mad at his drunken stubbornness, but that was because I was 100% frustrated at his complete refusal to deal with ordinary problems like a rational human being. The only way out of this mess was to stop trying to fix it and to instead get rid of it.

    Does this help?

    Does this help

    • Oh, I got the same. His drugging and drinking and disappearing from home were because he “hadn’t felt that we had a marriage for a very long time.” Meanwhile, I felt like we hadn’t had a marriage in a very long time because he was always drugging, drinking, and disappearing for days at a time and I was running the whole show. And then to find out he was cheating on me was just the last straw.

      I didn’t cause him to drink or drug. Was I angry, bitter and depressed? Yes. Because I was working full time, doing all the cleaning and childcare and laundry, and school activities and grocery shopping and cooking while Peter Pan was out not growing up. A vicious cycle and their gaslighting and manipulation are monumental. Best to have them in the rear view mirror.

      • Peter Pan & can’t adult. I was exhausted by Ex-H because he was primarily focused on drinking during his weekends – probably a binge alcoholic. He worked out of town, so all week I handled all the household stuff, transporting kids to school and sports, worked FT, and ran a side hustle biz. But on the weekends, I was lucky if he made breakfast and did the dishes. He wanted a gold medal if he mowed the lawn. Life is easier now on my own with the kids. I still adult but have actual free time on the weekends they visit their dad.

    • Just a reminder to all that if your cheater also has problems with drinking or drugs–whether you call it alcoholism, problem drinking, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, drunkenness–you have nothing to work with. Nothing. You didn’t cause it. You can’t control it. And you can’t cure it.

      Substance abusers are essentially cheaters even if they aren’t having sex or affairs or emotional romance with another person. Their relationship is with their substance. That’s where there commitment is. If you stay, you will just continue to enable behavior that is destroying you, your family and the drunk.

      • Their behavior destroys the finances too. Terrible, I kept thinking he was cheating, and he was, two mistresses, 29 yo gf and pills. Weird to have such a late life addiction. Probably started when he wanted to appear viril to his then new employee. Our 38th anniversary next week. He is 62. Our daughters are 35, 33 and son is 30. I had to file, of course. He can’t focus enough to present financials, motion to compel filed. Gold digger got a real prize. Hasn’t spoken to children or our adorable grandchildren in over a year. Entitlement, cheated for 18 months before Dday (gf tells me on my 60th birthday) I find drugs soon after. I was trying to unravel skein…

  • Don’t fall for his SADZ, Free_Soon. It is so amazing how all these “unhappy” people don’t seem to be able to voice their unhappiness until they get caught cheating. The fuckwits make up shit–the SAME shit. Let her have him, and do not take his bullshit to heart. Go no contact as best you can. It really helps.

  • Oh my gosh, this letter just triggered traumatic memories of dday over 10 years ago. He cheated yet I was vilified. He left 3 weeks later & filed 2 months after that. He was in a sense a runaway husband. I still shake my head & think after 24 years married to him, who was he anyway?

  • It is Free_Soon here. Thank you Chump Lady and Chump Nation to put things in the right perspective AGAIN:) You know, for months now I was getting mixed signals. First he wanted to fix things, he was “fighting”, he was the most lovable husband ever but it was never 100%. They work together and I asked him to change his job if he REALLY wants to regain me. No, he can’t…He’s afraid that in his branch it’d be difficult to find sth similar…OK, so transfer her to different department. He can’t…All I was getting was flowers, breakfasts and some presents like jewellery. Nice, but it wasn’t the dedication I expected..I felt it was not the desperate man fighting for love of his life. He seemed like something was upsetting him – he started to drink alcohol, involve into risky behaviours, he changed in bed (wilder)…He seemed torn. I think now that he DECIDED to come back and try family maybe (for kids probably), but his heart and emotions were telling him to go and liiiive! Before he was rather shy, overweight, withdrawn. During weekends he used to take naps in the armchair (he is 38..), no sports ever, rather not talkative, never smiling, nothing satisfying him, glass always half empty… But I did love and accept him. Now he rides bike like crazy, lost 20kg, doesn’t touch his beloved bread for months, he is interested in his looks, he buys new clothes, he started to be arrogant. It is different person. I think he tasted a new life (he is high manager with overpriced black BMW) in which young ladies give him ego kibbles and offer fun, novelty, sth fresh…
    What is painful is that he started blame shifting – that ok he cheated but it was MY behaviour that led to that…He was depressed and suicidal back in 2018 (good to know, never said, seemed normal, we had parties, going out with friends, holidays, time together, movies, sex) an I didn’t even notice…Well, I am not in his head…When I talk to him every time I feel bad – I try to put boundaries, I know this is shit what he is saying but it hurts to listen that I am so bad person that others run away from me. Yes, he also said infidelity was not his aim, he was running away FROM ME.
    Thank you all to show me the blender, I will not talk to him about that anymore.
    I like myself, I like me being determined, straight forward and honest. I try not to harm anybody, I value friendship and listening to things like he says – makes me sad as I see myself as totally different human being…
    It hurts as we hav

    • Cheater can lose a ton of weight, buy a fancy beamer, sport new clothes and look….he is still him. A weak, lying cheater. You say he is 38, so I gather you are young. Great! I’m excited for you and your fabulous new life ahead without some mamby pamby loser. As for his AP, she’s going to find out what a bore she has landed and will cheat on him or dump his ass.

      • “Thank you for being brave enough to fight for me. And for being tired enough to let me go, when I told you I needed to go.”

        UX, this line is a classic example of the disordered thinking.

      • Wow! Effing crazy! Couldn’t finish it, got sick qhen she startd with the nostalgia and crap. She’s horrible!

      • Oh my gosh, UXworld. Be thankful that you had CL and the UBT. That stuff will mess with your head. Guess who will end up with full custody as your girls get older! Thanks for sharing the link to your story.

      • OMG. That letter is perhaps the most atrocious thing I have ever had the displeasure of reading. What. In. The. Serious. Fuck. Was. That?

        I would feel quite happy if I got that letter. It would be all the proof I needed that my ex was verifiably insane. Hallelujah!

    • Free-soon: We have similar stories, but I’m in my 50’s. STBX got to upper management started buying bigger house, fancy car, nicer clothes. Was ‘working’ long hours, many ‘work dinners’…
      I trusted, supported, understood, waited for him to come home
      Found out he was with a co-worker. When I confronted him, he immediately moved in with her. Clear evidence he was already planning his exit.
      In an apology letter, he tried to tell me, ‘You would like her, she is a lot like you’. and ‘She feels terrible about our affair. She wanted me to tell you sooner.’ But clearly not terrible enough to end it. It was like he was trying to get me to like her or feel sorry for her!
      I did some self-examination and realized that although our marriage wasn’t perfect, I did nothing to justify his cheating. I’m working on fixing my picker, finding myself again and learning to enjoy being single in the time of covid.
      I am just a little over a year from discard and haven’t started dating, yet….maybe sometime soon.
      Hang in there. (Hugs)

    • “All I was getting was flowers, breakfasts and some presents like jewellery.”

      Classic abuse cycle in action. No, really. He didn’t hit you (that leaves marks that lead to serious legal charges), but he tore you apart emotionally. It is still abuse.

      Find a therapist that specializes in people who have suffered trauma/abuse. You did NOT “deserve” to be treated this way. If you can’t enjoy the jewelry, don’t. Pawn or sell them and donate to a worthy cause. You also count as a worthy cause, if you want to use the money to pay for something YOU can use or value.

      Got a good attorney yet? Do that too. Get every scrap of financial information you can find, including your tax returns for the past 7 years, run a credit check on yourself, remove him from YOUR credit cards (if you haven’t already), and if your credit individually isn’t great – use the fact that you are still married and the “household” income to get a credit card in YOUR NAME ALONE to help you move forward. I don’t know if you can remove yourself from his credit cards if you are an authorized user, but definitely get any and all statements. If you can prove that he was spending household money on wooing others, you may get out of being on the hook for paying for it. Make certain he didn’t raid his 401k or IRA’s. Or yours. HELOC? Did he tap it behind your back?

      Lawyer. Therapist. Accountant (if possible).

      Hugs.

      • Oh – and do NOT overlook seeing your PHYSICIAN. Get tested for ALL the STD’s – including herpes and syphilis (blood tests). Plus you may need some help with depression, anxiety, sleeping, etc. Not necessarily long-term, but just long enough to minimize the wooliness and get focused on getting out of this marriage with at least a reasonable (if not fair) settlement and your pride.

        Don’t be house-rich and money-poor.

        Photograph and video record the contents of the house too. And make certain you are still the beneficiary of any and all life insurance and retirement policies, etc.

        Cheaters do not think about possible harm to themselves, let alone their SO’s.

        • Part of my divorce settlement I transferred his life insurance into my name. I had to pay going forward, but it took him out of the picture because if you let those lapse, they are gone.

        • Bank of America let me close Joint card with a balance, told them I was divorcing. I took 3 more months to pay off. I was petrified he would legally transfer a large balance from one of his business cards to it, I knew I could be held responsible if he did. He had done same to his own. He was in collections to Pitney Bowes & Home Depot, put those balances on his SW Chase.

          I was authorized user on one of his personal cards, that works well for you when they are paying, not well when they aren’t. I wrote company and asked to be removed, it took about a month, then I received a letter confirming removal.

    • My ex is in a high-power position in his career too. The younger ladies give him that kibble he clearly needs to survive since he’s not confident with himself (something many cheaters have in common). I used his career to my advantage and get a hefty spousal support payment monthly. Kinda feels like he works for me now days lol Cha$$Ching!

      • Alice, you are my spirit animal. I will continue fighting for a generous settlement. His settlement offers have been ridiculous. His first was that he would pay my bills, I would relinquish my rights to his pension and TSP. We all know how that would have worked out. He was always notoriously cheap and cheese paring with me. The second was less than the amounts I am entitled to by law. No, thank you!

        Mr. Lawyer thinks there will be a good chance he will have to pay my legal fees and court fees as he has consistently not obeyed the Court Ordered Temporary Spousal Maintenance. Every month I have to get Mr. Lawyer to shake out the money.

        I’m staying in this fight. He can pay for the Fucking he put on me and our family.That 27 years younger whore will walk when he can’t buy her. He is old, morbidly obese, and chronically ill. The only thing she loves about him is his wallet.

        He does work for me!

        • Thirtythreeyearsachump, Get’em! My ex’s offers were absurd as well, at one point the lawyer had to look away so he could roll his eyes because my ex thought his offers were “fair”. It may have been my first rodeo going through divorce, but I knew my rights per the law and he messed with the wrong woman.

          Keep fighting for what is rightfully yours, listen to your lawyer, and never let him see you shed a tear. You will get through this, and you have us to help lift you up! What’s the saying, “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes”…well guess what their prize is They Work For Us in the end!

          To our ex’s: You think she loves you so much, she was so worth it? Lets see how much she loves you when you’re writing me that Sexy Spousal Support check for years to come, ha!

        • Keep fighting for Your share of that TSP & pension. TSP is easier to get funds from. Fed pension splitting is difficult and very few attorneys have experience in COAP orders which is required to divide a Fed pension. Many different parts of a COAP order too and you have to have your fingers crossed the govt accepts it. I’ve got my🤞 That mine which awards me half of marital portion of Ex-h’s pension will be found acceptable.

      • yes! Money for me in my case is a way of getting justice. And to protect my kid’s future since I found out their dad is a stranger I don’t even want to meet!

    • Free Soon, this is use of a technique called ‘intermittent reward’. It hooks us good and proper – lots of abuse but the occasional tidbit of love, and we gobble them up and keep trying.

      It’s what keeps people messed up in the stock market, and hanging off slot machines waiting for the payout. It’s just what we do as human beings, so please don’t beat yourself up any more.

      What you’ve suffered from this man has caused trauma bonding. There’s a good book called ‘The Betrayal Bond’ which you might find helpful – a lot of Chumps have.

      It teaches you how trauma bonds form, and what you can do to break them permanently and get your freedom and your headspace and your life back.

      Key to this is No Contact. As long as you keep listening to him, he’s controlling you. You will find lots of hints on how to do serious No Contact if you search the archives of this blog.

      Take care – you WILL get there, and there is peace and light and freedom on the other side.

  • Nothing original here…..cheater had to make you into a shrew to justify the cheating. Cheaters say whatever they think necessary at the time. Do not analyze, figure it out or think that for one minute there is any truth to what they spit out. He’s a lying, cheating coward and that is on him, not you.

  • This is so typical. Mine went to counseling also, all the while seeing his AP, and lying about it. I believe it was about money. As long as he had me occupied thinking “wreckonciliation is possible”, then he could covertly steal every last dime we had, which he almost did.

    No contact helped me. There is nothing you can do. You married a cheater, a liar, a blame shifter, a total louse. YOU on the other hand sound like a rational, responsible woman who was trying to get answers, but was gaslighted from the get go.

    Doesn’t sound like this was his first rodeo. And I promise you it will not be his last. You will arrive at “meh”. At first it happens slowly, then you have slip-ups and then you could care less. XO, Hugs and remember that no-one is perfect. You were adulting and trying to be responsible. Cheaters have to justify their behavior somehow….very narcissistic this one.

  • It’s a mistake to look at yourself through the eyes of someone who was invested in devaluing you to justify their own shitty behaviour. I did, for about 5 minutes. Then I looked further afield. At my friends, family, colleagues. All wonderful people. The best. And they love me. They believe in me, support me, value me. It became clear that my ex was the only one who had that negative perception of me. I chose to trust that he sucks (thanks chump lady) and my life is so much better for it. And I like myself more now than I ever did when I was with him. You’re enough. He is the one who fucked up.

  • Ever notice how when they tell us about our own faults, or that we need to “own” our own failures in the marriage, they don’t hold themselves to the same standard? They, in their eyes, are blameless. Faultless. Or, if they do nobly concede they erred, minimize in order to construct a false equivalency.

    Also: you’re involved in divorce proceedings. He’s engaged in a deliberate attempt to undermine your confidence and to make you question yourself, because it gets and keeps you off balance, and you will be more likely to accept his unacceptable settlement.

    Sounds as if you need to stop talking to him, especially about “the marriage”; you’re divorcing, so anything said about the marriage is beside the point. Time to communicate only through your lawyers.

  • My cheater discarded me back in October and I’ve been struggling with this self doubt lately too. I thought I had gotten a new amazing job and then I found out I didn’t get it and I spiraled into this negative self talk. “There must be something wrong with me” “why am I never good enough?”. It’s sad because I used to let things like not getting a job just roll off my back and move forward. I really don’t like feeling stuck in this negative self worth frame of mind but I also am not sure how to shake it. I’m also normally pretty outspoken and independent so I have wondered if my personality is just too harsh. Just know that you’re not alone. Back to therapy I go..

    • Jo – I am just a random stranger on the internet but wanted to say YOU GOT THIS! Reclaim your MOJO and you go Jo! We’re rooting for you…

      • I agree…jo – keep trying, pick yourself up and keep going. How do I know, because I was in your position 5 weeks ago. Been at my new job for over two weeks and it is great. Had a meeting with the CEO who says he has heard really good things about me….such a boost to my confidence. I just jumped right in and got back to work and I am 59 in two weeks time. Discarded after 34 years, distraught for eighteen months, determined for the past 12 months. We chumps are mighty!

        • Thank you for sharing your positivity. 38th Anniversary next week, I worked in our office, not the same day as his 29 yo gf. It’s wonder to hear you found employment. I’m 62 in A few months. Who knows when divorce will be final, he can’t be bothered to turn in anything remotely complete.

    • If it makes you feel any better, I’ve noticed one difference between decent people and asswipes. Decent folks will rack their brain trying to figure out how they could have done better or where they went wrong. Asswipes blame everyone else and take no responsibility. Be it cheaters, bad parents or criminals they are full of lame excuses it is always someone else’s fault.

      • ^^^THIS!!!! So, so true…before I knew of the cheating I was constantly asking myself what I was doing wrong in the marriage…how could I fix things? How could i improve. My ex was always there to back me up…”Yes, it’s 100% your fault. Keep trying to fix yourself.”

      • Good point! And it is rampant these days. Everyone elses fault. Also, name calling, blaming, just like what cheaters do, instead of frank discussion and respect. Different of course, but in a similar style.

    • I also had negative self talk. So, I worked on getting rid of it. If I said something negative about myself, I’d stop and make myself say something positive. I would look myself in the mirror and say, “I love you, Sisu” or “You’re awesome, Sisu”, etc. I’d even hug myself on occasion. It sounds corny, but it works. Eventually, the negative self talk was gone, and I’m happy and at peace with myself. It was the second best present I ever gave to myself. The first best was kicking my narc ex to the curb 😉

      • Thank you for the advice. I appreciate it. Jojo, I’m “too much” too. It’s ok. Keep being yourself. I’m constantly working on being kinder to others since I am direct, and Sisu I am looking forward to giving myself a second best present too.

    • Hey JO, I went to my therapist after D-day and my main questions were “Am I a toxic partner and I don’t know it?” “did I expect too much from him?” “what is wrong with me?”
      6 months later, I see how beneficial therapy was (if you have a good therapist). My therapist would make me write what my qualities were. in the beginning, it was things like “I used to be funny but now I cry all the time”. and my therapist would say “I see someone who is resilient. I see someone who came to therapy willingly because they knew they had a problem. I see someone who’s not afraid of introspection. I see someone who’s able to ask difficult questions”.
      All of these things were completely blind to me. I saw myself as deeply unloveable and that there must have been something wrong with me, for him to cheat.

      You got this!

    • I was always super resilient too. It was a quality people told me they admired about me. Then the betrayal and the 2 years of depression. I’ve gone to therapy (hasn’t been helpful for me), got on a workout regimen (did wonders until quarantine smashed the schedule), invested more in friendships (ditto), and thrown myself into new hobbies, but I’m still stuck in the rut. Can’t get work done, wondering if I need to abandon my career and start over just to give myself a complete mental refresh. Anyway, I’m reminded that lots of people are going through similar things. There isn’t something “wrong” with me. It’s okay to feel this way, I just have to keep trudging on and remembering to step outside for fresh air when I feel overwhelmed.

  • If one is unhappy there are ways to end a marriage with care. He did not choose that. He chose some pretty shoes in the window and he did this because you are direct? He chose to humiliate and continually hurt you and then when caught chose to take no responsibility. He made all of those conscious choices.

    You sound like an empathic person. He knows that and is using it against you. He is using your broken heart to manipulate you. No contact. It is essential.

    Please know you will get through this. Your heart will heal. We are all proof of it.

  • I’ve never known a cheater who didn’t demonize their spouse. It’s part of the cheater handbook.

    By coming up with a bunch of vague ‘crimes’ we commited they think it takes them off the hook for being assholes and stabbing us in the back.

    Trust your friends regarding your character. Never take a proven liars word or impression of anything. Every single word out of their mouth is for their own benefit and they are a stranger to truth.

  • Free_Soon, your soon to be ex and my ex have an unbelievable amount in common. You were never the problem, infidelity was. ALL marriages have challenges, we ALL have good and bad days, we are ALL human with flaws. There are people who face their problems, talk them out, come forward and fight for their marriages. Then there are people who take the cowardly way out and hop in bed with someone else to “escape”. Do not let your ex impact your belief system. You had nothing to do with his failure, weakness, loser behavior. You were the fighter (as I was), willing to work through the marriage even after he had the affair. He is undeserving of such a strong soul, you!

    My ex, literally said “if we didn’t fight all the time, i wouldn’t have had to cheat and find someone else”. BARF!!! No, my ex wasn’t coming home all the time after work, he was taking off on weekends to unknown places, he was hiding his personal and work phone from me (even though I never went through them), one of my co-workers found him on a dating app! If we fought, it was because of I knew something was going on and I was facing it head on.

    In one of our meetings with the lawyer he said “if you were a better wife, it wouldn’t have come to this” and I said, “no if you kept it in your pants, it wouldn’t have come to this”. These cheats think they can justify their behavior if they claim to be the victim, BARF again! It makes them feel better about their actions if they are the victim. My ex had a change of heart as I moved out of our home and cried his eyes out. My last words to him in person were, “I Don’t Stay Married To Losers!”

    You were never the issue, I promise!

    • “I Don’t Stay Married To Losers!” Love that! Towanda!!!

      My STBX said, “You gave as good as you got.” I still puzzle over this. I think it’s like saying, “You once left the vacuum out, so I had to burn down the house.”

      But, that said, Free_Soon, I, too, struggled with feeling that maybe he was right, maybe I *was* at fault. I did get angry and upset the night he said he wanted a separation. How terrible of me! CL helped me see the error of my thinking. I didn’t make him cheat. And I’m a good person with better values.

      Since D-day, I’ve discovered that before cheating (or maybe during; who the heck knows?), my cheater asked some guy friends what to do because this younger nurse (he’s a doc, obviously–cliche), was flirting with him. Clearly the cheater narcissist was bragging and not really looking for advice. To a man, they all said, “Dude, you’re married. Shut it down.” At that time, he must have loved the kibbles of attention coming from all directions (the whore, the guy friends, and me!)!

      He knew infidelity is wrong. He planned it. He then backfilled some blameshifting, jackass reasons for his affair. He really had to dig deep (i.e., I wouldn’t move to Montana–he never asked–and he didn’t like it that I listen to political podcasts). The sad part about the podcasts is that I ended up shutting them off when he came into the room. I know. I know. It’s pathetic. In the future, I vow never to shut off a podcast (or cease any other activity I do that’s not hurting anyone else). Towanda!

      CL is right. We didn’t make these f*wits cheat. Shame on them for blaming us for their own shitty behavior. It’s despicable.

      • Spinach@35, I’ve really thought about this a lot, these cheaters are some of the most (if not the most) insecure people on the planet. Your STBX had three avenues of kibble, gosh that’s a lot of kibble which shows how insecure of a person he is. They try so hard to hide their insecurities by doing these power plays, gaslighting, blame-shifting, playing the victim, etc. It’s gotta be exhausting being them, I’d rather eat dirt than associate with a cheater.

  • The thing is everyone has issues, but he is not responsible for your issues, and you are not responsible for his. For instance, if he comes home from work angry and kicks the dog, and you say “stop kicking the dog, he has nothing to do with your bad day at work,” it is not ok for him to turn around and say “I only have a bad day at work and kick the dog because you squeeze the toothpaste in the middle.” The argument is ridiculous.

    If I have FOO issues, and those influences are negatively impacting the relationship that is one conversation. It is all about me and my issues. It is not the time to bring up a different issue, like not having enough money to go on vacation. One issue does not necessarily cause the other. Both issues may need to be addressed, but not at the same time. The real problem with blame shifting behavior is that the cheater NEVER wants to take ownership of the problems he causes. You do not control other people’s behavior. They choose to act, they choose to put themselves in the situation which allows the action. If I have an alcohol problem, I do not choose to go to a bar if I am owning my problem. My friends do not make me drink.

    I do not know a single married couple who does not argue about something, some of the time. Many admit to having the same argument, over and over, for years. Being happy in a relationship does not mean you have achieved perfection. Two imperfect people can co-exist in a relationship by learning to tolerate each other’s imperfections, and celebrate the things which attracted them to each other in the first place.

    If you are unhappy because he does not carry his share of the work in the relationship, that is an issue. If he has no defense for not being a working partner, sharing the chores, that does not mean he has permission to go out with another woman who does not ask him to share work in her home. That means he is immature, and does not want to do his part, AND does not want to admit it. Shifting the blame to you is a tactic to avoid taking ownership of his problems.

    If he has already acted, he has shown you who he really is. You may not want to believe it, but eventually you will find you cannot change another person. You may have your own problems, and if you want to work on those, then you may be able to change yourself, because you are motivated to have a better life. You cannot change for him either, only for you.

    Don’t let someone else blame you for his problem. It makes you feel bad, and it doesn’t fix his problem.

  • Tracy. Dear, dear Tracy,

    I JUST FREAKING LOVE YOU AND THANK GOD FOR YOU AND THIS BLOG AND YOUR BRILLIANT RAZOR SHARP WIT EVERY SINGLE DAY.

    Reading this blog was the first time I laughed after DDay. And it took a LONG time after DDay to laugh. And I am a funny person. With a famous comedian friend whose best friend was Robin Williams. And even he couldn’t make me laugh.

    I also get my daily dose of sanity here.

    I also bought MYSELF a wedding ring and married myself.

    The man in this letter is 150% undiluted AH.
    F him and his lower companion. Wish him good luck with his utopian butterflies and rainbows issue-free Fantasy Island fake “relationship”.

    The only thing those people can relate with are their own genitals.

    • WARNING:

      I have issues. Yep. Issue Woman here.

      I also do daily footwork toward those issues and to clean up my side of the street as best I can. They are also very frustrating in that as soon as I get something handled, I get new things to work on. Like weeding a garden.

      I have not yet achieved Issue Free status. I never will.

      Character development is the world’s most difficult video game. As soon as I get a level figured out, I get transported to the next level.

      The levels are endlesssssssssss…….

      One thing that is NOT on my list of issues is doing things intentionally that I know will hurt other people.

      So he’s right. They are “Sole Mates”

  • We went to counselling the therapist used the Gottman reconciliation material. XBF kept going on and on about my ‘harsh start up’. I even practiced in therapy. It was all a total lie. He was just using it as an excuse not to answer questions about his shitty behaviour.

  • You were too “direct”?? Mine either said I was “attacking” him, when I asked him to do something he said he would do, or, on the flip side, said I needed to “say what I mean” when I would try to figure out some less threatening way to ask him to blow the leaves off the patio.

    The point is, there is NO way to please these people. You can be everything they claim they want, and they will still cheat. You, in the meantime, will be doing all sorts of physical and mental gymnastics trying to meet their ever-changing “needs”. You will lose yourself in the attempt, and wonder what happened to that competent, talented woman you thought you were. Ask me how I know.

    Hugs.

    • Yup. No matter what you do, it is never enough, because it’s not you. They’re bottomless pits of ever-changing morphing “needs.” There’s nothing you can do to ever satisfy them.

      So leave their asses behind in their own misery and go be your direct self.

  • I think it is so normal to have this internal dialog because if you didn’t know your partner was cheating (or capable of it) and you thought you were happy and suddenly you find out otherwise, then you question everything about yourself in relation to that relationship. Self Doubt is a huge part of this battle and the only way to overcome it is to question yourself. What helped me enormously is when I had these self doubts, I learned to ask myself, “who says?” I decided that was my magic question. “Who says?” I’m not good enough, too old, too fat, too bitter, etc… If I’m saying it about myself, then that’s my choice (and I don’t have to choose it) but NO ONE ELSE gets to make me feel inferior-especially abusive fuckers I’m better off without.

    • It also helps to surround yourself with your tribe who will remind you that you are amazing. Working on healthy family relationships and friendship networks is key. Don’t lose yourself in the infatuation of a new romance for validation. Surround yourself with good people whose values you share. Intelligent and loving people who tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear. They will remind you of who you really are.

      You learn to say to yourself “Who says?”. It’s also nice to have your tribe support you in that too. They love you for all of who you are.

  • Free Soon – CL has nailed it. You are the victim of DARVO for sure. Here is the thing, cheaters emotionally abuse their spouses. It often involves:

    i) Preying on your insecurities and using them against you. Perhaps there are some things that you have questioned about yourself or been uncertain of in the past. As a woman, I feel that we’re often made to feel guilty about being assertive, so when we are accused of “not being nice,” we react to restore the “good girl” reputation. He just weaponized that against you.

    ii) They are projecting their own insecurity. This is the biggy. They envy certain traits that we have and they lack, whether it be our generosity, our work-ethic, our intelligence, our likability, our mindedness. They cut us down to raise themselves up. My counsellor said that the irony is that these traits were probably what they initially found attractive about us because it was something they desired in themselves. Then they grow to resent it because they can’t “live up” to it. Deep personal change does not come from approximating yourself to someone who possesses the qualities you want, but through your own hard self-reflection and work.

    iii) Their level of cognitive dissonance is so high that they seek to find any means to rationalize their actions by villifying the spouse. His mental comfort depends on you being the “bad guy” so that he can feel better about what he’s done and continues to do. As long as you are the controlling, complaining, criticizing, etc, etc, etc., spouse, then he’s the victim who had to do what he did. He was driven to it. You’re the antagonist in his narrative.

    This is why grey rock or no contact is absolutely imperative and why working on YOU is the most important thing you can do. You must re-wire your brain from the damage that he’s done to you. I’m 2.5 years out and it’s been a gradual process of taking myself back so that I am proud of some of the very things you accused me of being (and I have purged myself of the many things he said I was but am not).

    I will repost this for you as it was helpful for me two years ago when someone her posted it to me. Rebuild who you are from the rubble and never take jewels from your crown again. You just needed a man with bigger hands.

    https://images.app.goo.gl/spykz8M5UdLjY2Ss9

    • Wow, now you got me…
      My husband always said he envied me that people liked me, liked my company and wherever I go I meet people. It’s like I was born that way, I just like people. I see good in them. He said I could sell everything. And he is opposite – withdrawn, serious, lacking spontaneity, doesn’t joke…I always believed it is great we are so different because we are like a team that has everything. I am the friendly, happy, funny and energetic one and he is more thinker, caring for me and family, intelligent and calm. Yes, I always felt SO safe with him! How ironic…And he always had this complex that people don’t like him! I was repeating to him it’s not true – they only feel respect because when he speaks he speaks slowly, seriously and with deep low voice.
      Now when you wrote that it makes sense…Maybe he loved this happiness and spontaneity in me because he is lacking that. And that I was always saying what I was thinking, being so determined…
      Now he hates me for that.

      • I’d take it a little further. It’s jealousy. You’re happy. You’re open, you’re welcoming with others. He isn’t.

        A lot of narcissists and manipulators hate themselves. They have deep insecurities and self-loathing for their inadequacies, real or perceived. Instead of dealing with them like healthy, responsible adults, either through therapy and facing their issues with self-reflection and actual work toward improvement and change, they turn outward and blame everyone else around them. They try to force others down to make themselves feel better. They get a kick out of making others feel like shit so they don’t have to admit to their shortcomings. To them, if everything is everyone else’s fault, then they don’t have to fix anything. It’s all in avoidance of personal responsibility.

        It extends into their decisions in relationships. For argument’s sake, say he wasn’t happy. Instead of facing that, he cheats. And cheats. And cheats. But that doesn’t actually solve any problem he might have actually had. It doesn’t directly face anything. Cheating by its nature is indirect. It involves lies, deceit, falsehoods, behind-the-scenes deals, hidden agendas. Any “happiness” he thinks he’s getting from it is just a short-lived high because there’s nothing genuine about it. So when you inevitably discover what he’s been doing behind your back, he makes more choices in the same vein. Instead of facing it directly and admitting to wrongdoing and hurting you, he makes it your fault. Your personality traits, which were never a problem before, are now his reasons why he cheated. If he can make you feel like it was your fault, then he doesn’t have to take responsibility for anything.

        The good news is it’s not you. It is him. He’ll do the same thing with his schmoopers. She’s not magical and sex with her doesn’t cure fucked up character. Chances are she’s just as messed up as he is.

        You’re the only genuine person here. You’re not going to go on and mess up more people’s lives, blame others for your problems, and try to fill in your insecurities with illicit relations with your coworkers. Don’t waste time with therapists who feed into his narcissism either. Therapists like that do nothing but feed into their delusions that everything is everyone else’s fault. Best wash your hands of them all and continue being who you are. It’s a far better person to be than a narcissist that can’t take responsibility.

      • Hey Free_Soon,
        My ex was very charming and charismatic. He was the life of the party (at least to me, because he was the light of my life at some point). He told me that he resented that all his friends liked me so much, that everyone always told him he is so lucky to have a great partner. He resented that if he went somewhere without me, people would ask “where is ChumpedLindyHopper”. He felt he wasn’t appreciated for who he was as an individual. He even told me after the split, that he resented people’s reactions to the news.

        I even had a bureaucratic hurdle at work, to switch from one contract to the other and my boss kept giving me 2 months prolongations (3 in total for 6 months), while it was being sorted out. That time of my life was pretty stressful but he kept saying how he was jealous of how much my boss believed in me.

        It was death by a thousand papercuts. I kept making myself smaller and smaller, because I wanted to keep him in my life and he kept blaming me for all the things he is unhappy about.

        • I’m sorry to read this. I can’t believe he would outright SAY all this to you, how can anyone be so insecure? It’s like they marry people so they can compete with them without realizing that you’re providing a foundation for them to build on together. The stronger you are the better.

  • Free Soon – I hope you are willing to accept the truth of the matter because this is the honest truth – IT’S NOT YOU. IT’S HIM!

    Look at it this way, if you indeed caused him to be unfaithful then why couldn’t you make him faithful? Because, as CL said, it has nothing to do with you.

    He is a black hole of insecurity and self deprecation. He can’t make himself feel good so he relies on external sources for that and you weren’t doing it for him anymore. Don’t take that personally because NOTHING and NO ONE can. It’s an impossible task for anyone. Even that new toy he picked up from the sale rack in a thrift store won’t be able to fill his black hole of neediness for adoration and adulation for long. Ohhh thank you for the lovely shoes! You’re the best! Gag.

    You are enough just the way you are. And that is the honest truth.

  • 1. Does it matter? The right response to your spouse “shouting” at you all the time is to ask them to stop and if they don’t then leave the marriage.

    2. My ex said the exact same thing. This must be another cheater playbook thing. I too am I straight talker. He had me convinced I was this nasty brute. In actuality, I was honest, and somehow that translated to yelling. Also, I learned he has zero tolerance for anyone disagreeing with him, like many narcissists, so he would parlay minor daily conflicts into massive attacks on him. Don’t be fooled by this. And, maybe in fact your ex truly feels like you “shouted” at him all the time…but that doesn’t mean you did. I learned that anytime I took a tone other than completely pleasant, my ex thought I was yelling.

    3. It’s easy to doubt yourself in the middle of the mess you’re in, but take time to talk to the people around you who know you best, if you really want to know if you’re a shouter or not. Who knows, maybe you are (unlikely, see point 2 above) and maybe that’s an area for improvement. Either way, it does not justify his behavior (see point 1 above).

    • “2. My ex said the exact same thing. This must be another cheater playbook thing. I too am I straight talker. He had me convinced I was this nasty brute. In actuality, I was honest, and somehow that translated to yelling. Also, I learned he has zero tolerance for anyone disagreeing with him, like many narcissists, so he would parlay minor daily conflicts into massive attacks on him. Don’t be fooled by this. And, maybe in fact your ex truly feels like you “shouted” at him all the time…but that doesn’t mean you did. I learned that anytime I took a tone other than completely pleasant, my ex thought I was yelling.”

      Yes, especially: “he would parlay minor daily conflicts into massive attacks on him” and ” I learned that anytime I took a tone other than completely pleasant, my ex thought I was yelling”. I started to think that I don’t see my behavior, maybe I am blind…I talked to my mother who is close to us (she is helping with kids) and knows us together – and she said that she didn’t notice that I was shouting at him, only saying what I think. And as I have my opinion – I was often in the discussion with my STBX because…why not? I was raised by a father who treated me and my brother equally and I always believed women are equal to men so if I disagree – I will say that.
      But in this vulnerable time I start to question myself after talking to my husband…
      You are right, I will try do minimize the contact.
      Thank you

      • This is so absolutely accurate – any time that you assert boundaries and refuse to jump to their tune, you will be accused of something – yelling, screaming, being abusive, being unreasonable, not listening, etc, etc, etc.

        It’s just a standard issue manipulative tactic that you eventually learn to ignore. Basically, when someone attacks your character or behavior falsely, the instinctive tendency for most people is to defend themselves against such accusations, to prove otherwise. That serves to push off the argument into an exhausting tangent which will eventually lead to the Chump yielding to cheater’s demands. Do not fall for this.

        You have to train yourself not to react, not to defend yourself, and stay firmly on topic.

        Fcukwit did just that the other day. He demanded something, I asserted boundaries and said no. He immediately accused me of yelling and screaming at him. Mind you, all I said was a cold firm no. When he went off about how I scream at him, how I never listen, how I’m unreasonable and impossible to talk to – my response was “sorry you feel that way, but regarding x issue the answer is still no.” He went quiet and hung up.

        Do not get baited. I can’t say this enough. I actually learned how to deal with this from youtube videos – how to shut down a narcissist, how to speak to a narcissist – search terms like that. Best videos aren’t from psychiatrists, but people like us – been there, done that, have the practical experience. It’s difficult to learn how not to get baited, but it will help you tremendously and reduce the conflict and pain of dealing with these lunatics.

  • The reason you don’t remember those things happening in your marriage is because they didn’t happen. Please find the movie “gaslight“ with Ingrid Bergman online and watch it again. This is classic gaslighting behavior.

  • It’s been a while since my Divorce from Cheater…about 7 years. Plenty of time to prune my friend group. Like many people, I was friends with *the people I ended up with*.

    Now, looking around at the few friends I kept close, they are all people who “say what they mean and mean what they say.”

    Funny how I ended up with friends like you Chumps…”determined and very straightforward, honest — and I always say what I think.”

    So, thanks for that insight.

  • It’s unbelievable how they blame us for their cheating and lying. My ex said if I didn’t nag he wouldn’t have cheated. Strange it took him 35 years to feel that way.
    Best of luck to you Stay strong 👍🏻

  • The thing with marriage and living with others is they eventually figure out your vulnerabilities. And they can either comfort you or bludgeon you with it. You yell cry eat funny look ugly in the morning, can’t swim, pick at food, get pimples from chocolate, compete your lawn with neighbors, thinning hair, handlebar bulges – whatever is your sensitive spot. And when they twist that like a nice it just resonates in your brain and makes you cringe at the thought. But they’ve weaponized your vulnerability so fuck them. Shout all you want. Shouting can be therapeutic. Anyway, you’re feel of that lying cheating fuck head and that kinda is something to shout about

  • Ugh. I’m sorry you’re going through this and having the same self doubting feelings the rest of us have had. DDay #1 really screws with you but I think you get so stuck in your pick-me dance, you have little time to focus on anything else other than clinging onto them. It’s the DDay #2 (or subsequent) and the relationship all comes to an end that you really start to doubt yourself, try to recall anything real that occurred in the marriage and your brain and heart try to reconcile how the person you once loved so much has left you so shattered. It’s completely disorienting and the fact that you receive no answers other than blame, leaves you feeling that you must have done something wrong to cause this cruelness, there must of be something inherently wrong with you that someone would not only betray you once, but after multiple DDay’s.
    The only thing that has gotten me to move forward in the slightest is no contact. Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of days that I wallow in my own blame, sadness and tears but at least now, I no longer reach out to her for support because all she did was use it as more opportunity to shift blame, make excuses and watch me spiral further. I finally had enough when I was crying to her, telling her how much I still miss and love her and she told me she never ended her affair because I wasn’t kind enough and complimentary enough to her after DDay #1 and she needed that person to feel good about herself. It really hammered home that the person I loved so much cares about no one else but herself and I would find more empathy for my world collapsing from a stranger than I would from the woman that dropped an A-Bomb into my life.
    The more you listen or allow yourself to engage with these people, the more they will hurt you. The more you try to reconcile in your own head and heart what has happened, the more you will hurt yourself.
    These people are cowards. They were cowards for lying to us, they were cowards for cheating on us, they were cowards for their fake reconciliations and they are cowards for letting the shattered recipients of their behavior struggle and fight to pick ourselves back up on their own.
    Stay strong, stay yourself and stay away from the coward.

    • For me, the pick me part was brief. After the initial shock wore off and he continued to act like an asshole over the next few months, including informing me how “I” needed to change, I started to really think about what I was getting out of that marriage.

      It wasn’t much.

      I filed soon after that. He was shocked…..couldn’t believe I’d done it. Cried, begged, but continued to bullshit his about his OW. But they were all crocodile tears….he overestimated his worth.

      This is something chumps really need to think hard about…what they’re really getting. The answer is pretty much always not very much.

      • Well said Kim, I certainly wish I had the courage to not engage in the pick-me dance after DDay #1. I was so shocked and blindsided by it all, all I could do was fight for the marriage and she allowed me to as she continued her affair until DDay #2 and then she left. Often when you get so blindsided, you act out of fear and the mission becomes holding onto that person while you completely lose yourself in the process. When DDay #2 hits, you’re already so disoriented and lost, it’s easy for them to really take advantage of us even further. It’s all pathetic and disgusting behavior, no other way to say it.

        • Yeah, I get that…..especially when you have a home and children. You’re facing your entire life blowing up and that’s so very scary.

          In my case it was easier because we had no kids together and he really never treated mine all that well. He wasn’t abusive, he was just kind of a nasty prick; he once said in MC that he felt like an outsider with me and my boys, but it didn’t have to be that way. He refused to participate because he found us annoying….anything that wasn’t phony and surface made him uncomfortable and wasn’t allowed, so we had to walk on eggshells and couldn’t be ourselves with him.

          So the fact that my boys didn’t give a shit made leaving much easier. In fact, they no longer hide in their rooms and come out to hang out with me now that it’s just us. I have a nice bf that will sometimes stay the night (I’ve had him for a couple of years so they know him) and they’ll come out to chat with him. But my kids are also 19 and 17….not little kids.

          My ex gave me some bullshit about how much he loved my boys, but he’s full of shit. He was around for 13 years and my older son graduated high school after our divorce. He could’ve sent a card, or something, but he did nothing. Not that I needed confirmation that I did the right thing but if I did that would’ve been a start.

          I hope you keep healing….you’re better off without her.

  • There’s “unlikeable” and there’s “abuse”.

    I probably have plenty of “unlikeable”, based on the opinions that are trending nowadays, apparently, but I don’t go around abusing, deceiving, devaluing, manipulating and gaslighting people on purpose, for years.

    If I hurt someone, I say sorry. If I bother someone, I stop what it is that I’m doing.
    And if I can’t do either, I step away. I don’t connive people into staying with me.

    And I expect nothing less from others. That simple.

  • I think we were married to very similar people.

    Sad little X left for a co worker who was my ‘polar opposite’ and ‘understood his depression’. I forced him into her bed because 10 years before D day I said something blunt – but true – and he never forgave me. Oh and he watched sport all day because he ‘couldn’t stand the sight of me’

    I believed him too. I honestly felt I had driven him to it. My confidence was shattered. And then, with the help of this site I realised I had stuck in a circle of his abuse. And I got back up.

    I can never say this other than here. He is Mr Nice Guy – good old X. Such a great guy to others. He devalued me to others. He transformed himself for her. Why? Cos he knows she’s a cheat. Has to be on his best behaviour for her.

    I’m three years out now. I know the truth. I know his put downs, mind games and his nasty control. It’s still new to her. And now I know it wasn’t me after all.

    Life gets better.

  • It’s easy to understand in retrospect that cheaters are hard to know because they obfuscate, lie, distort and image manage. But cheaters also never really know their victims either.

    The only facet of their betrayed partners cheaters know is the facet that’s simply reacting to betrayal. I think this is true even in the months or years of buildup to cheating when cheating is just an intangible potential picked up by the primitive threat assessment part of the brain, even if the conscious mind can’t read the signals or comprehend the ramifications.

    The idea that cheaters are accurate analysts of the behavior of their victims, it would be like animal researchers only studying horses as distant tornadoes move towards the stables while magically failing to note the existence and effects of tornadoes.

    The research team would proclaim that horses violently snort all the time! Horses never sleep! Horses continually kick stable doors and upend their water troughs! And finally horses fly through the air and land in trees 200 meters away! Ergo, horses are violent, insomniac, flying animals only good for glue and pet food!

    (Study authors declare no conflicts of interest other than $2 million in grants by Kitty Kibble Inc., Hound Chow International and Elmer’s Corporation).

    • Hell of a Chump, this is priceless. My son told me to print it, frame it, and hang it on the wall. Horses flying 200 meters! We will be using the tornado analogy a lot around our house going forward. I agree with Velvet Hammer above. This website has been some of our first good laughs in ages.

      • Left it All: Lol, yes, we are mad, magical creatures who levitate into trees all on our own. Just edit out the gale force winds using CGI.

        We need to laugh like someone who just got their arm chopped off needs a tourniquet.

  • “He claims he really felt as if I was always attacking him and his affair was an escape. ”

    This, is think is the truth.

    1. Cheaters do feel they are under attack. They do shitty things and then when you object, they DARVO it. Deny, Attack and Reverse Victim and Offender.
    2. They feel that any opposition to what they do or say is an attack (not a defense of your own self-respect and integrity).
    3. They cannot deal with criticism (however justified). They refuse to take responsibility (they will deny being responsible for the marital problems). And they refuse accountability (they never answer to anyone for their conduct and so won’t answer to you for what they’ve done).

    4. Therefore, any time you bring up what he did, how you feel, or what needs to change, he will justify ESCAPE. And then identify “escape” as having an affair.

    So you see the blame shift cycle:

    Have an affair –> Devastate your spouse –> Spouse expresses pain &wants answers/accountablity/change –>DARVO, making your RESPONSE to the affair the REASON for the affair —> Spouse taking the blame for the affair.

    • Attacking you is their defense for shitty behavior. Don’t do their work for them. Time to refuse to allow their words any rental space in your head.

  • As someone who actually “went to therapy to be able to deal with the frustration, I felt with husband’s neverending work trips” only to learn later that he not only didn’t need all those trips but was also using the trips to screw howorker I think I can honestly say that NO, NOT YOUR FAULT. AT ALL.
    Think about it, he cheated on you, lied to you, and you, as a normal decent person that respect her vows, still loved him and wanted to make it work. But he is so so special that if you dared to scream at him because he gave his AP shoes for Xmas, you’re the insane one? NOPE. The nerve on this fuckwits.

    • What is it with work trips? just because they can does not mean they should! (when I went on work trips it never crossed my mind to cheat!) Firmly reminds self not to untangle the skein; and trust that cheaters suck!

  • It is standard cheaterspeak but we still take it to heart….because we did shout sometimes and are guilty as charged of not being perfect human beings.
    The OW stormed the marital home when he was stringing me along in future faking…the affair had no real future and was coming to an end whether we split up or not.
    Anyway she burst in shouting and swearing, brawled with him in my living room and insulted our son who was 20 at the time.
    She also told me that it had gone on for 6 years and not the few months he made out.
    Well we divorced and they are still together years on.
    So maybe it is all love and light there and our marriage ended because I was lazy grumpy crazy and clashed with his folks too much

  • My husband was a massive love bomber for 25 years. It was always a bit over the top but I chalked it up to his over the top personality. I was on an overseas trip when I discovered his cheating via our credit card. I didn’t say anything as I didn’t want a fight over the phone. He was texting me and calling me and telling me how much he loved me and missed me. I walked into the home when I got back to find flowers and all of my favorite foods in the kitchen. He nearly ran to me he was so happy! Then I asked him what the fuck he’s been doing. His face changed. He started confessing about all the horrible cheating he’s been doing for at least 10 years. I was expecting a month long fuck fest while I was away- I was totally unprepared for what I heard. I shut down totally and cried for a week. Since that moment, he hates me. Is totally cruel, abusive, won’t pay or help. I’m in a legal battle. He blames me and hates me. He looks different. It was bizarre and horrible. From love bomb to pure hate in one instant. The reason I say this is that none of this shit makes sense and don’t blame yourself. They suck and they’re disordered.

    • Formerly Known As–I’m so sorry that happened to you. How awful!

      So many of these cheaters lie so easily and go from love bombing to discard quickly. It’s frightening.

      I hope you’re doing better now.

    • So sorry
      Vikki stark has a YouTube channel that speaks to this unspeakable betrayal
      – I think it’s especially hard when you’ve been love bombed- because even if a part of you knows it’s over the top, you believe it
      Utter crap

      • Yeah Zip, I totally believed it and so did everybody else. We were the loving power couple that everyone thought were so amazingly in love for 25 years. Meanwhile, he seduced and was fucking MY client at OUR work. Both of those assholes looked me in the eye at work. It’s so humiliating. I hate them both. Now they’re together and he claims she has it all that I didn’t have. Fuck them.

        • I don’t blame you Formerly, I hate them both too… which adds to the frustration because you want to move on and forget about those garbage cans – crappy entitled people- but you can’t stop thinking about how evil they are and how you have to pay the consequences

          It’s incomprehensible and very confusing

          Because all the advice is – make sure you are being well treated from the beginning
          – I don’t think I would ever put up with being mistreated ….especially from the beginning …
          – especially the second time around……the person I finally settled on treated me like I was a queen, treated my kids exceptionally well, treated my family exceptionally well, treated his family exceptionally well
          I called him Mr. wonderful, I thought I hit the Jackpot
          – then the discard with not a lot in between
          – so what is the advice? Make sure you’re treated well but not too well?
          – when Clady speaks of her wonderful husband, mine was just like that and maybe more so…

        • That they were able to look you in the eye while cheating reveals how morally corrupt they are. Karma is those two living together.

          He lies. They are not happy. They are miserable, sucky people and neither can trust the other.

          I wouldn’t believe a thing he says about their relationship or anything else for that matter.

          • Exactly! Do they or will they ever create a good relationship? No! Because they dont respect other people. When the butterflies die – they will do the same to each other

    • When the mask falls, you get to see the real person. Amazing how these defects can actually act so normal for so many years but then at the same time they are always engaging in the abnormal or something devious behind your back.

  • Don’t base your self worth on the opinion of a cheater, a liar, and a traitorous backstabber.

    It’s really that simple.

  • Most cheaters rewrite history.

    They make shit up and exaggerate so the plot line fits their “l’m the hero of this story” narrative.

    I was direct too, though I would call it assertive. On more than one occasion he told me to stop yelling and I pointed out to him that “yelling” means raising your voice, which I was not doing.

    To the immature, being chastised is experienced as being “yelled at.”

    They are, in so many ways, like toddlers.

    • Yep to that. Everything I did to protect myself I was told that I was either a) punishing him or b) an aggressive bitch who is mean. This includes things like me doing my own taxes, getting a lawyer and applying for child support. My lawyer cannot believe how he flips out when I make a move to protect myself. You’re right- he acts like a big baby. A big, cruel, entitled baby. Pathetic. And note that it’s all about them, even my own damn tax became about him. 🙄🤯🖕🏻

  • ‘Why are you letting a fuckwit set the price on your worth? Who cares what he thinks? He’s a liar and a cheat’
    Why is it so hard to except this?
    I’m a good person, I have a career in a caring profession, I have friends, I take care of my parents, my kids have turned into outstanding young adults – I’m attractive and healthy- yet I have two ex-husbands who have devalued me.
    All my therapist can seem to say is ‘ what are you going to do for yourself?’- because I guess that’s all there is to do! Cheater ex is gone off with the younger coworker ……
    My therapist thinks he was a covert narc, I had absolutely no idea because he was quite the giver and all about everybody else…… there seems to be so many different varieties of narcissists that it’s hard to know.
    Why is it so hard to except that we are still catches even though we were discarded by a lying manipulative cheater?
    I know I’m not perfect, but I also know my character is right up there.
    Does anyone have any tips as to how to get out of that mind warp – thinking that it did have something to do with you even though you know it didn’t.
    After six months, why is it still such a sad mind obsession ?

    • I might recommend reading the old bestseller, “Men Who Can’t Love,” and also delving into the overlaps between battering personality and chronic infidelity. To me, cheating is often a non-physical form of battering.

      The book, “The Batterer” by Canadian Criminologist Donald Dutton is particularly interesting.

      One thing that struck me about Dutton’s work is the statistic that women who are battered once have a 50% of risk of being battered a second time. Though this is often interpreted by helping professions as “violence proneness” or “seeking abuse,” Dutton argues it might just boil down to cultural ignorance and how abuse survivors have difficulty finding safe harbor and emotional support after trauma. The conclusion was not that abused people seek out the next abuser but instead are simply seeking protection and support in a world where this is scarce.

      After more reading on the subject and just thinking about my own experiences and the experiences of friends, I suddenly realized that one of the problem is that “nice men” just aren’t nice enough. The average Dagwood Bumstead simply doesn’t get the risks involved with being female which gives a huge advantage to abusers whom Dutton reports have an “alacrity” for studying women’s issues. It gives them an advantage in playing the rescuer to wounded souls, which, according to the statistics on violence, would be about half of all women.

      In other words, the first lousy experience leaves us particularly vulnerable to being ensnared again. Basically it’s mainly abusers who know too well how abuse operates and how it damages people so they might more easily feign to balm the wounds of someone who’s experienced abuse. It’s diabolical.

      I think the perspective could also be of value to cheated-on, non-abusive men in understanding how poachers operate.

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