Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

The Fiction of Unconditional Love

One common example of the Stupid Shit Cheaters Say is cheaters’ disappointment that they were not loved “unconditionally.”

Apparently, they are capable of “unconditional love” and we, being irrationally angry, small-minded meanies, are not.

Unconditional love, from what I can tell, seems to be this perpetual state of Grace, where no matter what cheaters do, no matter how deliberate, or idiotic, or devastating, they shall not be held accountable. The cheater cannot be left. The cheater must not suffer consequences (because this pains them too!); and they get as many chances as they deem necessary to straighten up and fly right.

They might never straighten up and fly right, and that’s okay, because you have a love that is bigger than you both, which is God-like, and omnipresent! Your unconditional love will shine through as a beacon in the foggy darkness! Yes it’s Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer! Would you be so cruel as to stop Santa from delivering his presents? Would you put an end to Christmas?

And chumps if they fall for it, are left feeling more inadequate than ever. Wow, my love just isn’t that powerful to get over this. Why can’t I love unconditionally?

Unicorns, of the smug reconciling sort, may tsk-tsk their divorcing brethren. “Well, I guess they do not know what it means to Love Unconditionally.”

Look chumps, before you try to Rise Above and love the broken sad sausage in your life, let’s examine this catch phrase “unconditional love.”

Often it’s discussed in the context of child-rearing. Bobby is very upset because his mother only smiles at him when he gets As on his report card. Otherwise she is indifferent. She does not love Bobby unconditionally. Her love is on the condition of his good grades.

Okay, that’s wrong. You should love your child regardless of his or her GPA.

Now, what if Bobby is sick in the head? He is prone to rages and attacks his mother Martha with carving knives. He hurls abuse at her, and steals money from her wallet. Bobby has put a hit out on his mother to collect his inheritance.

It’s a little harder to love your child unconditionally then. You feel sorry for Bobby’s mother Martha, because she probably still does love her child, but love is beside the point. She needs to GET THE HELL AWAY FROM BOBBY.

A couple points: a) Bobby is Martha’s child. b) If the relationship is toxic, Martha’s love for Bobby is not relevant to her personal safety.

Now, apply this logic to infidelity.

Grown up love comes with conditions. Cheaters are not our children. (Although they may act like it.) Our spouses are not entitled to unconditional love. Adult love comes with conditions (also known as boundaries), conditions like “you may not abuse me,” or “you may not steal from me.” We don’t have to accept any sort of behavior because we love someone.

If someone cheats on you, and repeatedly puts you in harms way, you’ve got a toxic situation. You very well may still love this person, but your love is beside the point. You need to GET THE HELL AWAY and save yourself.

Now then to the superior cheaters who demand unconditional love:

Really? Did YOU love unconditionally? Apparently there are a shitload of conditions to win your love, beginning with performing the Pick Me Dance. Chumps hear these conditions all the time — you grew old, you got fat, you spend too much time with the children, you make stewed tomatoes wrong, your socks aren’t in the hamper, the curtains were too long, you don’t play board games. (All of these can be found on Stupid Shit Cheaters Say.)

Failure to abide by cheater conditions ensures you will be cheated on. (And the conditions always change, so you can pretty much guarantee you are not abiding by them.)

How’s that for fair?

When cheaters want “unconditional love” what they are really saying is that they’d like a lopsided, unreciprocated situation. You invest kibbles in me, (don’t stop!) and I shall do whatever I please. Because you love me. And if you stop giving me kibbles, I’ll make the problem you. You don’t love me enough.

Unconditional love —  blameshifting by another name.

This rerun goes out to Jada Pinkett Smith.

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.
    • Mine did this to me too, still to this day feels I broke our marriage vows bc I didn’t stand up for “better or worst”

      • I think it’s generally assumed that the “worse” in “for better or worse” is more along the lines of natural disaster, illness and disability, accidents and economic catastrophes, bad luck, etc., not flagrant and deliberate betrayal, abuse and endangerment.

        I’ve never understood the “unconditional love” thing. It always sounded like bs and I associated it with the junk self help guru era of my childhood. The “unconditional love” drivel seemed designed to sell doormat status or worse, to gloss over dangerous abuse. Since I was very young I thought only babies, young children and the cognitively disabled warranted unconditional love but everyone else was expected to earn it. The key thing to me was what the “conditions” of conditional love are for functional adults. Some conditions are shallow, excessive, unrealistic or dysfunctional, other conditions are healthy, sane and humane.

        I tend to reject most new age-ery and Western interpretations of Eastern philosophies which are supposedly the foundations of so much of the “unconditional love” nonsense. But I like the Taoist expressions, “Never rob anyone of their consequences” and “If you want the universe to fill your rice bowl, clean it out.”

          • These are the last words I heard from the cheater
            He wanted to be loved “unconditionally”
            Well, you had that. And you son was loved beyond that from age 3-18
            Grow up, there are consequences.
            Bye bye

            • My, what a clean and shiny rice bowl you have Letitsnow. 😀

              Chumpdiva– aren’t those helpful? Told to me by a project partner when debating whether to fire the flying monkeys of a terrifying stalker. I can’t believe I even had any hesitation but go figure–the bs victim-blaming and perp-coddling is actually more relentless proportionate to how dangerous the perp is. I needed to hear those things at the time.

      • you probably dodged a bullet in the form of your ex. just imagine if you’d stayed with him, how bad things could have gotten.

  • This was a huge topic with me and Cheater. He also liked to add in the religious doctrine of “no condemnation”, that Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins, that Jesus knew we would sin and that I was not just a bad wife for not just forgiving and forgetting his multiple affairs, I was also a bad Christian. When I would try to explain that God would probably not approve of lying, cheating, abusing and gaslighting the person he stood before God and SWORE to never betray, I was simply made to feel like a simpleton that didn’t understand the vast complex teachings of the Bible.

    Funny thing was the “unconditional” didn’t work both ways as I was never given grace for all my unforgiveable sins like throwing away old socks or putting the dishes away too loudly. Those transgressions were apparently not forgive able and gave him the right to cheat on me.

    • It seems like all of them try to guilt us for trying to protect ourselves. They want us to pity them as well, which is disgusting.

    • Jesus Cheaters (like my ex) always forget the part of the Bible when Jesus says “Go and sin no more.” He didn’t say “Go and feel sorry for yourself” or “Go off and have fun until it inconveniences you again.”

      Just like their marriage vows, they take what they want “For better or for worse” (meaning your better, their worst) and ignore what doesn’t suit them (“forsaking all others”).

    • Or you get the religious family members who say, “If you went to church more, this would have never happened. You’re not in a good relationship with God.”

      • I was told by an older woman friend that without God this will never work.( This being my husband cheating and us surviving)I became in touch with God years before meeting my husband and he has become more familiar because of me and that’s great. BUT I have noticed he’ll use “it” to his advantage. Playing the songs I’ve come to know or buy a book related to or even say we need more God or church. We’ve not been once in the last 2 months although went on a heck of a road trip funded by him and allowed by my time off work since he’s self employed. The road trip to me wasn’t a fix all or let’s forget I found out about you- it was for my soul. Maybe his too and that’s fine I’m super generous as most chumps are.
        Anyway it was a two week dream other than me fighting him off because he doesn’t fully respect boundaries (that goes without saying)
        I got to see the mountains I held that fresh snow in my hands I saw the side of a cliff on horseback and the ocean that never stopped for miles. It was amazing. I’ve barely been out of my home state and I’m truly grateful
        He now thinks we’re fine, we’ll make it. I had to tell him this morning we do t even have the tools to begin…sad but true
        For me it’s now-
        What day will be the last??

        • Shann, like most of us Chumps you will leave him when you are ready. It took me 3yrs and three affairs (at least that I know of) before I was ready to leave my exhusband. I wish I had left sooner. I can’t get those three years back.

          It’s terrifying to leave your spouse and start all over but it can be done.

          • It took me 5 years after I walked in on them. About ten affair partners later that I know of, all of them repeat partners, I finally escaped. Best decision of my life.

            • Just waking up everyday and not having to deal with the anxiety of it all is worth the leaving.

              I didn’t realize what a weight that was. He can’t find me, doesn’t know where I live, and that too has helped me to get my strength back!

          • Alice thanks so much for your input. It is scary for some reason and I know Things will never be the same. Keeping the peace is important but will probably be difficult because things don’t go his way he turns twelve again.
            Good guy minus being a liar if that even makes sense
            He claims it would never ever happen again and realizes what he’s done and sees what it’s caused. Really?

            • This scares me too. I’m keeping the peace ‘til I figure out what to do next/how to separate or go on with him and take care of myself if we divvy all the money. He says now he understands how he hurt me but just didn’t realize it after a staggering 18 years of affairs. Wow. Keeping the peace is damn hard right now while I try to figure out how I gtfo of this mess. And save myself.

              He’s in rehab now. No idea how rehab helps a self professed conman.

            • Shann, I’m not trying to scare you but you should ask yourself, “Where will I be in 10, 20, 30, years if he eventually leaves me for another woman? Will I be angry with myself for not ending this sooner?”. These are good questions to ask, although tough I know.

              I asked them myself. Eventually I got to the point of, I don’t want to live like this anymore, and I don’t want to have a life filled with regret.

              We are here to support you. You shouldn’t have to live with anxiety and all the other effects from a cheater for the rest of your life.

              • Excellent advice regarding “ where do I want to be in the future….”. In my 20’s I was a college grad working in broadcast and engaged to an engineer….but I could see the signs of alcoholism and said “Not Me” and canceled the engagement. Years later I was again dating a politician, my career was going well, but I again saw the signs of drinking, third time I’m in London for work- meet a wonderful musician – come back to the USA- married for 5 years, he started running around and at 30 years old I again said “Not Me” – packed the car, bought a paperback book on how to do your own divorce , filed myself and divorced him. The judge asked “ did you give him children?” I said “No, a green card.” Didn’t date for years – married a second time with great hesitation but “ great guy, doctor, sweet” wonderful marriage for 26 years, together for almost 30 years ( dated years before marrying) I went on to get a masters and law degree because I knew the pain of infidelity and if it happened again I didn’t want jewelry or a new car, I invested in something no divorce could take away – education. This May 2020 was Dday – found about his hooker habit that spanned all 26 years……. So……it’s a different ballgame at 20, 30, 40, 50, 60…..still a lot of life yet and if you have your health, a roof over your head, financially secure enough to buy groceries, etc. grab your life and get out and live it. My Fkwit spent $$$$ on whores I didn’t know about and is now burning through money for legal bills to protect him from the wallet seeking whores. So, separate your property and assets, as TS says if you don’t divorce at least have a post nup. You don’t have to chose between a lifestyle or a life, you can chose both- I worked for it- he blew it.

        • I was raised in with similar values and those kept me in through affairs #1, #2…etc..

          I will say that I would have left after #1 had I know then, what I know now: that it wasn’t my values that twisted apart the marriage, it was xw’s.

          I believe even more in marriage and commitment now. I also believe in me more, in my spiritual and emotional health, in my children’s emotional health, etc..

          The fact that you are here and posting shows you are being very brave.

        • It took me an additional 4 years to leave my lying cheater. One day you will have had enough. In the meantime, get all of your ducks in order. Make sure to make copies of everything relevant to you, to include all the pictures that you want. When you leave, you may not get a chance to get them back.

          • Good advice – when Chumps are in the interim stay or go dance you must get your ducks in a row. The Cheater may take the choice away from you and he leaves first; the hookers may come threatening and extorting money ( that was my welcome wagon); get your finances and sanity packed and ready to go; beware beware beware of talking freely or looking weak or crazy with sadness to anyone – it will be used against you. I’m a lawyer, I have a masters in clinical psych and I married an ass doctor – trust me on this one – there is no such thing as HIPPA patient privacy when these fkwits have a few drinks and the female docs are worse. We Chumps are good people but do not let yourself be abused. God does not want you to be used abused or sad.

            • Jo– Good advice. Bullies will always lean towards bullies so even if a doctor is “your doctor” or “your therapist,” if you’re the victim of a bully, they may act as accessory to your bully even if they don’t know the damned bully. When it comes to child custody issues, the risks are terrifying. To quote UXWorld, don’t squeeze the diplomas.

              You’ve written about the HIPPA-crisy you noticed in your ex’s profession before. I’ve long suspected what you say about many doctors and nurses or anyone who can hide behind the status that comes with being in a “rescuing” profession. In my experience, those professions attract people with the best and worst characters. The whole thing fascinates me.

              Also, in a day and age when laws and policies might be founded on cellular science, scientists are gaining a kind of undue power that’s reminiscent of the church of yore. The COVID crisis is really bringing this to a head as various scientists contradict each other, often according to whatever powerful entity is sponsoring them. The result is pure chaos. Bolsonaro in Brazil was able to find “doctors” to justify his response to the pandemic. It’s easy to see how that turned out.

              I respect expertise but don’t “unconditionally worship” it. If the bible and Darwin agree on one thing, it’s that everyone carries a risk of being corrupted. The most dangerous people are those who believe they’re exempt from this and don’t need to reflect on their own motives or set limits on themselves. People assume they’re exempt for various reasons, not excluding level of education and professional status.

              One of the most important lessons of the Holocaust was that level of education does not automatically confer empathy, humanity or ethics. Cologne geneticist Benno Muller-Hill undertook the first-ever comprehensive research on the Nazi T4 killing program that wiped out almost the entire disabled population in Europe between 1939 and 1945 as many now know. But the reason we know this is largely because of Muller-Hill’s work. Nevertheless, his work is rarely cited in discussions of this. I think the reason for this is that the main thrust of his research carried a message that’s very threatening to modern power constructs. He completely dispelled the enduring myth that doctors and scientists were “forced” to participate in mass murder and pretty much proves that it was the other way around: scientists drove the T4 program, including the child-killing program on which the genocide program was constructed. Muller-Hill could not find a single case of a doctor or scientist being punished for refusing to participate in the T4. Muller-Hill argues that, throughout its history, various fields of science periodically go collectively insane. Expedient state “science” has been at the core of every totalitarian regime in history. So much for “incorruptible” science.

              Elie Wiesel lamented that one of the greatest shocks to him as a survivor was trying to wrap his head around the fact that the Final Solution was largely engineered by the most educated people on the planet at the time– those with 12, 14, 16 years of education at the finest institutions, etc.

              Anyway, when I unravel skeins, I go big or go home lol. I’m becoming a veteran rationale-destroyer. Also the kids and I found a great family doctor at last. She’s even more critical of her own field.

              • Thank you for your thoughtful response. I too am learning so much everyday that is counterintuitive to many of my core beliefs. There are bad doctors and good doctors. Beverly Hills is a magnet for the most narcissistic because of the status the same way Palm Springs and parts of Arizona and Florida are magnets for the Medicare elderly dollar chasing physicians. I have seen things and heard things I wish I could unsee and be deaf to. Police who get their trucks for free from the prostitutes and ticket the woman running to her parking meter while picking up “his” shirts from the cleaners. I had relatives who died in the Nazi camps – anything we do not remember no matter how painful will be repeated. No matter what religion or race or gender or age etc God does not want us to suffer – I’ll never have all the answers in this short life – I truly dud everything in my power to live a good, honest, true, quiet life of integrity and I got the swiftest kick emotionally to my forehead by this husband of 26 years who is still still still claiming he has changed and is begging for a chance. I’m gone, no arguing, no more tears, I have one tiny bit of raw very raw seed of revenge seeking thought that I’m trying not to put energy into….but the thought of e-mailing all 25 of his last group of whores to march into his Beverly Hills medical office for their free STD prescriptions is terribly tempting. God give me strength to not give in – wasn’t it Flip Wilson the comedian who said “ the devil made me do it”. Thank you fellow Chumps for helping me stay sane.

              • Jo… Well, I’ll be no help in encouraging you to take the so-called high road since the idea of a “piller of the comminity” fraud being outed for gross misconduct sounds like a public service to me.

                The only thing of concern is any blowback you might face. You don’t deserve another second of stress. But personally I always like to lace traumatic experiences with something that will make me laugh later, like tucking a little prank into an otherwise completely nauseating shitstorm. I reason that it’s to protect my life expectancy for the sake of my kids.

        • Oh Shann….I am hanging around too. One, my culture setting is different, and two, the kids. But yes, there will be no next time. Tell it to him. They want us to forget as it suits them.

      • How about this one for a Reply Ecclesiastes 9:11 “Time and unforeseen events befall us all.”

      • WOW. This one makes my head spin AND steam come out of my ears!!!
        Going to church doesn’t solve your problems. It’s a way to worship and meet together, as said in the Bible.
        And who the heck has the right to evaluate another person’s relationship with God? Do they have a live twitter feed of your prayers??
        I also should mention the obvious: your behavior didn’t cause the affair. That’s on the cheater.

        • I agree, it was very much a back handed comment.

          People have no business making judgement or assumptions about YOUR relationship with God. This family member had no idea how much I prayed, went to church alone, cried in the church pew alone, they just don’t know.

          God gives us all free will, my ex-husband used his to cheat.

          Thanks for your comment Differently Chumped, it helps.

          • I think church lady arguments that cheating and domestic abuse are somehow God’s punishment and lack of forgiveness of cheaters/abusers risks more punishment are easily straightened out by the Book of Job.

            What happens to Job’s friends who speculate that Job’s run of bad luck is God’s punishment? Apparently God was far more forgiving of Job’s initial rage that God might allow the innocent to be punished and the wicked to be rewarded than of Job’s friends’ arrogant presumptions that Job was being punished for his sins. It cost the victim-blamers 7 rams and 7 bulls each and a groveling apology to Job to appease God’s wrath.

            Next time anyone uses the “God’s will” excuse to borrow blame from the perp and dump it on the victim, mysteriously hand them a card for livestock trailer rentals and slip quickly away while furtively looking up as if worried about random thunder bolts and falling beams.

    • It’s manipulation. “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine, too.” The minute you don’t have reciprocity, that’s trouble.

    • I feel for you. Mine swore on the Quran that he wouldn’t cheat as well. I left home after 6 months of lies and discovered he continued contact with her and they now call it a ‘friendship’.
      One of the reasons he said he chose me was because I loved him. Only now I realise what this meant. Just kibbles. Feel so used. But learned a lot about myself as well.

    • Jesus had a LOT to say to the Pharisees. They were always criticizing others yet failed to look at their own many flaws. I think the Bible makes it clear how the Lord feels about that attitude of entitlement. The apostle Paul had the Corinthian church kick out the man who had an affair with his step mom. It wasn’t until AFTER that man changed his ways, that Paul encouraged them to show the man grace. And that church wasn’t in harm’s way by showing grace.

  • My stbx said ‘ I can’t believe you started divorcing me so quick’
    I said ‘that’s because you were cheating on me’
    He says ‘but you didn’t know that then’
    Boom
    The nearest I’ve got in 2 years to a confession

    • I can relate, my ex-husband said, “it’s not like I want to divorce” when I found out about his third affair.

      He was upset I was pushing him into a divorce HE didn’t want.

      I really had no idea his cheating wasn’t him wanting a divorce (sarcasm).

      • Mine didn’t want one either, he just wanted to keep his 5 times married whore on the side to boost his pathetic ego.

        He even referred to the payout he gave me to buy me out of the house I contributed to financially as GIVING me money for a divorce HE didn’t want.

        Whatever….fuck him and his dime store whore.

      • Mine also did not want to divorce. I just don’t get it. He thought that we could just live separately. I think what he really wanted is to have his whore, stay married, and when I decided to start dating he could then turn to his children and say, “Well your mother is obviously okay with it. She has her boyfriend even though we’re still married.” Well I couldn’t do that and when I said I couldn’t be married to an adulterer, he said, “And that’s your problem! You’re so judgemental!” So be it. I’m judgemental.

        • It’s also a good position for him because he can’t actually commit to his whore (probably tells her you’re making divorce difficult), he doesn’t have to split assets, and he may have even thought in the back of his mind that he might be able to come back if he couldn’t do better.

          In my ex’s case I think he knew his whore was trash as when he was seeing her before meeting me he didn’t tell anyone about her. He’s a white guy with an Asian fetish, but he’s also super concerned with image and didn’t want to be seen with her….both myself and his 1st wife were white. I know this seems like a stretch for me to say this but if you knew him you’d understand.

          In his mind I was good for his image and his whore wasn’t. And he was extremely insecure (think much older and shitty toupee insecure) so he needed the ego boost, and his younger wife dumping him was bad for his image. His family didn’t even know he was divorced for months after it was final….bad for his image.

          • Kim,
            I see what you’re saying. My ex-husband was SUPER into his image, reputation, perception of himself.

            He wasn’t like that when we met, he was humble and genuine. As he got more successful he changed and started looking for happiness in the wrong places.

            He wanted to upgrade everything, including me.

            His AP is nothing special and he knows it, thus why he didn’t want a divorce. He just wanted to keep messing around and have me by his side for his image.

  • You have to love yourself first. If no one is going to care about your happiness, well-being, safety, and physical and mental health (as you do for cheater) then it’s time to do it for yourself. The needs of an abuser should never override yours. This was my response to my family of origin when I cut some of them out of my life. You can still love someone and walk away.

    • My mom suffered from a particularly severe form of migraines which included a pre-migraine state called a “prodrome”. She would get unreasonably angry at small indiscretions, and would lash out with words that were meant to HURT, not educate, words no mother should say to her child no matter how old the child may be. I finally realized this after I had my own daughter, and could start recognizing the signs of oncoming verbal abuse. I didn’t want my child to be around it, and one day, when my mom was winding up, I stopped her cold with, “I can see you are in one of those moods, and guess what? I’m an adult and don’t have to take it. So, see you later.” Her eyes betrayed her shock as I walked out the door.

      To her credit, she never did that again. And she did apologize. Much later.

      Cheaters, it seems, are unable to recognize their abuse for what it is: ABUSE. I mean, how could anything that feels so “good” be so wrong? How could it possibly hurt anybody? Let me tell you, I have had physical pain that nearly killed me (literally – I went into shock), and severe emotional pain. The physical pain was limited, but the emotional pain essentially dragged on as long as I remained in relationship with the cheater. It was far worse than the physical pain.

      I don’t know how many of you saw “Hamilton” recently, but there are some triggers in it. However, I think they way they handled his infidelity, and his wife’s reaction, was interesting. I also noted that the actress never smiled again during her scenes on stage with him. Infidelity does kind of wipe the smile off your face and the happy out of your heart, particularly if you remain with the cheater. It fundamentally changes the relationship. If it is a relationship you can handle, it is certainly your choice to stay in it. But you will forever know what your spouse is capable of doing to you.

      • That is so perfectly well-said “ he wiped the smile off my face and took the happy out of my heart” ohhhhh do I know the feeling, complete with two hands that have developed a tremor. All compounded by his psychiatrist who added that my being gone for work contributed to his loneliness and hooker habit. I’m all of 100 pounds, athletic, kind, honest, trust worthy, and this 26 year marriage gave me an STD, trembling hands, a heart that shakes like a bag of worms, a broken foundation – 26 years spent with a fraud. It really is Twilight Zone. Can’t turn the clock back, can’t glue the trees back together after being chopped down, just need to pick up my sanity, hope to breathe using all of my lungs again someday. Ladies…..never, never, never put all your finances together – he brought a whore into the home I busted my bum to build because HE wanted it…

        • Honey you were tough once before and you can be that again. Believe in yourself. He is scum and doesn’t deserve you. You’ve got this!

        • Jo–
          I think the shaking is when the wattage of an experience exceeds our circuit capacity. But you’re so obviously re-wiring. Couple that with your professional background and my guess is you’ll not only eventually have steady hands and heart but you’ll be a steadier of hands and hearts and a force to be reckoned with.

          I remind myself often how drawn I was to adult women of any age who exuded wisdom when I was a little girl. To me, they glowed. It’s the only glamor that means anything.

          • Wisdom will be the name of my next Bichon :). Thank you sister Chump. Yes, wisdom – it’s deep. Perhaps the deep pain of infidelity makes room to root our new wisdom.

            • A deep understanding of life and human nature is like a passport to the world. You can literally find like minds anywhere you go even of they seem scarce close to home.

              But all the same, we don’t have to thank the creeps and assholes who force these revelations on the unsuspecting.

              • I just took your very words (forgive me) and put them in my journal. I woke up just now and the words The truth will set you free rang in my head. Got my phone and read your sentenceS:
                “Perhaps the deep pain of infidelity makes room to root our new wisdom.”

                “A deep understanding of life and human nature is like a passport to the world. You can literally find like minds anywhere you go even of they seem scarce close to home.

                But all the same, we don’t have to thank the creeps and assholes who force these revelations on the unsuspecting.”

                TY both for those thoughts that are now in my journal and journey. I needed to read those.

  • Never do something once that you a the notary willing to do for the rest of your life. On the job wisdom pearl. I needed this a lot sooner and I got it from a serial cheater! He apparently didn’t think IT applied to his personal life only his professional life. Karma bit him.

    • Correction Never do something once that you ARE NOT willing to do for the rest of your life. On the wisdom pearl. I needed this a lot sooner and I got it from a serial cheater! He apparently didn’t think IT applied to his personal life only his professional life. Karma bit him.

      Darn autocorrect

      • Right. I asked him Would you treat anyone at work or in your family the way you treat me? Friends, passers-by, even exes. Even the OW and patreon callgirls? The answer was Well no, Omg I’m so sorry. When you put it that way, I realize now I shit on you. TY TY TY for opening my eyes to how I should have treated you better than my coworkers. I never saw it that way before. You’re so smart!

        All this drivel after ELEVEN years of cheating. The primary fantasy was just leaving me. THAT was the fantasy. But now he doesn’t want to leave for some inexplicable reason. He loves me now. He finally sees through my eyes how wrong it was. Because before he just had no idea. He just never thought cheating for 11 years might jeopardize the marriage? Because we had plans for the future? I think his plans for our future were only his plans on cheating. Then leaving me. Wow, what a blissful marriage I’ve had! He was just so lost.

        • The “inexplicable reason” is twofold: one, we provide services they value, even if they don’t value us (and maybe they don’t value us precisely because we provide these services), and two, divorce is expensive. And, of course, there are also all those disordered psychological reasons: the thrill of the forbidden, the threat of being caught, the pleasure of carrying on right in front of you, the satisfaction of fucking the affair partner in the marital bed, etc etc.

          • You are spot on with all of this. We are essentially appliances – they might value us more than the water softener, but definitely less than the refrigerator. And screwing someone who is 30 years younger must be exciting in a number of ways.

          • You’re right 100%. TY for your comment. It helps. I’m being love bombed right now so hard. He’s being kinder to me than he has in 11 long years. But he just needed to be caught to see the light of how he should have been treating me all along. He says now he feels alive and better than ever! He’s saved and said he’s on a high now. He’s so happy he’s been caught! O the joy of it all!

            And I’m supposed to be riding on that high too since he’s found himself I guess. No I’m depressed because I’m stuck with him for now while I try to figure out what to do and how to disentangle myself from him. Yea I’m on no high. I don’t share that joy.

            I guess he’s afraid of splitting his assets with me. Yea I think that’s why he’s in love with me now. Assets. Follow the money. It’s all about money.

            And having someone safe to stomp on every time his OW reject him eventually. I think the verbal abuse and isolation (& absolutely zero intimacy) has hurt me the most. My ex cheated. But we still ran a business together and made money together and he had the decency to just leave me to move on instead of continually lying and cheating. I have more respect now for him than I do this DH STBX of mine strangely. Now I see the light! If you want to cheat, just leave your spouse instead of stomping on them and lying and cheating and racking up your debt. Yea I was def a chump!

            • Mine love bombed me too when he realized I was going to dump him, but people show you who they are when they don’t think there are consequences.

              I had a pivotal moment which probably seems silly compared to everything else. Ex always got me flowers on my birthday, but the birthday after I found out about his ex whore he made a decision to not send me flowers. He did this to show me his ass because I wouldn’t “let it go” and he didn’t have to “listen to this” when I asked questions a week after finding out. I was told I “just want to be miserable”….because otherwise I’d rugsweep and plaster a phony smile on my face just like he does.

              He should’ve been moving heaven and earth but instead he used a passive aggressive coward maneuver (he always was one) to tell me to fuck off.

              I mentioned this incident when I told him I got the message and we were done. Guess what happened? Yep, he proceeded to send me flowers multiple times. See, when he thought I wasn’t going anywhere my pain wasn’t an issue, but when he realized there were consequences for him the love bombing started.

              It’s all phony.

              • My ex love bombed me all the time, which kept me on the hook for 25 years. On D day and all the confessions started flowing, he then switched into this weird neutral zone but he kept telling me he was jealous of my things, such as, he was jealous that I had the electrician come and fix our lighting! It was like he was detached. He was imagining how he’d like to have nice lights in his apartment or something. He was also jealous that I had time off work to heal. And jealous of some food I’d cooked. He’s never ever used the word jealous before. Then when he could sense my protective boundaries were up and he realized that he’d lost his caregiver and he had to fend for himself, he became abusive and he’s never stopped being abusive for this past year. I’m no contact as much as possible but I get random abusive emails. I think what happens is they realize we had boundaries (conditions) for the first time and they lose control and their tactics cease to work. I did love “unconditionally” and that’s why I had to put conditions on when I found out I was being treated like shit and lied to. He lost the right to unconditional love and acceptance. I never should have given it in the first place-he abused my love.

              • Formerlyknownas…

                The “dissociative state confession” you describe is super chilling and creepy. There is something WRONG with cheaters for sure but it seems more like criminal pathology than “can’t help it” brands of mental illness.

                I don’t know if you’d be able to stomach it but the book “A Wolf at the Table” about memoirist Augusten Burroughs’ abusive father contains descriptions of similar behavior.

          • Adelante–right on. We provide SERVICES. And a kind of security. But they leave when they can do without those services (kids are grown, career is secure, a divorce won’t be a career-breaker).

            I always think of politician John Edwards in this regard, with his lovely cancer-stricken wife as such a political asset while he traveled around with and impregnated his AP. He didn’t want a divorce either and it’s easy to see why. He lost his career trying to cover up an affair and a love child. Just hollow to the core.

          • Adelante,
            Great post.

            This line intrigues me: “And maybe they don’t value us precisely because we provide these services.”

            What’s your reasoning?

            Is it that when we act like workhorses who do EVERYTHING, they treat us like workhorses. They prefer the fillies for their fun.

            Ok. I can buy that. But what happens when they leave the workhorses (chumps) and have to handle all the shit (in my case, pretty much everything) we used to do? I probably shouldn’t care (meh), but I do fantasize that my ex is up a stream without a paddle, struggling to figure out how to pay an online bill. The man recently put a stamp on an envelope in the upper left corner. And he’s a physician.

            Wonder if his mistress is taking over, and, if so, in time, will she become the resented workhorse?

            Ok, I admit it. I want to hear that they are struggling, which means I’m so not at meh. Guess today isn’t my Tuesday. Dammit.

            • Recently i was mired in anger and struggling to manage it. I happened to find out the cheater saw a therapist recently to deal with the guilt of discarding me. And for the first time in a long time, i felt calm. Just knowing he was suffering too, quieted my anger. Then i could ask myself the important questions: why do his feelings matter so much to me? Is my wellbeing contingent on his suffering? Why can’t i trust that he sucks?

              Meh and Tuesday are great aspirations, but honestly, whatever helps you get the kind of closure you need right now, just do it. Because we can’t deal with the trauma while we’re still in it.

              • Come to Meh–

                I think it’s calming because it’s like any case of finally getting to the truth after a period of being gaslighted and bs’ed half to death.

                It could be the truth about anything– say, where all the peanut butter jars mysteriously disappeared to when you were living with an asshole. As you’re planting a shrub in the yard one day, you come across a stash of carefully interred Jiffy and have an epiphany about how seriously this guy was trying to mindfuck you. A piece of the puzzle is put in place, it really, really, really was never you who was nuts after all, etc.

                Finding out a cheater suffered too is justice and just deserts, sure, but just the simple truth is like air after being choked for so long.

                I’m convinced that many cheaters “suffer” from a particular trait common to domestic batterers, something called “masked dependency.” Like toddlers “individuating” from mommy, it seems like cheaters often act like they’re rebel warriors for some important cause or like a princess escaping an ogre. But it’s no fun for a narc to “run away” when no one’s chasing them, no fun to “rebel” when no one can be charged with “oppressing” them.

                And then, after a certain delay, the mask slips and they’re faced with their own very feeble dependency, the thing they hid at all costs for whatever period of time, the thing so shameful that they had to go to ultimate extremes of cruelty to prove was not so. I tend to think the crueler and colder the cheater is while DARVOing, the harder they crash when their victim moves on.

                I knew a Sports Illustrated model who was devastated after her actor boyfriend cheated on her with some famous cover girl who was also infamous for “mate poaching.” The two women knew each other so there was an added humiliation. She found out about it because she contracted an STD. The guy actually bragged when confronted as if he thought his betrayed gf would be impressed with his conquest.

                He got dumped. About five months later I saw Mr. Cool on the Upper East Side barreling along the sidewalk red-faced and frantic-looking, oblivious to what a scary spectacle he was. I could tell by the way his ex gf fell down laughing at my description that the guy had at first put on the tough, dismissive act when she broke it off with him.

                She married someone else a few years later, has a bunch of kids, seems very happy.

                Since then I’ve assumed that the delayed crash is a “cheater/abuser thing.”

            • My reasoning is similar to what you stated: the workhorse gets seen as the workhorse. I took on every thing to do with the house, and every time I’d take on yet one more task, he’d find another to leave undone until I’d do it. I have a friend whose husband cheated, and in therapy when she said she felt like he’d wiped his feet on her, he said to her, “You acted like a doormat, so I treated you like one.”
              I take a great deal of satisfaction in knowing my ex now has to take responsibility for all the things I used to take responsibility for. Of course, in his typical fashion, it’s more likely he’s not doing them than that he is. But that’s his look-out. I’m looking out for me now.

              • I agree with this Adelante and Spinach@35. My STBXH informed ME that “it would be better for everyone if YOU could be more helpful.” Really? I think it would have been more helpful for everyone if YOU hadn’t cheated. So my new filter is, “What’s in it for me?” It feels super selfish but after 24 hours of asking, “What do I gain by helping him do _____,” it is easy to let that fall through the abyss of email. If it is divorce related, then yes, I can be very helpful! Totally laughing about the stamp, Spinach@35. It’s a miracle that Mr. Inept hid his affair for so long as he is equally as out of touch with daily living. Which shows just how much I was busy managing.

              • Adelante,

                Glad you’re looking out for you now!

                Can I just say that this is one of the cruelest comments I’ve heard from a cheater: “You acted like a doormat, so I treated you like one.” I just can’t fathom how one human being could say this to another. Boggles my chumpy mind!

              • I used to wonder why the narcissism explainers say the spouse is the “secondary” source of supply: “Secondary narcissistic supply involves projecting the image that they live a good life (a worthy cause of pride for the narcissist), maintaining a safe existence (financial security, personal acceptability, upward growth), and acquiring companionship.” So wife, kids, house, money. Primary supply is public: ecognition, fame, infamy, stardom, and its private, more interpersonal, types of praise, admiration, applause, fear, and repulsion.” (Yes, because all attention is good attention, even negative attention.) Then it comes down to what the disordered person thinks he must display for public approval. There may come a time when the kids are grown and he/she can push the “we grew apart” narrative and then a young Schmoopie can signal the “good life.”

              • It’s interesting about the crash you mentioned. Mine just told me though he fantasizes about leaving me w every single OW, he was more scared if I actually left him!!! I still can’t figure that out. I guess leaving someone looks better than being left behind.

        • When I asked the question ” Would you treat anyone at work or in your family the way you treat me?”It was generally followed by “No” and a genuine Naugahyde apology. Then one day he gave a completely honest, the answer was ” No, but” …….followed by a litany of reasons why I deserved to be abused. KO my guess is after his current reason for love bombing/image control dries up (or he impregnates his 20 year younger AP and the ego kibbles he gets from that is enough to make him completely loose his mind- speaking from experience) you will get an honest answer to the question as well….

    • I have been saying this for years and years:

      The love may be conditional, but the relationship — sharing a home, sharing finances, sharing daily life — the relationship itself is absolutely conditional, and the conditions are fair. I was clear about what those conditions were from the start. They were never a mystery, and the goalposts never moved.

      He violated the conditions, and that ends the relationship. That’s how conditions work.

      • This comment wasn’t supposed to nest — that happens sometimes on here, and I can’t figure out how to resolve it. My apologies for creating that confusion. 😊

      • Succinctly put, Amiisfree.

        My ex fuckwit never tried too pull that line (I think he knew I’d have spat in his face), but I bet plenty of cheaters try it.

        As CL says, just another mindfuck.

        As a society, we really have to change the mindset that love is somehow exempt from the normal, decent and honourable constraints/conditions we accept in other areas of life.

        CL and CN are in the vanguard!

  • My ex actually still says he loves me, does he fuck. He treated a drug using alcoholic, sti infested woman (s) a lot better than me. Expected me to pay for everything. He complained he gave me a extra £10 I said do you want to pay £200 for a level books, no, thought you wouldn’t.
    His deluded woman still hangs around the area, we split up 7 years ago. I gave up expecting the truth years ago.
    The fuckwit her not him, called me a HUMAN SPLINTER. I should of asked her what she meant.

  • (music by Robert Palmer, lyrics by our cheaters)

    My lights are on, but I’m not home
    I’m just a gutless gnome
    I want love, I want glee
    With no li-a-bil-i-ty

    You can’t gripe, you can’t fret
    There’s no doubt, you’re in debt
    Accept the truth — you’re stuck with
    Another Jada Pinkett Smith

    Whoa, you like to think that you can love me enough, oh yeah
    The situation’s rigged and you can’t rise above
    You know you never really gave me unconditional love

  • I cannot believe this is common! My STBXH told me this was the problem. That he loved me unconditionally and I did not. I only loved him if he was with me and no one else. I asked him what he thought marriage was and he said “see you keep saying I can’t do things because we’re married”. The “things” he is referring to is to let him have his girlfriend while staying married to me. I was just dumbfounded and I have questioned if it was me. If my not loving unconditionally was the problem. I needed this, thanks.

    • You were mindfucked. And until you’re completely free, you’re going to continue to be mindfucked. Keep those boundaries. Good luck!

      • He didn’t love you “unconditionally.” That’s just his word for how he didn’t have to deal with you being unfaithful. The marriage vows state the “condition” of the marriage–forsaking all others, loving, honoring, respecting.

    • Gotta love how they accuse you of not loving them unconditionally when they were the ones who didn’t love you unconditionally by cheating on you and betraying your trust, lying, manipulating, and gaslighting you, not to mention the rage and additional forms of abuse.

  • That “unconditional love” has somehow come to mean that a person should tolerate anything, have no dealbreakers, limits, or boundaries, is not a bandwagon I am getting on.

    I believe that you can be “friendly without being friends”…..my code term for “civil”….but when it comes to a romantic relationship I think RECIPROCAL LOVE is what I’d be looking for.

    For now, it’s a tall enough order to love me and my daughter. That plate is full, Ghost Rider.

  • Was I loved unconditionally when someone who pledged his life to mine in front of friends and family decided to stick his dick in his much younger coworker because I bought a red microwave?

    Because my extended family was too small.
    Because I knew how to use power tools.
    Because I didn’t let his daughter tie the dog on a leash and make her stay the top bunk of her bed overnight.
    Because I had vague ‘unacceptable behaviors’ that made his feelings for me to change in the space of a week but were never discussed or brought up at all before making the bold decision to fuck someone else.

    I’m gobsmacked six years on how cheaters STILL get to engage in monumental transgressions of trust and still demand an Unconditional Love. What kind of love are they offering? The Love that Dare Not Fold the Towels Wrong? The Love that Claims Fake Vacation Days, dresses, appears to go to work and schtups the new employee instead, returning back home right on time pretending not to have a second life? The Love that Discusses Your Marriage with Strangers? The Love that Infects You with STDS?

    Is that the Unconditional Love they’re demanding but not offering? It’s gonna be a hard pass from me.

    • Yes, unconditional love. Was I shown unconstitutional love when he used my depression from early menopause against me? He used that as one of the reasons why he cheated. She was fun. I on the other hand was boring and using menopause as an excuse. I loved him unconditionally. I put him first. At look where that got me.

    • This is terrific, Luziana. You nailed it: “he Love that Dare Not Fold the Towels Wrong? The Love that Claims Fake Vacation Days, dresses, appears to go to work and schtups the new employee instead, returning back home right on time pretending not to have a second life? The Love that Discusses Your Marriage with Strangers? The Love that Infects You with STDS?”

  • I will never understand why Cheaters get “unconditional love” but don’t seem to understand that means Chumps get it too. Even if they buy the wrong brand of pickle, or don’t change the oil at exactly x000 miles, or they dare to get older, or get ill.

    I mean – I get it. Cheaters are all about themselves and their personal groin gratification, but if they thought about what they are demanding (unconditional love) versus what they are offering (your lack of luster diminishes their social standing) they might at least try a new line.

    Trust that they suck (golf balls through garden hoses).

  • My ex filed fir divorce than immediately cancelled the divorce. I had my lawyer send his lawyer a letter. All the letter said was he was reresenting me etc. When he found out I hired a lawyer. He became angry. Told me know that I have a lawyer it is going to cost him more money. Yup, he cheated on me. Slandered my name to my skanky cousin. Lied to his parents about me. And he became angry when I protect myself.
    We were going to work on our marriage. But, he refused to sign a post nup. In the post nup. It stated that he had an inappropriate relationship with my cousin. If he would ever cheat again he would pay all legal fees etc. He refused because he did not want in writing that he cheated. And he did not want my cousins name on it. If he truly wanted the marruage to work. He would have done anything to make me feel safe.

  • It was family members (2 of his, 1 of mine) who talked to me about unconditional love, all on separate occasion.

    Each in their own way saying, I should love my husband no matter what, forgive him for not being perfect, let go of his mistakes, etc. One of them even told me, “wives who stay with their husbands who cheated on them are stronger than the ones who leave.” That last one I believed for a long time sadly.

    My ex-husband knows I will always love him. We talked about this in the final days before I left him. I told him, my vow to love him until I die still stands BUT I no longer wanted him in my life.

    • He broke his vows to love you. Mine has been so nasty to me and our children. I have no love, care or concern. He let me and the children be homeless so his AP could have a house to live in ( threatened me out). He got any attorney to force me to stay in certain counties with the children. He has continued to abuse me verbally through a court server. He stalks my house and every friend or person I am in contact with. I hope some day you move to Meh; I don’t believe that includes loving them. I hope you love yourself enough to realize we don’t have to continue to love abusers. There is no such thing as unconditional love-abuse violates the rights to be loved. I hope you gain a great Life!

      • He did break his vows to me but I’m not him. I meant my vow to love him till I die.

        I will always love my ex-husband, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. We don’t talk or stay in touch, I made it clear I don’t want him in my life.

        Meh looks different for everyone.

    • Alice,

      Misery loves company. Perhaps the “family member” who claimed those who stay are stronger – is still suffering at the hands of a cheater. She stayed – so you should, too. Never let someone else do your thinking. We all know that leaving is for the brave.

      • Took,
        I never even thought of that! You’re so right. This family member’s spouse has had an emotional affair before. This was after they just had a baby. I think it lasted 6mths or so. Perhaps this is why they said what they said to me? Because they stayed with their spouse.

        Yes, leaving is for the brave.

  • I only had 2 conditions

    You don’t hit me
    You don’t cheat

    Well he never hit me , but apparently couldn’t keep his dick out of 16 year younger ho workers .

    I never stopped him doing anything he wanted to . Going away weekends – yeah no problem
    Buying expensive watches – ooohhh that’s nice
    Never explaining where his wages went – well I guess your right it has nothing to do with me .

    Not once did I lay conditions except the above 2 above to my ex and he couldn’t manage that !!

    Oh I hope his new wife and baby lay conditions on him ( sniggers to myself )

    • The new wife (OW) will not be so blase about your ex buying expensive watches, taking off on weekends and not contributing to the household. Babies cost a lot of money. Although I am sure he will do it anyway as they never change their selfish ways.

  • Wow, really hit the spot here. Upon D day I (with hindsight very stupidly – point me towards the blender) asked why she had hooked up with a married coworker. To which she answered: She felt my love for her (after 15 years) was conditional and then listed reasons and things that I had done that had “killed her love for me” none of which included abuse or infidelity. I had not realised the irony until now!

    • The blame answer. My 1 year anniversary of D-day was earlier this week. My ex-h listed all my perceived wrongs in order to justify his 1 year affair with his married howorker when he dumped his affair reveal on me last year. I was told I didn’t put him #1 and the OW puts him #1! Lol. We are now divorced thanks to me filing and the previous OW has yet to even file for divorce. Players get played.

  • Every relationship has conditions. Before you can join a club, you must apply and comply with conditions. Conditions must be maintained. Stop paying your mortgage, rent, or utility bill and see what happens. Have a child, and don’t feed or care for it, and see what happens. A marriage, or even a steady dating relationship always has conditions.

    Unconditional love is a concept, an ideal state. I love my children, even if they do something stupid or embarrassing, but I don’t have to like them (especially at that moment). It does not mean I cannot recognize and deal with more severe issues, like mental illness. I love my parents, but it doesn’t mean I cannot recognize mental issues they may have, or it won’t hurt me if dementia means they don’t recognize me any more. Reality is hard work.

    Cheaters cheat so that they do not have to do hard work. They want others to do the work for them. When a cheater uses someone else to do his homework, or spies out their test answer, the cheater expects that person to have studied, to have the right answer. The cheater cannot be bothered with anything other than immediate gratification, and recognition for the work he has not done. The cheater always perceives himself to be above the law, better than the losers who do all the hard work. Money for nothing, and the chicks for free.

    When a person feels this entitlement, he does not consider the feelings of others, or recognize that others are essential to his life. He believes there will always be others, waiting for the opportunity to serve him in some way. Others will just magically know what he needs, speak his language, provide him with untold riches. Others serve, he rules.

    Even in religions, God may love all of us, but there are expectations of behavior. You can only be forgiven of your sins if you are sincerely contrite, confess, and go forward at least attempting to sin no more. You must seek forgiveness, ask for it, and seek to change behaviors that are not acceptable. You must recognize that God’s will is above your own.

    People who want to be unconditionally loved never offer this love for anyone else. They believe they should receive mercy, when they have none.

    Please note, this is not gender specific, you can insert she anywhere I have used he. Please forgive any mistakes I may have made, unconditionally!

  • After going no contact, divorcing and spending a few years building a rich life I literally cannot believe I ever listened to the blameshifting abuse and pick me danced instead of kicking him out on minute one. It’s astonishing what years of micro aggressions did to me.

    Thank God I found Chump Lady and learned what I needed to do. Meh is peaceful— no more of this bullshit.

    • Right with you Motherchumper. Hell, my life has been so much better since he left it’s unbelievable!

  • “This rerun goes out to Jada Pinkett Smith.” With the hope that Will Smith realizes it’s not a marriage when only one party is living up to the vows.

    CL as usual is right on target. But let me say this about “love” as a general thing:

    When people say they didn’t get “unconditional love” as a child, it usually means that the parent’s response to the child is based on what the child chooses or achieves or how well the child conforms to the parent’s expectations and demands. It’s not enough to be valedictorian and the lead in the school play and the yearbook editor–why aren’t you homecoming queen? Or the MVP of the football team? You can’t be a drama major or in the science club or an introvert or a size 12 or gay! That reflects on ME! That’s not love of any sort. That’s a gigantic boundary violation, a form of psychological abuse. On the other hand, letting a child flout organizational rules, bully other people, break the law, abuse substances, hurt animals and ignore the is not love: it’s neglect.

    Love comes with powerful feelings. That keeps us bonded in tough times. That feeds our attachment to humans when they try our patiences. And those feelings give us great pleasure. But love, the verb, is about how you treat people. That’s about kindness, care, and maintaining boundaries. If you love someone, you respect their boundaries and you require them to respect yours. When that becomes a one-way street, you don’t have love any more. You have dependency.

    • This is good for me love versus dependency. But what are they even depending on? That you’re the stomping ground? The dog to be kicked after a hard day? I’m unsure of how this man was even dependent on me. Maybe to always be there to abuse if he ever got rejected by younger women?

      I realized after talking w him today that he did spend an immense amount of energy rejecting me and lying about everything. Punishing me if I made friends. Making sure to put me down. It took a lot of warped focus to literally grind me down. Maybe that’s what my/our sole purpose was to just be there to think of new ingenious ways to knock us down and the inordinate amount of energy it took to chase OW and fend us off and keep up with the lying. And cheating.

      I realized also today I do believe he was a big reason my young daughter became very sick mentally and then physically during her youth. She must have picked up on how he was treating me and her by proxy. She’s now dating ofc a total controlling jerk who question her every move. Like mine did. And pressuring her to marry him like mine did.

      Meanwhile my STBX her stepdad just keeps accidentally walking around my 19yo beautiful daughter in his very tight underwear showing every crease of his junk. It’s scary. I don’t think some men can even hide the fact they’re trying to get young women’s attention even when they’re their stepfathers. I’m starting to feel really really quite worried and scared of this man, my husband the cheater who dates 22 year olds behind my back. Very worried.

    • I can’t remember the author at the moment (short term memory is going, going, almost gone. . .) but a favorite concept from one of my many books was “Lack of criticism was the closest thing to praise I ever knew.”
      If you can never achieve enough to please a parent, or spouse, because the bar is always set higher, and you realize perfection is impossible, you give up trying at some point. That is not love at all, that is abuse.
      I believe these are the same people who request “unconditional love.”

      It is hard to replace the “I’m never good enough” voice in your head with the “I’m fine, just as I am” voice. It took me years!

  • SPOILER ALERT
    Just watched The Bigamist streaming on Kanopy. Old 1953 movie about two women who are married to a salesman who commutes between two cities/families. His first wife (Joan Fontaine) became rather cold when she became successful. She became successful when she couldn’t conceive a baby. That made her business-like and so he was very very lonely when he traveled to the other city. Where he accidentally fell in love with Ida Lupino and they accidentally conceived the night they were celebrating his birthday. The Bigamist was found out when the first wife wanted to adopt and Edmond Gwenn (Santa from miracle on 34th street) investigated and discovered his peaceful domestic life with wife #2 and lovely son. Edmond did not turn in him because he felt sorry for him. But the bigamist was noble enough to do the right thing and turn himself in. The courtroom scene is a gem with the judge orating lines that have become the basis of RIC. Both wives were in the courtroom looking longingly at him, hoping against hope he chose them when he returned from prison.
    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045557/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_14

    • Toxic oldies. The 50’s were a step backwards after the Rosie the Riveter-inspired film era of (somewhat) stronger female leads.

  • My Idiot Cheater doctor husband of 26 years who revealed his decades long hooker habit in May 2020 used the unconditional love baloney when I said I’m leaving. He went to a psychiatrist in San Diego for months and read 20 of his “juicy reviews of each whore on The Erotic Review” – these two clowns sat together like porn book club companions – disgusting – the psychiatrist said it was his primordial male chest pounding natural instinct to brag about his escapades for other men to read!?!? What the fk!?!? Two arrogant pig doctors rubbing each others egos – with the gal to talk about MY unconditional love and forgivenesses- oh….and this time the psychiatrist shifted the original (dead) overbearing mother blaming to blaming the father who was absent a lot and not a role model!!!!!!! They blame everyone but themselves. This arrogant prick I married and was loyal to stole 26 years of my life – the contract was broken – he broke our vows – I asked him to simply be honest – we could have divorced civilly decades ago – he wanted Cake and he got his Cake. I’m getting out with my sanity and taking my unconditional love with me – the man I thought I married never existed. Thank you Chump Nation – before finding this LACGAL book and my fellow chumps I read countless books on infidelity, did the pick me dance complete with boudoir photos ( yes I really did) – he never looked at the beautiful leather bound photo album so I blew three of the photos up on stretched canvas for another pick Me dance ( yes, huge canvas), I’m shattered inside at his cruelty – he hurt me but he did not break me and he will not turn me into a bitter woman. Chumps rule.

  • Unconditional love as a weapon is codependency. If you truly love me you would allow me to do whatever I want, regardless of the pain and hurt it causes.
    No. Behaviour has consequences.

    I am thankful I never reconciled, as I believe deeply in forgiveness and love and know I would have shouldered both the blame and the recovery, but I couldn’t have survived a second d day. Once was bad enough. I protected myself immediately.

    Divorced, independent and unconditionally loving myself!

  • For approx. two years before ex walked out he had become sullen, moping around the house, short tempered and sunbathing for hours in the back yard. It was obvious something was “off” but being a chump, I readily believed his excuse that he was depressed because of the recent loss of his father and concerned about his Mom. I knew that if I’d do my best pick me dances he’d eventually snap out of it and thank me for loving him unconditionally.
    Today’s blog reminded me that while he was acting like a miserable teenager, out of nowhere he’d say “you don’t love me” before I could say anything he’d add, “and you never did.” He wouldn’t explain to me why he thought that way. Thank you, now I know.
    Another off the wall thing he said to me out of nowhere was “I don’t get butterflies in my stomach when you walk into a room.” Huh? We had been together 25 years, married for 20, I did volunteer work, busy with sons activities. Ex wasn’t interested in becoming involved with son’s activities. More importantly we are middle aged adults not 9th graders in high school.
    I bet he was feeling more than butterflies in his stomach when AP walked into a room.
    That part he left out.
    Like most Cheaters he had a long list of unforgivable offenses of mine dating back to the 1990’s.
    He called them he a list of resentments that could never be forgiven.
    I couldn’t imagine what I had done that was unforgivable, 1) I didn’t want to cancel our vacation plans that we both planned for Hawaii because at the last minute he decided we should go to New Jersey and spend another yearly vacation visiting his Mom in her trailer, I suggested we go the following month. I had recently had a hysterectomy the month prior, I thought it would be nice to have some time to relax and recover He refused, I cancelled our Hawaiian vacation plans and made flight reservations to New Jersey. I thought it was settled. I held no grudges. Apparently disagreeing with him is unforgivable. (I wasn’t aware that he was seeing AP at that time).
    #2) was in 1999 on my Birthday I went to a neighborhood Bunco game and had a couple of glasses of wine, and came home tipsy. He said he had been holding this resentment since then, he couldn’t forgive me for coming home tipsy, at eleven in the evening, with my girlfriend, he thought it was terrible that we were laughing loud. I remember him coming down the stairs that night glaring at me. I thought it was funny, and laughed then said I feel like I’m a teenager and my Dad just caught me coming home after curfew. he went on to say he was appalled, then went on and lectured that his Mother would never have come home tipsy. A good Mom doesn’t drink, get tipsy, and laugh. I din’t realize it at the time but this is also when he started his parental alienation, making sure our son could hear him say I wasn’t a good mother.., Those are the worst offenses on the list. The others were parking too close to the house, pulling weeds and leaving them in a pile, not putting them in the trash can, leaving the top kitchen cupboard door open, he could have walked in and hit his head and been seriously injured, leaving a water bottle in his truck. How could anyone stand to be around me?

    • Don’t we all know that coming home (with a gf) a little bit tipsy is WAY WAY worse than dipping your stick in the neighbourhood whore! Shame on you!

    • Yeah I mentioned somewhere on here the other day that mine had to go back to 1993 to find my unforgivable offense. My guess is these assholes have to justify their ‘feelings’ for another person and instead of taking responsibility or heaven forbid TALK to their spouse they decide to make us the demons. Seems to me in my case the start of his odd behavior of distance and quiet was him making a list in his head of every random thing I did, even if he had to go back decades to do it and making it a personal failing on my part or a vicious attack on him. (you always x, I never get to y!!) It still stings a bit but most of the time I try to think of it as “THAT’s the best you got? I must’ve been an effing fantastic wife then”.

  • So…..the dick had a thing for writing extra letters on cards. This was “enlightening” when DD and I discovered his stash of souvenirs in the garage. I thought it odd when reading the cards he gave to me, though. He said things like….”thanks for your unconditional love”…..” you love me unconditionally”, and it struck me as weird in the moment. I thought it was just odd that he would write that. So did he assume that I knew about all the other women?….I just thought it was childish of him, but now I’m wondering.

    • My ex-husband once wrote in a card to me, “Thank you for always loving me, even with all the mistakes I’ve made.”

      • I recently went through cards I could not throw out. ALL his cards were signed something like “you’re the only one for me” or “you’re the only one I could ever love.” Now I realize how weird and gross that is, like he was conditioning me to believe that… He must have thought if I say it enough she will just think she is the only one.

        • I have 26 years of the loving Anniversary, Birthday, Holiday cards complete with the most romantic, you’re the best, my true love bla bla bla cards and love notes that my Cheating fkwit doctor husband wrote while he was fking hookers throughout the marriage. After DDay he spent thousands on a psychiatrist in San Diego ( the sweater man) who said it was a mid-life crisis and dissociative split. Really????? A dissociative split??? The psychiatrist reluctantly added a “ character flaw” as all doctors have some narcissist tendencies for being under so much pressure taking care of people !?!? Taking care of people!?!? Hedudnt think about taking care of me in terms of STD’s!! I wonder how all his patients would feel knowing the guy operating on them has a split personality. Get your sanity, your finances in order as best you can, and leave. My heart is so shattered and the only advice or sympathy I got before finding Chump Nation, was that I was “too nice”. Bad men seek out nice women and the bitchiest women seem to bully and hen peck nice guys. Crazy world. I’ll always be “nice” he will not make me bitter. But Nice and Kind and Generous and Caring does not mean we are weak.

          • They really think they are special and entitled because of it. I just found out a Dr. that I’ve known for 20 years has had an opioid addiction for a REALLY long time. He just got out of rehab after closing his practice. He’s been performing surgery for years with this addiction. His first wife is a friend of mine…..he cheated on her, ‘cause…you know….he was so special. Just a lying addict. He knew all the risks, and places to go for help…., but the rules didn’t apply to him.

          • Jackass was one for buying sappy cards, underlining their messages, because underlining makes the sentimental thought TRUE, doncha know? And then he’d write a sappy letter, clearly meaningless in hindsight, to augment his $10 gift. He was already cheating on my birthday when he showed up with just the sappy card, only two things underlined, no note and no gift. I knew then.

            • Thank you. Your reply with the ‘$10 gift” actually gave me my first smile in weeks – I never got a gift with the cards :). Then I found a $1200 per person ticket he bought for his whore and himself for a Beverly Hills sick legs wide open party where grown “adults” walk through a house wearing masks an gowns and tuxedos watching actors having sex in every room. I bought myself a Meile vacuum and it outlasted the marriage, it’s a hard worker, it’s loyal, and I love it. 🙂

      • Yep, just about every card had something along the lines of “I’m sorry. I’ll try to be the man you married”.
        Then (after I filed) his therapist told him he was being abused. “Not because of the things I (Wasband) said, but because of the way I talked about myself and the things YOU (DC) said to me.”
        These sacks of crap are master manipulators and extraordinary spin doctors. It blows my mind.

  • Mine thinks he can not be bothered to file for the divorce I need to do it all the while telling me I am holding in hostage because I won’t take action. He can go out and do whatever he wants, come and go as he pleases, and spend money on whatever. He has been with the OW for 5yrs and now they have a house together. He thinks I need to accept I can only be a side chick (says she does not put out) if I want any kind of chance with him. I did not love him enough cause I lost his grandparent’s lakehouse which he could have bought but in no way could we ever afford. He convinced OW to buy him a trailer at the lake that he could not afford. I guess she is the one who’s love is unconditional???

  • Cheating is flat out emotionally abusive. Abuse is abuse! Physical abuse in a relationship is not tolerated in our culture – it is time for our society to start recognizing the pain and trauma the cheaters cause on individuals, kids, families, etc. PTSD is a real condition for all of us that have had to divorce a malignant narcissistic cheater. The wounds we have are not visible so no one notices.

    People say shit like “unconditional love” and “it takes 2 people to ruin a marriage” and the RIC backs it right up with – “oh, you can save your marriage, here’s how!” I stayed with the cheaterf*ck way too long because of the RIC because I was CONVINCED I had a unicorn. What a total waste of time and effort.

    I wonder what the general public thinks about the Jada/Will Smith trainwreck. How can anyone see that and say, yeah, that is decent behavior?

    What a total shit show in a year of massive shit shows! I’m so over with 2020.

    • I have a lot of people look at me weird when I say cheating is emotional abuse. Even some of my girlfriends look at me like they just don’t understand.

      I hope I never have to see the day any of them come running to me saying I was right. I wouldn’t wish cheating on anyone. It really does a number on your mental state.

      I get PTSD shivers when I think about how my ex-husband and me were still making love (consistently) while he was sleeping with OW and I didn’t know. I didn’t give CONSENT to sleep with someone who was doing that behind my back. It makes me feel dirty because he just used my body.

      • Alice, I understand. I am still dealing with the physical side and I’m 2 years out. My body still isn’t back to being mine and just seeing 2 people hug, kiss, or touch romantically would make me flashback and feel ill. One good thing about lockdown is I don’t encounter that much in the outside world anymore.

        I made the mistake of trying to explain this to Cheater. I labeled it as abuse and that he didn’t have consent. He blankly looked back at me and said I was wrong, he always had “her” consent. I yelled back he didn’t have MY consent to have sex as I couldn’t give informed consent since I didn’t know he was with her. Cheater said I was still wrong. He had my consent because we were married.

        My body still doesn’t belong to me. Working on getting that back.

        • Fearful&Loathing,

          Isn’t it crazy they think they own our bodies just because we’re married? So much so that they can give consent on our behalf? It makes me shake with anxiety thinking about it.

          They use our bodies for their pleasure and enjoy it. I have no idea if there is a term for this, but we did not give consent to sleep with someone who was cheating. We did not give consent for them to just use our bodies.

          I was made to feel like we were making love, but the joke was on me. I feel so gross and used when I think about it.

          To know your spouse, the person who you’re supposed to trust the most, could just use your body like that over and over…it’s humiliating.

          • Alice, I wish I was further along in my own dealing with this to be able to offer some guidance, but all I can offer is that you are not alone. You did nothing wrong. What you are feeling is real, and valid.

            I’ve had difficulty even explaining the depths of this to therapists. One (whom I promptly fired) said while he could see I was hurt, it wasn’t like I was “raped”, so maybe I should examine my response and adjust that to match “what really happened.”

            I would search dr. Google in vain trying to find guidance on navigating the sexual trauma. All that would show up in the searches would be “articles” on how to be intimate again with the cheater! It seems nothing written that takes the point of view of working through the physical trauma of being sexually used by someone you trusted. I started to think maybe it was all me; maybe I am making this a big deal and it isn’t real. Maybe what I feel isn’t right and I’m crazy.

            NO! We were physically violated!

            Before finding CL and this tribe, I was very alone. There is comfort enough for now for me in knowing that I am not alone. I hope, Alice, that can be enough for you for now too.

            • “Sexually used by someone you trusted” THIS right here!

              It can and has caused trauma in me, and it is comforting to know that someone else knows what I’m talking about. I don’t know if men feel this way when they are cheated on, but women absolutely struggle with it.

              I don’t know if men are just full of rage and jealousy when they find out their spouse slept with someone else or if they get the rage and used feeling too.

              It is the worst feeling. I cringe thinking about all the times we made love and he was secretly sleeping with someone else.

              You’re not crazy for how you feel and that therapist who said the thing about rape to you sounds like an ass. A woman doesn’t need to be raped to feel her body has been violated because her body was used by someone she trusted.

              You are not alone either, I struggle with it too.

              • I too wish I could give great words of wisdom but the devastation surrounding discovery day and the details of having been deceived for 26 years has me tied up in knots. But I am doing an Academy Award performance on the outside – as I piece together the dates of his whoring and writing about the encounters on The Erotic Review I matched a date that he bragged about how much this prostitute loved anal sex…..and that very same night he asked me for oral sex…..so I put this dirty doctors dick in my mouth after it had been in a whore’s ass. I iron my pillow cases….I’ve never had a parking ticket…..I pride myself in coming from NO money but worked hard and waitressed, cleaned houses, and put myself through undergrad, grad school masters degree, and law school…I shop discount and am proud of it….and my loving husband asked me to suck a dick he had inside a whore’s ass. That will haunt me for life. You are not alone.

              • Definitely it hurts me too! I can’t be for certain if the last times we had sex that she wasn’t fucking around with her side piece. I’m glad I stopped doing that with her when I knew for sure she was in an extra-marital with our son’s former youth football coach. So nasty and so fucking cliche!

            • You are not alone. I feel that way too. There’s just not enough soap to scrub nor wash cloths to use. Someone mentioned Silkwood. That’s an appropriate reference.

  • One of my “go-to” sayings when someone describes abuse, “Not everything you love is good for you. Not chocolate cake. Not alcohol. And if someone is abusing you, just because you love that person does not mean that person is good for you.”

    • “Love at a distance” is a concept that allowed me to start accepting I had to let go.

      It brought me such relief. I was holding on so tight and the more someone tried to get me to realized I need to let go, the tighter I’d hold on.

      I’m 3 years out, I love him in my heart, but it doesn’t have to affect my reality the way it did, anymore.

  • “You didn’t love me unconditionally” is in itself a proof that the cheater didn’t love unconditionally. Right? Think a minute.

    And it can also be another way of saying, “You weren’t my mommy.” Hell no, I wasn’t, because you are not my child.

  • Curiously enough, in the very beginning he was trying to hook me with the promise of “unconditional love”. And I was like “huh? why would I want that?”

    But I chalked it up, like I did everything, to him (and I) still being quite young (early 20’s), with lots of time to figure stuff out together.

    And I was willing to stick with him though thick and thin while we (both) learned our way around a relationship, boundaries, etc. And I did. And he did. But the difference is I learned and grew out of anything that was toxic on my part, demonstrably. He took the exact opposite way and escalated his misconduct. He started out “more innocent” than me, perhaps.

    But he was malignant in his works, apparently. I was not.
    He was abusive. I was not.
    And that’s what it all boils down to.

    Unconditional love, loving through abuse, it can IDEALLY be done.
    It simply is not the reality of it and people need to be aware.

    Give someone a second chance, not a third.
    (I’m going with not even giving ONE at this point, but you get it)

    • What you said struck a chord with me.

      My wife and I married young. I was older but not mature. In fact I was disordered in my own way through porn and cyber sex. Early on in our marriage, I stepped over the line with an online fantasy affair/hook-up. I didn’t go through with it but it was still stupid and entitled cheating on my part. It is a form of cheating.
      Later on she found out through my old emails and it hurt her. It hurt our relationship. I realized that whatever my own fucked-up upbringing, I’m responsible for my actions. I was and will always be sorry to her for the pain I caused her. She had every right to be angry. I acknowledged her pain and I guess we moved forward. Not stellar by any means but I dedicated myself to being a better person and a husband not just to her but for myself.
      12 years later with two kids and shared history of love, laughter, tears, and arguments. We had our ups and downs. I’m sure we took each other for granted especially as dual income parents and tag-teaming with childcare. I know I did but I never wanted to replace her. A year and half ago, is when the fallout started.
      She started acting almost like a rebellious teen; calling me out for all my faults which I have many and her staying out late nights while I was with the kids. I was hoping it was just a temporary phase like I went through when we first started out—nope. It’s ironic that she would be the one who would eventually (and actually) cheat on me—twice. The first was a brief fling. The second was Twu Wuv. Of course, it all started with the “I love you but I’m not IN love with you.” Karma is a bitch. Final divorce agreement is on its way and hopefully I can get over this.
      Thank you CL and CN! It’s helped me more than you can know. From what all I’ve read this past year, it sounds like y’all are great chumps because you were dedicated and faithful all throughout your own relationships and you can hold your heads up high knowing that.

  • My xh Jesus Cheater tried to use that one on me many times. Looking back, he was super twisted in his thinking that he could do whatever the hell he wanted and it was me who had to “love unconditionally”.n Eventually I told him he was a GRACE abuser as well. Expecting a reward for almost unforgivable behavior”. Unconditional love and forgiveness are different choices.

    Blah, these people are exhausting.

  • Dear Fireball, well said…..at the end of the day these Cheaters are exhausting. Simply exhausting – they drain you of positive energy- I gave forgiveness, I gave my trust, I kept integrity and dignity at the forefront of my marriage. I helped his family, I made the holiday dinners, I said it’s “ok” when there was no birthday present or holiday gift with my name on it for 26 years – I did the heavy lifting – I never brought one problem to our doorstep. Him???? My fkwit doctor cheater built his bright brilliant career on my back – He struts around Beverly Hills like his sprinkle turd doesn’t reek. I forgave him once, twice, ..the DDays were close – then the onion kept getting peeled – but the third blow to my head was the final blow, BAM !!! the whores started crawling out of the woodwork…..20 whores he banged – not one affair- a hooker habit- the pandemic days are putting a damper on the whore’s business so the fkwit doctor who gave his real name to some has become their new ATM machine. My hard working money now goes for a restraining order ??? My hardworking money chipped in toward his therapy!?? Game over. If it weren’t for the kind advice another Chump gave me about revenge blowback hurting me I’d be on the phone to Access Hollywood now to tell them to get to a medical office on Bedford Blvd in Beverly Hills because a pillar of the community is about to pee his white lab coat when his lobby is filled with 20 of his whores wanting free STD prescriptions. I’m Jo….his wife…..I’m so shattered…DDay was May 2020. He asked me for a blow job the same day he put it in a whore’s ass and wrote about it on The Erotic Review…… this man is not only sick, he stole my life.

  • Oh Jo, He didnt value at all, neither did mine. The stories could fill a book. Mine left me after baby #3 to go home only he detoured to the strip club for some fun with a stop at the video (old school) store to load up on porn tapes. Truly these creatures don’t care about Us or anyone else. I too had 2 DD’s then the 3rd blew my stack and I was done. I also built up his reputation and career on MY back all along presenting as this beautiful family for him to hide behind. Dont even get me started on whores and hookers. This stranger I thought was my husband left like a coward, fought me in court, hid money etc. Think of the family money he used for his self indulgent pleasures. Sick ASS man ………and after allowing him to stay and steal 31 yrs of my precious life ……. Im free. I hope you will keep looking UP sister!!! Its better on the other side.

  • >