Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Chump Won’t Stop Doing Her Ex Favors

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on reddit
Share on whatsapp
Share on pinterest
Share on pocket
Share on print
Share on email

Hello, Chump Lady.

I am hoping that you and Chump Nation can help me help a chump. My cousin, who is like a sister to me, was with a loser for over a decade and finally married him a couple of years ago. Less than six months after they were married, he was fucking strange. She divorced him after less than a year of marriage. So far, so good, right? Well, it’s been almost two years, they have no kids, and she Will. Not. Go. No. Contact.

Let me be clear: I am 200% on Team Chump. Fuckwit is fully and wholly responsible for his wandering dick. Period. There was zero fault on the part of my cousin. And I do understand that it takes time to move through a betrayal of that magnitude and get to Meh. I am not asking her to “get over it,” but she’s sabotaging herself by staying entangled. She’s definitely trying to untangle the skein; she would feel better if she could find the “why,” when that “why” is quite clear to me: He’s a fuckwit.

She’s also pick-me dancing. Prime example: She’s still doing the books for his business and, because he’s an entitled jerk who has no sense of responsibility about life in general, is now nagging him to submit paperwork about his PPP loan. So, yeah, the nagging ex-wife. I can only hope that she hasn’t given him any (more) money.

I’ve tried the following, with no luck. She will agree in the moment, but it changes nothing. I finally sent her LACGAL and the link to ChumpLady.com; perhaps that will succeed.

  • Consistently tell her that the problem is with Fuckwit, she bears no blame.
  • Redirect her anger from Schmoopie to the person who betrayed her—Fuckwit. After all, Schmoopie doesn’t have a magical pussy, capable of ensorcelling someone! Nor does Fuckwit’s dick have a mind of its own; it went where he put it.
  • Reframe—you can’t change how you feel, but you CAN change your actions (i.e., block his ass on EVERYTHING, stop texting/calling him, stop dropping by his business, lay off Schmoopie on Facebook).

I know that I can’t “fix” things for her, I can’t “make” her do anything, and that there are no magic words, but is there ANYTHING I can do? I will admit that I’ve disengaged because I simply cannot continue to listen as she acts is self-destructive ways. How do you help a chump who won’t help herself?

Many thanks,

Chump’s Cousin

Dear Chump’s Cousin,

Is she complaining about fuckwit to you? Or does she just enjoy extracurricular bookkeeping? There is something you can do — refuse to listen to her drama and tell her why.

“Cousin, being chumped was not your fault. Continuing to engage with a fuckwit, however, IS on you. This relationship is either acceptable to you, or it isn’t. I thought when you divorced him, you decided it’s unacceptable. I supported you through that, so it pains me to see you still wrapped up with this jerk. I’m still here for you, but not as someone to bounce fuckwit nonsense off of.”

You draw a boundary. You enforce a consequence to her self-destructive behavior. And decide how much cousin-time you can stand right now. If she can respect your boundary, then you can enjoy things together minus the fuckwit drama.

She’s definitely trying to untangle the skein; she would feel better if she could find the “why,” when that “why” is quite clear to me: He’s a fuckwit.

This isn’t a psychology research project — she isn’t doing his taxes to find answers. She’s toking on the hopium pipe. She wants a kibble, to know that she still MATTERS. She’s choosing (and it is a CHOICE) to make this idiot’s opinion of her central to her self-worth. She’s choosing to be of use. Either to be found worthy (“Look how nicely I stapled your receipts!”) or to continue her not-so-subtle marriage policing (“Look what I found in your receipts!”).

All of this is about trying to control the uncontrollable. Get answers about why he devalued her, reverse that by proving her value (I know! I’ll win his heart with accountancy!), and destroy Schmoopie in the pick me dance (you fuck? I itemize deductions!)

This shit is doomed. Ask a few million chumps how they know.

She’s still doing the books for his business and, because he’s an entitled jerk who has no sense of responsibility about life in general, is now nagging him to submit paperwork about his PPP loan. So, yeah, the nagging ex-wife. I can only hope that she hasn’t given him any (more) money.

He feels no responsibility, but interestingly, your cousin feels it in spades. Why should she care more about PPP loans than he does? It’s not her job to adult for him.

Some people really need to feel needed. And users zero in on this. She can cast herself as his rescuer. Why he’s just a sad, slovenly sausage with a messy desk. But she”ll swoop in and tidy his life. Then he’ll look up at Marion the Librarian with her dowdy readers and hair bun and see her in a new light. “Gosh, there’s a beautiful lady there!”

I guarantee you, she’s projecting some sort of romance on this. Where you see craven user, she sees Sad Man With So Much Potential Who Needs Me.

I’ve tried the following, with no luck. She will agree in the moment, but it changes nothing. I finally sent her LACGAL and the link to ChumpLady.com; perhaps that will succeed.

Thanks. I hope the community here will help her. The secret sauce is that we’ve all been chumped. And I think it’s easier to hear these hard truths from someone who has lived it. You can’t bullshit a bullshitter. Most of us toked that hopium pipe, so we get it. But at the end of the day, we’re not miracle workers either. Your cousin has to recognize her self-worth and lose the loser.

I would amend some of your advice.

  • Consistently tell her that the problem is with Fuckwit, she bears no blame.

She’s not responsible for his cheating. She IS responsible for how she responds. Did she divorce him to be done with him? Or did she divorce him to goad him into the pick me dance? Is this some kind of expensive flouncing off “YOU’LL MISS ME! YOU’LL SEE!”

He may very well miss her. Because she’s of use to him. That’s not love.

  • Redirect her anger from Schmoopie to the person who betrayed her—Fuckwit. After all, Schmoopie doesn’t have a magical pussy, capable of ensorcelling someone! Nor does Fuckwit’s dick have a mind of its own; it went where he put it.

She’s allowed to be in an incandescent rage about Schmoopie. But yes, Schmoopie has no magic powers. Everyone has agency. Including your cousin. Does she really want to debase herself by fighting over a fuckwit? Would she choose this person as a rival? Why pay this jerk the compliment that she’s anywhere on her level?

  • Reframe—you can’t change how you feel, but you CAN change your actions (i.e., block his ass on EVERYTHING, stop texting/calling him, stop dropping by his business, lay off Schmoopie on Facebook).

Yes. To your cousin, however, calling and texting feels like she is DOING something with all the grief and anger. She has a mission, a place to direct it. The harder thing is to sit with the grief and anger and work through it.

You’re asking her to put down the skein and face a giant wall of pain. No one gets around that mofo. But our job as chumps who’ve lived this is to tell the newbies, that there are huge rewards on the other side. Sanity, peace, self-respect. The space for better relationships.

Chumps need a vision. It’s not enough to leave a cheater, you must gain the life. All your cousin can see is what she lost. And she’s grasping at an illusion that she could regain things she’s deeply invested in — a 10-year relationship, fuckwit’s good opinion, vanquishing Schmoopie.

But why? To win a man who jilted you 6 months into a marriage? To score points with an affair partner who has less sense than God gave badgers? Who gets involved with a newly wed man? Someone who was probably involved with him earlier. Who STAYS involved with a married man? A gladiator in the Fuckwit Thunderdome.

If your cousin can’t step away from the madness, step away from your cousin for awhile.

Hopium is a hard habit to kick.

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on reddit
Share on whatsapp
Share on pinterest
Share on pocket
Share on print
Share on email

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.
  • I got nothing except Chump’s Cousin – thank you for NOT playing the role of Switzerland relative and for trying to encourage her to step away from Fuckwit and Schmoopie.

    Other than that, the speech CL laid out is spot-on.

    Oh – you may want to ask her, once, why she feels she needs badly soiled Fuckwit in her life to make her feel complete. Why is she on the merry-go-round ride from hell (see Karpman’s Drama Triangle). Get off. Toss a match!

    May she drop his business from her hobby of accountancy and go get paid handsomely by a different firm. I doubt he’s paying her for her time and efforts, even if he has the money stashed somewhere out of reach of the IRS.

  • Love your cousin but detach from her relationship. If she starts to talk about her ex, say to her, “You know how I feel already. How do YOU feel? We can talk about this for 5 minutes then can we please move on to pandemic-friendly family vacations/pinecone elves/how to eat more vegetables? Make it boring, let her know you are there for her, but you aren’t going to feed the drama. She needs to make her own decisions.

  • Cousin needs to realize that she truly deserves better, and she will never move forward in her life with this losing strategy.

    If she needs to be needed then volunteer somewhere. She is debasing herself by having anything to do with this creeper.

    Tell her that he is a waste of skin and therefore you don’t want to talk about him. He isn’t s man who made a mistake, he is a man who has no moral fiber and is a user.

  • You know what helped me stop smoking the hopium pipe and being self destructive???? My friends and loved ones TOLD me I was being toxic to myself and for my children, that they couldn’t handle watching this self destructive pattern again and disengaged with love. THAT was the jolt I needed to do the hard work on myself to change the pattern and cut the bad habit because I didn’t want to be toxic. After I did and took some time to reflect, I called my friends and loved ones who had the gonads to tell me this and asked them to help me by keeping me responsible for my own actions, show me what healthy boundaries look like (you can hear what they look like but seeing the in real life they can look different), and help me navigate the new me. They helped me gain a life almost every step of the way and glad to do it! They were my blessings❤️ It’s time to have a heart to heart with your cousin then give her space. When she is ready let her come to you but set your boundaries if she starts to cross them about fucktwit.

  • I have a friend who got chumped during my d-day extravaganza.After lining up her ducks, getting a lawyer she dumped him, bought LACGAL, read it til she memorised it & went no contact. I was super impressed & a little envious. I was still entangled with my Fuckwit due to property & partnership so couldn’t go full NC. But then he persisted in getting in contact & she unblocked him, started answering his texts, then phone calls, now she’s meeting him once in a while. I voice my opinion telling her the danger but she just says she using him to help fix things around the house. I said get a handyman it’s less emotionally expensive. she’s adamant she’s not going back. I can’t get through to her at all about how damaging it is. She even tells me what he’s said to her & how delusional & what a Fuckwit he is. I’ve gone NC & im slowly healing but she is stuck.

  • I think if you love someone and they abuse you, you don’t stop loving them immediately, love eventually dies, but it takes time. She knows she’s being abused, she probably knows its not her fault. But can’t see it. He’s probably worn her down, cheaters can be quite mentally cruel.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if she doesn’t feel sorry for him.chumps can actually develop ptsd, from trauma of cheating, then there’s the crap of the ow.
    He’s probably financially screwed her over, but won’t tell you.

    • Susan Devlin, the day I found out my oldest wasn’t mine and about all her affairs, secret apartments, fraud, my love died. One evening! I love someone or I don’t. It didn’t slowly die for me. Filed for divorce 2 1/2 weeks later.

      • Most chumps get to the “last straw” moment. That is, the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Glad you got there early.

        Most chumps keep spackling, policing, dancing, untangling, et bloody cetera, way too long. And it costs them so, so much, and it hurts those who love them, watching all this. But it’s their choice.

        Some chumps never get there. Dear Chump’s Cousin, your cousin, who is like a sister to you, might never get there. If she keeps toking the hopium, it’s her choice.

            • When I was in the hospital texting the DOCTOR on the opposite coast (or so I THOUGHT)

              I kept asking him when he was flying out. I was in the ICU sick with encephalitis and it took him SIX days to get to me b/c he was with Schmoopie. I was too impaired to figure this all out at the time.

              But at one point my brother was sitting next to me in the hospital, and asked to borrow my phone.

              When he got it in his hand he said “No more texting the DOCTOR, no more calling him. WE ARE APPALLED.” There was another brother and a sister there (big family) and they all looked at me and shook their heads…

              Even in my fog, I knew that a life changing shift in me had happened.

              Here it was, “publicly” out that the DOCTOR treated me badly. ME!!

              What a POS.

              Sometimes it takes the reaction of your loved ones in your face,

              to wake up. Then when I filed for divorce a week later, (series of ugly discoveries), my children each individually told me they were proud of me.

              Bittersweet. Glad they supported me but horrified at how long I’d been blinded…

              35 years…so many sunk costs.

              But there’s comes a time to CUT YOUR LOSSES and move on.

        • “Toking the hopium” is hilarious. How did other hopium addicts wean themselves off?
          I can’t go NC because we have a young child together and we pretty much have daily contact. Whenever changeovers go well or he’s nice I can feel the hopium pull.
          I hate these urges and REALLY want to help myself get to ‘meh’- any strategies?

      • Kudos to you Sirchumpalot. It takes a special person to get there like you did.
        I’m no contact with my ex for many years, divorced for about 7 years and I hate who I know he is and what he did unilaterally to me and our family.
        If I’m completely honest though, I still struggle with the loss of the love I believed I share with someone.
        I loved him with a whole heart and never saw the multi-year affair coming.
        I don’t beat myself up because I miss the man I thought he was and I miss having a life partner (am trying to find one).
        We each have our own timeline to Tuesday.

  • Stand up. Put your arms out and turn in a circle. You can only help the person who is in that circle.

    This has helped me.

  • Here’s an incentive for her to stop doing his books. If he’s not complying with the PPP rules, he may get charged. And as his bookkeeper, she may be legally liable. And if he’s not complying with the PPP rules, it’s likely he’s sloppy on other financial fronts as well. She needs to protect herself, because he’ll feed her to the lions to save himself.

  • Cousin, here is a crystal ball to use with your cousin:

    A chump friend is a guarantor sor her artist-architect-university professor XH can rent an apartment because no one else will. “I can’t let y children’s father live on the streets”. I told her he could live in the projects for an affordble rent. And as a bonus get a good study of project architecture.

    Friend, 67, dumped XH more than 16 years after he got a student pregnant. XH eventually split with student, who had to take him to court to pay child support (surprise!). The asshole also never supported friend’s two children with him.

    By the way, friend only divorced XH 5 years ago. Their son does not have his college diploma because XH still has not paid the bill, as agreed. XH is always in financial messes. etc. etc. My friend lives on a limited budget, pays for her mother’s care, etc. She can’t afford to retire!

    Friend’s XH is now “in a serious relationship” with another artist-architect-professor, who I know for a fact makes a good income. Friend even gave lectures for XH, to cover his ass as a professor at the university where the “serious relationship” also teaches. My blood is boiling at this chumpiness. I want to get a loudspeaker and blare 24/7 in front of her house “NO CONTACT BRINGS PEACE TO CHUMPS!”

    Cousin, as CL says, character transplants do not exist. Things will only get worse for your cousin. Feel free to use this crystal ball.

    • I knew a lady who worked with her ex in a family company, even after their divorce. He had left her for a much younger woman.

      After 15 years this woman was STILL convinced that her ex will wake up and return to her one day! All you can do is shake your head. He and the OW had bought a house together, and his kids had accepted the skank. Yet, his ex was still carrying a torch for the buzzard.

  • I have been in the same position with friends and family members. CC, you are doing the only thing you can do. Your cousin will not heal until she becomes exhausted by her own situation and chooses to help herself. If you put up with more, you are enabling. She will probably be very angry, and call you names, and say you are a fair weather friend. You have to refuse to listen to anything having to do with her fuckwit situation. Make up a mantra — you know what you have to do, so do it.

    Chumps think they can save someone else, or fix someone else. It is our almost fatal flaw. In order to recover from our inclination to enable, we have to create a safe place for our heart and mind to get over the hopium addiction.

    I have noticed that some people seem to have a deep seated desire to be unhappy. It is like picking up a beautiful heavy rock one day when you are out walking, and on the way home there is a hard rain, with water starting to pool around you. The water is rising, and you are going to drown, or, you could put down the beautiful rock and walk safely thru the water and get home. Life, or hold the rock till you drown? Either way, you lose the rock. Some people cling to the rock, and lose everything. They would rather die than lose the rock. Your cousin is clinging to the rock, her fuckwit, and thrashing about using her anger energy by railing against Schmoopie. She will need all her energy to save herself, and she is choosing to stay stuck. You can stay with her, but what will that accomplish? Show her how to walk away.

    You may lose her. If she doesn’t choose to walk away, she will lose herself. You cannot change her or fix her. Accepting that is hard, but it is the only way you can gain control of your life.

    • The rock is a lump of coal. The poor drowning chump is convinced it’s a diamond. Or if they squeeze it hard enough, long enough, it will become a diamond.

  • I look at this as there’s truly nothing you can do.
    Inspirational words don’t work unless the person is looking for them.

    As the cousin, decide your level of engagement (you’ve fulfilled the advice/what to do part more than adequately, at this point) and hopefully you’ll use your relationship to physically distract her away:
    “Hey, what’s that? Fuckwit’s books? Yeah, let’s go grab a drink and you can do those later”
    “What’s the plan today? More balancing followed by more nagging? Let’s go drive around the lake instead”.

    I fully believe there’s times in life where you need a literaly, physical helping hand to pull out us of us grief-steeping. That sounds helpful from where I’m sitting, steeping in my own grief.

    • This was me for two years after I left a 4+ year relationship with a lying, cheating, lowlife sociopath. He was 15 years younger than me and very sparkly, as disordered people tend to be.
      When we met, I was a few years out of a long, lonely marriage to a hard, controlling man. The LCL (Lying Cheating Lowlife) at first projected the image of a warm, loving, funny, easygoing “partner in crime”, and quickly sussed out all the things I’d been deprived of in my marriage (affection, compliments, time together) and provided them in spades.
      Once I was good and sucked in, things started to shift, until I was doing 100% of the adulting while he got evicted from his apartment (and moved in with me), fired from his job (and “worked” for a year in my business) and took an entire year post-termination to enroll in college on the GI bill (with me doing more than half the necessary legwork).
      I provided a lovely home, vacations, quality family time every other weekend with his two teenage kids, while he… played video games, sexted women, smoked and drank.
      I did everything I could think of to control him, the relationship, and the outcome. I sacrificed my dignity for the illusion of a happy relationship. I was constantly checking the cell phone log and his location (of course he was on my family plan), going through his phone while he was passed out drunk, counting the beer bottles in the recycling bin before I walked in the house. Etc.
      I was stressed out, angry, twitchy, and depressed.
      Then – almost magically – one day I had enough. I told LCL we were done. He didn’t believe me (I had broken up with him a million times before and never stuck to my guns) until the landlord put the For Rent sign up in our yard.
      He packed his shit and moved in with his mom and stepdad in another part of the state.
      I bought a fixer-upper in a smaller town 100 miles away from where we had lived together, and set about gaining a life.
      BUT: I didn’t stick to No Contact. I was still in a hopium fog. Maybe now he was sorry? Maybe now he’d be faithful, or at least honest? Maybe there were ways I could make my needs EVEN smaller, require EVEN less of him? (What is less than nothing?)
      So even though I moved on in all the visible, tangible ways (new house, improved career, flourishing friendships, closer relationship with my kids) I was still stuck on him emotionally.
      We were connected on social media, we texted and called, even met a couple of times.
      And it was the same exhausting cycle of lies, drama, and arguments that had been present during our relationship.
      I kept going No Contact, just to reach out to him a week later.
      But gradually over the course of two years, my perspective shifted. Through copious reading, journaling, and dogged pursuit of my new life, I put the hopium pipe down and began to see clearly.
      For every traumatic memory that would surface, I’d say to myself, “Well, you had the option to leave.”
      These days, I’m rocking my new life. LCL still lives with his folks, rarely sees his kids, and last I heard, had gotten his young howorker/fuckbuddy pregnant.
      What helped me kick my hopium habit? Change of scenery. Moving to a new town where I knew no one forced me to sit with my feelings and process them.
      Time. It’s the great healer.
      Nurturing the healthy relationships in my life.
      That’s it really.
      Sorry for the rambling post!

      • Ramble all you want, Walkaway!!

        You are safe here and the sharing of experiences is what ChumpNation is all about. It helps us to clear our heads, move through the pain & eventually get to Meh. Also, it helps others on their ‘journey’, knowing others have been there / done that /made similar missteps but made it out in the end. Keeping it in destroys our souls. Thank you so much for sharing

      • Awesome post Walkaway! I love and totally relate to your story. It´s so hard to do what you know you have to/should do when you are not there emotionally and spiritually. It takes time, more or less depending on the person. I really identify with you wrote!

      • WW, not a rambling post – an excellent cautionary tale. I think you described the key to truly healing when you said “to sit with my feelings and process them”. This is what CL was getting to and until the cousin is willing to do this, there will be all sorts of drama as a way to avoid what CL called that “wall of pain”.
        I’m glad you got through it even if it took two years and a big move. It took me much longer than that. I believe anyone that hangs around CN for a while will get there eventually and who cares how long it takes.

    • Quetzyl–

      Who says tough love can’t be slightly humorous? I like your approach. Cajole, distract, rattle the chains.

      Reminds me of the boyfriend who took me to 6 Flags and urged (dragged) me onto a rollercoaster after I’d gone through the criminal prosecution of a psycho stalker. That bf certainly knew trauma. His mother had escaped a violent dictatorship with him and his siblings by crossing over mountain passes on horseback at night when he was a little kid. He was an MIT geek and figured my biochemistry was messed up and a controlled jolt might reset it a bit.

      I think it was effective. There actually is a biochemical aspect to trauma. There can be a period of withdrawal from adrenaline and other “shock” chemicals where everything seems dead, gray and unreal in the aftermath (Frank M. Ochberg’s Postttaumatic Stress Therapy and Victims of Violence). In intimate abuse situations this can apparently contribute to entrapping the victim further.

      I’ve know trauma survivors who took things too far and became risk/thrill junkies but there can be a balance. Healthy fun. Thrills. Anything unrelated to the abuser and hopefully unrelated to substances.

  • Your cousin is using you as a dumping ground for her complaints. She loves the attenetion you are giving her through your support and concern. You may even be the only person in her life that properly cares about her, so your efforts to steer her in the right direction and help her are admirable. What about you? It gets old feeling like all your efforts to help end in nothing, like you’re banging your head against a wall. It’s obvious you know what she needs to do because you most likely lived through it yourself. Like Vianne and SouthernChump said, at this point you need to detach with love and let her deal with it now. Chumps move on at their own pace and you’ve given good advice and a lot of yourself in the process, which is exhausting. You’re also being used by her to some extent. Don’t go down with a sinking ship.

    • Also, be careful. If she is dumb enough to get back with this loser YOU will be collateral damage. You know too much because she repeatedly aried her dirty laundry your way. Then when it inevitably goes south you will be in the “I told you so” position, which only means you’ll be avoided or even dropped like a hot potato. The old saying “Kill the messenger” is where you may find yourself. At this point you need to distance yourself from this mess.

      • I just wanted to pipe in that I’ve seen victims turn on their supporters when thet decided to return to abusers again but the victims in question weren’t solely victims and had a history of dishing it out as well. I’ve known other people who never turn on the people trying to support them even if they could not take the good advice.

        As an advocate for survivors of domestic violence for five years, I’ve seen it all. There are all sorts of personalities who have difficulty “letting go.” Sometimes it boils down to the nature of the abuse and manipulation and sometimes it’s a character issue.

        I never felt “dragged down” by someone else’s relationship choices unless those choices endangered me or mine. For one I want zero exposure to active abusers. I drew hard boundaries with a coworker/friend who started dating a high functioning heroin addict for example because she brought the creep to meet my kids. Ugh. I did the same with a new friend in a new town who asked if her violent ex (wgom she’d allowed to have joint custody) could pick her kids up from a playdate at my house. Uh, nope. Both were angry that I wasn’t as boundary-less as they were and fucked off on their own. Both had problems other than simply being victims and could be irrationally aggressive in their own rights as it turned out.

        Then there are consistently nice people who get enmeshed. It takes all kinds. I play it by ear.

        • Part of me would be afraid to get too involved if the “sort of ex” is violent or would retaliate against me for being too involved. It’s ok to care, but not ok to put yourself in harm’s way, as you mentioned in a few examples.

  • I am frequently put in this position with some of my step children. They are all adult age now, the youngest is 22. They all know who their father is and what he has done to their mothers and as a result the chaos that followed throughout their childhoods. It is devastating to see and know that I am powerless to help them. All I can do is model what “no contact” looks like… I can certainly give them empathy… they all will take any form of kibbles Mr. Sparkles throws their way, but when invariably lets them down, all I can do is say “what did you think would happen?”

    I once heard this phrase: Insanity is the act of repeating the same behavior over and over again and expecting a different outcome.” And it is true… so I suggest you do you… change your behavior… keep your boundaries… keep being the model for a fuckwit free life. It is the best thing you can do for your cousin.

  • I can relate to this. My XH has substance abuse issues, mental health issues and physical health problems in addition to what I now understand to be narcissism or sociopathy (he was diagnosed with narcissism BPD by a treating psychologist who administered the full range of psychological testing).

    I went no contact and divorced. Got full custody of kids — all but one is grown and the youngest is almost 18 and sees dad infrequently.

    XH still living with one AP but is cheating on her with victims he finds on Bumble (my best friend saw his profile and two other women he dated until they found out about his live-in GF contacted me — I didn’t respond).

    I’m in a committed and loving relationship and live a peaceful and meaningful life, I 100% believe the ethos of leave a cheater gain a life and the value of no contact. It’s been nearly six years since Dday, 3.5 years since divorce finalized.

    And yet I still have hopeium thoughts that XH will get sober, do the monumental personal work to change his character, will treat our children better than he does. I sometimes question whether going no contact is the compassionate thing to do (I’m sober 30+ years and 35 years in Al-Anon). However, I do not act on these thoughts. I remind myself of the abuse, the harm to me and our children, and the utter futility. I know he’s dangerous to my mental health and serenity. I stay in my lane and life is good. He may die an early death because of his choices but I don’t think I can help him.

    Hopefully, your cousin will see the futility. It may take a lot more heartache. I’m sorry for that and know that pain. Until she’s done, you’ll likely need to pull way back and find friendship elsewhere.

    Sending love and support.

  • Not exactly subtle, but when she brings up complaints about her ex you could always try the phrase, “Have you had enough yet?”

    • Or, “maybe you haven’t had enough of him yet, but I have. Let’s talk about something else.” If cousin says that seems unsupportive, you can urge her to unload on her therapist or someone else who is not triggered by ongoing tales of exploitation and fuckwittery. It’s possible to enforce healthy boundaries with kindness: “You’re going through a lot, but so am I, and it feels to me like you’re not moving through the drama to the other side. Now, how about those beautiful begonias?”

  • This line struck me in CL’s reply: “All of this is about trying to control the uncontrollable. Get answers about why he devalued her, reverse that by proving her value (I know! I’ll win his heart with accountancy!), and destroy Schmoopie in the pick me dance (you fuck? I itemize deductions!)”

    I think a lot of us here can probably relate to this feeling of wanting to control something (anything!) after feeling that we were so out of control when our cheaters were whoring around and lying about it. We were trusting and duped. On D-Day, the earth beneath us gave way–a massive sink hole.

    Trying to please the cheater in any way is a form of gaining some control, so I can see why the cousin is doing this. I can also appreciate wanting to hear/know that the cheater misses her and all that she’s capable of. It proves her value after feeling so painfully rejected and devalued. I get it.

    I mean, I hate my cheater, but, if I’m honest, there’s a part of me that wants to know he misses all that I did for him. And I did everything (too much)–yard work, painting, finances, taxes. On Friday, I made a stock trade and realized that he’s never done that. How will he manage without me? He’ll miss me SO MUCH when he has to figure it out himself. That’s where my mind goes.

    Also, as with most chumps, I’m a people pleaser (hence I was the “perfect match” for an entitled narcissist). I never realized, until my therapist pointed it out, that “people pleasing” is a form of trying to exert control. I’ve got a lot to work on…😳

    Bottom line: this notion of “controlling the uncontrollable” is an easy trap to fall into, kind of like its own sink hole. I’m clawing my way out.

  • Great advice, Tracy!

    Chump’s Cousin, I feel really sorry for you! How hard it is to watch someone continue in such self-destructive behaviors! You’ve been very supportive, you’ve told your cousin that Fuckwit is a fuckwit, and you’ve told her that No Contact is the true path toward healing. In return, she’s constantly in contact with Fuckwit. Of course you’re tired of this and have started to distance yourself!

    First, never ask about Fuckwit or how anything on that front is going. She doesn’t need an excuse to talk about him and your not asking is an important boundary. If you don’t ask, she doesn’t need to tell.

    Second, when she starts talking about Fuckwit–she still can’t get the PPP information from him, for example–let her know that you understand that Fuckwit drives her nuts but you also know that she’s been divorced from him for 2 years. You want to support her in her journey toward a new life but from where you sit, she’s still stuck with Fuckwit. And this is very hard for you to say, but because you do care about her, tell her that from where you stand, she’s complained about the same things for two years but hasn’t done anything about the situation. For the sake of your own mental health, you must ask that she not talk about Fuckwit until she takes steps to go No Contact. You are, of course, happy to talk with her and do things with her in an appropriately physically-distanced say, but you just don’t want to hear the same old things about Fuckwit.

    Tell her that she needs to work with a professional familiar with PTSD and trauma bonding. She’s spent the past 10 years in an abusive relationship and will need professional help to work through this. She may need to go to more than one therapist before she finds a good fit, and you are happy to support her in her search (but in listening to what’s going on with Fuckwit).

    It’s normal for Chumps to want to untangle the skein of Fuckedupness, and while it looks really complicated, it’s very simple. Cheaters cheat because they can. Chumps want there to be some kind of reason that absolves the Cheater of some responsibility: they had a hard life, they felt ignored, etc. Unfortunately, the truth is that Cheaters cheat because when it comes down to it, their nature is that they feel they’re entitled to cheat. That is a very hard truth for Chumps to grasp.

  • You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

    You did what you could, now step back. Don’t be her co dependent. Read about codependency. You can’t save her. Step back.

    • Exactly what I was thinking. Another word for sucking on the hopium pipe is codependence and it’s worth looking up.

      The catch with CN and CL is that a chump must have reached a point where they are willing to accept the advice given here. Until and unless they reach that point, the advice here will fall on deaf ears and will otherwise be unwelcome. There is nothing you can do about that other than read up on codependence yourself and see how to respond to someone who is stuck in that neck deep. In a nutshell, it’s what’s already said – don’t be her crutch and shoulder to cry on because all that does is enable her self destructive behaviors further.

      Also, her self destructive, codependent behaviors were there for many years already….long before the cheating happened. Consider that as well. Ten years for him to finally marry her and she never walked away? Clung on for dear life? I’d bet good money that this relationship was never ever healthy and while it’s easy to blame the fuckwit, it’s also kind of a cop out. Your cousin has been making unhealthy choices for years and years. At some point the saying that, “when you point a finger at a person, four fingers point back at you,” begins to apply, and this is a good example of that.

  • Remember people are either in recovery or not. For an addict there is no, one hit. No matter how long it’s been. If went pain shopping on the ex’s social media. I’d be back on that hopium pipe.

  • Not to mention that Fuckwit took TEN years to marry her. Chump’s desperation and bad judgement didn’t just start *after* the divorce.

  • “A gladiator in the fuckwit Thunderdome”– I’m going to periodically recall that line and laugh all over again for the rest of my life.

    • Deception on such a major scale is causing your cousin to ruminate in a desperate way as she tries to fathom the unfathomable! I’m still stuck in this cycle, like a broken record I just Keep running through all the awful things he did to me over the years , trying to make sense of my failings! How did I miss all the red flags, how did I put up with his dreadful behavior toward me!

      A good friend will listen and will remind the injured party that heR Ex is still winning if she lets him in her head, dominating her mind when he should not be exploiting her any more. Tell her to free her thoughts and focus on the other good things in her life. Tell her that he didn’t deserve her. That she has ended something bad, and this moment is the beginning of something new.

      Be patient with her. It is a very lonely place and we feel like the person we trusted most in this world thought so little of us that they could stab us in the back. Remind her that this is what he did. He’s a dark self entitled narc. They never change. That isn’t a person who deserves not a second more of her. Good luck. She will move on.

  • I came to the party late. However, CL is absolutely correct. I had a very close friend doing the same thing. I finally got fed up, told her I loved her, but couldn’t be around her if she was going to maintain involvement with her ex cheating husband. Apparently several other friends and a few family members told her the same thing. When enough 9f us distanced ourselves, she finally realized how toxic he was and how toxic her drama was for us. She finally left him alone.

  • >