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Fix Your Picker Tips

Hey, it’s Friday and maybe you have a date this weekend. Or a bad rash just thinking about dating. Or maybe there’s still a cheater snoring on your sofa. What you need are BOUNDARIES!

Today’s Friday challenge is How to Fix Your Picker. If you’re a recovering chump like me, you need this skillset. And maybe a lifetime of refresher courses… (no, I really cannot host book club again… okay, okay, just this sixth time, but this is IT. Doesn’t anyone else have a sofa and cookies?)

Here are my Improved Picker tips:

Do NOT rescue anyone. Healthy people don’t need rescuing. They pay their bills. They function like adults. They manage their crises. Sure, everyone has some bad luck sometimes. We can all use a helping hand on rare occasion. But how people meet the challenges in their life says a LOT about them. Good people do not presume. If they lounge around on fainting sofas waiting to have their brow mopped while you bring them a hot toddy and your check book — fuck ’em. Steer clear.

Do NOT settle for lopsided arrangements. You need a partner, a friend, not a project. Healthy relationships are based on reciprocity. Don’t do for someone who wouldn’t do for you. And don’t presume reciprocity (oh, of course they would) — watch what they do. Do they pick up the check? Do they hurry to do for you like you do for them? Do they get pleasure from giving to you? Or it is all about them?

I see a lot of straight men fall for this. They want to be a caretaker, feel needed and powerful, and are flattered by apparent “helplessness”. Choose a competent person with a job and their own money. Find an equal. Women fall for the caretaker role too — they jump in as “mommy” and polish the jerk up, find them employment, manage their life. DON’T DO THIS. Healthy people aren’t looking for parents and life coaches. That’s not your job, okay? Your job is girlfriend/boyfriend. That’s IT.

Do NOT run yourself down. Oh, no one would want me because I’m a single parent/a special needs kid parent/I’m fat/I’m old… whatever. If you’re a good person and you’re responsible and loving? You’re a stock that trades high. Never forget it. Bonus points if you have all your hair and teeth.

Beware of people who lead with self-pity. Is it always someone else’s fault? Do they see themselves as a poor sausage, and worse, do they want you to see yourself that way too? Do they flatter you by running other people down around you? Oh, your parents don’t understand you. They suck. She’s out to get you. He wants your job. Fuckwits isolate their victims. Only you understand me. Fuckwits idolize and devalue you. Why? It’s easier to manipulate you that way. The self-pity is real. You, however, are just of use.

Beware the love bombers. If it seems too good to be true? It probably is. Take it slow. Crazy will reveal itself. Anyone who moves too fast or “loves” you before they have a good long time to get to know you? That’s a red flag. Pay attention to how much they really know about you. Are they truly paying attention to your quirks and interests or are they feigning it with vague, over the top praise? Do you feel like your best self with them, like you do a friend who loves you warts and all? Or do you feel like you’re living a fantasy? Keep it real, chumps and don’t be in a rush. Let enough time elapse to let their character show.

Last but not least — DO NOT BE AFRAID to dump someone. If someone is pressuring you for a permanent commitment too soon (marriage, moving in with you), or on the other side, is vague and non-commital about exclusivity (after many months or years together) — DUMP. If you have deal breakers, abide by them. Don’t be afraid to “next” someone, because I promise you there is always a next. There are many, many people out there. You can afford to be choosey. Don’t panic if you meet a lot of sucky people, or decent not-quite-a-good-fit folks. You’ll learn from them, and may just enjoy something light and casual. Not everyone is life partner material, (assuming you even want that).

Be careful out there, chumps. A good heart is a terrible thing to waste on a fuckwit.

What have you learned about fixing your picker and un-chumping? Tell CN!


Today’s Friday Challenge is a rerun request from Mr. CL. 

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • My caveat to #1 — be compassionate to those who need compassion — people who are truly vulnerable. Children. Refugees. Orphans. The elderly. Compassion and generosity are beautiful things, just direct it well, and work for systemic change. Some people (and animals) truly need rescuing.

    • Right. But it’s a worthwhile point that someone who needs your compassion might not be the best choice for dating/life partner.

      • I agree from both sides. As someone who needs some help in life, I would ask you to be compassionate to those in need like myself, while at the same time I would agree I do not make a good life partner for a lot of people.

        It sounds a little wrong and sad as I say it, but it sure makes it safer for everyone involved.

        • There are adults with conditions and they may go undiagnosed for a very long time, if they ever are, and in the meantime struggles don’t wait. And we may not like it, but this goes for cheaters and abusers, too.

          So yes, HOW are people facing their CHALLENGES ? Because it will always boil down to that.

          Just keep in mind “facing” does not automatically equate “fixing”. And it sounds too darwinian to exclude people with any sort of struggle from relationships, like we/they don’t deserve love because they “can’t” do life as good as you.
          It’s definitely your choice not to entangle yourself with a “human rescue”. Fair enough.
          But I wouldn’t want to give the wrong impression to the struggling AND chumped, because that’s just too much and too traumatic to pile on someone.

          Also, the notion that chumps = functional adults, cheaters = scum of the earth is entirely far from being universal.
          Guess what, he’s the cheater and he’s apparently more functional than me!

          • Most people would judge cheater as more functional than me. On the outside he appears to have it all. He has a great career, which he probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t supported ex during years of unemployment while making sacrifices, filling out resume’s and applications, including sacrificing my career so we could work on “our”career (his). His career was our goal, the light at the end of the tunnel, “teamwork” except he turned the lights out for me once he became financially successful leaving me in the dark with a now useless college degree and outdated skills.
            Courts don’t care about teamwork, “our” career, your sacrifices or useless unused degrees.
            Cheater turned teamwork, into Chump is lazy and sat on her ass doing nothing.
            Who in their right mind would sit on their ass for years without caring about their future?
            To outsiders cheater is the picture of success and I’m the well, as a career counselor in court stated, well, she has social skills.

            • Quetzal and Brit–

              Well, vampires also seem more “functional” than the victims they just recently drained of blood– at least until they start jonesing for the next blood meal.

              Maybe a good picker- calibrating project would be to collectively identify traits of “recently fed vampires” to distinguish that appearance from people who ate genuinely healthy. Hmm, where does that rosy sparkle come from and who had to die to produce it? Describe these notherfuckers in detail as a public service.

              It’s a political exercise too. There are vampire institutions, vampire corporations and around them cluster the individual vampires and vampire enablers and worshippers What products ate made by slave labor? Whose wealth amd shiny Caribbean vacation glow was gained by, say, crushing the third world poor?

              Then, for kicks, identify the faux social justice warriors who pretend to care while still feeding on others’ misery in their personal spheres. Create a database of shitheel profiles.

              Join the anti-vampire underground. They have better cookies, more empathy and better gallows humor.

              • Sorry for typos. Maybe it’s a Freudian slip to keep writing
                “ate” instead of “are.”

              • In general, stay away from users-abusers:

                People who use & abuse alcohol or drugs.
                People who use & abuse other people, including using the effort of others to get ahead, to get recognition, etc.
                People who use & abuse their power to gain more power.
                People who use & abuse words to control others.

              • >Join the anti-vampire underground.
                I love that!! All hands on deck to battle the political/economic vampires too.
                I’m glad Hell of a Chump replied to Quetzal and Brit. Sometimes our belief that we’re barely functional is all abuser illusion.
                When I was engaged to my toxic narc-leech, I was sure he was the cool one, so much together than me. I felt like a basket case, even if I was doing OK (struggling to launch my career was relatively normal in that industry). After I was discarded it took me decades to realize that I was the one people were lining up to meet. My Ex had one and a half close friends, and the other people were more aquaintenance than friend. I was shocked to realize afterwards that a number of people had been seeking friendship with me rather than him. He was good at driving away my friends and making me doubt myself. His sparkle was illusion, fed by my blood. It was so hard for me to see that.

            • Brit, I’m the male version of you.
              Now I’m going out there to get a career at the age of 40. But, it will be MY career and nobody will be able to take it away and give it to some other sad sack who’s more controllable and compliant with “the program”

            • Dear Brit, your college degree isn’t useless. No one can take away your ability to read, write, and reason.

              That career counselor at court should be ashamed to have said that about you. And for the record, social skills are also very valuable.

              You can apply the career-building skills you used for your X to yourself. You can re-invent your life because you are intelligent and capable of planning, foresight, and critical thinking.

          • I hear you, Quetzal. It’s scary to have certain conditions – as a cancer and trauma survivor, I have them too. But there’s a lot we can do to help ourselves be essentially functional adults, even with those conditions. I wouldn’t want to be anyone’s “project” in an intimate partnership, any more than I would want to take on somebody else as a project. To me, compassion moves beyond mere empathy into the realm of pity, and I would find it hard to respect a life partner for whom I have pity. Nor would I want to be pitied by my partner! It’s a different standard than respect than I might have for other people in my life, or for humanity in general. And it’s different than having empathy for a partner who struggles with certain things, since all adults have their struggles.

            It also matters whether something happens after people enter into a serious commitment like marriage – like if someone becomes temporarily incapacitated by an accident or a new condition. But even then, nobody should have to resign themselves to playing nursemaid to another adult if they’re not getting something substantial out of the relationship. The first rule of CL is that we should know our worth, and set our boundaries accordingly. Marriage is not indentured servitude – too many cheaters have tried to make us feel bad for not accepting whatever issues underlie emotional abuse as part of just being human. I don’t accept that: everybody needs to be willing to take care of themselves (or find relevant help), or work on themselves if they’re hurting others. And I say that as someone who has not been super-functional myself for the last couple of years. I wouldn’t dream of dating until that changes!

            • Me neither, but it’s a choice that I am making out of courtesy. Not one that others should make out of avoidance for ick.

              In my case, the stuff I’m looking at, it’s not stuff I can get out of. So, I should call it quits at 36 and just resign to put aside my entire value as a person, just because I have a different life than others?

              As you pointed out, anything can happen even after entering a commitment. You vow to share your life, not to share your life *as long as you can provide a good one*. That is not only something that will spectacularly backfire, if we start encouraging it culturally, it’s just plain immoral.

              Also, a great number of people in the disabled community will strongly disagree that their partners are “caretakers” and so, why bother. That is considered very disrespectful, but it’s an absurdity they are told every day. YouTube offers great insights these days on the topic.

              • I thought what Chump Lady was saying by “do not rescue someone” was more along the lines of “don’t get involved with someone who is a ‘fixer-upper,'” thinking you can “fix” them or “rescue” them from the results of actions they took because of their own character flaws.

              • Quetzal – I responded to some general points below, but I wanted to say to you specifically: I really hope that you don’t think your “entire value as a person” resides in whether or not you are in an intimate partnership. All humans are entitled to basic dignity and respect, but we can’t control other people.

                Also, I would absolutely agree that partnerships involving people with disabilities should define themselves however they want, and they may well bristle at the notion that one partner is a “caregiver” to the other. I definitely do not mean to paint all such relationships that way! I am talking about relationships where one person feels like a caregiver, and does not feel like they are able to meet their own needs in that relationship. Then, I would hope that some honest conversations would take place, and if the partners can’t resolve their concerns, it might be time to end that relationship and find other forms of support. As I note in my other comment below, anyone can end any relationship at any time for any reason. That’s not what makes someone an asshole: what would make them an asshole is emotionally abusing a partner instead of leaving, or leaving a partner unfairly (which might include stiffing them on child support, or not leaving a disabled partner with resources to help care for themselves, etc.).

            • Lez, I’m not sure I’m understanding the point you’re trying to make? ‘It also matters whether something happens after people enter into a serious commitment like marriage – like if someone becomes temporarily incapacitated by an accident or a new condition. But even then, nobody should have to resign themselves to playing nursemaid to another adult if they’re not getting something substantial out of the relationship’

              I would have stood by my husband regardless of the circumstances if he had shown me honour throughout our relationship. To me, standing by a committed partner is not about knowing my worth, it’s about my integrity. I hate to think that people think it’s OK to discard a spouse if life takes a turn and something tragic happens. I thought that was the whole point of marriage… for better or for worse -assuming you each have each other‘s back‘s during the marriage.

              • Zip, I agree totally.

                Marriage is, or should be, a commitment to another person. I would have stood by fucktard whatever happened to him physically.

                12 years ago, I developed a ‘benign’ brain tumour. I have dizziness, vertigo, horrible tinnitus, and get exhausted very easily.

                Fucktard got very impatient with my symptoms, because they impacted unfavourably on his life, he was always sending me clips from YouTube about people “who have far worse conditions than you” and I should just get over it, or insinuating my condition wasn’t that bad, or that I used it as an excuse to be ‘lazy’.

                When one marries one makes promises. One doesn’t renege on those promises because one’s husband/wife develops a debilitating illness, or some other condition. What kind of committment/love is that?

              • Zip and ChumpNoMore and Quetzal –
                I don’t want to belabor the point, but it sounds like you’re all envisioning mutually healthy relationships where someone might be willing to provide a certain level of care to a partner, but they still feel like they’re getting something substantial out of the relationship, as I noted above. I’m sensitive about this issue too – part of the reason that my STBX justified her affairs was that I’m a cancer survivor with a lot of long-term side effects. Though I would have been disappointed if STBX had chosen to leave our marriage if she was not getting what she felt she needed due to my medical history, and I do think there should be a higher standard if you have committed to someone and if there are kids in the equation, ultimately that would have been a legitimate choice on STBX’s part, and I would have had to accept it. The real problem came when STBX decided to abuse me emotionally rather than dealing with her issues openly, or choosing to leave the marriage.

                As CL reminds us, everybody is free to leave a relationship at any time, for any reason. If someone is not up for playing nursemaid, as I said above, and will end up resenting/pitying their partner, then it’s probably time to make other arrangements, though I would hope that nobody would leave a disabled partner completely high and dry, without other forms of support – all the usual rules about being a decent human being would still apply! In any intimate partnership, if you feel like you *can’t* leave for any reason – including your partner’s health issues – that’s a serious red flag. Some people will have much more interest/ability to take care of their partners than others without resentment and pity, and that’s fine. The flip side of the coin is also true: if we have serious issues and feel like our partners are getting resentful of them, we need to be prepared to have the honest conversations and to set/maintain our boundaries, and possibly leave the relationship if our needs can’t be met in an emotionally healthy way.

                I wish you all the very best, in health, life, and in love if that’s what you want!

              • Well, Lez, I have to disagree. Marriage involves making promises, one of which is “in sickness and in health”.

                I believe in keeping promises. Also, as Shakespeare says, “love is not love which alters when it alteration finds”.

              • I agree Zip.

                My ex mother in law was devastated when my ex pulled his crap. I remember once her saying, I know if he got sick you would have stood by him. I said yes, I would have; but he has made his choice.

                In my current marriage, I am ten years younger than the H. We are both fairly healthy for 70 and 80. But, if God forbid something happens, I have no doubt we will do what we can to take care of the other. Personally if we can, and we have long term health insurance if we can’t.

                My hope is we both get to 100 with fairly good health, and all that insurance money goes to someone who needs it. 🙂

              • Lez Chump, you’ve been through so much, thanks for responding. We are all entitled to our opinions and I agree that of course everyone has the ‘right’ to leave whenever they want. Whether it’s the morally and ethically right thing to do however is another matter ( assuming you are with a loving and committed partner who has shown you respect, love and commitment ). I also agree that nobody wants anyone staying around who’s going to resent them and end up doing even more damage. Such a person ultimately sucks as a partner.
                I don’t however know anyone who would knowingly want to be in a relationship with somebody who told them upfront that they would be there as long as things were good, but when there’s bumps they would run to the hills for greener pasture.
                In my opinion, being OK with a Fairweather partner is not knowing that they are the ones who suck .

              • Spot on, Zip.

                Real people are the ones who stick when it rains and thunders. I despise fairweather ‘friends’, as much as I despise fairweather cheaters.

              • Hi,
                I can relate- I too assumed that marriage meant ‘having each other’s back’ regardless of what life threw at us. I also believe that this is, in part, what made me a chump. Not because I believed in this ideal (which I still think is very beautiful and appealing), but because I failed to acknowledge the red flags around reciprocity.
                Gifts, emotional and financial support, attending events you’d rather not, caring for our son- there were always deficits when comparing what I was willing to do for my ex and what he was willing to do for me. I knew this and I minimised it. I’d spackle and blame his troubled upbringing, I’d apply hopeium and focus on what he/ we could be rather than leave when his behaviours became abusive. I would disregard my own needs for the sake of ‘keeping the peace’ and ‘honouring the relationship’. Uuuugh, chump.
                As part of my recovery I’m trying to be much more real with myself and look for reciprocity in all my relationships. I’m more aware of when I feel the urge to spackle and I’m getting better at culling relationships that felt like I was always giving. I love that I have values around empathy and generosity and now I know that I also need to apply these to myself – which means noticing and protecting myself from people who aren’t willing to meet half way.

              • And then there’s Newt Gingrich who served his wife with divorce papers when she was literally on her back with cancer. Then he married the OW, a devout Catholic who is now Trump’s Ambassador in Vatican City, Italy. I think the Karma train has been derailed. I spent $30,000 to get a three year Criminal Protective Order against my Cheater’s psychopathic prostitute that extorted him for money and then came to our home for more (all this before the dDay – I knew nothing of his hooker habit). I got my sheet of paper from the Court, spent more money on upgrading my home security camera system because the whore must be on camera or tape to prove she broke the restraining order. She/whore proceeded to park across the street in an Urber screaming at me…..but that is ok in the eyes of the courts – she was not on my property. She/whore then got arrested for public intoxication in Beverly HIlls along with a Child Endangerment charge…the court felt sorry for her… OUR TAX DOLLARS have he in air conditioned/three meals a day FREE rehab – for the third time. SO…vows, doing the right thing, living an honest life……yep, we Chumps keep trying while the whores get free housing and the OW becomes an Ambassador to the Catholics – which our tax dollars pay for too. By the way I was a Catholic until that. It’s a wonder we Chumps don’t turn to booze or suicide.

              • This is tough post to respond to. Not sure I totally agree w/it. Or it might be that I’m lacking the experience to fully get it. FW XW was my second girlfriend. PERIOD. I was extremely shy, and was a sucker for a beautiful face/body that had been my friend (at least, I thought she was) for years before we got romantically involved. I find myself agreeing w/Zip & chumpnomore6 most right now.

                For me, it was and is for better or worse, in sickness & in health. End of story. What I’m working on is finding women that share that view of committed relationships. I would have been there for the FW XW no matter what, until she proved by exit-affairing me it was a one way street for that type of thinking. I thought she was there for me when I needed it. Wrong! So I need to better identify those that are real and loyal better. Not just interested in my earning potential, and how much of a clone of their daddy I can be, to fit their narrow view of what a husband should be.

                And if you lack the character and/or courage to openly discuss what you can’t handle about your partner, at least be an adult, say you want out of the relationship, and get a divorce before having an affair w/someone (especially your rich, older boss. Fucking pathetic cliche). In my case, it might have killed me if she did that, but at least if I made it thru, I’d have had respect for her. Not now. And scarily, the FW XW made it easier for me to get thru all this, because she acted like such a shit to me and our family. It helped me realize quicker that the majority of this problem lay w/her. I’ve got tons of flaws, but I’m loyal as fuck to my partner. They may want to kill me for other reasons (big introvert, history of depression), but I’ll never cheat on them.

                Wishing CN peace, health and happiness. Let’s be careful out there (apologies to Hill Street Blues).

            • LezChump……one of the things that I’ve read is that narcs view every relationship as “transactional”, there must be something equal or better in it for them. “Things change” was the Dick’s excuse for being a dick.

              • chumpnomore6 Exactly, if my cheater had said in our vows, ” I will forsake all others, until I want to feel like a hormone crazed teenager again” Even at my young age, I think I would have said, bye.

                If you don’t think can handle sickness and in health then don’t get married, or have the vows re written; so the chump knows what he/she is getting.

              • Re: narcs as transactional, and the concept of “in sickness and health”:

                I think we can all agree that we chumps committed to shitty people. Shitty people are unlikely to deal well with life’s travails. Yes, I agree it would be shitty to leave a marriage because your partner is sick, or if you believe they are not fulfilling their end of whatever transactional bargain you have in mind. Before D-Day #2, I thought it would be really terrible if STBX left me because of my long-term side effects from cancer. But guess what was even worse? Detonating a trauma bomb that would effectively end the marriage anyway.

                We all should be striving to look for reciprocity in long-term relationships. Often, in practice, that’s hard to see on a day-to-day basis. And as Portia mentions below, none of us humans (whether we have shitty character, or not) has a crystal ball and can see what the future holds, and how much burden we might be able to carry when the time comes. My STBX married me at 23 and didn’t emotionally mature beyond about the age of 16. When she spoke her vows, she had no idea what they really meant – but I would argue that most people in their 20’s don’t. She was never going to be a partner who could deal with long-term stress, and I had no way of knowing that at the time. So, even if it would have been shitty for her to call it quits sooner – and I would have had the right to be sorely disappointed! – that outcome would have been better than sucking all the life force out of me and then blowing our collective life to smithereens, only after we had 2 kids along for the ride.

                So, that’s why I focus on the mantra that anybody can leave any relationship at any time for any reason. They might face some well-deserved judgment in the process. I agree that, in an ideal world, someone of good character should not leave a sick/disabled person who is otherwise a good partner. But sadly, this is not an ideal world, and the “sickness and health” narrative can result in real harms. My STBX clearly internalized the idea that she shouldn’t leave me, given my health issues, but neither could she (for her own reasons) be honest with me about her struggles, so she ended up abusing me emotionally to get what she felt like she “needed.” And we chumps are very familiar with the flip side of the “don’t leave a sick person” narrative: if abusive people are just “sick,” then they deserve umpteen chances from their long-suffering partners to get better. Keep in mind that a lot of abuse is subtle – I put up with a lot of micro-abuse between D-Days #1 and #2, thinking that’s just what mature marriage looks like.

                I say, if someone wants out of a marriage because their partner is sick or for whatever shitty reason, let them go. They’ve just revealed their true colors, and we can Trust That They Suck. It would be horribly disappointing, and it would hurt, because it’s shitty. I just hope that shitty someone has the decency to leave before they cheat. We sick/disabled people are still ultimately responsible for ourselves, and can’t control other people, even the people we hoped we could rely upon under extra-sucky circumstances.

              • “My STBX married me at 23 and didn’t emotionally mature beyond about the age of 16. When she spoke her vows, she had no idea what they really meant…”

                Did she tell you that? If she did, sounds like classic blameshifting to me. Were they written in Klingon, or ancient Sanskrit?

                UX’s kunty kibble said something similar in the letter she wrote him which was published here as a guest post. It’s just crap.

                Of course she understood what they meant, she just doesn’t want to stand by them.

                You’ve been through a hell of a lot, I’m so sorry. You sound like a really good person, and your Stbx is clearly a major arsehole.

                ((hugs)) to you. ❤️xx

          • We all need help and support. But we shouldn’t need to be “rescued.” We should be working on ourselves as our primary life project.

            That’s the difference.

            • The thing about marriage vows is that we may think we know who we are marrying, and what their values are, but then we find out differently. If we leave them for cheating, they broke the vow. If the marriage partner does something that changes the agreement you thought you had, you are better off leaving than trying to endure something that is untenable for you, IMO..

              Sometimes I do believe people marry before their relationship is fully formed, or when they are not accurate about who they are, or what they believe. For instance, I have a friend who was raised a certain way, and married young, and didn’t realize until later he was gay. He was terrified of hurting his wife, and his family, and losing his job*, and tried to live in denial. But he finally had to have the conversation with his wife, then family, and he did move and change jobs. Eventually, everything settled down. Now he is friends with his ex, his family finally accepted it. ( *He was a teacher in a small town in the South, there was no acceptance for being gay in those days, not much now.)

              It would have been cruel to deny his true feelings, and try to remain in a life which was not what he truly wanted. His wife was able to remarry. His family had to open their minds, or lose him. It was not intentional deception, and he chose to be honest, not to live a double life. It was a hard thing to go through, but repression and cultural expectation are hard to overcome.

              We don’t always know what will happen in the future, or what “alteration” may come when we take marriage vows. I can think of several things which could irrevocably change the marriage for me, so I try not to decide what other people should tolerate.

              • Portia is right. Marriage is at its core a contract between two people and we live in a country that gives us the freedom to contract and the freedom of association, etc. Each contract is unique, I would never tolerate a drunk, lots of people spend their lives with drunks. I would never tolerate physical abuse, sadly a lot of women are knocked around in their mansions- the ice just comes out of a Sub Zero refrig for the bruises rather than that Kenmore on sale from Sears- ice is ice, bruises are bruises, But what’s acceptable to one person is a dealbreaker for another and who’s to judge- no one, except for ourselves judging for ourselves on our own contract. When a partner breaks the vows of having a hidden hooker habit that’s a dealbreaker for me. But you cannot be rash….don’t shoot your golden goose (yet) it’s hard to carry such painful heartache while making financial decisions – it would be much easier picking out his coffin and suit to bury him in- otherwise he’s a living breathing Narc ghost – a strange talking ghost- who resembles the man you thought you married but his mask fell- and we chumps are left to pick up the pieces and do what? Waste more time trying to figure out why they hurt us so much? No, as CL says “trust that they suck, they did it because they could, Cake”

              • I think the point some of us were trying to make is that one would hope their spouse sticks around during sickness and health. Seems like a no brainer. Of course there are all kinds of reasons to break a marriage contract in good conscience, such as your spouse is abusing you or your spouse is gay, or you’re very unhappy in the relationship and you’ve tried counselling and therapy … but breaking a marriage contract because your spouse fell ill ….. in my opinion, that’s right up there with fucking the babysitter.

              • Exactly.

                There are many ethical reasons why someone may want to end a marriage, but ones partner becoming ill is not one of them.

                I can just hear that marriage vow: “in sickness and in health – unless you get cancer, honey, or anything else which spoils my fun”.


            • As a chump whose spouse became disabled, these posts have been very triggering for me. My Dday occurred when I overheard him on the phone with Schoompie, as I was walking into his hospital room.
              He was learning how to walk again after suffering a major stroke.
              I stayed for years because I thought only a monster would leave a spouse when they are sick.
              Because I stayed I was subjected to more lies, an EA with an ex, and 2 additional Ddays (2 other OWs I was not aware of prior to stroke.)
              Because I stayed, my own health suffered from trying to balance a high stress job with making sure he was receiving care, as well as, caring for my own elderly mother when she became ill.
              Because I stayed, I went from primary breadwinner to sole breadwinner for a long period of time. Medical bills are not cheap.
              Because I stayed I had to resign myself to never having sex again. I had been very understanding of his ED for years, only to find that he had been cheating . Then the stroke rendered him completely unable to function sexually, even with medical intervention.
              Because I stayed, I am responsible for paying him a much larger divorce settlement than if I left years ago.
              People like to judge but unless it happens to them, they have no idea what it is like.

              • A spouse or SO being ill is one thing even terminally ill and loyal. A cheater ill spouse or SO is a whole different monkey and circus IMHO. IM sorry he sucks and you had a very personal Hell because of it.

              • Sicatrose, chickenchump is absolutely correct.

                My point about the “in sickness and health” thing is predicated on your spouse or So being as loyal to you as you are to them, it’s not a one sided thing, reciprocity

                Marriage is a contract, if one side breaks it, the other has no obligation to fulfill the terms.

                I am so sorry you went through that – and I am definitely not judging you. ((hugs)). ❤️❤️

              • Sicatrose, my first H became psychologically and emotionally abusive – I stayed for years and kept trying get him help because he had undiagnosed and untreated mental health issues. I loved him, I knew he was ill and we had young children together. Finally, the last marriage counsellor told me I had to leave or there’d be nothing left of me. At that time, because I knew he had become mentally ill, I stayed even though his emotional abuse was destroying me.
                In light of what I’ve been through, I would never advocate staying through sickness and health if you are being abused, whether it be infidelity, emotional, physical or psychological. I had to learn that even mental illness is not an excuse to demean your partner.
                As others have pointed out, the commitment contract is predicated on being treated with respect. First and foremost, we need to respect ourselves, and sometimes that means giving up the dream and your partner.
                But dumping a loyal, committed, kind and loving partner because circumstances out of their control have made things less enjoyable is not showing self respect, it’s showing selfishness, weakness and entitlement.

              • Sicatrose, I want to add that I’m not judging you either. Everyone told me I should leave my first H and I thought they did not understand the depth of our commitment and love and that this was his illness speaking. Having said all this, I still would not leave at the very first bump of some types mistreatment if my spouse was ill – for example if he developed dementia ( hopefully that doesn’t mean I’m still a chump)? I however stayed way way too long with ongoing mistreatment.

              • chumpnomore6, exactly. I mean there are so many things they say. In my case the worst my ex could come up with aside from obligatory “we grew apart” was I was not a good housse keeper. I mean to be fair he is right, I was never a spit shiner. I kept the kitchen and bathrooms clean, no one was going to trip over anything walking in. I did (and still) however hate dusting and washing windows, so I just don’t do that veery often.

                Now one would assume since my housekeeping was not up to his standard, and my working full time, taking over his volunteer work, so he could have time for his “work” meetings evidently didn’t excuse that, you would assume schmoopie was a cracker jack house keeper. No, as you guessed, she is even worse than me. At least according to my daughter in law, who by the way is a cracker jack house keeper.

                I think back to the wedding day, and I just don’t remember “in sickness and in health – unless you fail to keep the house up to my standards, after all after a night of adultery, I need a clean space to enjoy the after glow”

                Funny thing is, if that was the issue then the money he spent on his whores would have easily paid for a weekly house cleaner. You know, or he could have gotten up off his dead ass and helped.

              • ???? to everyone. We’ve all been through a lot. We are the people worth being regardless of our circumstances or our proclivity to window cleaning (susie????). My exH was amazing at cleaning and being on top of things – apparently including the office slut. Let’s all take care and stay safe.

            • Agreed. There’s a massive difference, too, between someone who needs to be rescued and someone who needs help and support for tough circumstances. My ex needed to be rescued from his abusive family, and coached into starting a career. Turns out, he had inherited the mental illnesses and used where I got him to leave me high and dry. My best friend was diagnosed with cancer at 32, and her husband was with her every step of the way until we lost her in November. She was a an amazing person all on her own, there were shitty circumstances, and her husband stepped up. That is not what rescue is referring to here.

        • But the thing is, by the very fact that you are clear where the issues are and that some may or may not be ”fixable” for whatever reason, you show that you are not remotely self-pitying, nor a sad sausage unwilling to do what they can to manage their own life. That is an entirely different proposition from what Tracy has noted. Sure, maybe you do have various things that mean you wouldn’t be compatible with some people, even quite a number of people, but that’s just being clear-eyed and rational about what you want and need, and THAT is an attractive quality.

    • Critical thinking about context is key.

      Compassion because you have a chronic illness, yes. That can work in friendship and romance. Compassion because you have anger management problems — that might work in friendship, depending on many factors, but it doesn’t work well in romance.

      Also, compassion isn’t condoning or tolerating. Know the difference. Compassion says “I can understand how you came to this place and feel sympathy, or empathy, for what you’re holding.” Compassion does NOT say “I must subvert my well being to support you in what you’re holding.” You don’t have to remain trapped in a relationship to have compassion for the other person. All compassion requires is sympathy or empathy, nothing more.

      • “Compassion because you have anger management problems…”

        I don’t believe there is any such thing. Cheaters and batterers can manage their anger perfectly well in front of other people, they choose not to do so in intimate relationships.

        The next book I read after LACGAL was Lundy Bancroft’s” Why does he do that? “. It was very illuminating. The fucktard was a cheater, and physically abusive, but never in front of anyone else.

        • Anger has many presentations. In the scenario you describe, I agree with you.

          I have a close friend whose anger stems from complex childhood abuse and feeds deep depression. I wouldn’t date her, but I can be her friend. She has her own treatment resources and only asks me to be present, not to solve it. In that scenario, friendship feels appropriate to me even though she clearly has a problem managing her anger. Different context.

    • I’m disabled and have autism, so I get almost a bit of indignation when I have to work several times as hard as a normal person just to justify my right to exist (I don’t want disability, I want to work hard, I don’t WANT to be sick, it’s not noble to me, it’s just more of a frustration that it takes me twice as much time to get half as much done as a “normal” person.) when someone pulls the sad sausage crap. If I can be functional and pick myself up by my bootstraps, I’ll be straight up PISSED if someone else chooses not to be.

      • I understand some of your thoughts. I had complications from surgery. I am now disabled. I know what I could do but no longer can do. I get frustrated with things that used to be extremely easy but now are completely harder to understand much less master. IM sorry

      • I am disabled. I am proud of how I don’t let it define myself. My XW hated it.

    • I know this might be off topic but I just discovered Esther perel’s YouTube Channel full of bullswanky. Encourage combination to watch and to rip her a new one here is an happy Friday.

      • Sorry I talked and texted when I was angry. I meant that I encourage Chomp Nation to go there and fill in the blanks and change the narrative 🙂 On Esther Perels YouTube channel. Bring the b**** some grief.

    • I’ll always rescue animals & kids. Grown adults? Never again. I may throw a live preserver (list of phone numbers they need) but what they do with it & where they go from that point is up to them.

  • My number one picker fixer was to love myself. Once I did that, I realized I was special and I deserved so much better.

    My therapist once quoted a verse to me “don’t throw your pearls before swine.” I never understood that verse until the day I believed I was special and what I had to offer were the pearls. I had been throwing my precious love and talents to a swine.

    We were not made to suffer and be humiliated in relationships. We were made to love, be loved and be treated like the jewels we are.

    One of the books my therapist recommended stated if you are not being treated like royalty, the relationship is not for you. Everyone of us deserves that kind of love and devotion.

    • “We were not made to suffer and be humiliated in relationships. We were made to love, be loved and be treated like the jewels we are.”

      I absolutely love this. So simple, yet for so many of us, it’s been a tough lesson to learn. Thank you for the reminder ChumpToTheMax!

    • One of my concerns with the being treated like royalty idea… is when I hear that so many male cheaters use the excuse of not getting enough attention from their wives when the children are young etc. They certainly were not being treated like royalty. Or women who expect to be treated like princesses all the time… I don’t think their partner should have to treat them like royalty.

      Also, my cheater H did treat me like royalty ( it was really unbelievable how well he treated me ), until he started an emotional affair which led to a physical affair and discard.
      Personally, I think we should be treated very well as equals, with love, healthy communication, respect and affection…
      But if I was ever treated like royalty again it would be a big red flag for me.

      • I agree with you, Zip. My cheating STBX probably felt like I wasn’t treating her like royalty, and apparently resented the hell out of it. My standard is different: basic loyalty and mutual support would be fine with me, if I ever date again. Love-bombing is definitely not going to appeal to me, either as a giver or as a receiver – and I sure as hell won’t tie myself up in knots to make someone else feel some particular feeling.

        Good boundaries mean that you care about your partner’s feelings, but you don’t accept full responsibility for them. If my partner doesn’t feel cared for, we can have that conversation, and they can ask for the specific things they want/need. Trying to anticipate our partners’ every need is the road to madness – as long as we’re treating partners with basic respect and consideration for the needs and preferences of which we’re already aware.

        • ???????? Agree Lez, and I simply don’t have the energy to have to treat a partner like royalty!

      • Zip – my XH used to call me Principessa (which he got from my favorite film, “Life is Beautiful”). I was Principessa for years, and I loved it, because no one had ever treated me like royalty before. Being a character disordered fuckwit, XH homed right in on that fantasy and used it to manipulate me. My gut kept nagging at me though – as a feminist, I had studied the princess trope for years and knew how problematic it was. They’re often trapped in dungeons or prey to envious witches and evil kings. Of course, like a true Chump, I ignored the nagging, married him anyway, and ended up in the dungeon of an evil king who was conspiring with an envious witch. The End.

        What I learned is that I don’t ever want to be treated like royalty again. It’s a hard fall from princess to dungeon trash, and it took a chunk out of my soul. I was chasing a fantasy, and that’s exactly what I got. Now I listen to my gut instead of romantic words and promises.

        I also learned that normal-seeming people can be predators. They don’t need the benefit of my doubt. What I need is to guard myself like I guard my children.

        • ChumpQueen, I know what you mean. As I’ve mentioned before on this site, it’s been traumatic in no small part because my discard was from a H who treated me exceptionally over-the-top well. He also treated his stepchildren very lovingly and amazingly well. I thought I could’ve given fix your picker lectures. It wasn’t just his words, it was his actions. H #2, and I thought I finally got it right and struck gold.
          In the beginning, I had real concerns that he was just too perfect. However, he was adored by all including his family and his children. After a few years of consistent loving behaviour and being treated like royalty we got married. Later I started to see some passive aggressive behaviour, withdrawal, a little sarcasm and then my kids and I were discarded overnight ( right before a prepaid vacation we were all supposed to take together) for married OW with kids. We were utterly traumatized, and the wrecking ball did tremendous damage.
          As far as fixing your picker goes, there are no guarantees. We can’t always blame ourselves for picking the wrong people. Sometimes you just don’t know and we want to be trusting and hopeful not suspicious and afraid to take a chance.

          I did however learn and or get reminded of – if it looks too good to be true it probably is –
          trust your gut- look at past behaviour, it’s the best predictor of how it will be with you ( I found out after the fact that he suddenly discarded his 1st W after a long marriage, but that’s not how it was presented to me) – make sure they want to give as well as receive –
          make sure you are not ‘completing’ them or that they are too over the moon before really knowing you. I would also consider people who come from enmeshed families a red flag.
          At first it seems wonderful because you think they come from a great close family… but then later on, there seems to be dysfunction that is not recognized by anybody.
          I am incredulous that a therapist would be recommending finding somebody who will treat you like royalty. We want somebody relating to us in an honest way. That sounds like a fairytale with a bad ending.

          • Zip is right. A therapist who recommends you find someone who ‘treats you like royalty’ is projecting their own problems on to you. They (the therapist) have needy clingy need to be pleased problems. I got my MA in clinical psych before law school and the lecture that stood out the most was for every one good therapist there are 10 bad (same for lawyers and doctors). My Cheater Asshat was a great husband for 26 years, so I thought, his actions were as great as his words, until his secret, double life was exposed – a genuine double life…..I went to sleep a normal, middle class, hard working woman married for 26 years and woke up on D Day to feel like I was in an episode of DateLine with a whore chasing me, 25 other whores coming forward, getting restraining orders, and dying of a broken heart and shock. Too afraid to be sad…. now 1500 miles away and separating assets…..I’m still shocked but if I collapse he wins….and the girl from Upstate NY who sold sweetcorn for $1 a dozen; who cleaned houses; who put herself through college and grad school; the girl who had one black skirt and 5 blazers to make a week of work clothes; the girl who never had credit card debit and went hungry to pay rent……that girl (me) is who I’m protecting – to know that she grew up, married and Asshat Beverly Hills surgeon for 26 years who made a mockery of her and their marriage behind her back would be too sad of a story – I’m going to make sure that girl who climbed out of the cornfields has a happy life regardless of the pain. No one…. no Cheater….no drunk driver…. no one has the right to steal life years from another person. The Karma train runs slow but it’s coming for these Cheaters – these self entitled pricks. Thank goodness for Chump Nation – I bought 6 copies of the book for graduation presents – it should be required reading for all girls and boys!!

            • Hugs hugs hugs Jo. Over the top, unbelievable. There needs to be a TV show with these real stories. Docufucwits. You sound like an amazing force of nature who has had terribly bad luck with a very disordered man. hugs again.

              • Thank you Zip. When I get all my ducks in a row and I am safe I think of letting all 25 whores know that they can converge on his Beverly Hills medical office and get free STD prescriptions….but it will make the news and before I take down the golden goose I need to have our assets separated. I keep wanting to call my Asshat/Cheater to tell him what’s going on ….but then I realize it’s the Asshat/Cheater who created the pain. When everything you believe is upside down you get the hard lesson of ‘the best things in life are free’ I admit I didn’t need a second lesson I dated the same guy from the 2nd grade until I was a sophmore in college and he was killed by a drunk driver. I told Asshat Cheater when I met him that I knew heartache….please don’t use me…..he was the nerd type….said he never really had a girlfriend, etc…..he played the scientific good guy nerd with an S&M fetish that was beyond normal…his whips/chains/gags…I knew nothing of this……………and yet, in the dead of night when my dad was dying I got a glimpse of the callous doctor/him….the “well when I was a resident we put all the older folks down at night – it’s common- it’s called the twilight zone in hospitals…no one wants anyone to die on their clock…” That was my first clue. It’s the theft….more than the pain…the theft…stealing another person’s life, Time is the one thing we can never get back – he stole time and on the Karma roster of crimes – he’s screwed.

  • There is not “always a next”. The real courage comes in leaving a cheater and knowing that the life you gain may be spent on your own. It’s hard and scary. Not as hard and scary as staying with the cheater, though.

    • There is always a next. There are billions of people on the planet. It’s really about how tenacious you want to be in dating. It can be exhausting and demoralizing, absolutely. And there are a bazillion other ways to fill your life. And there are other ways to have companionship and devotion.

      No one should cling to a relationship because they think no “next” is out there. And being alone is infinitely better than being with a fuckwit.

      Every time I do something on dating, I get the WOE! There are NO GOOD ONES left! I’m undatable!

      I spent time in the trenches. I get it. I also think, there ARE people. Be open. You might not get what you think you wanted. (I certainly never EVER imagined I’d marry someone from Texas.) And I also think the doom stuff can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe you don’t want to, maybe you’re not ready or available yourself.

      ETA — I agree. No one knows what’s on the other side when they leave. And that takes COURAGE. If you had someone lined up, well, you’d be like the cheater you just left.

      • I just think the “always a next” message is itself a kind of hopium. You had a happy ending, others have had happy new relationships, but many will not. It’s like people who work hard and pull themselves out of poverty wondering why everyone can’t just do the same. Sure, there’s work involved, but there’s also luck and opportunity needed. I just don’t know if this message of the “next” is grounded in reality. I see many widowed and divorced women of my age (60) not finding another partner. And maybe that’s OK? Not sure yet how I feel about it. Sometimes I’m fine with it, sometimes I’m sad about it.

        • Completely agree. I’m not looking – seven years later. I don’t hate men or think they are all cheaters – my life is enough.

        • Yes! This is my mother who is almost 70 and has been really, actively looking for a good partner for 25 years after her second marriage to a fuckwit fell apart. After that experience she has fixed her picker. She is smart, fit, pretty, has a career and her life together and really, really, really wants a life mate. But with a fixed picker, no one fits the bill. Even though she really wants someone, she says she’d rather be alone now than with a fuckwit. But she won’t give up trying.

          I think this is a very sad outcome.

          • I don’t think that’s a “sad outcome” at all. Your mum sounds like a very wise lady.

            Some people will take anything, just to have someone. Now *that’s* a sad outcome.

              • I think there is the sad reality that as women age there are fewer partners available. Men die younger, and then there’s the fact that many men tend to go younger. I was dumped for somebody 15 years younger and that seems to be quite common on this site. It leaves a smaller pool for women – unless we want to be with someone quite a bit older than us, and that’s not practical as we age.
                Sure there are always stories of women who find love at any age, but there are more stories of women who don’t. What I often hear, is that women of a certain age don’t find men they think make it worthwhile enough for a relationship.
                There’s no denying that women are valued less as we age.
                However, I do think that it pays to be positive and optimistic, and for a lot of people – if that’s what they really want more than anything they can make it happen. And as somebody pointed out, sometimes people get lucky. I hate to be so realistic. But I know that the men I could’ve dated easily in my 20s or 30’s, might not be chasing me around when we are the same age in our early 60s.
                I know I’m thinking this way won’t help though….

            • It’s sad because she is sad that she doesn’t have someone and tries so hard!

          • So without being smart, fit, pretty and with a career, your same mother wouldn’t be “relationship material”, is that right?

            Does anyone else realize that perfectly good people struggle achieving all that and they shouldn’t be discounted from partnership?
            Does anyone else realize how white and privileged all that sounds? My ears are ringing from how loud it is…

            CL was pretty clear on her points, I think, but some of y’all are crossing a lot of lines here.

            • Quetzal, I think you may mean well, in supporting the not quite fit among us, but someone could argue what YOU just said is racist, claiming that “smart, fit, pretty” is somehow white and privileged. I would be willing to bet WrecktheRIC has no racist thoughts in her mind that she is aware, or unaware of in complimenting her mother.

              • Yes, Wonder. Smart, fit, and pretty are not specific to any race or culture. AFIK Wreck hasn’t mentioned her’s or her mother’s.

              • It’s a privileged point of view to consider those attributes like the pinnacle of life quality, being white is a privilege among others.
                You can remove “white”, just keep the “privileged”.

                Having access to education, healthcare and beauty care is DEFINITELY privileged, and that’s a problem in itself that we cannot fix right here, today; but to consider those privileged qualities as the standard for “dateability”, that’s what’s offensive, because it perpetuates the American Dream (which is white, sorry) of “hard work, big pay” and well, that ain’t happening in this economy!

                I’m 3 years out and in a different country, and probably very stupid, because when I listened to “Leave a cheater, gain a life” I had no idea how next to impossible it would be. Im alive due to my very own ex-cheater’s charity. But the lack of planning is on me, should have been more careful, but I was scared for my life. However, let’s not make it sound like it’s a piece of cake to healthily waltz into anywhere and get a job, a house, a car, a basic decent standard of living. I, for one, was “positive” that my (still undiagnosed) health problems were just in my head and would disappear as soon as I resolved myself to leave. HA! I wish.

                Stupid, like I said. I’m thankful everyone else is not me, let’s leave it at that.

            • Quetzal, I hear what you’re saying. Everybody deserves love and relationship material isn’t about looks or abs or money. It’s easy to think of so many attributes that should be on that list such as a sense of humour, integrity, strength, morals, a caring heart etc. I think maybe what WrecktheRIC meant is that her mom has some of the attributes that she thinks the male pickers often seem to deem high value (regardless of whether that’s right) and still no luck (because of her age). I agree with you that life is not fair.

            • I meant to show that she had worked on fixing her picker and herself and getting her life in order. Not just sitting around and woe is me because she was chumped and dumped. Just trying to show she is a quality person that many men would like to date but she won’t date them because her picker is fixed. And sadly, this means she’s not dating anyone.

              • And also, my mom is all those things but also lower middle class in income. She can’t retire because she’s been a public elementary school teacher all her life, made very little along the way and fuckwit stole what she had saved. She couldn’t get anything back from him because he then declared bankruptcy to keep her from reclaiming the money he owed her. She is working on a second career in real estate.

                Nevertheless, she has always paid attention to health and wellness and does wall squats in the elevator, keeps weights in the car, etc to squeeze exercise into her daily life. She takes care of her makeup and hair with drug store brands.

                Sure, some people can’t do any of this due to circumstances but it’s not like she’s living the high life. She is doing the best she can with what she has and she stays optimistic and works hard. I understand the dynamics of privilege but that’s not what I’m going for here. All I’m saying is my mom is a good person who fixed her picker, got her life together and doesn’t have a partner, although she really wants one.

              • LASTLY, I was trying to illustrate how my mom had followed a lot of CLs advice, namely “don’t run yourself down” and “be a responsible person with a job that pays their own bills.” My description of my mom was meant to show that she was checking the boxes!

            • Quetzal–

              I know what you mean. Basic physical health is statistically an issue of privilege (as the disparity in COVID death rates are deminstrating) as are rates of higher ed. Having time to work out in a gym as well.

              I live in a third world not-so-white country where these disparities are constantly referenced in political dialogue. Maybe that’s why the COVID lockdowns have been so strict and only the rich protest them. The poor with underlying nutritional deficits and higher chronic stress would drop like flies and have more to fear from infection.

              Even making a joke about having a “bad hair day” gets a frown in activist circles here. “Good hair” is the result of good diet, less stressful living, more expensive hygiene products and fresh air away from industrially tainted ghettos.

              Most of the very poor are black and brown. It would be stupid to deny it.

              What I love about this country is the mobilization and common awareness of nuanced political concepts that are almost taboo in the first world. Mass protests are such a longstanding tradition and an art form, like celebrations. Many political battles have been won this way.

              People complain a lot about social and political problems and I make the point that this is something else wonderful about the culture– that average people identify problems and seek solutions. It’s so stultifying when that dialogue shuts down.

              • I totally agree that this is a major, major issue both in the US and abroad and something that we all need to be aware of and actively work to change. I take all these points in that spirit.

                But, it wasn’t at all part of the intent of my post and it’s a little off topic to take us there. There once was a woman who got chumped. She fixed her picker and took care of herself and she didn’t find a new partner. That is the story.

              • I feel that I am privileged. I have generally good health for my age, I have an education, I held a job from the age of 16 until I retired in my mid-60’s. I own a home, I have my own retirement income. I worked hard to achieve all these things, and I do not feel guilty for having them. I feel lucky to live in a country that allowed me, as a woman, to achieve what I have achieved.

                Acknowledging that I am privileged does not mean I am racist, or feel better than others in my own, or other, countries who did not have the opportunities I had. I did not cause their problems, and I loath the conditions that keep them from getting ahead. I am not entitled to my privileges, I worked for them. I want others to have the same opportunities. My country is far from perfect. We are a work in progress, too.

                Who would volunteer to give up their home, indoor plumbing, their education, or having a decent job? If that is what is required, I doubt people will volunteer. We can work to assist others who have less privilege, but I feel I should be able to choose my own dreams and goals. They will be different from other people’s, because they are mine.

                With regard to how these issues connect to the usual issues addressed on this site, I seek friends and any potential partners from a population that has similar experience and values to my own, because I believe we stand a better chance of success as friends, or potential partners. I want someone close to my age because we will have lived through similar life experiences. I do not want to have to explain Viet Nam or the Eagles to someone. I assume older people feel the same way about WW2 and Big Bands. I am not attracted to younger, in general, because I already raised my children, and I don’t understand rap or hygiene as an option.

                People tend to choose from the life choices they see as available to them, Their choices may not be our choices. We judge others based on our own experience, and that may not be fair or reasonable. Being open to changing your mind may be a redeeming quality, and accepting others as they are might work well, too. It does not mean you have to invite them into your home, or pay their bills.

                Sometimes we take off on tangents here at CN. It is part of what makes us interesting. We are here to talk about leaving a cheater, and gaining a life. We try to help each other because of that common experience. Every one of us has an experience which is both different from the rest, and yet is also similar to the rest. Support each other , value our differences. We all have a lot to gain by being a part of CN.

              • @Portia
                I agree. I worked since 14. I saved my money to got to college. I took out loans and paid them off. I worked hard to get where I am now. I 2x harder than the men to be considered adequate or subpar to a mediocre man. So I’m sorry. I fought my way here to this “privilege position.” I realize others do not have that chance or choice. I have worked with many other people (male and female) from other nations that have done the same as me. I didn’t ask how they achieved it. I treated them as my equal because they were. I have been treated as less than by my supervisor because they could. So am I still privileged? When I fear for my job when my supervisor is a narcissistic cheater and their girlfriend/wife is my equal? She gets special treatment at work and extra benefits because of her status. Extra vacation time, longer lunches, takes of early from work, gets testing done while at work, etc. meanwhile we all work together without lunches, etc. I’m privileged? We’re privileged?? I’m an indentured servant who works until released from my duty.

                Yes, some people don’t eat and are starving. I tithe my earnings for those who have less. There are mission trips to help other nations. Our nation provides large amounts of aid to many foreign nations. I don’t know if it used correctly. Even the federal government provides aid to many foreign nations. Again I don’t know if it’s used properly or diverted to other purposes.

                I’m sorry. There is no heaven on earth. That’s if you believe in heaven. I do. It’s what helps keep me sane right now. Politics does not.

            • Can we just talk about being a chump without the white privilege accusations???Being smart , fit, self sufficient and pretty describes anyone who puts herself first, loves herself first BEFORE trying to date.Can’t fix your picker if you can’t find yourself. How is doing that privileged at all? It comes from within.

          • I agree. There isn’t always a “next” for all of us. For those of us women left in our middle age, we might spend the rest of our lives without a partner. Men our age tend to date younger women. Im thrilled for chump lady and other women like her who find true love after. Im hopeful for all the lovely chumped men. They never seem to stay single long. I’m happy with my life and have wonderful friends and a fulfilling job. But will I ever be loved the way I deserve by a life partner? That will be a gift, but I’m not counting on it. Of all the unfairness in my ex’s behavior, this still rankles. That he has a partner who will certainly outlive him, being 25 years younger than us. Of all the unfairness of misogyny in our society, the “shelf life” of women is the most unfair. There may not be a “next” for many of us. Tuesday is here, and it’s peaceful and beautiful, but it may not include a life partner, and there is the bittersweet part. I cannot simultaneously accept my aging body and look for creams and clothes that will keep me younger to attract men. So I choose to accept myself and age beautifully but for myself. There is a sadness for some of us. Wholeness and sadness aren’t mutually exclusive.

            • Here is the thing. The age thing is a GREAT filter we have. I am sure we all have lots of men 7 or more years older that approach us if we are on Match etc. I always think, “go find a woman your own age! There are plenty there! SO what you are successful etc. Why aren’t you dating someone your own age? ” I don’t want to be the younger woman, no matter what my age. (I understand couples that meet in real life with age differences, I am just referring to men that seek it out)

              It’s a TYPE a man that views women not quite as a friend and equal companion, and I see it in those relationships. And the one’s our own age that only date younger, honestly SO NOT ATTRACTIVE as a companion so nothing for us to feel any sort of loss over. It’s a TYPE that does that. There are still some my age that want to date within a few years and so far they seem more what I would want now anyway. We’ll see. Like someone said, single is far better than a less than ideal relationship.

              • Well, ideally women should date men aprox. 7 years younger so they can both die on the same day (given that women on average live 7 years longer than men).

                Just sayin’.

            • Yes @gettingthereslowly, if you believe you will be loved the way you deserve by a life partner and then you can have it. There are a plenty of wonderful men out there that are middle aged (and older) and want someone their age. They don’t want to feel like a father to their partner.

              I started dating last year. I went on at least one first date a week. While there were a few duds in the mix, almost all of them were caring individuals looking for a partner who they could enjoy their lives with. None of them wanted the younger, stereotypical trophy girlfriend/wife. A few even specifically stated that.

              After a year, I found a gem, someone I truly connect with … and he’s a few years younger than me. It didn’t start out that way, I needed a few months to get to know him.

              I’ll admit, it was a lot of effort. There were many times when I wondered why I bothered especially once Covid hit and the dating game changed.

              Anyway, don’t buy into the story that men only want younger women. It’s simply not true. There’s a man out there looking for someone exactly like you .. don’t deny him any longer! xo

              • I’m 68 and dating a younger man. I think quality people like quality people.

                I just want to add here that I have a co-worker with a serious and apparent physical difficulty who is not only married but having a thriving second career

              • “I think quality people like quality people.”

                Absolutely, and if we take the time to really know new folks in our lives, and old folks, we can determine their values and if we can be in relationships. Whether as friends or love interests.

        • I agree with you too, Ali.

          I’m not looking for a “next”. I’m focusing on me and making me happy. If a “next” comes along, he’s going to have to be quite spectacular because I’m really loving the peace and joy I currently have in my life.

          • Personally, my next is a pottery studio.

            I’m also growing my gray hair out and never dieting again.

            If an honest gray-haired (or, better yet, bald) man with a good heart and a soft belly wants to play in the mud with me, great! If not, that’s just fine too!

            • I second the pottery studio! Pottery and my dogs are my life now.

              I also grew out my grey hair at 38 after 20 years of dying it. Zero regrets, I absolutely love it. Good luck with your silver transition!

        • Ali, you nailed it. Thanks for fighting the hopium and self-blaming message of “there’s always a next.” That’s really despondent on luck and, sadly, demographics.

          • “Thanks for fighting the hopium and self-blaming message of “there’s always a next.”

            I don’t think that is CL’s message at all.

            Her point, as I see it, is that if you really *want* “a next”, it depends on how tenacious you are, there are “billions of people” out there, so if that’s what you truly want, you keep trying.

            But CL also points out there are loads of other alternatives to a relationship with someone, and it’s maybe those alternatives that will turn out to be most happy and fulfilling.

      • I get where you’re going here.

        For me, I felt like I had to become *willing* to be on my own, always, because I felt like I needed that level of self-commitment in order to fix my picker at all. I had to feel like I was willing to happily be alone so I wouldn’t feel desperation to find someone else because that made me vulnerable to being with someone who wasn’t what I wanted. (Same mind trick that makes me tell myself the ice cream isn’t mine to eat so I don’t eat it. ????)

        Yet I also agree with you that, though once your picker is fixed the pool of people who are feasible for relationship gets a LOT smaller, it’s never actually empty. After all, if you’re in it, there must also be others like you, and you only need one if you’re a monogamy person.

        I don’t think it’s either smoke hopium or be alone. I do think there’s a nuance there, though, that some of us might need to focus on being alone and reconsider only if something really interesting pops up because that’s just how we’re wired. In other words, for us, searching IS hopium because that’s how our brains work.

        • I’m trying to wean off ice-cream. Tell me more about the mind trick. Having ice cream while typing this. 😛

        • Amiisfree, I agree 100%. That’s the path I needed, to get beyond the perceived “need” to be part of a couple. And then of course, the pool was smaller (and it was never huge to begin with because of my own particular makeup) but it also changed because I was looking for a companion and a kind person, not a person who “fit” some image of a husband/partner, etc. And I wasn’t looking behind me for someone else I lost along the way.

          I was looking for what I lost of myself along the way.

      • That’s true. My STBXW already had Coach Sparkle-pants lined up (former youth football coach for our son) actually she was sampling those goods during our last year of marriage. No matter how she justified, she cheated and replaced me with an older guy with two kids of his own by a betrayed girlfriend.

        Soon-to-be divorced with shared custody of two of our own kids and a social hermit, I don’t think I’ll hook up for a long time if ever. I wouldn’t mind being with someone but it’s gotta be on equal terms—I’ve done that whole ‘bend me, shape me’ game…done with that. It is a lonely and daunting process but yes certainly more courageous than our loser FWs having their soft landing places.

        • “’s gotta be on equal terms—I’ve done that whole ‘bend me, shape me’ game…done with that.” Yep. That’s it.

    • ^^^^

      Divorced fucktard when I was 65, I’m 68 now, and seriously doubt I’ll ever date again. With Covid there’s no chance anyway.

      But if I ever did meet someone, I have much better boundaries now, and will never take any crap from anyone, ever again. One red flag and I’m gone.

      CL’s list is excellent, I shall add it to my own personal list.

    • A friend from college recently posted a series of videos featuring her daughter describing her “coming out” journey. In one of the interviews she describes how she met her partner at a moment when she’d finally become open to, and accepting of, the possibility of a long life as a single person — what it would be like to buy a house as a single person, to have a child, to grow old, etc. It was then that her partner came into her life.

      She says: “. . . and I think the biggest reason is because, for the first time, I wasn’t desperate. I wasn’t trying so hard to grasp on to the closest person who would say ‘yes’ to me.”

      She concluded with a very cool shout out to my friend:

      “Something my mom often said to me as I was growing up was: ‘It takes an awfully good man to be better than none’ — and that’s true of partners as well . . .”

  • Brilliant tip about how manipulating partners will attempt to isolate you – makes it easier for them to control you. My Cheater husband was very good at doing exactly that – he didn’t even like me talking to the neighbors – at home or on holidays. He said he didn’t want anyone to know he was a doctor so he wouldn’t be bothered in the night… arrogant prick with a hooker habit.

    • This really hits home- “he didn’t want anyone knowing he was a Dr” but let me guess, he would be happy to take advantage of help from a neighbor who was an electrician etc. My fuckwit was the electrician who didn’t want to help but he accepted favors from the dentist next door- no problem- entitlement!

  • How much time is enough to see the red flag of sad sausage? I’m sorry but I have FOO issues. No one warned me about this. So I fell for the poor poor pitiful me shtick. ???? I was young, sheltered, naive, and groomed to be a chump from early childhood. I’m working on this but it’s an Achilles heel problem. No, I’m nowhere near ready to do anything with anyone.

    • Speaking from my own experience, I think a lot of it is context-dependent. Basically, is there a reason the person is telling you about this, or is it coming out of nowhere, or are they derailing a conversation?

    • Dear ChickenChump,

      The sad sausage routine is like the “fixer-upper,” the person who would be great if they just….changed.

      Make a list of sad sausage comments. Pay attention to how people talk about their past struggles…are they always the victim? Is someone else always at fault? Are they stuck in life? Do they expect to be waited on, catered to? If you are even a little tempted to “fix” someone, and they like it, that’s a problem.

      How I know my picker is fixed: the Very Kind Man has some eccentric housekeeping habits, e.g., the scaffolding in the dining room. I have no urge to change him. But he can’t live with me. But we can date and “visit” each other.

  • I love you! + Can you loan me money = DUMPED

    I love you! + woe is me, I just can’t (fill in basic adult life stuff) = DUMPED

    I love you! + throws shade at everyone in their life – work, friends, family – behind their back = DUMPED

    I love you! + treats wait staff like garbage = DUMPED

  • All of this! As for life partner material I have yet to meet one! Wow men are selfish and self serving. I know there are good ones but I’m not having any luck yet. I keep trying!!

    • Not all men are selfish and self serving, men are people, there are good ones and bad ones, and sometimes it’s just that person isn’t a good fit for *you*.

      Just because we got fucked over by a male cheater doesn’t mean all men are shit bags. There are male chumps here who got fucked over by selfish, self serving *women* and gay chumps who got fucked over by their same sex partners.

      Some *people* are shitty, self serving wankers, regardless of their sex. If we fix our pickers, have strong boundaries, and are prepared to dump, we protect *ourselves*.

      • Thank you. I realize we’re in the minority on this site, but there are plenty of men – even just in this little corner of the internet – who were loyal and loving partners to women who didn’t deserve it.

        Cheating is a character flaw, and there are people of all genders (and all sexual orientations) who have it.

        • “Cheating is a character flaw”

          That needs to be the bottom line of understanding in terms of adultery. Yes, there are a few cases where a person takes the wrong road, and it is isolated. But, usually it is either the beginning of, or the ending of a long that long road of betrayal. Those people never were, or ever will be a good choice for a good partner in life.

      • Preach it!

        You got burned by a male cheater. Doesn’t mean they are all cheaters.

        Instead, live by the mantra that CHEATERS SUCK and the genders are equal opportunists if the character isn’t up to scratch.

    • Right. I had one great boyfriend early on but w addiction issues and lost professionally but he was young. I helped him in many ways but curiously I had very strong boundaries back then. We are still friends to this day. He’s a great man.

      But every relationship after him has actually gotten worse and worse. My picker broke down bad the more desperate I became I guess. Confidence eluded me the older I got. I don’t want to date again I don’t think. And that’s ok!!!

      • “My picker broke down bad the more desperate I became I guess.” That is a great observation! This happens a lot especially when we feel we absolutely need to find a partner. I think we subconsciously ignore our picker when we become desperate.

    • Dishy women often attract a lot of shits and sex addicts. Just ask fashion models (most cheated on bunch O’I’ve ever encountered).

      I think it’s hard for women to shift into being the “bee” and not the “flower.” It goes against tradition. But sometimes it’s not necessarily a person’s picker that’s the problem but who is typically picking *them.*

      Just a thought. As a kid I always fell for the math nerds with tape on their glasses. When I lived on my own to school, I began to feel chronically unsafe. My taste began to shift to the “protector” type, largely because that was who approached me. Some are the real deal but there are a ton of imitators in that category and then, as the ancient Greek philosopher said, “Who will protect us from our protectors?”

      Aside from fixing a picker it could pay to *be* the picker in the first place.

      • Piggy backing on that, anyone who tells you that you won’t be safe without them is NOT a good partner.

        There’s a big difference between “I promise you are safe with me” and “You won’t be safe without me.”

        The former is reassuring by someone who cares, and the latter is a manipulative threat to make you afraid of leaving.

        One of my exes kept me terrified for a long time because he kept using my safety as a tool to keep me in place. He’d tell me if I didn’t live with him, I wouldn’t be safe, I’d be on the streets. He told me if I wore heels in public, there are sick men out there who would take advantage of it and who knows what would happen to me, so listen to him because him yelling at me was out of concern. He told me the only two places I’d ever be safe were either with him, or back in my home state living with my parents (which would have required me dropping out of my BA program and moving out of state, which he knew I couldn’t afford.)

        Even after the relationship ended I was scared of everything. The fear of not being safe he instilled in me made me terrified and vulnerable everywhere I went.

        He recently snooped my instagram via a loophole in the blocking policy, and I noticed and it freaked me out. My current partner not only called me when I said I was scared, he offered to tell my ex to leave me alone, and said he’d put him in his place if he didn’t. But if I don’t want to escalate the situation, he’ll respect that. But…he’s willing to protect me.

        Thankfully, my ex didn’t do anything else and it didn’t go any further (which is what I’d hoped for.) But such a huge difference between these two men. One used the false narrative of “protecting” me to keep me scared, isolated, and compliant, and the other would actually step up and help keep a real threat away from me.

        • Kara, crap I got “I promise you are safe with me” and many more ‘ I will never hurt you’ sentiments from my discarder. Frankly, I felt a little odd when this type of thing was written in cards etc. I figured it was just his ‘extra’ style – but to me those things go without saying in committed relationships.
          Yes, I want to hear that I am loved and appreciated. But for me anyhow, based on what I just went through …. any big proclamations would cause me to wonder why they are being made in the first place. I would never tell a man “I will never sleep with your best friend or I will never rob your bank account’ for example.
          Man, I’m jaded!

  • Thank you Mr CL for the recommendation. I had gone back to the picker link in yesterday’s post and started to read all the comments when this one posted. Promises to be a good read!

    over here it’s a little disheartening now to realize all the red flags I never knew and the lies about life my sick-religious mother taught me and in simple faith I trusted… I had a list and checked all the boxes but there’s so much bad covered over by religion that trusting my gut is what got me into this problem…….

  • Don’t date a addict
    Respect yourself
    Personally I think friends with benefits is a load of crap, your good enough to have sex with but not good enough to date.
    I’m not talking from experience there.
    Don’t dump friends when your dating
    The men you date, is showing your daughters what sort of men you like, if there fuckwits, your daughters could end up like you.
    Get a education
    If your gonna have sex, use contraception why on earth people don’t use contraception I don’t know, maybe they want kids.
    Have your own bank account, do not share one, if dating, mindful if dating and they want to borrow money.
    If they live with parents, why do they, some cultures do, but most people don’t.
    You do not need anybody to make you happy.
    Your in charge of your happiness
    The other woman
    Has no right to emotionally abuse, stalk you or threaten you.

    • Living with parents needs to be investigated. There could be multiple reasons. I live with my parents or they live with me. My ex was threatening abusive and I thought being alone wasn’t safe. I used my settlement as a down payment on a house big enough for my parents and my kids. I put the house in my dads name because I have a lot of business ventures in the works and didn’t want to lose it if they go bad. The kids have someone to come home to after school (someone to school them during Covid)and take them to Dr./ Dentist Appointments. We share utilities, split repair costs and cleaning/meal prep. I am not looking to date; my children need my all right now. It has also given them a positive male role model (Grandpa). Its been a really great blessing!

      • I agree, Finding Peace. I think COVID and the way it is going to long term shake up the world economy will make it difficult for the current generation of kids to be able to launch into society as well. So, it breaks my heart that they will have the former generations stigma about living at home. Plus, I feel safer knowing that my son is living with me. I have told him that as long as he is working and contributing to the household, then he is welcome to stay as long as he needs. Better to get it right the first time than to move back in over and over.

        These are scary, unprecedented times in history. Family is important and sticking together comes before socially perceived ideals. I am so thankful that your parents are there for you and the kids! That is an incredible blessing!

        (My builder in Colorado offers a home design with the parent suite attached and they sell the minute they are completed. It’s going to be the new normal.)

        • Multi-generational living is normal around the world, for many reasons, economic, and caring for children or elders being the biggest ones. In the US, after WW2, there was a housing boom, and many people moved from an agrarian society to an industrialized society. Social norms change with time and circumstances.

          It is best not to judge another person’s living circumstances until you have more information about why they live as they do.

      • I think multi-generational living is great. A 55-year old man living with his parents, in a house that needs repairs, and paying nothing—not great.

  • I don’t think trusting our gut is the problem, the problem comes from *not* trusting our gut, painting over, ignoring, “spackling” as CL puts it.

    As a UK chump, I didn’t know what ‘spackle’ was, had to Google it. ????????

    • Spackle was the predecessor of polyfilla here in Oz. It is such an inspired metaphor for what chumps do, madly trying to maintain a facade that would be better demolished. Not to get into FOO issues but I find it hilarious that actual spackling of constantly appearing cracks in our topsyturvy house seemed to go on endlessly during my childhood!

    • Chumpnomore6… yes! Learning how to start listening to your gut again! So many people make up excuses for people’s poor behavior… starting in grade school… “oh they’re being mean to you? He / She just has a crush on you.” Then as you get older, “Oh he’ll call you, he’s probably just been busy!” Every time I didn’t listen to my gut, I regretted it, so now I’m listening to it, and life has been going pretty well for me since (as far as life choices w/in my control).

      • This is so true. Don’t make excuses for poor behavior. Another thing I’ve learned is to not give the benefit of the doubt. It ties into making excuses. For example if a man tells you he is divorced and you start seeing him romantically based on that representation and then learn his divorce is not yet final – walk away. He intentionally lied and know in walking away you have missed a bullet.

  • 1. A little googling goes a long way.
    2. trust your gut!
    3. Easy on the spackle

    Just getting over a “great relationship” that I went back to thinking it was the “one”. It felt off in the fall (I blamed me not being ready). It felt a little off this spring as well. But spackled I did!

    Until I googled.
    And got my answer/kick to my gut.
    I was getting played.

    Today’s post will be printed and stapled to my forehead.

    • I’m sorry, Tall One! Give yourself some grace. Liars, cheaters, and low life people have had years to perfect their lame behavior. That is why CL says to take things slow. It gives a loser time to mess up and show their true nature. Glad you figured it out now instead of investing more time and effort! Know that ALL of us here feel you pain. But, no need for staples, your forehead is fine the way it is!

    • One addition:

      If you are within a year of divorce, you aren’t ready for your next “real” relationship.

      I know this isn’t true for all. And doesn’t mean you shouldn’t date. Just more than likely you have healing and are in a state or change that will cloud thinking. I hated hearing this, b/c my first relationship was –in all honesty– WAY better than my marriage was… but here I am posting the above.

  • I was 18 on my first pick. I just have to forgive myself for that. My dad wanted us to wait until he returned from Vietnam. Wish I had listened. But then if I had, I wouldn’t have my wonderful son. I wouldn’t want him to be anyone else.

    When I was 40 my picker was soooo much better. Of course I gave it almost 5 years of constant companionship to be sure. I actually would have like to stay engaged for another couple years, but my job change and logistics lead us to go ahead and get married.

    24 years later, still going strong.

    • That’s lovely, I’m so glad for you Susie Lee.

      “Of course I gave it almost 5 years of constant companionship to be sure.”

      That is so wise. Cheater narcs wear a mask, some of them can keep the mask in place for quite some time, (I lived with fucktard for 6 months before we got married) but very few could keep the mask in place for 5 *years*, you’ve clearly got a keeper. ❤️????

      The fucktard I married kept the mask for a while, *but* there were many red flags, I just madly spackled; never, never, never again will I hold myself so cheap.

      • I think he showed me who he really was when we were climbing Ben Nevis (I think we’d been together a couple of months) ; he was ahead of me, and I called to him to slow down a bit, I was getting tired, and I wanted to rest and take his picture.

        He turned around with such a look of anger and exasperation. I should have been warned then, but I chose to ignore it. Sigh. Everything with him was some kind of contest he had to win.

      • Yep, they for sure can keep it hidden. Heck my ex did for years. It is fair to say I was not the suspicious type, and so likely overlooked things a wiser woman might have noticed. But, I am a wiser woman now. 🙂

        My H and I have protected each other in terms of finance. We signed a prenup protecting each of our retirement accounts. (in case of divorce) It no longer matters as long as we have been together. But, in second marriages when both have some assets, it is a good thing to do.

        I will get a pension from my husbands retirement benefits, because that is what he chose for me. But, he won’t get one from mine because he didn’t want it.

        We each have some money secured for our children.

        Of course what we have earned since our marriage will go to each other, as it should.

        • I’m so worried about this. Can my stbx actually take my retirement?? God, I don’t work that much and have only managed to save a little. I helped his career though so he made much more than I. Plus he has a pension. Surely he can’t get from me? I am the only supporter of our kid financially and mentally (a few rehabs and therapists).

          My home is in my name. I would hope since he makes so much more than I did before lay off, he couldn’t hurt me this way. Scary. (I have proof he siphoned off family funds though so maybe that will help.)

          • Ask your lawyer. Ask for everything you possibly can! Doesn’t hurt to put everything down on the table but have documentation to support everything. Everything. You are laid off. You are the caretaker. Medical bills you have paid how much time you have had custody vs cheater. Child support if any. Document document document!

          • Most of that is so state dependant, and even if your state is 50/50 that does not always mean that it come out 50/50. My state was 50/50 and provides for no alimony except in cases of physical handicap etc.

            However, I did get a year of temporary maintenance while we were legally separated. My lawyer said he could get me three years if I needed it. I said, I don’t think I can stand it that long, go for 6 months. He said we will re evaluate at the 6 month point. At 6 months I said I am done. But, then the ex startled delaying. I was separated from him financially, so didn’t bother me.

            In hindsight, I think my ex wold have loved it if I had gone for the three years. Not because he wanted me back, but because it would have put off his marriage to schmoopie.

            My advice would be, get a good divorce lawyer. The best you can get. My divorce was in 1990 and my lawyer cost me about 12 or 13 hundred dollars for the whole year. Well worth it.

            My husband didn’t on paper pay for my lawyer, but with a year of him paying my house payment and car payment, he more than paid my legal fees. A good lawyer know how to get the best deal for their client.

            Save any receipts or proof of money spent on adultery. If he was emotional or mentally abusive write it all out. Don’t like or exaggerate, but make sure you attorney knows what actually happened from your end. He may or may not have to use it, but he needs to know and he/she will know if they do need to use it.

            As far as pensions, he won’t be able to access your pension, unless you can access his. And also, people freak out about pensions, but they only get a portion that is tied to how much was in there on the day of divorce. It isn’t like you spend the next 20 years building a pension and they get 50 percent.

            In our case we each waived each others pension. My trade off since he had a lot more money in his pension than I did, was a small apartment sized house that was paid off.

            Good luck and try not to stress.

            • Susie Lee is right. “Fifty states, Fifty countries” Every state is different. You can certainly lose 1/2 your pension to your XH if you were supporting him to begin with. Be thankful you’re not in England where “feet under the table” is a doctrine that is alive and well when women let a guy move in with them – it’s a play on squatter’s rights – oh….and if that guy who living like a freeloader in the flat/apt/house that you own but he ‘gifts’ you a few repairs or pays for painting, get ready to have him step on your deed and be part of the ownership – Ive seen all hell break lose in England – it’s always American girls letting that drummer move in. Ahhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I’ve learned that my picker needs more therapy. I did choose somebody to have a relationship with. It was just myself. ❤️????‍♀️❤️

    • That is the most important relationship of all.

      I remember when I knew I couldn’t stay mired in my ex’s adultery. I thought I would never be loved again, then one day it hit me. If I have to live in a tent for the rest of my life, just the peace alone would make it worth it. I went to counseling, concentrated on my job, went for walks and read books. It was so good not to have to tip toe around a screaming nut bag.

  • My mother asked me when I was divorcing my XW if I would be happy if I was single the rest of my life? I said “yes”.

    I have dumped and been dumped dating women after my divorce. So many women are “messy”. Very few, in my opinion, have their act together. Beware make chumps of being the knight in shinning armor. The woman you date, at the least, be adulting well. Have a job, not in a lot of Debt, emotionally stable, etc.

    I had to look outside of the box to find a wife. Compromise in what you want. You might like blondes, but a great woman with black hair comes into your life. There is no one perfect out there. Have HEALTHY boundaries. Learn to love yourself.

    I have been remarried for 15 months right now to a great woman.

  • When using picker, remember 3 things:

    1. Reciprocity.
    2. Reciprocity.
    3. Reciprocity.

    All the best relationships in my life (romantic, but also professional, with friends and neighbors, and family) have been deeply and persistently reciprocal. The best predictor of how healthy a relationship might be is how a person reacts when you do for them. Do they SEE it? Do they APPRECIATE it? And do they make an effort to RETURN the gift? If so, potential exists. If they fail to do any of those three things, it’s not likely to be healthy in the long run. Turns out, people are rarely healed by leaches.

    • “People are rarely healed by leeches.” Great insight and very effective metaphor!

    • YES.

      And overdoing it isn’t reciprocity. That’s how you differentiate reciprocity from ‘lovebombing’. Reciprocity stays balanced.

      • Agreed. And staying attuned to what’s going on and not overdoing it or overdoing it shows a kind of listening and sensitivity. It’s a conversation of action after all, and it would be a red flag if in a verbal conversation someone started screaming or muttering under their breath.

  • I think planning the rest of your life alone and how to make it the best life is the way to fix a picker (especially at 63). It was so hard to change my mind on what my future would be. I have a good imagination but after all the abuse and gaslighting I could not picture a different future.

    Now I have a direction, peace, security. Covid did me a bit of a favor in that I had to sit still and get stuff done. I also got to grieve what I thought my life would be..I needed that. Now if someone comes along they better be pretty cool and willing to respect my new life. That being said I can’t picture having time or room for a man. I want to do things my way. Maybe that’s what golden retrievers are for.

    • I have a highly unscientific theory that the reason so many people refuse to date anyone with a dog (it’s a thing) is because they already know the dog will be a better companion, so maybe having a dog is it’s own narcissist repellent. ????

      • I love this theory! The next time someone questions why I have so many dogs (4 now, down from 6) I’m trotting out Dr. Amiisfree’s semi-scientific Theory of Canine Narcissism Repellent. ????????

      • ????????

        I would never date anyone who didn’t like dogs. Or cats. ????????

        • Same here. We only have the one feral cat now, she lost her partner this year after 14 years. Lordy she was disoriented. She was scared of birds, they kept attacking her. I think her sister cat was the alpha cat. She is just now getting back to normal. I hand been hand feeding her for several months, and now she is starting to eat from her feeder again, and starting to enjoy her back yard again.

          She won’t let me pick her up, so I just try to scratch her head every once in a while, and let her rub around my legs.

          When she is gone, we will likely get a pound doggie. I would prefer an older dog, but we will see who we fall in love with.

          • Dogs rule – cats are wonderful too. But dogs will tell you who is and who is not a good person. My Bichons are brilliant at the sniff test. I would never date another man if he didn’t love dogs.

        • Hilarious! That reminds me of what Admiral Halsey used to say to his staff officers: “I don’t trust a man that neither drinks nor smokes!”.

  • The biggest red flag is the one the cheaters are ignoring.

    They are married/committed….with/without children? Oh goody!


    And further proof of spectacular relationship ineptitude is the concept of BIFURCATION, in the case of those cheaters who want to get married before their divorces are final.

    My best fixing my picker tool is spending plenty of time on my own now, not dating, processing this relationship, cleaning up my side of the street, doing the post-mortem in counseling as thoroughly as I can so I don’t head in for another round without dumping the excess baggage. I want to be a rock on my own.

    Being strong and emotionally, mentally, spiritually, psychologically strong on my own, in the DRIVER’S SEAT of my life, makes it easy to kick the passengers out of my Life Car if they reveal themselves to be bad traveling companions.

  • I was also married to a sad sausage whom I’d mistakenly identified as a person who shared my dreams and ambition and with whom I could work to make it happen for both of us. I was raised to be a chump, too, but because my ex was passive about his aggression, rather than open about it, I did not recognize his behavior for what it was. I fell hook, line, and sinker for his sad sausage line, and spent three decades supporting him and putting him first and trying to help him feel better about himself, and subordinating my dreams to his endless, bottomless need.

    I only realized, at 32 years into the marriage, when he was deeply involved with an ex-student and the subject of divorce was first broached, and I was telling him I didn’t want a divorce and asking wasn’t it possible for us to fix our relationship so we could both shine and support each other, that I was still possessed of the same dream, and still hoping for the mutually supportive relationship despite a lifetime of evidence to the contrary.

    I think once we can identify the tactics and behaviors of the sad sausage (and its cousin, the noble sausage), we can also start to see how we were prey to them, identify the triggers and see how we ourselves spackle, and ask ourselves what in us makes us susceptible. And I’m not just talking about seeing conditioning by the FOO, untangling our own skein, but asking what we are afraid of in ourselves–that we’re unlovable, that we’re faulty, that our only value can come from serving others, etc. I think learning that essential lesson that we are lovable, and loving ourselves, is crucial, because only then are we less susceptible to ignoring red flags.

    After my divorce, I decided that I needed to learn how to be my own wife, to give to myself what I’d given to my ex, and my own husband (because I hadn’t had the kind of support that I should have, and my own mother (in that I needed how to nurture and support and comfort myself, because my mother had been too busy dealing with my mentally ill and volatile father and using me to help manage him to do this for me). Last week, I took the next step, of deciding that if I hadn’t had the love I needed, I was just going to have to give it to myself, because I was as deserving of love as every other person.

    To believe I am worthy and lovable in and of myself is a huge step forward for me, and it comes in a line of insights, including “Me, too (meaning “I also deserve the consideration I offer to others and my life is as worthwhile as theirs”) and “I am sufficient.” I don’t know if I will ever have a relationship with another person, but I do know that the relationship I have with myself is going to be healthy, and allow me to work hard to realize my dreams and ambitions.

      • Thank you. You could have been one of my many in laws. Similar story lines, roughly same marriage length, same covert issues from cheater. They had their own FOO issues which were deeply guarded from outsiders. I didn’t know about some of the more mundane issues until 15 years after we married. Family feuds, black sheep, to name a few problems.

  • Damn. I was so inspired until this: “Bonus points if you have all your hair…”

    I’m doomed to be balding and alone, I knew it.


    • Ha ha David, when menopause hit I’m discovering hair in places I never knew I had places – we could be compatible!

      • Omg I have a thing for both Telly and Yul (& all men like them!). Yul is my fave and I’ve dated a few Yul looking men!!! Maybe my future is bright after all (this pain). I’m being kinda courted already by a man but I am so not ready. Flattered, but not ready and as yet, not single status anyway yet either. I think romance will have to wait for healing to happen. And safety first (my situation is very precarious and downright dangerous and I wouldn’t want to subject anyone else to my DH’s wrath either!).

        Love to you all fellow chumps!

      • I do too. My H was bald on top when I met him. He was fifty I was 40. I got a sexy older guy, he got a nice looking young woman. 28 years later, I still look at him the same way, and I am pretty sure by his actions he does me too.

        We had both been through a similar situation, so after several years of being together, we were confident in marriage again.

    • I think one of the things that’s important in a solid picker is choosing people who aren’t superficial about where they place their affections based on looks. We will all age and we will all become less socially attractive, one way or another. Humans are real. I am of the mind that a person who appreciates the realities in others as beautiful is living in the real world, and that carries a lot of weight with me.

      • (I know you and CL were both being tongue in cheek, and I do appreciate the humor! I just also have the experience of watching people bash on things that turn out to be true about me in threads about appearances, so I was tucking a little perspective into the gaps for anyone who might need it. ????)

    • I know men who purposefully shave all their hair from their heads, daily. For whatever reason they wished. So, don’t worry ????, be happy ????

      • Thanks to all the pro-bald words of reassurance:-)

        I know it doesn’t really matter and if it does, well, that’s not the person for me!

  • Beware the flying monkeys or as I like to think of them in my ex’s case his flunkies. My ex had an army of them both male and female. I trusted them over my own judgement much to my peril. Full disclosure; my FOO loved to berate me with the old – “Chumpknowmore, you are book smart but you have no street smarts. You are a terrible judge of character.” So, instead of trusting my gut when I felt that ex was controlling and difficult, I trusted the flying monkeys, one who happened to be my sister……..

    • C.knowmore, building on what you said, I call those flunkies/flying monkeys the “Greek Chorus” in my situation!

      His family is incredible. I mean unbelievable. *Maybe* the term is “enmeshed” that someone else used, above, that term rings true.

      But, every time something happens with someone (pregnant out of wedlock, someone marrying “outside the family cult/denomination”, suicidal ideation and a weapon, money troubles, legal troubles, and now eldercare issues – like advocating the MIL gets medical treatments asap for a bladder cancer that is normally highly treatable and if the widow prefers to die, enough medical treatment to mitigate the pain of the dying process, instead of sticking to Noni juice and royal velvet and “natural” treatments because the medical field is corrupted by greed to give harmful treatments…. ), comments start popping in from the sides as fast as popcorn when it’s popping!!!! That’s the other imagery I have about it- popcorn.

      It’s just like the Greek Chorus, that stands to the side and reacts to what is happening on stage. Gawd.

      I’m going to have to ponder this one but definitely that “enmeshment” manifested as flunkies is a red flag.

      Your comment was helpful to me!

  • When my divorce finally went through I didn’t just fix my picker I built a bullet-proof wall against all men – and that’s just sad. I wasn’t the slightest bit interested in finding another man as life was just too glorious being fuckwit-free. One day one of my colleagues said “you know Attie not all men are bad” and I realized then that I had tarred them all with the same brush. Most men are human, just like we are, and you have both male and female narcs who leave a trail of destruction in their wake. It didn’t change much for me in that 10 years later I’m still supremely happy in my own company and doing my own thing. I don’t think will ever trust another man (which is kinda sad), but I know for certain that I will never marry again, nor will I live with anyone again. And I think THAT’S what I hate most about my fuckwit. He robbed me of my ability to trust and have faith in another man!

  • I agree that boundaries are a tough concept to grasp. I dated a man for 6 months recently. He checked so many boxes. I really thought he was the silver lining after all the pain.

    When things became intimate between us after several months, I asked that he take down his dating profile. Trying to not be “controlling” (a dagger XH threw at me while he was running off with OW), I didn’t pressure. Two months later, I followed up on this issue and was told: “I don’t want to lose a good thing, and I think this a good thing – but I don’t want to end up like I did with my ex-wife.” (Pro-tip, if you don’t know what some has just said, don’t be afraid to ask: “What does that mean?”). Two months later, a friend let me know that she saw him actively on the dating site. I had just left his house after a nice dinner together.

    Slowly, it became apparent that I was, once again, being a chump and failing to love myself. I mean, I’m making Ina Garten’s homemade soup for this asshole a few weeks before until 1am, getting up before work to bake cookies to bring with the soup before work, and he can’t take down a dating profile for me (one that could be put back up in 30 seconds if we didn’t work out after 6 months?!). I took back my power and ended my relationship with him (and boy, was he mad – very telling, though, that he still didn’t offer to remove the dating profile!). It felt great but also hurt like hell. It sent me back to therapy. My therapist told me: “What you did was a beautiful thing. You’re finally choosing to love yourself.”

    • Good for you! Learning to value myself has been the hardest lesson for me post chumpdom. Reading CL’s post and your comment has been a very timely reminder to me that I still have some work to do in this area. Thanks for being my inspiration today. ????

      • Hi Beth! Thank you so much and you’ve certainly been mine many days here as well!

        We’ve got this! <3

    • That’s an awesome story about valuing yourself!! Well done getting away from that clown!

      • Thanks Edie! You’re right – he is a clown! Very happy to have sent him on his way.

    • Indeed, well done you.

      One thing I would say is that if the person you are dating is “into” you, they are not on a dating site. They take down their page on their own. You don’t have to ask.

      Because that is what you did, right? Take your profile down. Reciprocity. Especially in the first year, if you have to ask for something you would do, that person is not the one for you. And if you are getting up at dawn baking cookies, you are doing too much. One tip–match your effort to their effort. Even now, after a couple of years of dating, if things get a little lopsided with the Very Kind Man, I either pull back a bit (if it’s him) or amp it up (if it’s me). We both pay attention to effort level, attention, respect and reciprocity.

      Another thing I would say is that fakers often “check all the boxes.” They are really good at figuring out what you want and mirroring it back to you—until you get hooked. I would say looked at character primarily. Is the person honest? Kind? (not “nice” but kind? Nice is often acted out for others. Kindess is in the bones.) Respectful? Self-sufficient?

  • I believe there is a profound difference between my generation and my mother’s generation regarding the “need” to be married. I have certainly given my sons totally different advice than I received regarding marriage, or even relationships in general.

    If we lived in a perfect world, and everyone did what they were able to do, and we were all willing to do our part — pairing off makes sense. Two can share responsibilities, space, raise children, live life as good citizens of the world. It’s a practical and comforting concept. We do not live in a perfect world. All people are not prepared or able to be good citizens of the world, some are unable to take care of themselves. Some are just unwilling to be independent and self sufficient.

    My mother was raised to believe a woman needed a husband. She had one, and while my father had some redeeming features, on the whole he caused more problems than anyone should tolerate. My mother dealt with it for 40 years, raised 5 children to adult status, and after the death of her parents she finally divorced my father. She never wanted to marry again, and has been happier in general since she became single than she ever was married.

    She still believes she just had bad luck, and that there is a good man out there some where for me. Maybe there is, but I am not searching. I am retired, own a home, have two adult children, and enjoy doing what I want to do when I want to do it. Sometimes I need a companion, I need to talk to friends, and I would enjoy a good male friend who might develop into a partner. I do not need to be married. My success as a person does not depend on my being married. I am certainly not a “poor, lonely” woman pining for a man in my life. I have both male and female friends, but no live in romantic partner. I am fine.

    One of my sons married when he was 32. The other is still single, and is not in a hurry to marry. Both were open to marriage, and even children, but neither felt less than perfect before marriage. My younger one jokes it is difficult to find a good roommate, much less a spouse. I think this is healthy and realistic.

    We are wonderful if we can be independent and self-sufficient. If we can share parts of our lives with others, we are successful socially. Why do we continue to judge and be judged by an idea of a perfect life in a perfect world? We may be a work in progress, learning to be better by and for ourselves, and we may need to fix our pickers, and set our boundaries, but the knowledge that we are ok as a single person needs to be acceptable. We do not have to be part of a dynamic duo to be a success.

    • My 50+ boyfriend has never been married. Some might think that means there is something wrong with him. I think it means he just wasn’t willing to settle and that he didn’t need to be married just to be married. Meanwhile, he is employed, fit, not an addict, not controlling etc. He’s boring, but in all of the right ways.

    • This is great, and good for you for raising such thoughtful sons. As the saying goes, “it’s ok to live a life others don’t understand.”

  • Not that I’m ready to date , if ever but I don’t think my picker was broken .

    As you know I was cheated on by my ex fiancé he was cheating with my sister . After that I stayed single for years and dated on and off but nothing serious .

    I was very content with life although by then all my friends were getting married / having children but I make a great babysitter ????

    I then met my ex husband and although we moved fast I wanted him . We spoke about our values especially cheating as I never wanted to go through that again ( he’s not that type of guy he’d never do that he doesn’t have it in him !!! ) we spoke about children ( he didn’t want any ) we spoke about everything and we dated for 4 years before marriage .

    I knew what I’d tolerate in a relationship after my ex fiancé and my ex husband was nothing like him

    Not once did I know about red flags and looking back there was not that many as I stupidly thought we were on the same page about pretty much everything .

    So my picker was not so much broken but I was absolutely conned by a world class con man .

    • Karen, I hear you. Those around me think this has absolutely nothing to do with my picker. I rejected men during my single years I thought might be problematic. For those of us who have been scarred we will always be a little nervous – so it’s hard to know when it’s our picker or when it’s just anxiety. My guy caused me a few concerns… because he was just over the top amazing, but few sensible women would have walked away from such a man. He checked every box and was backed up by family and coworkers.

  • From where I sit, it seems to me that ex is making all of these mistakes with Schmoopie. He likes it that way though. She is a woman who is always in need to rescue and he gets to be the perpetual white night. I needed rescuing once too, but then I stayed rescued so it wasn’t fun anymore. Oh well, I don’t regret that.

    • In the secret email account I found around the time that my ex was leaving, I found emails to the OW in which he’s outright stating that he “wants to be her hero”. He was going to save her from her life.

      Another email he writes how much he hates her STBX for being a fake and that he would like to punch him “into next Tuesday.” Now this woman had a no contact order in place for a year after she assaulted her husband in front of the kids while drunk. She had been derailing for a few years in her marriage, partying, drinking and being unsafe around the kids. They were fighting over custody in court at this time. And as for her husband being a fake – pretty interesting words coming from a man who had been cheating on me for a few years. I have a line going around the corner of people who would like to punch him “into next Tuesday” (including his own family members).

      Other emails reference psychic visits, things being written in the cosmos that they should be together, sending her “winter solstice” messages. My ex is an accountant in his 40s who rolled his eyes when a Gypsy woman read my palm while we honeymooned in Spain years befire. The man I know is a linear thinker without a creative bone in his body. But, now he’s with a “new age” woman, and it’s all tarot cards, salt crystals and essential oils. Wonder if she’s got him going vegan yet?

      My ex hated seafood. It was a bit of a pain because a lot of the ethnic food of my heritage is seafood based. He would stay away from seafood at all the family functions. Twice, I have had people let me know that they have seen my ex at the local seafood boil restaurant with the OW – there is nothing but seafood on that menu. How is he not gagging?

      Also, he mirrored the same complaints she made about her marriage and ex. She accused her ex of controlling where she worked as he “expected her to be putting in some time at this family business” when she didn’t want to do that work. Suddenly, it made sense why my ex was accusing me of making him quit his job to go back to school. Huh? It was so confusing when he said it that he had no rebuttal when I called him out for saying that. What? I preferred that he quit his job and not earn money for three years, while he earned a degree at a cost of over $40 000 in tuition? Really?

      It’s one thing to be open-minded when we are with someone. We learn from one another and expand our experiences with one another’s interests. Over time, we usually settle into a routine with some shared interests and then individual interests we pursue on our own or with friends. That’s normal.

      What’s not normal is suddenly adopting radically different value/belief systems, developing a knight in shining armor complex, doing things that normally you really loathe. I don’t like American football. However, I would be willing to go to a game to see the joy that it gives my partner. I would be willing to wear a team jersey and host a Super Bowl party and sit through the occasional game at home. But, never will I become a die-hard football fan, ever! Beware of the people who’s own family and friends say that they don’t recognize this person.

  • Just several random tips:
    * Just because someone is attractive, or has attractive qualities, doesn’t make that person a good partner. Someone can be a good person, too, and not be a good partner. This might seem obvious, but someone who can be successful in a career, give a lot of time or money to charity, or have a put-together life, and still be a lousy partner. This might apply more to women than men, but either gender can fall into this trap.
    * Spend the time to get to know someone before making commitments or deciding that this person is “your forever person” or whatever. This process should at least take several months, or a year or two.
    * By the same token, beware of anyone who seems to fall for you almost immediately. This state of affairs is quite flattering, but it’s also an almost certain train-wreck. I read something not long ago that I thought was just brilliant: “real love and obsession often look exactly the same, but they’re wildly different.” In other words, the actions of someone who really loves you, and those of someone who is desperate and obsessive, could look the same. The main difference is that real love takes time — at least many months — to develop, while an obsession springs up immediately.
    * Beware of anyone who seems to change himself or herself, on a fundamental level, to try and please you. This is a bad sign of dangerously low self-esteem. By that, I don’t mean you or the other person shouldn’t be on your best behavior early on, or try to put your best foot forward. Bathe before you show up for your date, and wear clean clothes. Those things are fine. What I mean is that you should avoid anyone who feels he or she needs to change things to be with you like: political or religious beliefs, basic hobbies, life goals, etc. Someone who is not firm about what he or she really wants in life generally has a host of other issues.
    * Remind yourself that finding people that are good for you may mean looking at someone different than what you’re used to. You have a bad track record of picking folks, maybe you should consider some things that you might not have thought about before. I don’t mean dating people you don’t find attractive, or wouldn’t get along with. A lot of people, for example, tend to be attracted to “flashy” people, who draw a lot of attention to themselves, often in bad ways. These people usually have problems, which is why they’re always trying to get other people to look at them at any cost. Many of the best people in the world are quiet and reserved, and don’t need constant validation from strangers.
    * Finally: I like to say all the time that I’m not a dating charity. Neither is anyone else. You don’t need to date someone you really don’t like, or be in circumstances you’re not comfortable with. Don’t let anyone else try to pressure you into dating someone you don’t want to.

  • My parents split when I was 11 and my mother never found another partner (36 years later). In my teens, she dated a man for a couple of months. Same in my 20s. That’s it.

    And that would be fine, if my mother had carved out a more full life for herself. She’s depended on me for many years, and that has been a big issue that I’ve been working out in therapy (next to processing my ex’s mindfuckery). Been working on boundaries with my mother. She is not to depend on me or my children to fill her life. And, placing those boundaries are really hard when it’s your own mother – guilt, guilt, guilt.

    I want to make sure that I don’t end up doing that to my own children. If I stay single, I want to ensure that I have a full life with good friends, community, interests. Ensure that there are people to do things with and call upon.

    Being only 2.5 years out of the marriage, I don’t find myself eager to date. My kids are 10 and 12, and I just don’t feel up for the complications of bringing another man into their lives, along with whatever that man brings with him. At this time, it just seems like more work than it’s worth.

    Because the kids spend about 35% of time with their father, I have every other weekend free and a few evenings a week. That gives me time to get out. I have a friend “with benefits” whose company I enjoy and that works for me right now. I have decided that I would like to make some effort to make more male friends, and I just might try dating when COVID is over, just for the experience of talking to men regularly, getting different perspectives, expanding interests. I have never been one to have male friends (mostly male family members, work colleagues or the partners of my female friends), so even as a more mature woman, I can be shy around men. I want to open myself up more.

    That’s my starting point. I actually am excited at the prospect of dating when this pandemic subsides. Not so much because I hope to find the love of my life, but just because I want enjoy myself, laugh at the bad dates, appreciate the men who are kind and easy to talk to, have a man look at me admiringly an vice versa. If I don’t find “the one” in the mix, that’s okay.

  • I haven’t dated, but I’m learning to distrust the feelings that led me into previous relationships. Because of FOO issues, my attraction carried a lot of fear and anxiety with it. When I think about my friends, I felt comfortable and happy around them. When I think about my exes, the ones that turned out badly, I didn’t. I felt fizzy and nervous in the stereotypical pop-song ways, but I was also gut-level scared. I was run-away, red-flag scared, and I mistook that anxiety for attraction.

    There is a difference between familiarity and true comfort. I felt familiarity with my exes because they were abusive in the same ways as my family, and I felt the anxiety and confusion that my family invoked in me. It was awful, but it was familiar, and I had so seldom actually felt good that I mistook it for love. I mistook familiarity for comfort with them. With the friends who helped me see life differently, I felt comfortable because I wasn’t being sucked into another dysfunctional relationship, but sometimes things felt unfamiliar FOR THE SAME REASON. That was disorienting in a different way, but ended up feeling better.

    I couldn’t trust my feelings, which were as broken as my picker, so I started taking notes and seeing facts. How people behave. Whether that is acceptable. Whether I want to make excuses. Whether I feel I can question something they said or did.

    I might or might not decide to have another relationship, but if I do, I’ll be in the present, not reenacting old patterns that never worked.

    • How interesting that you pointed out that something that is healthy in a relationship may actually be disorienting to those of us who are more accustomed to dysfunction. I hadn’t thought of that.

      It reminds me of people who admit that they can’t seem to appreciate the “good” guy and always seem to pick the “bad boys.” They are more comfortable around the familiarity they have with dysfunction.

      And for every good guy out there who wonders why women don’t seem to appreciate the good guys, now you know it’s not about you. You need to find an equally healthy woman who is comfortable with your health and goodness.

    • Thanks for this thoughtful post Madge. I often remember thinking when my ex was berating my FOO that the only reason I was willing to stay with him was because of them. I had been groomed from birth to have the marriage that I had. The comfort of the dysfunction was what I mistook for love. I really like what you did with putting things into writing. It is amazing how different a behavior can look when you put it into writing.

      • Hi chumparella, option and Madge.

        I want to comment on these concepts because I just yesterday heard some explanations about what I was sensing to be true but had no idea if it was true.

        That the attraction is all about familiarity to the way we’ve been shaped up til then.

        That feelings have misled into really bad relationships. When I hear “trust your gut” I do react “not sure how I will do that since that gut-trust is what got me INTO my situation”!

        Google ” think differently overcoming patterns of behavior”. Warning…i would NOT recommend the religious overlay he extrapolates from his psychology -tune that out, it’s episodic at short bursts and at the end – but I thought the speaker’s psychological explanation was spot on; psych seems his area of competence.

        • TY for this resource. My picker was drawn to very unstable lying ppl. Bc that’s what I grew up with. Great thread in this post.

    • Everyone should pay attention to this: “There is a difference between familiarity and true comfort. I felt familiarity with my exes because they were abusive in the same ways as my family, and I felt the anxiety and confusion that my family invoked in me. It was awful, but it was familiar, and I had so seldom actually felt good that I mistook it for love.”

      Part of fixing our pickers is getting a fix on the unhealthy patterns of attraction that we developed in childhood. One easy example: if you have a parent who gives intermittent reinforcement (“loving” attention now and the next day is giving you the cold shoulder), that can become the face of love to you–behavior that is volatile, unpredictable and controlling.

      • Exactly this.

        And for those who are looking to dive deeper into this subject, take a look at the book Reinventing Your Life by Jeffrey E. Young and Janet S. Klosko. (don’t let the terrible title put you off!) Here’s a quote from the book: “Unhealthy as it may be, most people seek and create environments that feel familiar and similar to the ones where they grew up. The whole essence of surrendering is somehow managing to arrange your life so that you continue to repeat the patterns of your childhood.”

        My experience taught me that I picked someone like my father, who among many other traits, was emotionally distant, and didn’t offer us any form of emotional support (apart from providing for us in terms of basic things like shelter, clothing and food, but we all know that that’s not enough for kids).

        Long story short, I picked my ex because this dynamic felt familiar, because that’s what I thought love was, and what I was entitled to; nothing more. While I didn’t see it before, the cheating was actually just the last straw, and I should have left him based on how he treated me alone. I didn’t feel safe, he was so selfish, there was a clear lack of reciprocity, the way he doesn’t care about me or my emotions, etc. It was all clear as day, when I wrote down all the things that I’ve experienced in my journal after D-Day. Getting over him got a whole lot easier once I saw him for who he truly was, and not who I hoped he was.

    • “I felt fizzy and nervous in the stereotypical pop-song ways, but I was also gut-level scared. I was run-away, red-flag scared, and I mistook that anxiety for attraction.”
      I’ve felt this so many times – I’m also wondering if I can ask, Madge, have you (or anyone else here) also ever experienced, or know anyone who has had “emotional blunting” at the same time? Often when I find myself becoming attracted to someone I get the anxious attraction but also sudden loss of all emotions, and it just carries on in a cycle. I’ve only ever come across one other person who claimed to experience it as well, but we never discussed it in detail because he wanted to move the conversation from another forum’s private messaging to Facebook (which I’d already given up using months beforehand) and I wasn’t comfortable with that.
      I’m currently happily single, but I’m still looking into what this could mean, since I’ve been like this nearly my whole life. Is it a defence mechanism of some kind, part and parcel of my particular broken picker, or something else?

      • Shintoga, yes yes I have experienced this too. You’re not alone. After a horrific DDay 1, I became depressed then I moved into dissociation for about 1.5 years. But I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t feel any emotion at all. I was removed from myself. And it felt scary and strange. Took me a long time to come out of that blunted depersonalized state.

        • Thank you for the reply, MVP, so sorry to hear you had that problem also but I feel a little less crazy now! So few people understood what I meant when I tried talking about it years ago.

          • Absolutely! And what’s doubly strange is how DDay affected my kid. I went into depersonalization and he went into derealization same time. He asked me about it, said he’d loooked it up and told me what it’s called. I said No it’s called depersonalization, that’s what I have. He said No that’s different. I’m in a dream. You’re outside of yourself. I couldn’t believe it then. And now bc it affected him psychologically too subconsciously. I have some sadness about that. Deep sadness. But he’s better now.

            • Good to know he’s better, now – it really is disorienting. I’ll be looking into those terms you mentioned, too, thank you!

  • Make a list of what you will not accept, print it out and refer to it daily. It’s amazing how easy it is to slip into justifying/excusing behavior when the oxytocin starts racing through the veins.

    Speaking of oxytocin, don’t rely on chemistry to determine if someone is a good match. In fact, view it as a potential warning sign.

    This spring I met two men. One of whom I felt an immediate connection with and the other, a great guy but no spark. The guy with the immediate connection (and lots of potential chemistry) also had a lot of the same characteristics of my previous ex’s who were chosen with my faulty picker. There was nothing to complain about with Mr. No Spark.

    I made a conscious effort to release Mr. Immediate Connection back into the ocean. It was hard because there was so much comfort and attraction. Instead, I spent time getting to know Mr. No Spark. Five months later, it’s a completely different story. He’s now my darling teddy bear who always lights me up with a smile. I feel so fortunate to have connected with a kind, honest man who’s crazy about me!

    Use your brain instead of your heart and you might just surprise yourself!

  • It’s been 5 years since I walked. 4 years since Divorce. I haven’t been asked out by anyone (eligible or otherwise). The first years, I was not fit for human company. But now I think I’m finally ready. I think I understand, and am strong enough now enforce my boundaries.

    At 54, living in a small town, (and now Covid) the dating pool is very small. And as my mother says “At your age the odds are good, that the goods are odd.” Of course, she says this when she at 85, is dating a 74 year old!)

    Of the very few single men of my age in my community, who looked interesting, they aren’t interested in me. They are instead interested in the 30 something sparkly single woman with no children.

    I study animal behavior. I’m pretty familiar with the male biological imperative, yet it never ceases to amaze me how the male human thinks he can just go out and start a whole ‘nother family at over 50 and think he’ll be able to keep up with, or be around for, his 15-20 year younger wife and the children the May-December romance will bring.

    Yet, I am not giving up hope. But neither am I placing all my future happiness and well-being on whether or not I will find a partner. So I’ve been dipping my toe into the dubious world of My initial boundaries for starting a conversation there are: If they are separated or very recently divorced – Nope. And while I might click a like on them, they must reach out to me. Too many times in my life have I chased after a man and then deeply regretted that I caught him.

    Not finding much better out there. But at least I’m allowing myself to open to the possibility. And its good for a laugh on a Friday night home with a glass of wine.

    • Addendum – I don’t want to disparage anyone who may be in a relationship with very disparate age differences. I realize that there are May-December romances that work. As a scientist I accept that there are always exceptions to the rule. And, who knows, I’m in pretty good shape for my age, maybe a 35 could fall for me…..just saying…..

    • This is what I’m terrified about men my age want younger women .

      I am almost 46 same age as my ex and my ex left me for a 29 co worker .

      I don’t want to date a 56 year old man ( just my preference ) which is only 10 years older but if I went the route of my ex the man would be 62 !! I don’t want a massive age difference as in 20 years I will be retiring and I don’t want my partner to be retired decades before me , I want to enjoy retirement together .

      But I’m so terrified that if I did get a new partner that I’d always be thinking well does he want that 32 year old or that 35 year old .
      Hence why I’m no where near ready to date

      • Interesting. Most of the men I know in their 40s or 50s, wouldn’t want a younger woman because they don’t want any more kids. They feel that a younger woman will want to have kids with them, and when they already have kids who are older (tweens, teens or going to college), they feel that they have already been there, done that.

        They want someone who is available to enjoy outings, have dinner. Has some flexibility to travel a bit. A younger woman might be very available to do this if she has no kids. And maybe that’s the catch that the man who dates a younger woman doesn’t clue in to. Sure, she’s fun now, but she’s going to want kids later on and then your are back to square one that you couldn’t handle with your first wife when you were younger and fitter. In this situation, I think that a lot of men will just stay stuck as they don’t want to think about how much a second divorce and more child support is going to cost them.

        • I really appreciate this out look

          My ex became a first time dad at 46 with his AP / now wife . She was pregnant within 11 weeks after he left me ( married 14 weeks after divorce which was just less than 1 year from D Day )

          I was told for 19 years that he didn’t want children and he’d leave me if I got myself pregnant .

          Again just more lies as he quiet obviously wanted children just NOT with his wife .

          So I do think older men want children but just not with their spouse or if they’ve had previously had children with spouse they want to seal the deal with the younger model .

          • To Karenb6702 – it’s my experience that the Cheaters who say throughout the long-term ie: 19 year marriage that they don’t want children – they really don’t – it didn’t have anything to do with you. But at age 46 and older….these guys start to get scared of aging – they start to feel the mid life crisis coming- every commercial on television reminds them of their manhood or lack of it and ED love potions….and along comes the younger woman (homewrecking whores whether they charge money or not) and they get that glimmer in their eye and that rocket in their pocket and the little pink pill makes them feel like a man again….and then the wallet-seeking whores know it’s time to get the monthly annuity check secured – at least for 18 years and bingo! They either do the ‘surprise’ I’m pregnant routine or the Cheater decides to spread his fertile seed to prove to the world he’s the stud he thinks he is….. And someday….he’ll get out of the shower……the baby will be screaming…..he’ll look at his big belly and man boobs and wonder why his new wife spends so much time with her new tennis coach. The Karma train is coming…….and it’s loaded with Cheaters… And we have ‘meh’ and we have LACGAL that helps us along the way – God bless Tracy! CL!!!

            • “. And someday….he’ll get out of the shower……the baby will be screaming…..he’ll look at his big belly and man boobs and wonder why his new wife spends so much time with her new tennis coach. The Karma train is coming…….and it’s loaded with Cheaters… And we have ‘meh’ and we have LACGAL that helps us along the way – God bless Tracy! CL!!!”

              You paint a vivid and likely mostly accurate picture. My cheater and the whore didn’t have any more kids, but I am betting this happens a lot. I kind of wish my ex had that experience, but I wouldn’t want a child to have to deal with them. She had already raised three boys who were a mess. Two were late teens, and the youngest was about 10 or so when they started their f fest. I have often wondered what those boys thought of their mother.

              One of the first things my now husband (when we were first dating) asked me (I was 40, he was 50) was, if I still wanted children. He said it in a nice way, but I knew what he was worried about. This was before we got romantic. I just laughed and said, not only do I not want any more, I can no longer have children.

              I have one and he has three. Four grands between us.

              • Congrats on the four wonderful grandkids. And, you’re right, no one wants the kids to suffer. The last whore my Cheater Asshat was with had a son from one of her many johns – she hit the poor kid so hard that the Pasadena Court gave her four years probation Child Endangerment and no visitation – it was listed as ‘great bodily harm’ – she was/is a horrific drunk/druggie and my Asshat found her to be his favorite which meant she came to our home…rang my phone….extorted him for thousands (I had no idea then of his relationship with her or his hooker habit – he said she was just a crazed woman/patient), time went on and I got a Criminal Protective Order ($30,000) good for three years….and then DDay….the whores began to converge on my Asshat Cheater Doctor like flies on a smelly prostitute – they all wanted money – 25 whores all on City Source and The Erotic Review – web sites and a world I never knew existed – my world was turned upside down and Sweater Man his psychiatrist blamed it on stress and Androgel, etc., etc……I donate regularly to the Food Banks – I figure as long as I didn’t have kids because Asshat didn’t want any – I can help others. It’s hard to stay positive in a negative world but it’s worth trying.

          • I’m a younger woman and I can tell you, the vast majority of younger women are disgusted and make fun of gross old farts like your ex. We want to date guys our age. I know one woman who was 22 when she married a 45-year old married dude, and I can tell you she was fucked up (and of course, he was a predator).

    • I contend they shouldn’t look interesting to you if they’re not interested in you. I believe that men who only want to date younger women (with or without kids) do so because they are far more likely to be put on a pedestal by a younger person with lesser life experience than a same-age person who has the life experience to spot a turd when they see one. And alot of these guys just want to be with someone who has stars in their eyes for them…they want a fan.

      Re online dating. Be very careful. I actually think it’s a terrible idea for recovering chumps. I think your better off joining some groups and doing activities that take you out of your home, so that you may meet someone organically, rather than online dating…even if that means you have a drive a ways to other towns to do so.

      • Jo, I am so sorry you went through that.

        I can’t imagine. But yes, helping as you do is a wonderful thing to do, it helps the giver and the recipients. Our church has a “store” where folks who need it can go and get food and many house hold items. We have so many wonderful donors, who donate lots of food, and new and gently used household items.

        • Thank you Susie. My trunk was so full of donations for the local church here in Park City, Utah that the guy helping me unload was amazed – everything ironed; cleaned; labeled; clothes ironed; sheets ironed; bags of drygoods/pasta/food. He said people will drive up and just throw stuff/ dirty/broken. I told him that regardless of religion, or politics, or race, etc. – I just follow the 10 commandments – and treat people the way you’d like to be treated. I will not let the body blow my Cheater inflicted on me make me a bitter person – it takes more facial muscles to frown than to smile – smiling is easy. And Botox is too expensive for me to cry anymore. Good people and dogs rule. (cats ok too 🙂

  • My picker rules, from experience:

    They should not have a dead previous spouse…that person became a saint and you cannot live up to their impossible standards.
    Watch out for Mamma’s boys or Daddy’s girls. Nothing like a dominant MIL in the picture to ruin your roost.
    Watch out for divorced guys with daughters (Mini-wives) they worship. Pretty easy to spot early on.
    Be prepared to cycle in then out as soon as you spot a game-changer. Be decisive and firm. Go no contact.
    Most important, get a handle on their solvency…do not rescue…do not co-mingle funds.
    If they tell you who they are, believe them. I had one who said casually that he had assaulted his ex wife, but that he’d never do that to me! I walked away later that day, after 6 months of dating.
    Do check their criminal and civil records early on.
    There is often good reason why other people are single, even if some of us are saints.
    You can’t change people. Accept what they are or leave.
    Be content that you may never find a suitable partner and love yourself #1.

    • Good list.

      I really appreciate the #5. I am very blessed that I do well for myself. I make a good living, own my own home, have savings.

      Now in my late 40s, I’ve become more aware than I ever was in my 20s that a man needs to have his financial house in order as one of my absolute deal breakers. He doesn’t need to be rich, but he needs to have his own egg of some sort, solid employment that he is proud of doing, and no massive debt.

      I supported my ex through two lay-offs. Then he returned to school in his early 40s to complete a university degree full-time for three years. I supported him through all of that, meanwhile that’s when he began to cheat. Then, once he was working full-time, he left to be with the OW.

      Never, ever will I prop up a man again. It’s one thing to be with someone and care for them if they get sick. Or a major turn in the economy goes bad and they adversely impacted. These are scenarios out of anyone’s control. But, at this age, I now expect someone to have developed good financial habits. Again, not to be a millionaire, but to be financial responsible, patient.

      • I agree with everything you’ve stated. From my own experience, beware of the “self-employed” unless they are thoroughly checked out from a financial standpoint and their business is solid. I made that mistake. My ex wasn’t happy in his job, so I agreed he could try self-employment (home based) and it was a disaster. It cost me a fortune and all he did was gaslight about the big deals he had in the works. I then discovered he was cheating during the day when I was at work. He was home every night. After I divorced, numerous of self-employed guys were interested in me. Why? I think it is because I was solvent and solid and they were looking for a soft landing.

    • Awesome list! I just ended things with a man who had issues #1 (lost the angelic love of his life to a car accident 40 years ago), #3, and #7 (litigious 2nd Xwife). ????

    • >>Marci wrote:

      There is often good reason why other people are single, even if some of us are saints.<<<

      There is often good reason why someone seems to have no friends or family.

      • Yes! I’ve learned the hard way that no friends or family is a huge red flag. At best, the person is horrible at relationships. At best, a sociopath.

    • Let me add: No heavy drinkers. No guys that need 3 drinks at the bar after work, every day, before going home. No binge drinkers (sober through the week, drunk on weekends). No one with a temper during or after drinking.

      My XH the substance abuser always had a bar where he was a regular. When he worked, that was M-F. When he retired, it was every weekend. Saturday and Sunday. I would also see the sober for weeks at a time and then gets blind drunk at every party as a deal-breaker.

      Alcohol abusers are not available for relationships. Doesn’t matter what pattern of drinking they follow.

  • Here’s my two cents, don’t spend time trying to figure out why they did this or that. The Whys will get bigger. You shouldn’t have to figure anyone out. If you feel suspicious, uncomfortable, etc.
    There’s a reason and a huge red flag.

  • Oh man I have been working on this!
    I have dated two men since December (literally they come out of nowhere)
    I am forty and was married for ten years so I am still doing the work.
    The first guy got a “bootie call text” while I was at his house and I let myself out. He “didn’t know why the girl was texting him” good lord
    The second I liked but was still working his divorce out to the point where I was texting his ex wife while driving. He ended up “working late” and on the second night of doing this I ended it.
    I have to catch myself making these men into something other then they are and it is pretty empowering.
    I don’t expect perfect, I expect basic human decency and I promised myself if I find myself having to explain that to them, I need to go.
    Much love chump nation!

  • Thank you for this post CL. I have been active on and off on your site since I discovered it in the spring of 2018. My life had been ripped apart when my ex left just after XMas a few months before, and then I started to discover in a “trickle truth” fashion the reality of what he had been up to in the marriage for a few years.

    Our needs in our recovery evolve over time. I have now reached a state where I see the woman I was a few years ago in the newbies who join the forum, and all the different stages of healing along the way.

    A post like this is now is timely for me (and many others too). It’s been 2 years and 8 months since my ex left. Thank God he’s gone. Been focusing on me and my kids, wanting to make sure that I heal properly and work out my own issues before thinking of pursuing another man for any potential serious relationship. Still not seeking that out, but open now to dating when this COVID thing is dealt with.

    Thank you for this. I believe that there are good men out there because I know so many in my family or married to the great women I know. And I work with some really great men too. It will be a question of putting myself in the environment in which they can be found (not likely to show up on my doorstep). My fear isn’t so much that I won’t be able to find good guys, it’s more that I will end up scaring them away when I do. The challenge for me will be ensuring that my vigilance is not on hyperdrive, and I suppose that I will only know that through experience.

    I missed yesterday, so belated happy anniversary.

  • I think the ‘loving and appreciating yourself’ bit is the most important. Also, figuring out how to love being by yourself. A lot of chumps tend to struggle with being alone–there’s so much fear attached to that notion–so they jump into dating before they should. If you’re afraid of being alone, then take time and energy to figure that out and conquer it rather than date.

    Some people think that because they’re older they need to get out their sooner, find someone before they’re TOO old. This also is a terrible idea. Good people who you can soul-connect with won’t care about your age. Likewise for people who feel their biological clock ticking…DO NOT fast track making a family. Terrible idea.

    I also firmly believe that online dating for chumps is a terrible idea. Too many pitfalls and takers out there. If you have a picker problem, I highly encourage you to limit your dating pool to people you meet organically or who are a part of your extended network (friend of a friend type of deal). This requires you to get out into the world, engage with others, say “yes” to invitations, join clubs where like minded people will be, etc. It requires actual tangible effort, unlike online dating that requires your eyes on a screen and putting your finger on a button. Anything that comes that easy is fraught with peril–at least for people who are already susceptible to being taken advantage of.

  • One thing I wasn’t prepared for when I met my boyfriend is how stark the contrast would be between him and the cheater, even in good times. It can be legitimately overwhelming to have someone treat you with compassion and kindness after years of low empathy, mindfuckery, and performative “love”. The first time we got into an argument, I got closed off, thinking the rage was coming because that’s what my ex was like. Instead he quietly said, can we please rewind our conversation so I can understand at each point what went wrong, and what you needed to hear from me at those junctures? I was so overwhelmed by the maturity and focus on my needs that I couldn’t stop crying. I heard a similar thing from a friend of mine, who was with an awful cluster B person, and when her new partner made dinner for her (a small gesture but one her ex never would have done), she broke down as well. Luckily I’m now past the point of breaking down when my boyfriend is nice to me, but I do still get shocked to my core sometimes by his good treatment. I learned for 11 years not to expect it .

    • I hear you, NN. I heard someone say that, after a long BAD relationship, you should be wary of anything that feels familiar and comfortable. Because we were comfortable with abuse.

      But man, good treatment when it arrives is earth shaking. After many years now in a wonderful remarriage to another chump, it still sometimes feels strange. Don’t think I will ever completely expect affection and support at this level. But I like the challenge of being worthy of it, and returning it.

    • Gosh this is the sad truth of it all! I remember falling apart when my partner told me how he’d pick me up at the airport, which is like the littlest thing to do for someone but was the exact kind of thing my ex never would do (“it’s too far…get your mom to do it…take a taxi…I have something to do…”). The fact that I was emotionally overwhelmed by an airport pickup told him just how badly I’d been treated. It makes me sad just thinking about how little I expected. Never again!

      I’ve gotten much better at accepting my partner’s gestures and thoughtfulness since then…but it can still be a challenge.

      • Slowly losing my need for basic courtesies, after being love bombed is still shocking to me. The acceptance of the fact during the relationship that they can’t be depended on for shit is ugly and I pay attention to how anyone treats another person after this. Do they genuinely help and respect other people to their face and behind their backs? Do they always seem to be scoping the room or looking for the “next best” because they are never satisfied.
        It takes effort after exiting a poor relationship to accept kindness. It takes effort to let go of the attitude of handling everything on your own because it was expected.
        My first experience was after I had left but not divorced yet. My Dad passed away and my brother and I had to close a place he owned. When we arrived, my brother took my luggage into the house to my room. It still makes me cry to remember that. It’s so simple that most would not give it a second thought.I had never been given that kindness from the ex. I packed, would have to go into the hotel to get the room, take up luggage etc because his part was paying for extra things including sex workers. I paid the home bills because that’s adulting but that didn’t count apparently.
        Figure what’s acceptable to you at the beginning of a relationship and expect that to be respected. Also that they really accept you as an individual with your own thoughts and interests. If over time they start trying to change those, run.

    • This. After I left my my narc XW, it was almost hard to believe that a woman would be kind to me, and would appreciate nice things I do, just because that is who she is. Experiencing true kindness can almost feel jarring. It feels wonderful, but it also hurts for no good reason. I get it.

    • NetNat, you just reminded me, a conflict avoider is a definite no go. It’s impossible to have a real relationship with somebody who can’t have productive conversations and disagreements like you referenced above. Communication skills is a must.

  • Pay attention to what they say about your interests and things that make you happy, and how they react to your personality.

    I’ve mentioned a few times in my posts I had shitty partners who criticized things about me and my interests that honestly are nothing to criticize. The shoes I wore, the fact I like anime, that I still have stuffed animals, etc. Nobody should be criticizing the things you like or do if those things are basically harmless (if you’re doing things that harm either yourself or others, that’s a whole other ball of wax.)

    You’re allowed to like whatever you want regardless of your age. One partner told me I’m too old for pokemon and “Well you’re going to have to stop that” and told me I needed to keep my stuffed animals off the bed, and eventually would have to get rid of them because adults don’t have those. That guy was a liar and a cheater, he’s gone, I still play pokemon and I’m thinking about buying a luna moth Squishable. I’m in my 30’s. I don’t care. These things are not harmful to me or anyone else.

    People who nitpick and criticize your interests, even if they aren’t cheaters, are not worth your time. Someone who cares about you for you will not be bothered by things like that.

    Listen to the adjectives they use to describe you as well. I went on three dates with someone before deciding he was a solid “NOPE.” Some things he said on the third date were, as my friend described, “Barn-sized red flags.” He told me I was “intimidating” and “wasn’t sure if he was up to the challenge.” And started talking about how he believes in Free Speech (…for who?) he said “Some people have opinions that are just bullshit and they need to be called out.” (Don’t think he was talking about Esther Perel…) and he was sure I have some opinions that are bullshit. I asked him do tell, what opinions of mine do you think are bullshit? He said “Well don’t put me on the spot…” …Yeah no dude, you put yourself on the spot there.

    Anyone who says you’re “intimidating” after only knowing you for a very short time is not for you. Eventually, they will want you to tone down your personality to make them comfortable. And that’s exactly where it starts. Pay very close attention to things like that. The fact that I asked him to tell me which opinions does he think are bullshit, and then he wouldn’t tell me, and framed it as ME “putting him on the spot” was a pinwheel of red flags. Don’t let people set you up for dampening yourself early on…or ever really.

  • I was love bombed 18 years ago. Fell for it hook, line and sinker! Never again – picker fixed for that type! He left on a business trip. I sensed something was wrong and he kind of told me on the phone it was over. I soon found out he was using the same love bombing techniques – roses, favorite book, on my soon to be replacement! Eerie. Not sure how he explained me. Anyways, I found that out and a lot of other inappropriate behavior. Filed for divorce without discussion because some of the things I found out were insurmountable. I don’t think the replacement worked out, but he went on pretty quickly to the next candidate. It was very sudden, I had no idea he wanted to move on, and he never tried to reconcile. Bad pick. And I nearly didn’t marry him in the first place, it was so quick. I am trying to trust he sucks.

  • Make sure their actions support the things they claim to value. This past spring I broke things off with a guy I had been dating about 3-4 months. He always loved to talk about how important kids are, how they need to be prioritized… Then he babysat for his buddy one night ( a toddler who was not potty trained). Insisted that he wouldn’t change a poopy diaper, and would let the kid get a rash…”First dirty diaper I’m changing is my own kid’s.” Umm… you say kids need to be prioritized, but you’d let an innocent kid suffer the discomfort of diaper rash rather than deal w/your own discomfort? I mean, if you really feel that way about diapers, you didn’t have to accept the babysitting request. Nope buddy, you talk a good game, but you don’t walk the walk.

    • Also… adding this John Water’s quote to my list, “If somebody takes you home, and they don’t have any books, don’t fuck ’em.” No more non-readers. Seems to me non-readers score pretty low on empathy in my anecdotal experience.

      • That is weird. My ex hated to read. He would only read what he had to for work. I even made up his study sheets for him when he went to the police academy.

        My now H, loves to read. He actually schedules his reading time. I love it.

        • Love that John Water’s quote, I’d never heard it before.

          Yep. For me, reading is my life’s blood! ????????

          The first date with fucktard, he was all, “oh yes, I like reading too” – I now know what that was all about, he was “mirroring” me in order to suck me in.

          Turned out he never read at all, no books at his place, no books in any of his family’s places, another huge red flag I ignored.

          Fucktard said he never had ‘time’ to read! Wanker.

          His rat faced whore doesn’read either, so I suppose he’s found his level. ????????

          • My Ex had lots of books. Big turn on for me! Turns out that the novels and classics were stuff leftover from school, he never touched them. He read a decent amount, but only technical books and a few few other non-fiction, and the news.

            Since we know that reading stories to kids and encouraging them to read them as they grow up is a really good way to promote empathy, theory of mind, and understanding of diverse experiences, it makes sense that people who don’t have much of those wouldn’t be interested in reading novels (and history books, the kind that focus on the people involved, not just the military maneuvers or equipment).

            Since I read a lot, he got curious one time and read a shortish novel I had just finished. Clearly didn’t get anything out of it or understand why it was a pleasure for me. But he sure was fast to pull it out during his ‘cheating is normal’ justification phase. ‘That novel of yours, the main character cheated! And it’s so common in movies!’. Yeah, moron, because like murder, cancer and fatal car accidents, it causes INSTANT DRAMA! Those are ALL super over-represented in movies and novels!

            Who the fuck thinks movies and novels are a good representation of ‘normality’???? People who don’t read novels, apparently ….

      • I have to laugh at this one! My girlfriends told me I was crazy to list Reading on my list of must haves. I didn’t care what the area(s) of interest was, as long as he took the time to read and think about what he read, and consider what would be a better or worse use of the information.

        If you read yourself, this is a value you have and want in your friends. I do not take offense if someone wants a woman who hunts, or runs marathons. I am not that woman. Better to know, up front, something that is a big value to you or your potential friend/partner.

      • Yes! My ex probably didn’t read any books since college, maybe only a few for work. I love to read and have a mini library. Years ago, I remember sitting next to hot guy on a plane who read a book the entire flight and thought wow! A book is entertaining and a solo activity. The narc ex always needed someone else to entertain him.

  • I totally agree with the book requirement. There was not a single book or magazine at the ex’s family home. One of his first pity ploys was he lacked being read to as a child. My family and friends are avid readers. Eventually he took that joy by slamming me for not putting down a book when he entered the room to completely focus on him. It’s been hard for me to shake that and read again.
    I was a teacher and toward the end he would angrily say that he couldn’t write, spell or read well even though he was married to a damn teacher. I told him if he bothered to come home I’d be happy to work on those skills. Nope. He used that as a learned helplessness skill with any task he wanted to get out of. He had no problem reading and signing waivers to ride at the track. I told my attorney that then low and behold that was the first sentence out of his mouth during depositions. She was floored he was so predictable and proceeded to stand over and read him questions slowly. Cost me a fortune. Jerk

  • I realised today I get attracted to narcissists.. Just went through mentally to check what sort of people I feel attracted to. I know a chump, nope, no attraction there at all. But narcissists, yep. My picker needs work along with my inner child work with my therapist. I’ll check back in a year and see if my picker works.

    • Narcs often have a LOT of attractive qualities! Their self-confidence alone can be really attractive (and they add a touch of vulnerability to that, to become super attractive to Chumps). Many are smart and/or talented and/or good looking, and their laser focus on us is super duper attractive. Add in the mirroring and they can be damned nigh irresistible!

      But TIME is the secret with them (and therefore any relationship). They can’t keep up the (fake) interest in us forever, and their character shows, IF WE KEEP OUR EYES OPEN.

      And after a while of keeping eyes open, the laser focus on us starts to be an alarm bell instead of an attractor. The mirroring starts to look fake really fast. We pick up on the FIRST signs of lack of reciprocity and selfishness….

      Then our pickers are fixed.

      • You’re right Karen, the Narc will show his/her true colors in time. But that’s also the problem with first marriages to a Narc, they steal our time. I was an unsuspecting loyal hardworking spouse and lost 26 years under a veil of his fraud and double life. Can’t get back time. The Narc goes on frolicking from OW to OW from prostitute to prostitute like nothing ever happened. Chumps like me clench their chests, pull the dagger out of their heart,stuff the hole to stop the bleeding,, get the $ sorted, and then read books about infidelity into the wee hours of the night until they find LACGAL and they they find camaraderie in other chumps and their stories while the Narc lives on guilt free. I have never been a revengeful person- never- but this self entitled doctor prick lied to me for 26 years and deceived me – he wanted and got his cake. Well the Karma train runs too slow for me to see him get his rightful due in my lifetime, so when the time is right and I’m safe from the blowback, we will see the lobby of his Beverly Hills medical center filled with the twenty five whores he reviewed on line on The Erotic Review all lined up for their free STD prescriptions. The news vans will be out front and this one is for all chumps who suffered at the hands of a Narc.

  • Married 30 years to a cheater who used me, hid money and led a double life. Almost divorced. Working hard to achieve my dream, fixing my picker and healing.

    I will never get married or live with someone but that does not rule out having a companion. But one red flag and im out. If i never get a companion, im good with this too…

  • A huge awakening came after spending 41 years with a covert narcissist. At that time my therapist stated I’d never had any power in my relationship. Fixing my picker necessitated finding my anger, setting boundaries, and getting my identity back. It’s a long process that required making my own needs central.

  • Finding my anger
    There is healthy anger. I had no idea being raise by a raging father.
    Setting boundaries
    Saying NO does not require lengthy explanations. It’s a necessary step especially for givers. No one can use me if I don’t allow it.
    No one gets to define you. It takes years to feel comfortable in your own skin after tolerating abuse. You’re not alone. Meeting chumps and seeing the playbook cheaters/narcissists use helps with knowing you didn’t cause this nor did you deserve to be conned by an imposter. Don’t care.

  • Keep an eye out for con men. Some red flags:

    Moving too fast.
    Testing boundaries. One sign I missed with Jackass was his telling me that in his youth, he had been part of a car-chopping racket for car thieves. I was SHOCKED. He had no explanation for why he would do such thing but just said he “learned his lesson” when the others involved got busted but he got away. The fact that he didn’t continue to chop stolen cars was not a sign of good character. It was a sign that he flew too close to the sun and didn’t want to go to prison. That’s not character. it’s sociopathy. What he was doing was not sharing in an authentic way. He was testing me to see how I would react to glimpses of the “real him.” And I just picked up the sparkle and moved on.
    He would tell stories about his relationships (XW 1 and 2, old girlfriends) and the stories were either told as “exploits” were he won out over some other man or put the woman in her place or explanations of how terrible the other person was. There was never any SELF_REFLECTION on his own behavior. No regret about his own actions. No sense of empathy or how his behavior impacted others.
    Grandiosity. Always the best at what they do! Others don’t appreciate them! They don’t see how special they are! No one ever appreciates them! Again, their stories sound like exploits. But a lot of times, I would wonder: Why would you do that? I think we all at times feel unappreciated, but healthy people many times do great, generous things and never tell anyone. Healthy people are happy to give credit to others. “Only I can do this” is a huge red flag.

    Jackass’s only worth in my life is as a primer of how to spot a con man. But all chumps should read Gavin De Becker’s book “The Gift of Fear” as part of fixing their picker. I spent most of my adult life as a distance runner. None of my friends were into that, so most of the time I ran alone. I had to learn to pay attention to danger. It’s not that every other person or every car or ever dark spot on the road is dangerous. But predators avoid people who are paying attention. A woman with earbuds in has disabled one of her senses and is an easier target. You don’t have to be able to spot all con artists and predators. You make yourself unattractive as prey. De Becker shows you how.

    • And as I said above, don’t just rely on someone “checking all the boxes.” There are people who know that some of their traits would be deal-breakers if you saw them up front before they could groom you to accept their pathology. It took over a year for Jackass to unleash verbal abuse on me–although I heard him talk to his mother that way on more than one occasion and was disturbed enough by that to comment on it. I should have just run in the other direction because of course he wouldn’t show that abusive side to me until he was either sure I would tolerate it or he was ready to discard me.

      The boxes might not be all that anyway. You might like a full head of hair, but a bald guy might be the one for you. I was big on advanced education and professional careers and “credentials.” Turns out that a guy with street smarts, MacGyvering skills, strong work ethic and an entrepreneurial streak makes a great dating partner.

  • This is a wonderful thread. Loving it.

    It’s confirmed that, for me, I am at the point where I have much more to lose through a bad romantic relationship than I could gain through a good one.

    It’s partly my age, but also my financial status. I love good company and good friends, and I like being free to do good as well.

    And I love reading the occasional story here about others who have decided along the same lines.

    When romantic relationships have been places where you disappeared – where you stuffed yourself down and morphed into a panic-stricken ball of ceaseless activity rotating around The One – they do tend to lose their appeal.

    When you find reciprocity in other types of relationship – work, friends, family, pets – this also takes the pressure off.

    The real issue is inside your own head. If you persist in believing that another person is The Solution, you will always be chumped. Immersion in another person as a flight from yourself and from reality is not love.

      • Immersion in another person as a flight from yourself and from reality is not love.

        Love this. Saved on my journal.

    • Yes, the issue is loving ourselves, and freedom, and peace. We make different choices because of our past experiences. I used to be quick to judge other’s choices, but now I actively try to be more tolerant.

      I do not have to be part of a couple to be happy. But, I am happy for others to find someone to be happy with if they find happiness in coupling. One size does not fit all. I am my own solution!

      Thanks Lola!

  • I will never again Pick-me-dance in any way: no Pick-me-jig, not even a Pick-me-twitch.

    My most serious change to my Picker is simply, if after a reasonable amount of time they do not show equal enthusiasm, I’m done.

    Now, that does not mean I need or want to be love-bombed or clung to or anything like that. Nor do I expect (or even want, since I don’t always trust this) immediate fireworks. But after awhile if my texts go unanswered, commitment to plans continues to be vague, they don’t want to communicate between seeing each other, etc., I’m done.

    Note: I am absolutely not one to pressure or rush. Quite the opposite. I want to take it slow. But after awhile, it’s enough already. Mark Manson has a great column on this called “fuck yes or fuck no” that expresses my attitude precisely.

    • I googled that and read the article. Excellent. Another tool for me. Ta.

      ” I will never again Pick-me-dance in any way: no Pick-me-jig, not even a Pick-me-twitch.”

      ???????? Nice one.

  • The last but not least is VERY useful: Don’t be afraid to dump someone. The bad behaviour usually doesn’t start until the hooks that will keep you around are in place.

  • “Bonus points if you have all your hair and teeth.” Nope. All you wonderful, honourable male chumps who might be thinning on top or rocking the full-on bald: you have all the bonus points and sex appeal you require thanks to your fine character.