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Is an ‘Emotional Affair’ Reason Enough to Leave?

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GPShisDickDear Chump Lady,

Can you tell me your theory about emotional affairs?

My husband had an emotional affair two years ago. It lasted a couple of months, with two D-Days on my part, by checking both his email and then his voicemail. Supposedly it has been no contact between them for this whole time. I do check his email and phone to verify. But something inside of me is nagging. The trust is gone. I see him in a different light. He is loving toward me, but a workaholic as a lawyer so we don’t have much alone time. I have a young son and don’t want to initiate a divorce because I “couldn’t forgive a mistake” or was too “punishing.”

I’d appreciate any insight you have. I do consider myself a chump.

Toto

Dear Toto,

You could initiate a divorce because he’s a blameshifting asswipe. That’s completely acceptable.

Toto, you’re in a difficult position many other chumps have found themselves in — chumped, but without enough evidence to feel justified in divorce.

We can attack this problem two ways. The first would be to focus on getting the evidence you need to come to some sort of burden-of-proof tipping point. To do that, you go into marriage police overdrive — amateur hacking, key loggers, GPS, voice activated recorders, or just hire a private detective. Chances are that “nagging feeling” will result in some sickening evidence.

The other way to attack this problem is to realize that you have enough evidence already to Trust That He Sucks. Put the focus back on yourself and off What He Might Be Doing for a moment — is this relationship acceptable to YOU? Do you feel respected? Cherished? Loved? Do you trust this man?

When you’ve already seriously considered going into marriage police overdrive, you need to face the fact that the trust is gone. Do you want to live like a Soviet spy?

Oh, but we can’t divorce someone because we don’t trust them! Scary, isn’t it? Because the minute you go allow yourself to feel vigilant, you’re doubting yourself. The mindfuckery pops into your head. “It was all a MISTAKE.” “Why can’t you FORGIVE and quit PUNISHING” him with your doubts? He SAID he had to WORK LATE.

And like a good chump, you take it on yourself. The problem is you and your punishing, untrusting ways. The problem couldn’t be him and his affair. No, that was a “mistake” (singular) and you are a Bad Person Who Cannot Forgive.

Well, let’s go with that wacko narrative for a moment. Okay, you’re a bad person who is punishing him with your doubts. Hey, that’s a legitimate reason to divorce! This relationship does not bring out your best self. Being in this marriage makes you a hypervigilant harpy who lives in constant anxiety that she’ll be betrayed.

Here’s a thought — maybe outside this marriage, you might be a person who can relax and feel safe again.

This narrative is missing one thing, however — his contrition. He betrayed you. He saw your hurt and upset, and given that information, he continued to hurt you and lie to you, thus bringing about D-Day 2.

Now, we can believe one of two things. Busted a second time, he gave up his affair and has been a good boy ever since. OR we can believe that he went underground with his affair. The email address you have access to isn’t the email he uses to have affairs and neither is the phone. These are easy workarounds.

Call me cynical, but I believe he’s gone underground because of statements like you “couldn’t forgive a mistake” and you’re “punishing” him. That’s blameshifting. And people who shift blame have shit to feel defensive about. The authentically remorseful, on the other hand, own their shit. “I betrayed you, and you have every right to feel flinchy. What can I do to make you feel safe?” That would be a shit-owning statement. “Why the fuck aren’t you over this?! Quit punishing me!” would not be a shit-owning sentiment.

So cheating or not cheating, you’ve got a husband who appears to be unaware of how damaging his emotional affair was, how it hurt you, and destroyed your trust in him. Very best case scenario, you have a willfully clueless husband who doesn’t care about your feelings.

Can you work with that? From where I sit, I don’t think so, because you’ve given me no indication that he’s helping you heal or owning his shit.

So what’s my “theory” about emotional affairs? I think they are destabilizing to a marriage and disrespectful. I think even if they stop at “just” emotional, they can be a form of abuse. To keep you off-balance, to goad you into pick me dancing, and to endanger your sense of person safety. Do that shit long enough, it erodes your self-esteem, and he feels he can control you. That’s abuse.

Blog-weary Chump Lady (remember how many of these stories I read…) thinks 9 times out of 10, emotional affairs are what cheaters cop to when you haven’t caught them in a physical affair. Adults like to have sex. Most men do not invest themselves in another person they’re attracted to unless they want to fuck this person. They don’t hold hands and read Kirkegaard together. They don’t go to hotel rooms for Bible study. They aren’t swapping Grumpy Cat memes because they’re buddies — they’re doing the mating dance.

Emotional affairs are courtship. Courting another person while married to you is either a deal breaker for you, or it isn’t. I have written elsewhere, that as unicorns and recovery go, I think emotional affairs might have a better chance of recovery because it hasn’t crossed the line of endangering your health, or risking pregnancy/paternity. But I think they’re damaging all the same, for the reasons I stated above. At the end of the day it is YOUR call what YOUR deal breakers are.

The fact is, whatever he’s doing, he doesn’t appear one bit sorry about it. That’s your real problem, Toto. Trust that he sucks.

This one ran before.

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  • THIS!!!”Blog-weary Chump Lady (remember how many of these stories I read…) thinks 9 times out of 10, emotional affairs are what cheaters cop to when you haven’t caught them in a physical affair. ”

    The Xhole said it was emotional affair when I found out he met with an old GF on his vacation alone to Germany. Swore up and down they didn’t sleep together. Kept me from pulling the plug for months until I found out they went on a romantic cruise together.

    Then to my horror, he laughed at me for being so stupid I would believe he didn’t sleep with her in the first place. Talk about a slap in the face! They think we are stupid idiots for trusting them and they’re right.

    • So sorry Chump to the Max he did this to you and you are absolutely right…..they think we are Stupid idiots for trusting them! I’ve been chumped 3x with 3 different partners of the last 21 yrs and EVERY single one thought I was stupid for trusting them. Then they took advantage of my love and trust disrespecting me time and time again….it was a gut punch every time! I was very stupid!!!

      Thank God I finally listened to CL advise🙌 It set me free to stop allowing toxic people in my life, to stop being trusting and stupid, to stop being toxic to myself by accepting abuse, and to stop accepting crumbs when I deserve cake.

      • you go Southern Chump, you deserve all the cake!

        I think that is a big part, learning to love yourself and know you deserve more. And we should be able to trust our partners, if not, we don’t need them in our lives.

        • ‘Emotional affairs are courtship.´
          Yes.
          When my C said it ‘just happened’ I said bs ‘ you knew what you were doing every step of the way.´
          He didn’t deny it. A 1 night stand would be less painful than an ongoing courtship while married to me.

          • People no more just ‘fall into’ an emotional affair than a penis ‘just falls into’ a vagina, a mouth or any other orifice.

            There are lots of choice points in any type of affair where one of the two people can put a STOP to it.

    • Page right out of my ex’s book — cried pitiful faux tears in supposed heartbreak, then later smugly laughed about the stupidity he identified in me because I believed him. Abusive gaslighting soulless asshat.

      The only stupidity in it was allowing him in my life for any length of time whatsoever — and I don’t consider that stupid anymore because I no longer consider it my personal responsibility to know when another person is lying to me. (I mean, I do try to watch for it, and act when I see it, but that’s different from expecting myself to somehow psychically know when another person is being deceitful. That’s 100% the deceiver’s fault, not mine.)

      • My Ex burst out laughing while I was screaming in tears and said

        You really didn’t have a clue did you , I’ve been cheating on you for months

        Then he just sat smirking . I read it on here about duper’s delight and looked it up and he 100% did that . The black eyes and the smirk

        • Karen 6702
          I know how you felt because my ex husband
          laughed with the Owhore in my face saying”I’ve been cheating on you for 20 years “.
          I was married for 35 years. Still very painful after being divorced 4 years now. Evil 😈

          • I’m convinced now there’s a hierarchy of evil cheaters.
            Mine lied repeatedly to deny the obvious – (I felt they must have been laughing at me – but they probably were not thinking of me AT ALL) but laughing in your face….. no denying that you were face to face with EVIL. I’m so sorry you had to experience that depth of depravity.

        • My Ex enjoyed mocking me for believing him. I have no idea if he cheated, probably not. But he was a narc and cruel with me. I couldn’t wrap my head around it, and he saw my reluctance to marry him (didn’t understand my gut at that time). So he discarded me. This site understands, and I get a lot out of hearing that how others dealt with what seemed incomprehensible at the time.

    • I believe the fooling of the chump is a large part of the thrill for these guys.

      About a month before I finally figured out that he was screwing around, we were at a town fall festival. While he, our preacher and preachers wife, my best friend, and I were standing there talking, a younger woman came up from behind him and wrapped her arms arounhd him to hide his eyes and said “guess who”. The rest of us stood there stunned. He did have the decency to look embarrassed. We were 40 at the time, that was childish shit.

      Anyway, my friend and I went into the park office where he was later, my outspoken friend said “what the hell was that about?” He just laughed it off and said oh Pam is just immature. Then he said, Susie wouldn’t believe I was messing around, unless I told her. While he said that he had this weird smirk on his face. My blood ran cold and I knew something was up. Didn’t think it was Pam, because she was short and fat and pretty whorish. He never like whorish type women. (it wasn’t Pam) it turned out to be her best friend who was also short fat and whorish.

      But, he seemed to take pleasure in using my trust of him against me.

      • Susie Lee, you nailed the entire cheater mindset in these two sentences:

        I believe the fooling of the chump is a large part of the thrill for these guys.

        But, he seemed to take pleasure in using my trust of him against me.

        • I am certain of it. I can remember that smirk to this day.

          What I used to wonder is if he told schmoopie of all his sneak methods, and how stupid I was. I mean, I know he likely did; but seems like he was just giving her his playbook for when they got married. Though he did go on to cheat on her, so who knows.

          She also caught him early on, so…

          My guess is he had to change his cheating tools and took it further underground. Also, she was mainly interested in a steady paycheck, so maybe she just didn’t care as much.

          • This is a hard one for me, because I know that STBX (we are both women) has never actively smug, or actively laughed at my pain, even with others. This is part of what my it was hard for me to pull the plug on our marriage, even after D-Day #2: I think she was trying in good faith, but just couldn’t actually do the hard work of honesty and commitment, for whatever reason (am not untangling the skein anymore)! I can only imagine how horrible it would be to experience your partner laughing at you, but it was horrible in a different way to have to come to terms with the fact that STBX is not necessarily a jackass, just very, VERY confused about how to respect me when her “needs” require things I’m not okay with. I almost wish she had been more obviously a jackass at some point – it would have been a lot easier just to write her off. This is why the finer details of CL’s observations on Genuine Imitation Naugahyde Remorse we’re very important in my case. Unfortunately, I don’t think we can write off all cheaters as being intentionally manipulative, though I don’t doubt that many are!

            • Yep.

              And then when I got a letter from him a could months after we were legally separated (this was pre computer age by about two years) saying how sorry he was that he acted like such a low life, he didn’t know where his head was at etc (his words), well it just didn’t mean much by then.

              Though I wish I still had that letter so CL could run it through the BS translator.

              I think most cheaters are gas lighters and liars. If not they couldn’t get away with keeping it hidden. Whether their intentions are to hurt the spouse or not, doesn’t really matter once they make it clear they won’t change.

            • LezChump–

              You bring up so many important points.

              “Integrity-feigning cheaters” sound especially monstrous. The more-teasonable-than-thou stance has its own form of smugness. I’ve known “integrity feigning business backstabbers” and maybe there’s a similar dynamic. They just have their self-exculpatory rationales more thoroughly worked out. But you can still see the Captain Ahab psycho glint in their eye if their schemes are eventually foiled. They just hide their inner control-monster self better.

              But the thing about covert vs. overt abuse is that even if the aggression in covert abuse is harder to identify and more confusing, overt abuse causes more intense Stockholm syndrome and is paralyzing in its own way.

              When I was an advocate for survivors of DV, once in a blue moon a disagreement would break out in group with a survivor of physical abuse suggesting survivors of emotional abuse weren’t in the same league, or a survivor of emotional abuse would claim they “would have left right away” had they endured the physical abuse other survivors endured.

              Advocates would just point out that confusion over subliminal abuse and paralysis over overt abuse are each their own special forms of torture. It would be better to believe each other that each experience was paralyzing in its own horrific way rather than ignoring each other’s cautionary notes and having to go through the other form of torment personally to learn the hard way.

              We called emotional abusers the “Stasi” (breaking souls without breaking bones) and physical abusers the “jackboots.” It makes you think– which is the “good kind” of torture??

              Another revelation within this is how anti- creative and anti-individualistic an endeavor (abuse) is if it can be performed by either very intelligent people or very stupid people with equal success in hobbling prey. The more intelligent can rely more on mind control but they’re ultimately not operating from a place of intelligence anymore than a Chinese fighting fish or hyena. So much for intellectual cannibals, right?

              The same also goes for degree of emotional abuse. I realized that laughing in the face of a victim might seem on the surface like an obvious cue to run for the hills. But in effect the behavior is a threat of greater harm and likely in itself to trigger Stockholm type patalysis. It’s an “I’m so crazy and sadistic I’m capable of anything!” branch dragging ape display. The threat is either a display of capacity to destroy the victim’s social support system via grotesque public humiliation (which our caveman brain reads as threat to sheer survival) or a display of how little the abuser would care standing over the bleeding body of the victim (i.e., a capacity to kill). Either way these threats are potent means to stun one’s prey, trap them in a fight/flight/play possum primitive response loop.

              You know what’s also humiliating? (I speak from expetience) Knowing all the above and STILL finding yourself paralyzed- at least initially- in the face of either brand of abuse. Arg. Because abuse works. That’s why abusers do it. It’s a successful way to hack the target’s primitive responses, at least for a time.

              Knowing how it works and why it works might at least hasten escape a bit and help to ward off subsequent bystander/therapeutic victim blaming. The blame still falls entirely on abusers regardless of their particular “style” or varying taste for blood.

              The Stasi often used intelligent torturers apparently. Your story reminds me of the film “The Lives of Others.”

              • Hell, “Integrity-feigning cheaters” sound especially monstrous
                Thank you for understanding.
                There are so many horror stories here that I can’t relate to and my heart breaks for my fellow chumps. I can only relate to sobbing and being dysfunctional for months, having my life turned upside down, feeling devastated and unsettled and fragile beyond belief. Mine does not fit any profile to the tee.
                My friend says it’s like he wanted to be Mr Honour, but he failed himself. I guess, a very weak and emotionally damaged and incapable person??
                The type that makes you want to comfort them.
                Harder when you think they are damaged rather than evil. I need to keep hearing he’s a lying, manipulative leech.

              • Excellent points all around, Hell. Thanks so much for commenting! It’s true that I stayed for a long time enduring one particular kind of abuse, and so who knows what other kinds of abuse I might have tolerated? (At least for a time.) I don’t ever mean to gaslight others who married or stayed with more overt abusers. We all have our reasons, until we see the light, or have to make an obvious choice between the relationship and our own health/sanity (and perhaps that of our kids). As for the intention behind abuse: as I’ve had to remind STBX a couple of times, a lot of abusers don’t set out intentionally to abuse, but just don’t know how to deal with their feelings/actions. Lack of clear intentionality is not a reason for the rest of us to sit there and accept abuse. That’s why I LOVE CL’s focus on what is acceptable to us. (See my comment further below re: dealbreakers.)

              • Lezchump and Zip,

                Whether you see the demonic DARVO face (think Jack Nicholson from The Shining with or without the axe) or not, the whole thing is a paralyzing mindfuck from hell.

                We all have “primitive response” button panels on our backs and abusers quite pragmatically know how to hack them. This is usually passed down through generations. When I hear the arguments that people who experienced abuse in their childhood backgrounds are more likely to be victimized as adults (statistically unfounded actually, though possibly true in some individual cases), I just think that survivors of childhood victimization know better than anyone that when an abuser gives off a threatening display (like mocking the pain of the victim, etc.), they probably mean business and will back it up with real harm. So past experience could lead to more fear and consequently more paralysis. But having had a wonderful childhood is no shield either. Abusers vary widely in their taste in prey. Some like “big game”– healthy, independent targets.

                I’m not sure I believe in lack of intent, not in a strict sense, when it comes to any form of abuse. There are a lot of novels, plays and films that deal with that particular question (disaster-prone Dr. Chebutykin in Chekhov’s Three Sisters, etc.). It’s like arguing that a serial killer didn’t intend to kill their victim but just really needed to inspect their innards and eat a bit of their liver. Killing was just incidental, oops. I think CL has made this point about the “But I didn’t mean to (fill in blank)” sad sausage set. If they don’t like Chicago, why’d they get on the train?

                Of course some things are accidental but it’s all about patterns. I think toxic people do what they intend to do even if it’s completely unconscious. I believe this is true in collective MOs as well. For instance, there are native communities in Canada near tar sands or chemical operations (industrial sites chosen because of ecological racism) that have not seen the birth of a healthy boy in half a generation. Who runs petro giants and shitty chemical corps? Old alpha assholes, typically male. Is it happenstance that the standard mating dominance strategy of the minority violent alphas among our closest ape cousins, the regular chimp, is to attack a rival troop and kill off all males, especially male infants? Is it accidental that most domestic assaults on pregnant women occur when the sex of the fetus is known to be male?

                I wonder. Is it really accidental that toxic corporations with organizational hierarchies that almost precisely mirror ape social hierarchies should, in the end, generate the same dynamics and outcomes? Would changing the organizational structure change the outcome? I wish there would be a massive social experiment to find out.

                At the very least the disastrous outcomes of certain people’s behavior could be a kind of Manchurian candidate programming. Too few human beings are capable of genuinely independent thought and might reflexively reflect the values and MOs of the hierarchies in which they function whether that’s a toxic family structure, institution or corporation.

                My good friend who was brutally gaslighted and cheated on by a lawyer for one of the most evil law firms on the planet (that finances wars of aggression, paramilitary death squads and is in bed with toxic industries and dictatorships galore) ended up thinking he was basically just a cog in a larger evil machine. He tried to cleanse this filth by doing things like teaching self defense to women in his spare time (Hitler loved dogs and Tony Soprano loved ducks). But in the end he was dehumanized and dehumanizing. Look for the larger gears that abusers fit themselves within. Look for the hypocritical ways in which they try to launder the blood on their hands. Look for ways they try to emulate and please (grovel to) the evil gods of their niches.

                Anyway, that point might be clear as mud but I actually put an extra tax on abusers whose right hands seem not to know what their left hands are doing. Not only do they get cake, they get to pretend it didn’t taste good, that they don’t remember eating it and then they get to maintain this feeling of being basically innocent.

                If they were really innocent they wouldn’t need kibble so badly. Kibble is, among other things, mostly conscience-laundering.

              • Hell of a Chump, I actually have The Lives of Others DVD! I don’t know too many people who have seen it. It’s too grim and bleak for me to recommend it to most people I know. (Oh and speaking of Chekhov and recommendations: I always recommend Chekhov’s comedies, on page or stage. They’re inexplicably underappreiated. But I digress.)
                You have such great insights, I always look for your comments. I love the Stasi and Jackboots labels:, they’re so very apt.

            • Lez, Same for me. Harder to trust that they suck when they don’t suck in sooo many ways. After the initial Dr Jekyll discard, mine cried at my pain and looked remorseful and even suicidal during my frequent opposite of NC stage. He accepted responsibility and seemed devastated at the wreckage he’d caused.

              However, he had chosen her so his allegiance was now with the OW. And that doesn’t happen overnight. That is ongoing investment in someone else. And that is unforgivable…he did not try to work through anything – it was done- so too bad so sad for me and our family and youpee for office slut.

              • I hear you, Zip. This is exactly why CL says that we need to trust that they suck, and now I do. The whole time STBX was wringing her hands after D-Day #2, it was still all about her. She literally couldn’t handle facing the real consequences of her actions; she’s emotionally adolescent (in her 40’s!) and unstable. Sounds like that was the case for you, too. All best to you – we’re all so much better off without them.

      • I don’t want to be too psychoanalytical, but I did wonder if mine actually hates women? It looks like the opposite – but he too was badly chumped in the past- and then this.
        I was the partner always checking in, always trying to ensure we were good – and then wham the discard. It’s a perfect combination of passive aggressive and aggressive behaviour.

          • Thanks, Zip! Yes, a lot of these traits were true of my cheater as well, except for the part about being too easy-going. She always had a lot of demands, though she was very passive-aggressive about them (mostly thought they should be obvious to everyone, but that’s partly because she doesn’t understand boundaries). Also, because we’re two women, I thought we always processed things a lot, but it turned out (after D-Day #2) that she was holding a lot in.

            I will just point out, without untangling the skein too much, that all these traits are tropical of covert narcissists (who, by definition, have a very unstable sense of self). I cried when I read Debbie Mirza’s book, and I also find Dr Ramani’s YouTube videos to be super-helpful, esp. since the focus on how we should react to narcissists.

            • Hi Lez and Hell, yes I am untangling way way way too much. But interesting to me Lez that you referenced that book. I have read a lot of her thoughts and watched her YouTube videos. I thought maybe I had it figured out with the covert narcissism stuff but although a lot of boxes checked some didn’t. I’ll just have to try to keep the focus on myself ( although now I’m tempted to get her book).

              Hell, re the train analogy and getting off in Chicago, one therapist who has studied my situation stated that they get so caught up and the train takes off – they never even think about where it’s going or the landscape.

              • While I respect CL’s train analogy, I agree that it’s not always so simple in practice (though it should be!) – that’s the nature of disordered character. My cheater was so busy catching a train TO ANYWHERE ELSE that she didn’t notice the destination at all. Also, like many cheaters, she held a lot of contradictory thoughts in mind at once: maybe I never needed to know about affair #2, or maybe I already knew about it. Or maybe I would accept it as a polyamorous thing, since STBX was so very unhappy, etc. I’m sure she never in a million years would have considered the likelihood that I would be emotionally traumatized by her affair. So, yet another good reason to take the focus off of cheaters and their intentions, and to refocus it on us chumps.

                As for untangling skeins: I think CL’s advice is best for new chumps, who can get stuck while untangling. After separation/divorce, however, it might be worthwhile to learn more about personality/character disorder, not to untangle the skein, but to fix our pickers – and, if we still have to co-parent with fuckwits, it’s useful to know what to expect. (In all fields, the best analyses are predictive.)

              • Lezchump and Zip–

                Agreed that the postmortem untangling– that is, at a time when there’s no longer any real temptation to get sucked back into the cheater/abuser vortex or pretend to oneself the untangling will actually “fix” an abuser– can be helpful in unkinking one’s picker and many other purposes. I think this is true even if the picker was recently bent by the last abuse experience itself because of the doubled rate of falling victim a second time after an initial abuse experience. It doesn’t take an abusive childhood to fall prey to liars and con artists as adults but the trauma can make us susceptible to a subsequent predator who puts on the “rescuer” guise.

                Plus it’s downright fascinating to figure out human shenanigans. There’s a ton of bad theory and pop-psych crapola out there but if a survivor experience is good for anything, it’s in developing a radar for clinical bs and a nose for truth. I think the exercise in sorting “data” from trauma can help to keep our tanks clear of sharks and more welcoming to good eggs and can even make us more aware of our own foibles. Growth is good. To quote Alexander Pope, “The proper study of mankind is man.” Or wo/mankind, wo/man.

        • Zip– Maybe women just don’t matter in his universe and what he really hates are men? The compulsion to dominate rando women could be largely pathological competition with imagined rivals. Beta aggressors tend to play the sad sausage card a lot in trying to compete with alphas.

          Just a theory of mine. I think this is true for most misogynists. To me, the worst aspect of misogyny is that women are basically no more than footballs in a war between men and in which it’s mostly men who get victimized by other men. Not to discount the victimization of women but gender stats for murder victims tell a certain story. Even the kinds of hate speech aimed at women in these weird new “male rights” groups has a one-upman-ship display aspect to it. But then watch how the worst men grovel to and gravitate towards bigger monsters. And watch how the worst women do as well.

          Can you tell I’m an evolutionary theory nerd? 😀 I think it could explain both male and female cheaters/abusers. Among chimps, there are always token females invited along on lethal raids who might earn an extra piece of banana or earn a little amnesty from the usual Clockwork Orange treatment of females by being extra horrifically violent during these attacks on other troops. These token females are no friends to other females but act in service of the dominant hierarchy. The token female rampagers are also the most suck-uppy to toxic alphas (hello, side chicks).

          One of the male chumps here pointed out that he felt his cheating ex chose a certain dependable, decent template for male chump primary partners which she serially ran through while indulging in a secret taste for scuzzy toxic knuckle draggers on the side. Fits perfectly with the psychology of the “token female aggressor” theory.

          • Thx Hell – you reference so many movies and interesting thoughts to go with them. Maybe one day if you feel inclined, you could list them all together and why we should watch them! Anyhow your thoughts are very interesting.

            • Thank you back, Zip. I feel the same about what you write. Makes my brain tick. Having a book club is a wonderful idea. I’ve been taking notes from your back and forth with Lezchump about books. 🙂

              I think the bible of the evolution of violence is British primatologist Dr. Richard Wrangham’s “The Demonic Male: Apes and the Evolution of Human Violence.” Short and sweet, funny in places and written in accessible language by someone who spent years in the field studying apes. It’s mindblowing. Jane Goodall wrote the foreword to his book. He’s authored consistently brilliant and elegant theories on human brain and language development as well.

              Wrangham’s theories are pretty bracing and controversial. He argues for a biological component to human aggression but at the same time removes all rationalizations for modern gratuitous violence, particularly violence against women. His view of human nature seems bleak on the surface– that we did not, as some claim, evolve from a common ancestor with the kinder-gentler bonobo but rather the common ancestor of the Clockwork Orange regular chimp. But he more or less argues the hope lies in realism about our own nature and social corrections of it (like more equality in leadership). We are different enough from chimps to have a choice.

              I read this forever-ago and have traded it endlessly. You’d think the title alone would chase off male readers but I met a former Navy Seal captain and Princeton alum working for the FBI at a conference on global pollution and neurological health risks who couldn’t stop talking about the book. Apparently it’s a must-read for anyone who studies war or criminal psych. I’ve met the most interesting people just from referring to this slightly obscure little study. It’s like a secret club lol.

              More populist evolutionary theorists propose more hippie sounding views like the idea that violence isn’t an inherent risk in human nature. But I think these hippie views are dangerously misleading since they tempt us to stop guarding against our own aggressive capacities or to pretend that, among us, is a special, more moral caste of humans who are innately free of destructive impulses and a lower “aberrant” class who commit all the violence (which was the precept of every totalitarian regime in history. Ironically this fantasy just leads to more violence as the self appointed “special” caste considers themselves entitled to externalize all evil onto out-groups and destroy them).

              In this documentary on evolution and violence, you can see Wrangham sort of wearily arguing against the latter view. I think he makes the better case even though it appears filmmakers prefer the hippie view of human nature and give it more air time. The hippie view is more flattering. But it’s ahistorical. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCTBoOAKH-Q

  • I left my wife after she had an “emotional affair.” But in the aftermath of that, I discovered at least two other emotional affairs. And in ALL cases, she had the opportunities for those “emotional affairs” to be much more than that. I firmly believe she did what she wanted and downplayed it all with me.

    I had to listen to her lawyer say that it was “just an emotional affair” – and a year later when I took custody of the kids I had to listen to the same lawyer say that my ex-wife and her new husband that she married 5 minutes after we divorced “found love in unusual circumstances.” The same lawyer has now had to draft a divorce petition between my ex-wife and her new husband because they’ve both had affairs in the 1.5 years they’ve been married.

    A leopard can’t change its spots.

    • Daddypants, I’m sorry for what happend to you but appreciate this karma story. It makes me feel that there is justice in the world when two cheaters cheat on each other.

    • “A leopard can’t change its spots.”

      So true, and glad they ended up screwing each other over.

      It happens most of the time, it is just that many times we don’t get to see it. As they will lie to cover for any come uppance they get.

      My ex and schmoopie married, and are still together many years later. But, not before him cheating on her, Boath of them racking up massive gambling debts, filing bankruptcy, then detonating his relationship with our 50 year old son. They now live in a fixer upper trailer somewhere in Florida. Sounds like they are living the dream.

    • Daddypants, I am so glad you got custody of your children. Always great when the sane parent wins that battle. They certainly don’t need to be part of an ongoing bus crash.

  • Hey Toto,

    (Love Wizard)… Trust is a funny thing. I don’t really know if I was “cheated” on before my UnHusband and I got a divorce…

    But I can tell you this… Even after 7 years not married Boys Dad did 2 things recently to the point that BOTH his current wife and I had our TRUST SHATTERED…

    Now he is looking at YEARS of DAILY ACTIONS to ALIGN with the words “He Proclaims”… To PROVE “HIS” TRUSTWORTHINESS as a Human Being, Husband, and Dad…

    That’s how BIG A DEAL – Trust is!!

  • Why does she show up at events I wouldn’t ever expect to see her at?

    “She’s my best friend, of course other than you!”

    Why is she at your grandfather’s funeral?

    “She’s representing the company to send their condolences.”

    A year later I found out he was currently buttfucking her in his backseat on the side of the road by the office.

    No man is spending years in an “emotional entanglement” without getting some WAP.

    Or, in his case, WAA (which is horrifying on so many levels).

  • “Emotional affairs are courtship. Courting another person while married to you is either a deal breaker for you, or it isn’t.”

    Mic drop.

      • Emotional affairs are courtship. Courting another person while married to you is either a deal breaker for you, or it isn’t.

        That sentence really struck me! I left Mr. Sparkly Pants because of his “emotional affair.” I had no proof that it was physical, but I suspected. And in the end, it really didn’t matter because courting another person while married to me *was* a deal breaker for me. And it shed a whole new light on the “harem” he always had. He was courting multiple other women so that he always had a harem. Definitely NOT OK.

        It took me two years to figure out that all those times I thought he was cheating but didn’t want to call him out on it because I was probably just being jealous and paranoid — he was most likely really cheating. An emotional affair is cheating, too, even if it was “just emotional.”

        I’m glad I divorced the fuckwit!

    • Yeah, this statement really struck home for me. Emotional affairs ARE courtship.

      It just clicked why STBX’s harem always bothered me. Besides being blatantly disrespectful, he was keeping that door to courtship open while calling me petty for being bothered by his disrespect.

      • Or being called, “You’re just a jealous bitch.” Or being told, “You’re imagining things.” I sure hope Karma brings him the same kind of heartache that he put me through. But then,… he’d have to have a heart.

      • OMG! The ManChild also had a harem, too! It didn’t bother me at the beginning of our relationship and I even spackled that it showed that he was mature enough to remain friends, even after a breakup. I guess I learned my lesson, huh? Not maturity, but exactly the opposite. “I’m going to keep all these girls swirling around just in case.” Ugh! I feel so stupid for going along with it. I didn’t want to be a nag or be one of “those” women who says their man cannot have female friends.

        Oh well, he is the AP’s problem now. I’m sure their relationship will be just fine once the baby is here. *insert sarcasm here* He won’t look anywhere else for attention while she is up all night taking care of the newborn, right?! I guess I have not achieved meh just yet, as I am looking forward to karma doing her thing! I will work on meh, I promise 🙂

        • Narcissists often have a harem. I had a narcissistic boss and he had a harem of female employees (he wouldn’t employ males) who were expected to admire and fawn over him. He explained to me that he had a problem with me because ‘I wouldn’t flirt with him’. Oh, and I didn’t admire him, either.

      • Magically Chumplicious,
        Ditto. Ever since we were married, my STBX had a string of female “friends” that he constantly compared me to. One had bigger breasts, one enjoyed golf, one liked to hang out at the same bar, and one was “just one of the guys.” The one that most bothered me was our neighbor–they would call each other on the way to work, he bought Christmas and birthday gifts for her kids (knowing I long-grieved the fact I couldn’t have children). Every time I confronted him about any of the “friends,” I was “crazy.” It took a good talking to from my counsel and many therapy sessions for me to accept that these were all emotional affairs, and that this “person” had been cheating on me from Day One of our marriage.

    • My husband thought it was ok , To be seeing OW. Because they were Just Friends, But this woman he did more things with her then any of his guy friends I told him it was like he was dating her like how he dated me , he said it wasn’t cause he actually wants to be with her .

  • I agree with Chump Lady. Adults go through the courting ritual to get in bed together. You just don’t have the proof so the honesty is not there. If you ever did trust himagain, it will take longer than you should invest in someone that treats you this way!

  • For many of us whose spouses did have “actual” affairs, by far the most devastating aspect was the lying and emotional abandonment, not the extramarital sex itself. It’s likely that you’ve already experienced most of the damage from a “real” affair, even if (as far as you know) it stopped short of exchange of bodily fluids.

    You say “the trust is gone” and you see him “in a different light”. Short of a positive STD test, that’s the real problem right there.

    • I would say the same as involuntaryGeorgian, the real pain is the emotional neglect, lying, gaslighting etc. Constantly feeling like I was trying to interact with a brick wall, questioning my sanity when I asked if he was cheating again and was told “the real problem in our relationship is that you don’t trust me”. The casual manner in which he tossed aside my emotional plea to, please, talk to me.

    • I agree Involuntary Georgian – knowing that he had shared intimate details of our relationship, our life, my life, our children’s lives with her was more devastating to me than the physical betrayal. I could not get past the thought of him using the same secrets and insecurities of mine that I shared with him (and he subsequently used to shame and control me) with her to justify his behavior.

      • The thought of him sharing my deepest secrets and insecurities, likely with contempt and derision, with OW turns my stomach. To me, it’s just as bad as him coming home from work after screwing OW and being with me only hours later, not even washing himself off before hand. These people are sick.

        • Boy do I hear you. Try your deepest secrets and insecurities while you sleep. He brought her into my home, my Master bathroom-me asleep 5 feet away. Chumplady is right about the Voice recorders…I was the best spy.

        • They are indeed sick.

          And when your eyes are opened (or at least mine) and I go back in time, I can pretty much pick out the individual days when he would come home and sleep with me. It was almost like he was extra excited. Looking back of course he was, as he was getting strange and it was exilerating to him. In his case he himself told me he had cheated on me our entire marriage, so she was just the last one while married to me. Of course eventually she just took my place, as he started his devaluation of me. I think looking back at what I knew happened, it was the entanglement of her being his employee. I am not saying he didn’t have emotional attachments, but I just don’t think give his history that is how it started out.

          Maybe, in the emotional affairs, the cheater gets emotionally involved before the physical and in serial cheaters the physical comes first. Who knows. Just pondering.

          My timeline is why I think many of these guys really just start out for the thrill of strange, then they get hooked with someone who for different reasons they start to get entangled with. either emotionally, or entanglements from work etc. Most serial cheaters will at some point enter an exit affair, whether they realize it when it starts or not. I assume some get away with it for a lifetime, but most don’t.

      • This! So much this!!

        I was devastated to find out that he used our years of infertility treatments and miscarriages as reasons/justification for cheating on me. He shared our most personal & intimate struggle with that skank and I know because SHE told me. It’s a level of cruelty that I will never, ever understand.

        • Lifeisgood, this is so painful, I know. He did the same to me. 13 years of infertility struggle and that’s what he used against me as well. He said who waits 13 years for kids. They are just perfect assholes. No empathy for what we went through. Physically and emotionally raped, that’s how I feel.

          • Yas and LifeIsGood,
            Thinking of you. As someone who had to have my kids in a non-conventional way, I know how vulnerable it feels. What a terrible mindfuck. Thanks for sharing your stories, I hope they can help new chumps. And I hope you can find peace away from your abusers!

            • Thanks lezchump. It’s healing to have a place to vent. I’m so grateful for everything. We’re better off without them 💯.

  • CL is right.
    “Being in this marriage makes you a hypervigilant harpy who lives in constant anxiety that she’ll be betrayed.”

    My STBXH has a 1+ year old emotional affair. They couldn’t fuck yet because she’s in China and we’re overseas. I had 3 DDays, left home on the 3rd DDay. Islamic divorced a month later. Civil divorce in a year. The utter chaos and turmoil I went through during the game wreckonciliation. It’s not worth it. He’s in too deep and has announced to his family that he’s going ahead with that relationship and will be marrying her. Yeah, while married to me.

    Long story short. I heard all of the above that CL mentioned. Emotional or physical, the shit cheaters say is the same. The damage done to chumps pretty much the same. Recovery times may vary. But you will feel better when you’re out of it. Start by grey rock and spend time by yourself. You need your wits sharp to see clearly. Don’t do the pick me dance. It’s not worth it.

    • Not *game. Typo – I meant fake. Although they did meet in a online game. Played together for years I’m guessing before moving to level 2, private chats, level 3 phone conversations, level 4 watching movies/Netflix together, level 5 breaking up with respective partners and now planning to skip away into the sunset. Yes, that never met in real life.

      • Well, Yas, you can be sure that once they do actually get together, it will be only a matter of time before one of them gets past the thrill of their first encounter. Doubt, anxiety and mistrust will soon follow.

        So sorry you had to live with this chaos and turmoil.

  • Toto
    You need to put an end to this marriage. I went through the same exact thing with the emotional affair and Days. The marriage quickly ended after DDay #2, it was amazing how quickly she ghosted me when I kept pushing for answers after DDay #2, all the aspects of the story that didn’t add up. DDay #1 is horrific but DDay #2 is like a mental and emotional A-Bomb going off inside of you. After D-Day #1, I was an emotional mess, plotting how I could do the worlds best pick-me dance to win back the woman I loved, all while hearing everything wrong about me that left her with no other choice but to betray me. I vividly remember laying in bed, in tears from the sheer pain and heartbreak of DDay #1, she walked in the room, sat on the edge of the bed and reached for my hand. I asked her how I would ever be able to trust her again. She looked at me, held my hand so tightly and said “I see what this has done to you, how deeply I have hurt and crushed you. I see how I almost lost you and the kids. As a wife, even as a person, I could never do something like this to another human being again”. Almost a year later, I found another text and after 2 weeks of BS excuses and lies, she admitted that it never ended and she took the affair further underground. Even as she sat there, holding my hand and promising me love and commitment, she was still doing it.
    Unfortunately all they are trying to do is deflect and get you off their tail so they can immediately resume their affair and get back to their double life. I am a true believer that good people are capable of doing absolutely horrible and selfish things to the ones they love. That’s what I kept telling myself after DDay #1, in hindsight, I had to lie to myself to be able to move on with my marriage and spouse. If I really spent time thinking about what’s she’s done to me, the fact that she never actually apologized for her affair, the fact that she would threaten ending the relationship if I “couldn’t get over it and trust her again” was all just me lying to myself out of fear of losing her. I allowed her to force me into immediate forgiveness and pick-me dancing because she wanted to get back to her affair.
    I can tell you with full certainty, continue this marriage and there will be DDay #3 and #4 and endless DayD’s to come. If your husband really cared about your wellbeing, everything he risked and put on the line after DDay #1, it would have immediately ended then, there would not have been another DDay. To think anything otherwise is purely lying to yourself. I do not say that with judgement, I saw it with complete compassion for what you have endured because discovering the lies and betrayal is completely disorienting, especially DDay #2. Save yourself because mentally and emotionally, you may never recover or forgive yourself when DDay #3 inevitably happens.

    • Justin is 100% on point. This is similar to my own experience. Notice the blameshifting. It’s your fault for not trusting him. His actions do not reflect a true apology. Stick to the Chump Lady blog and read the book. You will find so many relatable stories. *hugs* to you Toto!

    • Yeah, my workaholic ex managed to carve out an enormous amount of time from all the work he was doing “for our future, eirene” and was able to spend whole afternoons doing things I’ll probably never know about (thank god). Later, when the truth came out, he accused me of not creating a cheerful home environment, so of course he avoided coming home. It was all my fault.

    • This whole seeing what they’ve done to us – seeing the pain they caused. REALLY…how dense are these cheaters? Is it really a surprise that your spouse will be destroyed when you betray them and wreck your family? They really live in lala land. Must be nice!

  • You know that remark about him being a workaholic. Flip that. He is avoiding you, his marriage responsibilities, his life. What comes across is that you are not his partner. He considers you a heavy chain.
    Attitude is everything. If you feel he is belittling you, and your feelings, tell him not to let the door hit him in the ass.

    • @Letgo, yup XH was always so busy with work, always had deadlines, always had to work late hours. Then when he’d come home at midnight (if he came home at all) he’d wonder why I was upset and say he hated coming home and would rather work himself to death.

      I look back on those days and know he was blameshifiting, and emotionally abusing me. He knew he was out, screwing around with OW and he made excuses and blamed me. My intuition knew he wasn’t working, thus why I was upset when he’d get home.

      Cheaters will blame us and say we are no fun, but don’t realize they have abandoned the marriage and what they are seeing is a wounded spouse. They are selfish liars.

      • I agree, except that I think they do realize they are seeing a wounded spouse, they just don’t care; as it serves their needs. When we no longer serve their needs, or they can’t fool us easy, they discard us.

        • Yep, my STBX (we are both women) saw her wounded spouse (me) and paid lots of lip service to caring about me (still does!), but couldn’t actually behave better. Caring, by itself, doesn’t give certain disordered types the tools they need to be emotionally healthy. Seeing my wounds, and being asked to make real amends, triggered a tsunami of shame in STBX, and she just couldn’t deal with it. I see it now for what it is, and even pity her, but of course I can’t stay in a relationship where my partner can’t treat me with real caring, regardless of the reason.

    • I’ve been a nurse for over forty years, and in that time, I’ve noticed that many men start working bunches and bunches of overtime when their marriages aren’t going well. They’re looking for ways to avoid the spouse. I, too worked a TON of overtime when my marriage wasn’t going well . . . I had to pay the bills when he kept spending the money in our joint accounts on affairs!

      Looking back, Mr. Sparkly Pants spent an inordinate amount of time “working overtime,” despite that all of this overtime was never reflected in our W-2s. And when the W-2s arrived, he told me that I was over-estimating the amount of overtime he worked, my memory was faulty and I just didn’t trust him.

      I’m so glad I’m free!

  • Toto… I think what always resonates for me when thinking about emotional affairs or fuckfests is that there is AGENCY. Your husband chose to hide things from you; he chose to make time (even being a very busy lawyer) to get involved emotionally (which takes more energy than just fucking someone, just saying)… and he didn’t want to get caught.

    Do these moral values line up with yours? Is this the model of behavior you want your son to grow up witnessing?

    I stayed in my abusive marriage for SIX years after the first d-day “for my son” and to keep the family intact. Mr. Sparkles blew it up anyway by finally leaving for one of the APs. Moral of the story… if they are looking outside the marriage to have their needs met, they will sooner or later leave the marriage for them if you don’t.

    It is scary (more for having to share custody with a fuckwit cheater)… but if you are always honest and age appropriate with what you tell your son, you will get through it together. My son was 8 when Mr. Sparkles left for the AP. He’s seen his Dad get dumped by the AP when she caught him cheating on her… he was introduced to the gym GF within DAYS of the AP breakup. He’s learned – on his own – that he doesn’t want to be like his Dad. He’s 14 now and doing great thanks to our open lines of communication, I remained the sane parent, he did have some therapy, and little by little he is distancing himself from his Dad.

    You’ll be ok… in fact, you’ll find in time… you’ll be better than ok! Don’t join the marriage police, welcome to Chump Nation where we RISE UP from the abuse and live authentic lives.

  • Oh boy, this sounds like me. I believed that it was just an emotional affair because OF COURSE my husband wouldn’t have a real affair.

    Ha, ha, ha.

    Yeah.

    I wish I hadn’t waited until there was “enough” evidence of a real affair. I wish I’d left when he started treating my like crap. I have no idea when he first started his affairs (plural), but I shouldn’t have to wait for my kids to find naked pictures of dad’s girlfriend to realize he was treating me in an unacceptable manner.

    • It’s funny – I think the term emotional affair was coined to placate and devalue the feelings of the betrayed spouse. It’s a term that is there specifically to down play the what is a major betrayal and most certainly a cruel act of hostility directed at the Chump. When a spouse has an emotional affair they have broken their vows period. Marriage vows do not only apply to sex. Whether you used the tried and true”for better or worse….” or you wrote your own you are pledging to love and cherish your partner. Have you ever even heard someone simply pledge sexual fidelity and nothing more – or even mention sexual fidelity directly in marriage vows? Of course not – that falls in to the love, honor, and cherish. Being true or faithful is not just about not jumping into bed with someone else, that interpretation is the most shallow possible. Being married is about being your partner’s person, about always having their back, about being a person who can be trusted to do what is in the best interest of the marriage and the family that you create. Once someone engages in an emotional affair all of that has been violated. In short, an emotional affair is a REAL affair. Just my two cents….

      • When I found out about my husband Emotional affair , I told him he broke our vows his answer to that was that he never like the wedding vows we said he thought they were stupid ,So in his head he was ok with it

      • Yep and PAs aside from paid sex workers, almost always begin with an emotional component. Very few women, even whores jump into bed without the foreplay of calls, texting and dinner.

        I think about all these men saying the romance went out of the marriage, well maybe if he put the romance in the spouse as they did the affair partner.

        Heck my ex used to have to schedule time with me, it was called dating. He would spend hours kissing and snuggling with me on a date. For no big pay off. (it was a different time) But, after a few years do they woo the wife, talk sexy to her all day? No, then they complain the romance died.

    • Same here. Though in my case there was never an emotional only affair, he jumped in any opportunity he had evidently.

      But, the only thing that I obsess over a little bit still now is that I wish I had left him when he started treating me like crap. It would have been two years earlier. I would have been 38 instead of 40, and I would have thrown his whole shit show along with him and his fuck buddy right out in the open. Instead of them having another two years to screw me over.

  • Why the fuck aren’t you over this?! Quit punishing me!” would not be a shit-owning sentiment. These would be the words of STBXH along with him flinging himself around like a very sad dramatic sausage.

    You have to decide. Is it okay with you? I said no. What do you think? You are already hedging, right? Or as we call it here, spackling. GET out Toto.

  • Physical or emotional, how do you know it was only emotional. You don’t know the truth, because cheaters think your not worth the truth.
    The story always changes.

  • My male relatives were blunt: “Men don’t have emotional affairs. They have “it’s nothing” crushes and they have physical affairs.”

    If he admits to an emotional affair, he wants you to be satisfied and stop searching before you find the physical affair, abortion, and long weekend vacation at a hotel on the coast when you thought he was at a conference.

  • My first husband was, to my knowledge, “only” guilty of an emotional affair when I asked for a divorce. He had become obsessed with his co-worker and was partying with her on weekends, spending hundreds every month giving her rides, and was constantly talking about her. I told him I wanted it to stop and he told me he had prayed about it and God had told him to keep seeing her, so I didn’t get any say in the matter.

    He tried to ask me for a divorce at 4.5 months pregnant with his child, then rushed off to see her. What he didn’t know was that I had told her about all of the bullshit he was putting me through a few days earlier. So she shot him down hard. He came crawling back that same night, begging me to tell her everything was OK between us.

    I later found out he cheated on me physically back in college, and he later cheated physically with someone else.

    People who have emotional affairs have physical affairs. My two cents.

  • Toto, I have been there: The multiple D-days finding evidence of my XH’s emotional affair; The sickening voice recordings of him saying “I love you,” to his howorker; and the fear of divorce because I have kids with this fuckwit.

    I’m now a year and a half out of that mess, and life is soooo much better! It’s time for you to start strategically planning for divorce by contacting a trusted family court lawyer.

  • Dear CL and CN,

    Coincidentally I’d been meaning to post something I saw in a Dear Annie (Oregon Live) column in my feed a few days ago regarding an emotional affair. The advice given by Annie” differed so radically from the feedback typically given here and I felt genuinely terrible for the person who posted the question. Get a load of this: https://www.oregonlive.com/advice/2020/08/dear-annie-should-wife-end-marriage-over-husbands-emotional-affair.html

    Ack, ugh, stench of Perel.

    • I know I’m reading it wrong but I read it as the betrayed gets to forgive herself (in this case it’s a she) or himself while the betrayer can go pound sand.

  • Your husband is a lawyer. He is no longer your friend. Please get thee to a shark lawyer and protect yourself now. He is fully capable of playing games to screw you out of what’s yours. Please leave after you have your ducks in a row donut now and do it quietly. It is not a big window. I lost my retirement to a man that claimed he loved me and wanted to reconcile.

  • My ex-husband was a study in serial limerence. Throughout our 35 year marriage there was always another woman whom he idealized and admired. In pre-cell phone days I was once left waiting in the hallway of a classroom building for over an hour past the time we’d agreed he would arrive to pick me up because he was “conducting a tour” of the Cornell herb garden for one of them; another time he left me in the T-Mobile store to wait for the salesman to finish setting up our new Iphones because he’d promised to have coffee with another, an ex-student who’d started up a Facebook page “Fan Club” for him, who was having Daddy issues that he’d been helping her with. Yet another was a ceramicist at our university whose master’s thesis he was editing, as a “professional favor to a colleague.” I heard how witty and well-read a junior professor at the communal lunch table was (but he could never find time to have lunch with me), I was told how guilty he felt that another didn’t use her air conditioning while we had ours on, with the clear implication that I was a lesser being, because I can’t tolerate heat.

    For decades I blamed myself for being irrationally jealous. My father was a controlling and abusive man who regularly accused my wholly innocent mother of “making eyes at” other men, so maybe, I told myself, I had learned my bad habit from him. I had male friends myself, and I knew how to keep our friendships within bounds (I never had to actually counter an attempt to take it further, but I was conscious of it as a requirement for being friends), so why shouldn’t my husband?

    It wasn’t until the last of these serial infatuations that I saw how his idealizing her was accompanied by his devaluation of me, because by this time he regularly compared us, out loud, or delighted in exhibiting to me his admiration of her. I spent my married life with him being devalued and implicitly found wanting, while simultaneously being blamed for not making him happy.

    How I wish I’d heard the phrase “emotional affairs are courtship” many years ago. That’s exactly what they are. And no one should be courting another person while married.

    • Adelante,
      Your story is heartbreaking.

      I think a lot of us can relate to this part:”I spent my married life with him being devalued and implicitly found wanting, while simultaneously being blamed for not making him happy.”

      It’s a crazymaking, no-win situation.

      For must (all?) of us, the devaluation creeps up slowly. It’s so insidious that we don’t even realize that we’re swimming in the shit stew of devaluation (and other offenses) until we are slapped with evidence of cheating. Then it’s like waking from a nightmare: “Omg. I’m swimming in shit. Didn’t even realize it.”

      • That is the most heartbreaking, you are being devaluated (sometimes for years) and you don’t even know it until it is too late. Then they blame you for “growing apart” Likely you wouldn’t have been abale to change them, but maybe you/I could have left at an earlier age.

        I am so glad I was only 40 when my life was detonated. I think it would have been so much worse at 50 or 60, in terms of recovery. But, I wish it had been about five years earlier.

        Who knows though, you just deal with life as it happens. It really pizzes me off that there are no do overs.

        • That first paragraph is exactly what happened to me. He pushed me away and then blamed me for not giving him enough attention.

          • Same here CR. At about 1.5 years before Dday, I had been noticing the way he was ignoring me, being gone a lot etc. I confronted him one night when he came home, and told him he seems to be putting me on a shelf and it was hurting me. He apologized and said my job is so stressful (he had a few months earlier gotten a promotion) and he assured me he would be better about it and that he would make it up to me.

            He did get a little better for a bit, then within a few months he was coming home screaming at me for stupid shit. I was petrified, and just tried to walk on egg shells. I prayed a lot. That was likely how I kept my sanity. What I didn’t know was he was being pushed by her for marriage, and he was being squeezed at work because she was his direct report and he was still trying to keep it secret. A few months later it imploded, right before Christmas in 89.

            To add to his situation, he had gone before the city counsel just before the holidays and petitioned for a raise for her. The city counsel was at that time not aware of their relationship, they did grant the raise. They were of course pizzed when they found out, they wanted him fired but he got busted and she got moved to another department. There was another police officer who had recently been promoted who was screwing around with a female police officer. He also got busted. I don’t know the whole story there. But, that police officer went back to his wife, as as far as I know they reconciled. The mayor was dancing and doing what he could to avoid a public relations disaster.

            Funny thing was (not funny Ha Ha) the same mayor a couple years later married the female police officer that the other police officer was screwing. He and his wife had divorced by then. Who knows what really happened.

            At first I was envious because the other PO had gone back to his wife and seemingly treated her well, but who knows. I am glad now that I got out of it, but of course not happy about the pain I endured.

            My point to say all this is in all this situation, I was never given any consideration; I was used for his purposes then discarded when it was convenient to him.

            By the time these situations get tense, we have already been devalued, so them using us is not bothering them at all, as they have already set the scene that we are to blame, so we deserve it.

            • Like Spinach@35 says: “Then it’s like waking from a nightmare: “Omg. I’m swimming in shit. Didn’t even realize it.”” I’m glad you’re out of the pool.

          • Same. It hurts to think back on the devaluing/discard stage. And mine, too, had the nerve to blame me for pulling away in the end. Wut? It’s all stupid-ass projection, blameshifting, and gaslighting.

            I recall that a few weeks before D-Day I said I wanted more intimacy. His cold, dead-eyed response, “I know you do.” Then he walked away.

            Only weeks later, on D-Day, he complained that I didn’t sleep close enough to him in bed. In my sleep (when I was unconscious!), I would apparently gravitate toward the edge of my side of the bed. My bad! Shoot me! (Also, the body knows!)

            What an a-hole!

      • @Spinach

        So true that the devaluation is insidious. I think as over time they learn what we’ll take and they learn how best to leverage our own qualities–like my willingness to second guess myself—to devalue us further and manipulate us to their advantage. It’s like with boundaries: they test them, and they see what we’ll tolerate, and over time they push that boundary a little farther.

        I’m so glad to be out of that nightmare, fully awake. My boundaries with both friends and family are iron-clad these days, as a result of and to make up for decades of chumpiness. I think they are often surprised at my new behavior, and it feels odd to me, too; sometimes I question whether I’ve become a hard person, but I tell myself I can loosen the boundaries up if and when I feel it’s warranted. But for now, I’m erring on the side of protecting myself and my hard-won, well-earned values.

        It took me too long to leave, but now that I am free, I’m making the most of the time I have left.

        • Congratulations, Adelante! I’m very happy you’re free. But like you, I also wonder if I’ve become a hard person and even wonder if I’ve become selfish. I’m having a difficult time being able to trust another man. I’m currently in a relationship with, what now seems to be, a wonderful man. Everyone tells me that he is. But even if he really is a sweet, responsible man with integrity, I don’t want to ever put myself in such a vulnerable position again. I see me preventing myself for allowing this relationship to go deeper. For that reason I believe I’m somewhat a hard person. Oh well. If this man truly wants to be in my future, then he’s going to have to be super patient. Too bad for him if he really is a man of integrity. He’s getting the bad end of the stick and he had nothing to do with the ‘shit show’. I know that in order to get into a wonderful relationship, you have to make yourself vulnerable. Force yourself to trust. But I think if this guy isn’t willing to wait me out of the still unresolved feelings, then if he leaves, so be it. I’d much rather be single than ever risk getting mindfucked again. Have peace.

          • Yeah, Amazaon. Your lack of trust makes sense to me.

            We walk away, but we can’t truly remove the emotional scarring caused by these entitled cheaters.

            I hope things do work out for you and that this guy is patient. You deserve to be treated well!

          • Amazon, I know that I am now insecurely attached. My therapist had me read a book on attachment theory and what I got out of it is, I will be evaluating whether or not my next partner can give me what I need. And what I need is someone who is going to understand that I’ve been badly scarred and therefore will attach insecurely.
            I will speak freely about any anxieties I have. He will have to want to reassure me. If that’s too much trouble, then he’s not the right man for me. My vulnerability is part of who I am now. I won’t hide it. If there’s another man he’s going to have to be ready for it. And I know that I’m worth it. I will not be fucked over again by somebody who wants to play games with me. And I will listen to my instincts and my gut.
            And kudos to you for being in the game 👏

        • Adelante,
          I’m happy for you! And kudos to you for imposing boundaries!

          “I’m erring on the side of protecting myself and my hard-won, well-earned values.”👏👍💪

          You’re an inspiration!

          Spinach

    • That is heartbreaking and a really horrible thing to do to a good person. However, the air con comment is worthy of a Chump Lady Friday challenge. It is a clear indication of how nothing you could do would be right. It’s horrible when you aren’t like that trying to understand what you are doing wrong in these people’s eyes.

      Glad we’re out, honestly. That stuff messes with your mind.

  • Emotional affair was all I could ever prove with my ex.

    I suspect more because he was fucking her before I met him and he kept her around secretly our entire relationship. He had her call him at work and in all of the communication I saw in FB messaging he never ONCE mentioned me. Ever. I find it unlikely he would’ve continued without anything physical. He liked having a backup.

    When confronted he lied, bullshitted, changed his story based on what he realized i already knew, threw up roadblocks, and even threatened ME with divorce (which he didn’t really want, he just wanted to bully me into rug sweeping).

    So was he actually fucking her? I think so…..probably not regularly as she lives out of town but at this poimt I don’t care. I couldn’t trust him and when I looked at him all I saw was a pathetic old liar with a shitty touper.

    Nothing to work with in a marriage.

  • When your spouse has an emotional, you should absolutely forgive them, trust them and continue to love them. Waste another 10, 15 or 20 years of your life. Teach your kids who need a father/mother to be have the same way. NOT! See how crazy it sounds in reverse. Anyone in this situation run, your house has already burnt down, the marriage is already over. You had no say, in any of it, but it’s done.

  • Because my state still has “fault” divorce and divorce settlements are affected by degree of infidelity and particularly any related “dissipation of marital assets,” it was very valuable to hire a PI, gather evidence and get the full dirt.

    Even in no fault states, proving that marital assets were blown on active affairs can sometimes impact settlements.

    It can also sometimes help in a potential custody battle or simply to temper cheaters’ typical impulses to commit damaging character assassination against their betrayed exes. As CL and CN have mentioned in the past, often just the threat of having shmoopies deposed under oath is enough to get cheaters to settle with less fuss.

    In my case it did cut through the confusion to be certain and get solid proof. But I agree that injured trust alone– particularly when the cheater is still blameshifting– is sufficient reason to bail.

  • Love Chump Lady! I, like others, am divorced due to an “emotional affair.” I wondered for a while if I was really cheated on or not. (For years and years he blamed our lack of sex on his supposed porn addiction and my lack of porn-starness. I believed it all and accepted this crappy marriage as good enough). I also will always wonder if it was only emotional or not. When he was caught he refused to end things with her. He was certainly courting her as CL describes above. Flowers and gifts were put on our credit card. Late night phone calls and who knows what else. She lived in another country so almost impossible for him to have been physical with her. When I found out I of course asked how many others. He was “unsure” probably only 4 or 5 other women through out our 9 year marriage. I never realized you could be a serial emotional cheater. He is now married to the last emotional affair. I have no idea if he slept with any of the previous woman. The one he is married to is 17 years younger than him. No idea why she married him!

    • You were cheated on, physical or not. Time energy and money that should have gone to you went to others.

      • It took a cousin of mine to tell me that ‘the time he spent with her was time he stole from you’ to make me realize that he was cheating for years. Prior to that, I had a hard time understanding just exactly what cheating was. And yep, he was cheating on me just by giving his attention to someone else.

        • When they are feeding emotionally and flirtatiously somewhere else, it just simply changes the way they see you and value you – which in turn makes you different towards them- it’s a loop. As CL says – it destabilizes your marriage-. It’s a tough topic, so many have friends of their desired gender ….I’ve never ever believed in it – unless it’s SUPER casual….a slippery slope.
          I personally only want to spend precious free time with people who interest me. So if you’re spending time with someone who interests you, in the sex your attracted to ….doesn’t seem like brain surgery to me, that it’s very risky business.

          • Well stated.

            And there are a lot of men and women out there who know how to radar in on that, and use it to help in the destabilization of the marriage for their own gain. I would submit, mostly women.

            I mean it is how women relate to men when seeking a partner. We ask them questions we draw them out. Nothing wrong with that unless it is someone else’s husband being targeted. I fully get the husband/wife is the one who made the commitment, doesn’t excuse the actions of the adultery co conspirators.

          • I also didn’t want to seem too controlling of STBX’s friendships. It’s complicated in our case, since we’re both women, and most of our friends are women. But I think a good rule of thumb for all relationships, whether heterosexual or otherwise, is that we shouldn’t have emotionally intense friendships with people to whom we could be sexually/romantically attracted (unless we have very explicitly negotiated non-monogamy with our partners). I held that standard; my STBX very definitely did not. I now characterize at least one close friendship she had between D-Days #1 and 2 as an emotional affair, and in general she engaged in a lot of ”affair-lite” behavior. I get that crushes can be harmless, but if your partner is crushing on tons of people most of the time, there’s some degree of disorder involved. In the future, of course, I will be able to communicate about these things much more clearly if I ever choose to date again.

            • LezChump, you don’t need to communicate more clearly about this kind of stuff. You need to find a trustworthy, mature person to be with.

              When you agree to monogamy w/a person who cares more about than about getting extra ego kibbles, this kind of communication is unnecessary. When you communicate this type of thing to a narc, it’s futile.

              It’s the picker we need to fix.

              • Yes, we don’t want to seem controlling, jealous or insecure. But I would imagine in a good relationship your partner wouldn’t want you feeling that way either.

              • Well said Karen
                ‘You need to find a trustworthy, mature person to be with’
                It’s really simple Simon stuff for nonfucwits

    • Sap – Some cheaters just want the adulation of someone who doesn’t know them very well. Narcissists need this input because they lack the ability to feel good about themselves without other people telling them how wonderful they are. They are emotional black holes that constantly need filling but that black hole is bottomless.

    • “…my lack of porn-starness”

      Oh FFS! What was his porn-starness like?

      This makes my blood boil. They watch porn and expect their spouses to be these impossibly young, dolled up, pretend-to-enjoy-anything women. It makes me sick.

      And, to be honest, I actually enjoyed sex with that man. But still. In the end, he said he wanted this other woman because (among other things) he didn’t need porn with her. Well, no shit, dude! She IS porn. You’ve been sleeping with me for 37 years. She’s new, like she just popped out of the computer screen and onto your dick. No wonder you no longer needed porn. Plus she fluffs you in every way–kibbles up the wahoo. Geezus.

      Also, can I just say, his remark that he was tired of needing porn couldn’t be more hurtful. There are so many insults wrapped up in that comment.

      (He’s been living with the OW for months now without the dick-raising thrill of sneaking around. I’d bet money that he’s back to his beloved porn habit. Of course, there’s the viagra, too 🤮. )

      • Anybody who wants someone who looks like a porn-star automatically goes on my suspected porn/sex addict list.

        Addicts are not free for relationships except for with whatever it is to which they are addicted.

    • That sounds similar to my story, which just happened this year. The pandemic blocked them from meeting. I’m at a crossroads and don’t know what to do yet.

      • Hi soysauce – Take it from someone who tried to fix it for 20 years they are not going to change. Emotional affairs are real affairs and are mentally abusive. If you can cut your losses and leave I would strongly suggest doing just that. Don’t waste your love, life and time on someone who does not treat you with love, loyalty and kindness they will never appreciate it and they will never, ever show you the same.

      • SoySauceIsFood Now is a great time for you to be reading up on & educating yourself on what cheaters do & what is likely a normal & healthy response for you (the confusion in particular).
        I really like the book ‘Cheating In A Nutshell’ by Wayne & Tamara Mitchell, I’m sure others have good suggestions for you including Chump Lady’s book.

  • If someone cuts me in half intentionally, it doesn’t matter how big the knife is.

    He lied three years in about being attracted to a female “study partner” from a class at junior college. We were living together. Do I leave a three year serious relationship because of SUSPICION? I stayed. For 24 more years. I now believe he was full-on effing around and if I knew then what I’ve learned here, I would have left. I’m ever so glad I have my beautiful precious daughter but wish I could have left him then and still have had her…..

  • For all going through a similar experience, I would agree that you should trust your gut.

    I am skeptical about so-called emotional affairs. I think they are truly physical affairs that have yet to be exposed.

    I fear that these types move underground and get off (quite literally) on the fun of secret meetings (pay cash for a hotel room and use a different name), different email accounts, different phone numbers etc…

    His invalidation of your emotions is worrying and reason alone to dump him. I’d probably hire a PI just to get the evidence. But, as CL indicates, there’s really already ample evidence.

    Cheaters suck.

    • I don’t think they always are physical, my ex’ first affair really was EA, but they are a harbinger of what’s to come. If they have an emotional affair they will eventually have a physical affair with that one or another one sooner or later. The EA is where the desire to have an affair starts. It just takes some longer than others to talk themselves into taking it to the next level.

        • A lot of LDAs (long distance affairs) especially ‘online first’ affairs start out as emotional.
          But if allowed to proceed they can become sexual first virtually (sexting, web cams, phone sex, etc) & then in person.
          It depends on the opportunities & the people involved.

          To me it’s all cheating.

  • I got suckered into the false idea (false hope, on hindsight) that an EA is somehow less “serious” than a PA, and was even foolish enough upon d-day to feel sure he’d choose me, his wife of 5 years, than a howorker he’d known for 5 months. That’s just a temporary infatuation, right?

    Dear reader, I was so wrong.

    Whether EA or PA, the cheater still makes the same kinds of decisions and choices that disrespects, deceives, betrays and humiliates their spouse. It really doesn’t make much difference that they haven’t screwed each other, they’ve already screwed YOU over. And over. And over.

    Don’t wait for the other shoe to drop. You’ll find it’s more like a nuclear bomb.

  • Can a woman and a man be friends, without sex? I remember this argument from the movie “When Harry met Sally.” I want to believe it is possible, because I am a woman and have men I consider to be friends, without sex. I cannot speak to their motivation.

    When I was young I was put into many work related situations where I was the only, or one of a few, women in a male dominated environment. I did not desire any of these men. I wanted a working relationship that was mutually respectful so that we could get work done. Again, I cannot speak to their motivation, but many asked me for tips about presents for their wife or girlfriend, or discussed problems with their children. Sometimes we talked about politics, or something we had read or seen on the news, during a lunch break. I enjoyed the conversations, I was not seeking sex. Were the men having an emotional affair? Not by my standards. No love words, no dates, no pictures, no exchanges of affection. I have the same type of relationships now with musical friends. We share music, and make jokes at each other’s expense. No sex. Am I the only woman in the world who can be friendly with a man, and not have sex? I don’t know, but I hope not. Sometimes men approached me in an inappropriate manner — I shut them down. It is possible. I did observe workplace affairs. I did not feel compelled to join in, or approve. I believe these things always end badly, and usually the woman has to leave, but sometimes both go.

    I understand another woman’s concern when she hears her husband has made a new female friend. Sometimes the wives come to listen to the music and check it out. That is fine with me. I think once they see how it is, if they love music they will stay. If they love time away from their spouse doing something else they love to do, they won’t come back. I am always happy to see their husband go home to them. I am happy to go home to my house without having to put up with a jealous husband, or someone who wants sex to make sure I wasn’t having it elsewhere while I was gone. I really don’t want to have “wifely duty” sex ever again. I would rather live without than have it without mutual, respectful desire. This is the lesson I learned from the marriage wars, and the peace I live with now. I am sorry if other’s don’t believe this exists, but I doubt I am a unicorn.

    I suppose I was easy to cheat on because I believed my spouse could have a female friend without sex. I believe this was why I had to join the marriage police and find the evidence of infidelity. But, once I found it, I believed it. I found that even though I could be a friend, my spouse was always looking for sex. I found other women did not respect marriage as a boundary. I still do not believe all men or all women are this way. Cheating is abuse, and cheaters feel entitled to cheat. This is a character disorder, and I have not met a cheater who finds a cure for this sense of entitlement. Maybe there is a unicorn running around out there with true remorse, but I do not know one. I believe there is no cure because that has been my experience, but I no longer am willing to risk my heart or do the pick me dance, or try to believe any of the excuses, because I have decided to take care of myself. I may be hard hearted now, but someone has to show me they are trustworthy by their actions before I will believe they are. This goes for friends, so far, but if I am ever to have a future love, I must be convinced. I do not want to hear, “I was a bad boy, but now I am cured.” That is just too much for me to believe, anymore.

    • As a female engineer I worked in male dominated environments for years (now I am in a female dominated office, it’s weird). I too had male friends, but they were always group friends. In other words, I was never alone with any of them. In some cases, they might be invited with their families to our house for a party or some such. Other times we would go out as a group for lunch, etc. I also dressed very carefully, trying to hit the right balance of pleasant to look at without being sexually attractive (ironically, ex complained that my work dress code wasn’t attractive to him so another reason to stray). Most of the time, this all worked well. Occasionally someone would try to flirt anyway. I usually just played dumb and pretended not to notice or to interpret his actions in a completely innocent way. In my case, that worked. Men and women can be platonic friends, but it does need to be carefully managed. Always include the wife in the friendship whenever possible (but not in a sneaky pull one over on her because we are having an affair behind her back kind of way). Avoid situations where physical attraction could occur. Don’t let your mind go there and don’t let his.

      • I was alone sometimes, and in groups sometimes. I dressed for work, not for a date, or playtime. I think it was because I did not put out vibes or act the least bit interested. When I go to play music I’m usually in a t shirt or sweater and jeans. Also, not the least bit interested. I am more affectionate (hugs, dinner, birthday cards) with my female friends, and I am not gay. Just don’t have to worry about the wrong impression. If I ever felt the least bit off, I made it clear I was not interested. I have heard co-workers of both sexes say something about a fight with a spouse, or trouble at home, but again, it was not my business. Some times I would make a joke and say “what did you do this time?” if I had that kind of friendship. Male or female, I try to treat others as I would like to be treated, until they give me a reason not to. Sometimes people just need a sounding board. Some people try to manipulate others. I did not know many wives, or husbands, but sometimes I did. I like your last sentence — don’t let your mind go there, and don’t let his. It is a matter of not putting yourself in a bad position.

    • If they’re spending time alone together and are talking about their relationship issues, that’s an inappropriate conversation and a boundary violation. It’s a breach of trust and a betrayal. A commenter here recently said that the moment the spouse says something negative about their spouse, it’s an invitation to an affair. I agree.

      • “A commenter here recently said that the moment the spouse says something negative about their spouse, it’s an invitation to an affair. ”

        I remember on Dday asking my H if he said anything to her about me. He said “what was I supposed to tell her, “oh my wife is great, that is why I am here with you” I just remembered that conversation. God he was evil. Still likely is. Luckily I have not seen him for years.

        I know he was evil enough to detonate his relationship with our son about two years ago, over his own actions and lies. (nothing to do with me)

        • Oh wow the moment you hear someone say something that sounds like ex-blaming (& taking zero personal responsibility), RUN.

          I don’t care what their relationship status is, this is not someone you want to spend ANY time with. Not even at work.

      • Well, I believe I sometimes had some anger issues about my spouse’s behavior that a few co-worker’s may have heard, both male and female. But it was not an invitation to an affair.

        I can see how some people may interpret things that way, or some may look for an opportunity, but again, I did not seek any attention. I was not available. Even when I broke off, and eventually divorced, I was not available for some time. After the 2nd divorce, I have not become available yet.

        Cheaters look for reasons and opportunities to cheat. Maybe, because of my chump nature, I do not think about cheating. Maybe, cheaters can tell????

      • Yep. I was taught in Sunday school you honored your spouse and don’t speak ill of them. My ex-h wasn’t perfect and I’m sure I said a few stories to friends but nothing that would ever leave the impression that I didn’t love him or that he was mistreating me. I was shocked to learn after D-day that my husband had trashed talked me at his friends wedding a year earlier. I left that wedding reception in tears because he was acting a drunk fool. So then he ran his mouth about our marital problems at a wedding reception. 🤦‍♀️ Ironically, today would have been our 14th wedding anniversary. 1st anniversary being fuckwit free!

    • Can a man and woman be just friends? Yes. I work in a male dominated field and have many male friends. I meet with them alone for coffee or lunch. I’ve also taken business trips with male coworkers.

      But…

      1. You should only communicate during appropriate hours (like 9am – 7pm). No daily long phone calls.
      2. No romantic feelings or flirting.
      3. The relationship should be fully transparent to any spouses. The spouses should know how much you interact. You should not lie or hide anything about your friend from your spouse.
      4. You shouldn’t be telling the friend all about your day instead of telling that information to your spouse. The friend should be in addition to your spouse, not replacing things you should be doing with your spouse instead.
      5. You should make an effort to befriend your friend’s spouse or have your spouse meet your friend.
      6. No talking about sex.
      7. I’m okay with hearing complaints about a spouse, but I’m supportive of the marriage and offer advice on how to work through the issues. If a man said his marriage was over, I’d nag him about filing for divorce and doing everything honestly.
      8. No meeting at or entering their hotel room on business trips. I prefer to not share hotel room numbers at all.
      9. No getting drunk alone together. Limit your alcohol consumption.
      10. If I send a guy friend a joke or meme, I like to include his spouse on the text thread.
      11. Don’t sit next to each other on a long business trip airplane ride.
      12. I won’t do anything that would upset me if I was in the other spouse’s shoe.
      13. The friend can’t be an ex.
      14. No or very minimal physical touching. No massages.
      15. You are willing to walk away and hopefully report it to the spouse if your friend crosses a line.

      Those are the boundaries I would want my spouse to have with an opposite sex friend too. Stbx thought those boundaries were ridiculous and controlling. He accused me of being abusive and claimed I was alienating him from having friends. I did not know about gaslighting at the time, so my head felt like it was exploding. I thought I was always very supportive of his female friendships. He met with women alone for meetings and meals constantly for work. I just had an issue with the daily 1+ hour calls and text messages in the middle of the night.

      • Seems like a reasonable list to me. I did sometimes talk at different hours, before or after work, about some things going on at work, but I never tried to hide anything from a co-worker’s spouse.

        I never thought about it enough to make a list. My ex’s were sneaky, they knew they had to sneak around to cheat, that I would not be ok with any BS.

        I also found there was no “type” for my ex’s. They could be short, or tall, any color hair, any size, any marital status. I actually was introduced to a few of them, with some type of work connection. I suppose that was great fun for them. All of them were ready, willing and able to cheat. So they did. Maybe they do have a “spidey sense” and recognize fellow cheaters?

      • Of course a man and woman can be platonic friends. I have been in the workforce since I was 16 – I am now 57. I have had plenty of male work friends both in the engineering position (very male dominated) I had in the 80’s through the early 2000’s and in the current education (female dominated) position that have been in for the last 14 years. I think sometimes it is hard for us Chumps to wrap our heads around this concept because of all of the mindfuckery we have been subjected to.

    • Portia – as I noted above, I have a different perspective on your question about whether (heterosexually married) men and women can ever be friends, since my STBX and I are both women. My solution is that (unless we have negotiated non-monogamy ahead of time), it’s never okay for one spouse to have emotionally intense friendships with people to whom they could be romantically/sexually attracted. I think most (non-disordered) people know intuitively where that line is.

  • Toto – head the warning. Your husband is not committed to you. It’s just a matter of time until he does have a physical affair. That bug is now in his ear and it won’t let him alone until he acts on it. In the meantime, he will pour all of his anger, frustration, and resentment out onto you. He can’t act until his marriage is so bad he has an excuse to act so he has to make the marriage bad.

    My ex had an emotional affair about eight years before his first physical affair. In that case, she was the initiator but it opened Pandora’s box. I do not believe they ever had sex, but they did kiss at least once, it took away lots of time and energy from the family, and I believe it would eventually have led to sex if I hadn’t finally developed a backbone and demanded that he give that attention back to me and the family instead. At the time I thought it was a warning that I needed to up my game and be a better wife. After all, he wouldn’t even consider straying if I was meeting all of his needs right? I spent the next eight years pick me dancing. He didn’t even notice. He still insists that he strayed because I didn’t care about him. He just kept getting angrier and angrier and more and more resentful of me, the kids, and life in general. I never really felt completely loved, cherished or safe in the marriage again. I now know that he made a pass at a family friend about four years after the emotional affair. She shut that down, left, and he never heard from him again (kudos to her). Four years after that, he found a willing partner who didn’t spurn his advances. When she finally dumped him because she realized that fucking someone else’s husband was a bad idea, he found another who convinced him that tearing his family apart for strange pussy was the right thing to do. I was right. That emotional affair was a warning, but I misinterpreted it. It wasn’t a warning that I needed to up my game, it was a warning that he wasn’t a committed husband and father. As soon as he let his mind wander down a path that even contemplated adultery, our relationship was never going to be the same again. He failed to cherish me and the kids and be grateful for what he had.

    • I totally agree with this.
      My fuckwit was always testing with the nurses, the other midlevels that were single
      When he planned a party it was inviting 20 Coworkers to our home , which turned out being 20 nurses to flirt with
      I agree that they start with the flirting and emotionality of it, but go quickly down that road given the opportunity
      That’s especially true if the target is married, something satisfying about “Snaring their mate”
      My fuckwit did it in his first marriage and replayed it in our marriage, wish I knew that stuff before I committed to that.
      He graduated into f##king a coworker whose husband worked out of town
      After we split, his first wife and I compared notes
      Gross. Always looking for attention, like Being stuck in a 8th grade.
      Not husband material. Not the way I want to live.Not acceptable to me.
      Xo

  • Toto… please provide an update.

    When you stated: “ I have a young son and don’t want to initiate a divorce because I “couldn’t forgive a mistake” or was too “punishing.” I believe that is misdirected focus. Who cares what the cheater says?! They will do and say anything to control and manipulate you for their own gain. Fuck him.

    Leave FOR your son’s benefit. Show your son that lying is wrong and has consequences. Model self respect and care. Retire as a spy-marriage policewoman. Those jobs rob your soul… ask me how I know!

    I hope you kicked that asshole to the curb, went no contact, are building a wonderful cheater-free life.

  • Oh Toto. My heart goes out to you.

    You have to take a really hard look at what your husband has put into the marriage in the last two years and not accept single actions as platitudes.

    1. Has he taken full responsibility for the emotional affair, without attempting to minimize what he did?
    2. Has he apologized in a specific way for the things he has said and done?
    3. Has he been attending regular individual counselling to address his issues that have informed his character?
    4. Has he been taking an active role in developing better coping strategies in his own life to make better decisions?
    5. Has he been taking an active role in and been an initiator in improving your marriage? Showing you that he treasures you, values your opinion and all that you do, taken steps of his own accord?
    6. Is he demonstrating a commitment to family, thereby demonstrating that you share the same values about the importance of prioritizing family?
    7. Has he owned up to what he’s done with others close to him – close family and friends? It takes a village of support to truly change undesirable behaviours.
    8. Has he been an active participant in marriage counselling? Independently read articles or listened to podcasts about relationship-building and applied what he’s learned?

    Two years is not enough time to make everything great again. However, two years has been enough time for a “former” cheater to convince his spouse that he’s the real deal to a degree that you can feel better and hopeful about your situation.

    You don’t sound better. You don’t sound hopeful. You say that he continues to be busy with work.

    Yep, I think you know the answers to your own questions.

  • Yep, so true. That was asshats line when I discovered 2000 text messages to tramp-we aren’t doing anything. One week post DDay-my heart is somewhere else. Twuwuv. EA is gaslighting. Hugs to newbies!

      • What an asshole. That statement just shows he has no heart, an empty black hole is all he has. I got “I’m drawn to her”. Fuckwits.

  • My STBX confessed to a one year emotional affair with his howorker, who he’d previously invited over for dinner to meet me and to stay overnight in our home. This was on the day I left my well-paid corporate job to do fertility treatment at his suggestion. After several months of “torn between two lovers” mooning from him, I gave him an ultimatum. He promised never to contact her again.

    Fast forward 13 years later and I find out that they had in fact never stopped contact and had been having an affair for 12 years, starting a couple of weeks after my second failed fertility treatment. Thousands of pounds spent on trips away, normally to places we’d been to together. For the last seven years, he had been pretending to her that he’d left me and that his apartment was too scuzzy for her to visit, his parents wanted nothing to do with her as the OW, etc etc. Neither of them were on social media so I was none the wiser. Oh, and it turned out that the mysterious blockage that appeared in my Fallopian tubes and ended my hopes of having a family was likely caused by his contraceptive sloppiness.

    We’d just taken out a ten-year fixed mortgage with a hefty redemption fee so he had no intention of leaving. He gave me her number and let me phone her to tell her he was still married – just so cowardly. Nevertheless, after I kicked him out she took him back, though he has attempted a couple of hoovers and looks fat and miserable. Apparently I was always the “main” person and he “never saw himself ending up with her”. Looks like he went out for a burger and got stuck with her.

    He spent years working abroad which made it easy to hide what he was up to with weekend work emergencies, etc. He had ample opportunity to have as many hook ups as he wanted and I suspect I only know the tip of the iceberg. How common is it for a cheaters to just have one long-term AP when there’s the opportunity for as many as they want? Oh, and for the last ten years he’d been telling me he was impotent because I’d “put him under pressure” to have children.

    Once someone starts lying to you, they seem to find it pretty easy to continue for as long as they can get away with it. Whenever I found out about his other nasty habits (including a penchant for gimp porn and sex cams) he just got better at hiding it and of course, it was All My Fault in any case.
    Don’t accept disrespect – it only gets worse.

    • Please document the money he spent on vacations with her and request to be reimbursed it in the divorce settlement. My state considers money spent on affair partners as misuse of marital funds.

      • I managed to get hold of all the booking confirmations etc and put it in a beautiful chumpy cheatsheet spreadsheet but lawyer said it didn’t count for anything – settlement based on current and future earnings and length of the marriage (15 years). I filed under adultery but in terms of the finances, it feels like it’s no fault. Adds insult to injury.

  • What is the line between a opposite sex friendship and an EA? Any mention of love of course. The fact that they keep it secret tells you a lot. I have male friends but I don’t keep that a secret from my partner.

    Is the husband in this case willing to talk over her feelings, and does he show remorse ? This would be key to any decision. Or is she avoiding confronting him about her hurt?

    If it’s been 2 years and she can’t move past it then she has her answer.

    • I think the bright line test is something along the lines of if whatever the 2 people are doing they wouldn’t want published on the front page of the local newspaper (or company newsletter), then you’re in emotional affair territory.

    • I don’t think EA even needs to involve mutual talk of love. As I wrote above, I’m a woman who was married to a woman, and most of our friends are women – so conventional wisdom did not help my boundary-less STBX to figure out what was appropriate. I now believe the line should be, that unless we have explicitly negotiated non-monogamy with our partners, it’s not okay to have any emotionally intense friendships with people to whom we could be romantically or sexually attracted. In between my STBX’s physical affairs 1 and 2, she developed a serious crush on her best friend that I now would identify as an emotional affair. Even though they did not exchange romantic or sexual sentiments, STBX still compared me unfavorably with her friend, fantasized about her, and later confirmed that she had been in the cusp of propositioning her for several years. (The only thing that stopped her was not wanting to blow up both our families.) STBX also knew that BFF might be interested in a fling, since they had once shared a kiss that I knew about, but STBX has assured me that it was a single drunken mistake. Yeah right. So anyway, if we ever feel like our partners are lavishing too much attention on someone to whom they could be attracted – even if the sentiment is not returned! – that’s a serious problem worthy of four-alarm attention, and even possibly divorce (esp. if there have been other boundary violations).

  • XH’s first affair was emotional. It broke me, we did counseling and all the usual steps but I never saw him in the same light and our marriage was never the same. About a year and a half later, he had a physical affair w/ a new OW.

    I wasn’t a believer in emotional affairs ending marriages until now. I will never forgive any type of affair ever again. They are one in the same to me now and if someone cheats, they are a cheater.

    That’s just where I stand.

  • Emotional vs Physical . . . Those words are just modifiers to the word AFFAIR. Your husband had an affair. It doesn’t matter whether they were having sex, drooling sweet nothings into each other’s ears, or playing tiddlywinks. He chose to spend what little free time he had chatting up another woman rather than focusing on you and your son. Your husband not only cheated on you but also cheated on your child. His priorities are fucked and he’s a self-centered Douche.

    • Agree Uneffingbelievable. He LIKED it at your expense -the attention, the turn on, the endorphins. He knew it was a betrayal, it was a secret. It was ongoing. In my case I felt like he urinated all over me and she held his #@*^[¥£ while he did it.
      So hard to face the truth.

  • Very heartbreaking….triggering. I think many of us don’t want enough evidence to divorce them. That doesn’t feel like a ‘win’ when you are about to lose your life as you knew it.
    I think it’s more of a sad slog to reality. Your partner set you aside and did the intimacy dance with someone else. It’s an utter betrayal.
    Once they break the relationship bubble, your safety zone is poked with endless holes.
    They say for many women at least – the sex becomes secondary in the betrayal- the damage is already done with the sharing of emotional fluids at the spouses expense. That’s what WE are there for.
    In my case, as CL once said, the Echeating was just foreplay for the grand finale, leading to discard.
    Total devaluation of me and our marriage.

  • Keep a journal, best advice I ever got. So releasing at the time, you organize your thoughts. But after it’s all over, lawyers, court, divorce, loss of family and friends you can reread and begin to understand. Get to know yourself, feel everything. Invaluable lessons to learn and relearn. Like any book, it depends on where you are in life when you read it. It might be just a reminder or it might hit you where you live.

  • I needed this today. My husband of 23 years has had emotional affairs that I have known about four times. And I do believe that he went underground. He had a email address that I’ve never been able to hack into and believe me it has taken a lot of restraint to stop doing that kind of thing. I refuse to be the marriage police anymore.

    I filed for divorce in February of this year. I just realized that I had no more feelings for him. Everything had been destroyed. Even all of our sexuality, which he called our deadbed, had been caused because of the repeated affairs online and the texting of women who offer their pornographic images for sale on Reddit. It made it so that I could not have any kind of sexual response to him. Everything was mercy sex because I couldn’t get anything up.

    Strangely enough, I found that leaving him I felt guilty that maybe I hadn’t given him an opportunity to get right with Jesus or whatever. So when he approached me last week and said he wanted to get back together I told him that I couldn’t fix him. He said he didn’t need fixing. That was all I needed really. Just the fact that he could not see that he had a problem and that 78 pages of screenshots of him texting to other women was not an issue.

    I’m sorry this is so long. I feel like I’m vomiting out all of my emotional hurt right now. it hurt really bad when I left him the first time but it hurt really bad when I had to say no to him last Wednesday.

    I can’t change him. I have learned through Al-Anon that I can’t change anybody. The serenity prayer says God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. I used to look at that prayer as a bullet list: 1. Get some serenity. 2. Get some courage. 3. Get some wisdom.

    Now I see it is what it was, a plea for help because I have nothing. I am absolutely in control of nothing other than myself. I choose to let him go do whatever the hell he wants to do. I don’t even care anymore. I don’t care how beautiful she is I don’t care how much better she makes cookies than me. If she’s f****** him that’s fine because honestly I don’t want to. It’s too much.. I’ve just had enough. he does not deserve to be in my life and he does not deserve to have the good that I could give him whether he sunk it in someone else’s vagina or not I don’t care.

    • ” he does not deserve to be in my life and he does not deserve to have the good that I could give him whether he sunk it in someone else’s vagina or not I don’t care.”

      Yes! Hugs.

  • I strongly believe that the majority of ’emotional affairs’ are physical affairs that the cheater will not admit to.

    After confronting with the phone logs, I was told that they were ‘just friends’. He had sent a topless erection photo to her as ‘just friends’. He had a shirt sprayed with her perfume from being ‘just friends’.

    Like a chump, I printed out an article about emotional affairs and read it crying in marriage counseling. He denied an emotional affair at first but then said that maybe what he did could be considered that. He agreed to stop talking to his ‘friend’. I thought it might just have been emotional because I didn’t see how they could have spent time together since we had a newborn and he was home most of the time.

    When I got his credit card statements through Discovery, I saw that he had booked a vacation with her right after my tearful article reading (he paid for her flight and rental car so her name was actually listed on the statement). He had told me that trip was a business trip. I got his work calendar which proved he made up another out-of-town business trip to her city. Gas card charges showed that he had visited her city on days that I thought he was at work (I had been confused why he needed to go to the office so often during his paternity leave). He drove 6-7 hours in a workday to be able to be with her.

    A cheater has no incentive to admit to physically cheating. It can only hurt them, so of course they will try to claim it was only emotional.

    Before you ever accept that an affair wasn’t physical, get a copy of all bank statements, cc statements, paychecks, phone logs, phone location history, list of installed apps, toll booth history, airline reward activity, hotel itemized receipts, etc. But even then, it may be hard to catch a smart cheater who knows how to cover their tracks. If my cheater’s mistress wasn’t in a different city, he could have hid an affair from me for years if they only hooked up during work hours and used an app or burner phone to communicate.

  • Okay I am coming at this from the perspective of an *almost* schmoopie so I know I am not going to win any popularity contests with the betrayed, either those who have a formal contract (aka a marriage or a civil partnership) or those who have otherwise agreed to commingle their lives (anything from living together to just plain agreeing to be in a monogamous relationship)

    And I am also a lawyer (though my area of expertise is not divorce or family law).

    I’m not asking for pats on the back here, just for people to retain some open-ness to what I’m going to say.

    Toto is married to an ADDICT with a socially acceptable (if not socially mandated) addiction: work.
    Nobody will ever go to a 12 step program for this, there’s never going to be an Al-Anon-like support organization for the spouses & children of people whose #1 priority is always going to be their career, their paycheck, their promotions, their prestige, their status, their power, whatever it is that gives them the dopamine rush that always has to be topped & therefore will push everything & everyone else under the bus to feed the beast.

    Most non-lawyers don’t realize that many many professionals like lawyers (& doctors) are people prone to at a minimum workaholism. For lawyers, the ‘work long hard hours’ ethos is quite literal, they judge themselves & peers by billable hours.

    Many firms have spoken or unspoken agreements as to yearly minimum billable hour requirements, not uncommon for associates (brand new lawyers) is a BARE MINIMUM of 2000 hours billed per year & frankly I knew of firms who expected more like 2500-3000 hours per year of their baby & toddler lawyers. Partners have to bill higher hours as well (though because of their experience they do so at higher hourly rates than associates).

    If you fail to meet the numbers you could be O-U-T out of a job. Or you might not progress through the promotions & raises. Which is a major reason why you still don’t see a lot of women partners in the biggest & most powerful firms & a major issue for women attorneys & their career advancement is most don’t have stay at home or otherwise more available spouses or partners onto whom all child & family care duties can be off-shifted.

    If you try to prize your family & any time spent with it, it is usually seen to come at the expense of the firm. Your loyalty is considered at best suspect & you will be treated within the firm accordingly.

    To make these numbers, people will do anything, sacrifice anything. The stories I could tell you would horrify you, but I’m trying to stay on point here: truth is a secondary value in the majority of legal culture & workaholics like other addicts will put it above everything & everyone else. The fact that they are lionized means everyone else has to behave in service to this concept or live in constant fear & anxiety for their jobs.

    Lawyers are notorious for work addiction, the brightest side of my #MeToo incident in my law firm (little did I know I was hired as a ‘token chick litigator’ to be abused & enslaved/ indentured to my job by the truly sucky founding senior partner, but that’s another story for another time) was that the experience cured me of the idea that there’s no such thing as too much work or that work is or should be the most important thing in my life.

    Lawyers can also be addicted to substances like alcohol and/or drugs, the addiction may not stay within the acceptable (& profitable) to legal culture realm of work (& making money) but also branch out into addictions that in the long run compete with workaholism. For a few decades now, most state bars (the entities that license attorneys, not the places people go to get drunk) realizing how rampant a problem substance abuse is within the legal profession have set up programs to rehab attorneys with drug & alcohol problems.

    Young law students are taught of their duties to report their own known drug & alcohol addiction issues before being allowed to sit for a state bar examination (necessary to become licensed as an attorney, if you are sober & in recovery, you can still take a bar exam, if you are not, the state bar will try to help you get there), concealment of this can make you ineligible to be licensed.

    Additionally law students are also urged to reach out to the appropriate entity of the state bar that can get themselves or their peers help if & when use/abuse of alcohol or drugs becomes an issue of addiction (in fact attorneys should be turning in their peers known or strongly suspected to have a problem with substance use/abuse, you can also be sanctioned or lose your license if you don’t). I was put in the untenable position of having to anonymously call the hotline for another partner in the same firm in which I was #MeToo’ed. I agonized at the time, but I am glad I did so for the sake of that partner & his family.

    Conservative estimates are 1/4 – 1/3 of attorneys will face a drug or alcohol addiction issue during their professional lives but at least this addiction is seen for the problem it is & some help is available (would that workaholism & the viability of billable hours be addressed to, but probably not going to happen during my lifetime). I understand the addiction numbers are similar if not a little higher for doctors though the issues can be a little different (for example doctors are more prone to abuse prescription drugs if they are licensed to dispense them, it’s the ease with which the substance can be acquired that makes it more prone to being abused).

    Shifting gears & fast-forwarding here in my life, I can say that an ’emotional affair’ is definitely a a thing & as the person who was being evaluated for being the schmoopie (or prospective affair partner or potential other woman), I faced some of the same issues as betrayed people but without the status, stature or protections afforded by formal agreements like marriages or informal agreements like verbal promises of exclusivity or monogamy.

    I deeply resent these people, male & female, straight or LGBTQIA+ presuming that it’s okay to unilaterally take things that properly belong within their actual relationship outside of it to people like me who are honestly free for legitimate relationship (with another who is actually free) but used as objects by cheaters. I resent the idea that to a cheater, I am fungible (interchangeable) with their previously chosen partner or that they think it’s fine to compartmentalize other people, someone else gets to be the spouse, I’m supposed to be the on-call emotionally available (possibly also sexually available) partner without regard to my feelings or my values or my relationship goals. In a description of a ‘triangle’ I am going to be referred to as an ‘instrument of betrayal’ which dehumanizes & objectifies me and it’s the cheater-betrayer using me just as much as he or she is abusing the betrayed. I know that if I allow myself to be used as the weapon of an instrument of betrayal, I am also going to be objectified by a betrayed person because frankly they need for me to not be human to deal with their rightful pain from betrayal. I don’t abide this which is why I have chosen to disempower those who would try to cheat with me. It spares me the pain of objectification, dehumanization & weaponization, if not the pain of being lied to & misled.

    Emotional affairs might not meet the old definition of adultery, but they are incidents of massive disloyalty where there’s a previously agreed to duty to be faithful to another & they shouldn’t be allowed to continue much less progress into the physical realm.

    Shirley Glass has written about cheaters & the metaphor of walls & windows, when these cheaters take what belongs within the walls of a mutually agreed-to relationship, they breach the protective wall of intimacy around the relationship, cheaters block off the window to themselves that used to be accessible to their chosen partner & build a window to a person who has no right to & should not be burdened with the secrets & emotions & other things that properly belong within the relationship & should only be shared with the chosen partner or (if there is difficulty in communicating with the chosen partner) with a trusted licensed professional therapist.

    The awful thing a cheater does is injury to at least 2 people, the person with whom he or she has an explicit agreement & to a second person who gets no say in that prior agreement. If as the other person you go along with the cheater’s agenda, you are allowing the cheater to break an agreement to which you are not a party but which societally & culturally you know deserves respect & preservation. When it’s an ’emotional affair’ or ‘just talking’ you are not just wrongfully privy but also burdened with information & feelings you should not have.

    I had to make a very hard decision & it wasn’t rejecting an emotional cheater (who inevitably would have turned things physical/sexual if I had allowed him to do so) who came after me. It was choosing to tell his wife (about whose status as his legal spouse he lied, yes they are separated, they live in different states, their children together are all adults, but so what? He’s still a chronic liar & a serial cheater) everything she had a right to know & I should never have been burdened with. I feel 1000% better for having endured a bit of temporary pain & for making it crystal clear to the cheater I will not allow him to use me to abuse her.

    Toto to me you have multiple grounds for divorcing your cheater and emotional affairs are to me the worst kind of cheating. Your young son deserves better, a better example of how men should behave towards spouses, a man who is more available to parent him than your husband is, a man who genuinely wants to meet your needs & shares your values. If I were you I’d get the best possible family law / divorce attorney (male or female, though male might intimidate him more). He is going to get professional courtesy, but you should get someone who will show the cheater no mercy in family court because he deserves none. The way to beat a predator like your spouse is with a smarter stronger predator. And for yourself Toto & your child, please get some therapy so that you can be healed & have a better life than you will if you both stay too tied to your husband.

    • Hi, So Not YS – What do you mean by “almost”? Did you know he was married and you continued to communicate with him in any way shape or form? Did you drop him in disgust the second you found out he was married and immediately went NC? Or did you end up leaving him when it became clear that he just wanted dinner and dessert – (he wasn’t going to leave his wife) and she was not going to leave him?. Do you see his wife as a victim of abuse? I have been reading a lot of your posts and it is not entirely clear – perhaps you did but I may have missed it.

      • Hi Chumpknowmore

        This was entirely an online thing (I don’t call it a relationship, merely a connection). I never met this cheater/betrayer in person, all our contact was through social media, then email & phone calls.

        I was misled for months (he reached out to me in social media, I was not on a dating site or anything). We started out as acquaintances but he kept pushing me for ‘more’ over the weeks & months.

        He is in the entertainment business & it suits him professionally (as well as personally) to openly lie about his marital status (several sources online say he divorced in 2015).

        To the best of my knowledge he is still married & lying about it (a friend I told this story to recently looked up his IMDb page & it still shows him as divorced in 2015).

        I was given 2 different stories by him (I call him Broken Toy) first that someone (presumably his wife aka Missus) filed for divorce but they didn’t go through with it, then second. that they did divorce but quietly remarried.

        Both story versions of course are irrelevant because Broken Toy is a serial cheater. We’ll get to how I know that in a minute.

        The purpose of them remaining married according to Broken Toy is that he “feels sorry” for Missus & for her:

        1) to be able to avail herself of his health insurance (odd because they are both old enough to be primarily covered by Medicare/Medicaid which means his union would only offer Missus & Broken toy supplemental insurance plus the 2 children of their marriage are too old to be eligible for coverage under his union health insurance, the youngest is now past 26);

        2) for Missus to share in Broken Toy’s union pension (although I did suggest to him that an appropriate financial settlement could be conferred upon her if they divorced).

        I gave Broken Toy an immediate written ultimatum (with 3 points) the next morning after a traumatic sleepless night: Either go back to his Missus or divorce her. I have never dated or been involved with a married man & was not about to start doing so.

        Naive, huh? Also hopium.

        Then I still liked to believe that “everyone deserves a second chance” but then again my experience with people this awful before Broken Toy was nil. So I emailed Broken Toy my terms & conditions. In retrospect I would have no contacted PLUS what I eventually ended up doing right here but I didn’t know better.

        My other requirements for Broken Toy to clean up in his life before I would have anything to do with him involved going to therapy regarding his ‘mother issues’. I heard about those in our very 1st phone call, this is stuff he should discuss with Missus or a therapist, not some woman he’s never met in person, this is also huge evidence of his intractable personality/character disorder and a red flag of which I was naive. Broken Toy’s mother is long deceased but he still intensely hates her.

        Worse Broken Toy says he married Missus to escape enmeshment with & his perceived filial duties to his mother (again not stuff I should know or be burdened with, this is 100% abusive to his Missus, I doubt she knew he has been saying this about her to other people).

        Finally I told Broken Toy he needed to go to therapy for the sake of his children. When he dropped the Marriage Truth Bomb on me (at 1 o clock in the morning my time, he woke me up from soundly sleeping to pressure me into disclosing whether I was going to travel to finally meet him personally, perhaps he was drunk or high or who knows what at the time), in addition to his glee at being able “to have both a wife and a girlfriend” (yes he verbatim said this & yes it shocked & angered me), he said of his son “we have more of an uncle-nephew relationship than a father-son [one]”.

        So Broken Toy is also belittling / abusive in describing his kids (and I doubt they’ve heard their own father say this about them).

        My personal disclosure day stretched out over 2 phone calls (one late at night, the second, the next afternoon).

        In phone call #2, presumably after reading my emailed 3 point ultimatum, Broken Toy disclosed to me that his 3rd child listed on IMDb who I assumed to be the product of Broken Toy’s marriage to Missus is actually the daughter of an affair partner from ~20 years ago (& according to my friend who checked his IMDb recently that is also still uncorrected). I believe it was that affair that led to the basic destruction of their marriage though as near as I can tell Broken Toy kept it alive to suit his own selfish purposes (I cannot say why Missus is still in it, she’s aware of the daughter & the Baby Mama affair partner, or so Broken Toy told me).

        I asked if this was all the truth I needed to know from Broken Toy. He of course lied & said yes.

        Under the influence of hopium & naiveté, I gave Broken Toy a few weeks to decide what he wanted to do. He then called to say he had started divorce proceedings, but being high on hopium, I neglected to ask him the details (I won’t ever make that mistake again).

        At one point in the middle of my connection chaos, Broken Toy told me he had told Missus all about me (over & above asking her for a divorce). When I point-blank asked him about what Missus said about all this Broken Toy said “She’s happy for me that I’m finally happy”.

        God do hopium & naiveté make one stupid.

        There were more weeks of Broken Toy stringing me along, Broken Toy losing work (he’s a rage-o-holic & a grudge holder, I spoke with his coworkers, they did not know what was up with his marriage or family status plus they were mystified as to why he was let go from their project, a very successful Amazon web series), Broken Toy having various life crises, the climax of which was Broken Toy alleging he has Stage 3 colon cancer (who knows for sure if this is true & how awful is he that I suspect him of lying about this?).

        So confusing & frankly in retrospect, insane.

        Of course at one point I read Broken Toy the entire riot act. I went on for almost 2 straight hours in a phone call, angry, frustrated, defending my boundaries, explaining to Broken Toy what 90%+ of people understand is normal human behavior (Broken Toy however is not capable of this, but at the time I did not know that because naiveté & hopium). I could not believe he didn’t hang up on me, but now I know that this was fueling him, not fixing him. But at least I got out a lot of rage & frankly got myself to a place where I did not care much what was going to happen to the connection. This is not how I would behave with 90%+ of people because they have empathy & are not emotionally & psychologically ‘broken toys’. But this conversation / verbal fight utterly exhausted me & the next time Broken Toy called me, he insisted I get therapy for my “anger management issues” which scared him (among other things Broken Toy does to earn his living, he’s a martial artist, it’s me who should be scared of him, did I mention a friend found out he plead ‘no contest’ to a charge of domestic violence about 11/12 years ago against a woman I bet he thought of then as a ‘girlfriend’? Yikes!).

        Thank goodness I called Broken Toy’s bluff for me to go ‘help’ & began to do research, first online then in actual phone calls & sessions with qualified competent therapists who taught me a lot about Cluster B personality disorders, sociopathy, narcissism, high conflict personalities (Bill Eddy’s brilliant work which puts the focus on the 90%+ people who don’t have Cluster B personality disorder issues but instead have to deal in some fashion with someone who does), & general scammy behavior of people online.

        I woke up slowly from my hopium coma, but I woke up in time & learned my anger at Broken Toy was 100% justified. At least one person with expertise I consulted believes Broken Toy is a sociopath (I definitely agree with her assessment) & urged me towards no contact which I was increasingly inclined to try.

        Meanwhile Broken Toy got to a point where he was discarding me for the first time (the “can we still be friends” line, um, ‘no, because I don’t consciously choose untrustworthy friends’), he was so desperate to secure ‘something’ like a ‘support network’ for his ‘health crisis’ that I learned he was moving in with daughter of affair (Child #3) whom he had pulled from her freshman year at Tufts because 1) Broken Toy couldn’t afford to pay for her college tuition anymore (all his professional work had ended & cancer treatment meant he might not be able to bring in income for the near & foreseeable future) 2) he needed a (free) caregiver 3) to save money he would be living in the same house as daughter (disclosed to & perfectly fine with me) & daughter’s mother, the Baby Mama / affair partner (not disclosed to me & absolutely not fine with me) in ‘his house’ (I have no idea what this really means, but I suspect it’s a home he pays for because of Baby Mama & daughter, because if Broken Toy didn’t, I suspect Baby Mama could wreck him with her life story, also I guess it’s rather expensive to maintain all these compartmentalized lives, residences & people because lying & cheating).

        I should say Missus lives in one state, Baby Mama a second, myself a third (that thankfully Broken Toy has never been to). It’s unclear to me where exactly Broken Toy is domiciled, he has a home in a fourth state, but who knows how much time pre-pandemic he was bouncing around between States 1,2, & 4 (& possibly others)? And now with pandemic & prospect of seeking ‘colon cancer treatment’ in State #5 who know where he is hunkered down?

        As Broken Toy was in the process of discarding me over the phone, he said something out loud about his having ‘honor’ or him being ‘honorable’ & I could not help it, the hopium fog completely wore off in that moment & I busted out laughing at him into the phone receiver. He hung up on me (yay!) & thus began my No Contact.

        I’m still laughing about it all now. It’s so absurd.

        In my own healing, last fall after talking to the experts, I wrote out by hand a detailed account of all that had transpired between me & Broken Toy. Dates, times, verbatim stuff from messages, emails, phone calls, etc. Ah technology!

        I nearly mailed it off to Missus in the fall (more to come here), but after consulting with both good friends & therapy types, I held back.

        I had to restart my ‘no contact’ after the hang-up call because ~3 months later Broken Toy ‘accidentally dialed’ my number looking for ‘another woman with my same first name’ (oh the BS!). I told Broken Toy flatly that other than something I bought for him (inexpensive & pertaining to his career) at his request that remained unpaid for & needed to be shipped to him I did not see any further reason for us to be in contact. He said yes he still wanted the items I had received & renewed his promise to pay for it.

        Since I had no idea where Broken Toy really was living then (he wanted me to mail the career-related stuff to State #4 but professed to be living in State #5 for his cancer treatment), last fall I shipped off the still unpaid-for but requested stuff to ***Missus’s address*** in State #1 with little more than a written request to Missus that if Broken Toy were actually going to follow through & pay for the stuff he requested I find for him (related to his career) that she forward on his payment to me (I do not want Broken Toy to have my home address but Missus has it as well as my name & home phone number). I could have mailed my chronology then, but decided not to do so.

        Why? I guess I thought I was protecting her as well as myself. It takes time to come off of hopium & lose the naiveté.

        While cleaning house in January, I came across the ‘chronology of chaos’. I immediately felt resentment & anger not just on my part but on the part of *everyone else* Broken Toy has wronged.

        How. Dare. He?

        Personally I felt
        1) I should no longer be burdened with keeping any potential secrets of Broken Toy’s (that’s a risk a cheater/liar/betrayer takes, that you will feel more shame than righteous indignation)
        2) I did not know what Missus really knows about me & Broken Toy (as painful as it might be to her, I felt that were our roles reversed I would want to know & she deserves to make informed choices about her life)
        3) I felt resentment at how disempowered Missus might be due to Broken Toy’s lack of forthrightness (the worst of what I knew being, was she aware Broken Toy confessed to me he allowed his new (gay) male business manager to fellate him to celebrate their mutual agreement by which Broken Toy being professionally represented by said manager (hello, potential #MeToo claim, also is this sex addiction &/or another dimension of Broken Toy’s hidden life?!? Ew, dude, no!)
        4) I want to ensure Broken Toy never contacts me again & hopefully this does it (so far it has)
        5) I want my freedom back & this act gave it to me.
        6) I want no one else in my life now or in the future to have to pay for Broken Toy’s awfulness

        Chumpknowmore I see Broken Toy’s Missus, their kids, the Baby Mama, the half-sister /daughter of Broken Toy & Baby Mama, Broken Toy’s brother & sister in law & so many others as people Broken Toy chose to abuse. If they need me to be deposed or testify on their behalf against Broken Toy I’d be happy to do so.

        Here is my take on being a (not quite) schmoopie / affair partner / other person: there is a time at which you might not be certain whether someone you know or have enough reason to suspect is a liar/ cheater / betrayer, but once you do, it is on you to choose not to trash someone else’s pre-existing commitments be that formal & written like a marriage, practical like living together, or less formal like the agreement to be exclusive (monogamous, not court or see other people, keep intimate confidences & secrets within the context of the relationship, faithful, etc).

        Given what I went through, I now know better what to ask & look for to spot liars, cheaters, betrayers & wannabes sooner.

        Sure I’d love to have ‘The Dream’ relationship, but if it creates nightmares or pain for others, it’s not worth it. And chances are ‘The Dream’ as it’s been sold to us culturally & societally is actually ‘The Great Fraud’ (I bet it was created by a cheater/betrayer, unquestioning belief in it sure makes more of their machinations possible).

        What I can say of the chronic/serial cheater/liar/betrayer is that he (or she) uses most if not all of the same tactics on third parties as well as the person with whom he (or she) has made an agreement. A schmoopie, potential or actual, is going to go through a lot of the same experiences, the big differences are once you know, you go (I’ve heard this called GOSO for ‘get out & stay out’) & you won’t have the law, society, culture, religion, family, friends, etc on your side if you do choose to stay with a liar/cheater/betrayer.

        I still say if only betrayed people & third parties got together to force cheaters & betrayers into being shunned, the world will be a better place. But it’s hard to do that because the betrayed and the instruments of betrayal are played against each other by the liars cheats & betrayers.

        I hope this answers your question Chumpknowmore.

        • “you won’t have the law, society, culture, religion, family, friends, etc on your side if you do choose to stay with a liar/cheater/betrayer.” That is the Catch 22 of the whole being mixed up with a cheater situation. Even if you are the chump and not the schmoopie you may or may not have any of those so called safety nets you stated on your side whether you stay or go. I have known Jesus cheaters who have turned even their churches against the chump and openly welcome the affair partner. Surely you have read enough on this blog to know that many of us chumps end up holding the bag, get screwed over by attorneys and other parts of the legal system, end up being betrayed by Switzerland friends and are let down by family by either having them side with the cheater, say things along the lines “I told you so”, “My SO would never do this and I know because(fill in the blank) or one of my personal favorites “you must have been okay with what they were doing on some level”.

          That said, it sounds like you spent a lot of time and energy trying to understand and fix “broken Toy” long after you knew his marital status – no second chances for married liars. Glad you are off the hopium. Hope you find someone real whose credentials are not sketchy at best.

          • Chumpknowmore what I didn’t understand about Broken Toy first & foremost is that he’s a type of unfixable person: mentally ill, disordered, unavailable, addicted, abusive, borderline, narcissistic, sociopathic, psychopathic, any & all of these & possibly more. I’m a person who likes to be useful & likes to solve problems. That said I now could write you a PhD thesis on how not to try to save or fix another person.

            It’s almost like you have to encounter one of these types, get some level of exposure to them to become truly immune to them. It’s dangerous of course to be around them whether virtually or in person, they lie for as long as they possibly can get away with it, you don’t know for a while they’re lying (you presume you’re around one of the 90%+ people who don’t lie cheat & betray, not the minority liar/cheater/betrayer, usually the odds are with you, 9 times out of 10, you’re around your own kind). They work from what Wayne & Tamara Mitchell call the cheater script:

            “Don’t admit anything unless you have to; then say only the absolute minimum of what you must. Protect your own interests until you figure out what you want to do. Draw [the person you are going to betray] into your plans. Express remorse. If possible throw blame on [the person you are going to betray & the instrument of betrayal]”

            The script of the betrayed (& the unknowing schmoopie) is by contrast: “It’s not too late to have my life [for the unknowing schmoopie it’s ‘my life I’ve always dreamed of’, for the betrayed it’s ‘my life as I knew it back’]; it is the other [person in the triangle’s] fault [hey, that’s what the betrayer says!]; I can accept what [the betrayer] says at face value [at my peril

            If a cheater is talking to a schmoopie, actual or potential, he’s (she’s) throwing blame on the person with whom he (or she) has a relationship agreement.

            Broken Toy told me his Missus was ‘old’ (the Missus is a scant 6 years older than Broken Toy who turns 70 this year, I think sometime next month is his birthday), ‘sad’ (gee, I wonder why?), ‘I hurt her [with Baby Mama]’ (remember ‘express remorse’), that marriage is ‘just a piece of paper’ (Really? You do remember I used to practice law, right?), it’s only worth getting married in order to ‘have children’ (um, how does this explain Baby Mama, Broken Toy’s daughter with Baby Mama, the half sister of Missus’s children with Broken Toy).

            If a cheater is talking to the person with whom he (or she) has a relationship agreement,
            he’s (she’s) throwing blame on the potential or actual schmoopie.

            God only knows what Broken Toy really said to his Missus about me but at first I presume it was *nothing* because I most remember getting a direct message in the middle of the night / very early in the morning a few hours after I was hit by the marital truth bomb getting the cryptic message: “PLEASE DON’T TELL MY WIFE”.

            How I’m supposed to tell a person whom I only learned existed a few hours ago (& at this time for whom I have ZERO contact information) ANYTHING is beyond me. But yeah, at this point I’m nursing my own wounds directly inflicted on my by Broken Toy, not thinking of reaching out to Broken Toy’s wronged (again!) Missus.

            I ultimately ignored this message: SHE DESERVED TO KNOW.

            IT WASN’T MY SECRET TO KEEP. [How dare he?!?]

            We both deserve[d] better.

            In retrospect the closest I previously came to dealing with someone like Broken Toy was the boss who #MeToo’ed me. Rumor around the office was he had a long-term affair partner in his home state of Louisiana while our firm office was in Texas (as was his probably long-suffering wife). I have no direct evidence of this, but I heeded it & stayed as distant as I could from him. It would not surprise me to learn it was true though, why should the ex-boss be abominable every place *but* home?

            I increasingly have a Universal Theory of Awfulness around these people, that they are awful in multiple contexts, if you can see them at work, or in their interactions with service people (store cashiers, wait staffs, etc) first, you can see the same terrible behavior they will also display to spouses, kids, family, neighbors, coworkers, bosses, friends, or literally anyone.

            They lose friends first because frankly friends have the lowest investment in them & making new & better friends is probably the easiest thing to do in life.

            I know Broken Toy has few friends, the male coworkers of his I consulted said as much, they felt like they barely knew him despite working together over a few years. They respected his previous work in their field, I guess their work experience with Broken Toy went okay. They were a little shocked to hear of what happened between me & Broken Toy, but I felt like they needed to know this because we are all mutual friends of a female coworker of theirs & Broken Toy flipped out hard over me having direct contact with her in social media.

            I suspect something awful or untoward may have happened there & as a #MeToo myself (older than them all save one male coworker who like me is my age, in my early 50s) I wanted them to know my story in case their female coworker came forward with a #MeToo story regarding Broken Toy. It wouldn’t surprise me if she had one, it also wouldn’t surprise me that Broken Toy’s employment from this project which abruptly ended (or possibly others) reveals more of his awfulness towards women past or present.

            In our second phone call Broken Toy sounded me out about #MeToo & I gave him an earful. Was he testing me or dropping a kind of hint? Maybe so, I don’t know, but if he ends up in a #MeToo scandal, that won’t surprise me. It would be disappointing but so much about Broken Toy is disappointing that at least he’s consistently & predictably awful once you know enough about him.

            As you puzzle your way through this process of getting to know someone & trying to assess their character, sometimes there’s emotional stuff that keeps you around as the lies become ever more evident. There’s all kinds of damage a betrayer can do to anyone who comes into contact with them, especially if you get too emotionally (or otherwise) hooked or if you follow the ‘be a nice trusting person’ script lots of people, especially women, are raised with.

            I don’t dispute the safety nets I mention for a person in a relationship agreement with a liar/cheater/betrayer may be full of holes or be pulled away from them at the last minute. I also don’t dispute that a person in a relationship agreement with a liar/cheater/betrayer faces yet more betrayals & traumas from manipulation of mutual children who tie them to the cheater, an easily gamed legal system, the Reconciliation Industrial Complex (single people beware of its sister Dating Industrial Complex) unsupportive families & Switzer-friends.

            I’m just saying that the presumption of guilt often gets affixed to the instrument of betrayal (aka schmoopie, affair partner, other person) & it’s a hell of a presumption to rebut. That presumption ought to be 100% attached to the liar/cheater/betrayer where it rightfully belongs (they made a deal with you & they unilaterally broke it, how I’m supposed to uphold a deal you have with them of which I’m unaware I don’t know, it’s only fair to blame me when I know what your deal is or that you do in fact exist & have this deal with a liar/cheater/betrayer, you have my sympathy) but if a betrayed person is deep in ‘save the relationship, save my life as I know it’ mode, there’s a tendency for Leg #3 of the triangle to get thrown under the cheater’s bus. If Leg #3 actually knows they are or are about to become the ‘instrument of betrayal’ or a reasonable person in Leg #3’s position reasonably could or should have known, then fine, toss Leg #3 away with abandon.

            But the betrayed & the instrument of betrayal share a common problem: involvement with a person who is hell-bent on lying, cheating, betraying & blaming others. That person, the betrayer, to my mind deserves a lot less than what he or she usually gets away with.

            And that is also ultimately why I threw Broken Toy to the mercy of his Missus. It took me a while to get there, hopefully I am never put in that position again or if I am, I realize it far sooner.

            The time & energy I am now spending are
            1) on me to make sure I am far less naive in the future, far less overly-accepting or unreasonably trusting. I already like keeping my own company so much more, hopefully if I do find someone else to keep company with he will be in the 90+% of people who don’t lie, cheat, betray & blame others; and
            2) in helping both those who were betrayed or those who are about to become instruments of betrayal (for the latter to wake them up sooner so they can consciously choose something other than becoming the co-conspirator of a betrayer & a pariah in perpetuity.

            In the case of Missus & her family (OTHER THAN Broken Toy) I wish her well. I hope she feels more empowered than injured by what I chose to do & if I had a wish for her, she too would be immune to further injury from Broken Toy.

            • What does all of the above even mean – forgive me but it sounds like word salad from someone who feels guilt about being a Schmoopie. After you were aware of him being married if you did not immediately severe all ties and go NC you were knowingly participating in his betrayal of his wife. Of course he was the one abusing his wife and he is the one to blame for the betrayal, but after you were aware of his marital status you were a willing participant of the betrayal and all of the word salad in the world will not change that.

              • SoNot, No offence, we all have our journeys…but hearing from the OW on this site is not
                helping ….all considering ….

              • What a load of word salad bullshit.

                Bottom line, as soon as you knew he was married, a *decent* person with integrity and a moral compass would have dropped the fucker and gone full on NC.

                But not you. You carried on with this carousel from hell because in my opinion you loved the drama and you loved being central.

                Tells me all I need to know. Vomit. 🤮🤮😂😂

            • Broken toy sounds a bit like ex-mayor Willie Brown.

              And he’s taking up waaay too much of your head-space and this comment board.

              Especially given you’re not an actual chump.

  • This was my life for far too long. About half way into my 6 year marriage I discovered an unknown log in on MySpace. We shared a desktop computer. I looked up this username and what I discovered led me to believe it was absolutely my husband. We had a toddler and I was 6 months pregnant, thousands of miles away from my nearest family in a foreign country I moved to in order to support his career. I confronted him about it. He denied, denied, denied. Accused me of looking for something in order to get him in trouble. When I went to look up the user again the page had somehow just been coincidentally deleted. I felt in my gut I was right, but I let it go. 4 months later with an infant and toddler now, I decided to look up that page again. It was back AND there was no way it wasn’t him. Everything from the formatting in his comments and the manner of speech was totally him even though he never used his real name. I confronted him again. He denied, denied, denied! This was all my problem and he said it was like I was waiting for him to cheat. I did not back down this time. Days later he copped to it. Turns out he had an “anonymous” online persona which he used to cruise porn blogs, sites, speak with other “sex positive” people. He told me it was useful to him because he got to learn a lot about his sexuality. He said he’d made a lot of friends and that he was somewhat internet famous for his sex blogs. I was blown away. He told him this had been going on from Day 1 of our relationship, but that he’d never cheated! He said, he was good friends with a couple of woman and he could’ve cheated with them if he wanted, but he would never do that without telling me he was at that point. Oh, so gracious! Did I dump him then? No. I played the pick me dance for far too long. I was also worn down being a Mom to a newborn and toddler in an emotional abusive relationship with a covert narc. It took me another nearly three years to extract myself from the relationship. All along, he kept telling me, it wasn’t cheating because it wasn’t physical. I didn’t believe that for a minute. He decided 8 years later long after our divorce, to tell me he did in fact cheat “one time” that he could remember. Why? I felt validated, but that opened up a wound I thought long healed. The point is even if they claim it’s not physical, it’s a betrayal. It’s cheating! Run, you’ll never trust again.

  • Hi
    In the meantime, you should collect all your financial info and keep safe. If he is a lawyer, he could’ve preparing for a divorce too. By the time you realize this, assets could be gone, spent, hidden.
    There are lots of article on this. Be careful not to reveal this to him. Be sure he is not monitoring you!

  • This is so triggering for me. My XW had multiple emotional affairs. They turned into physical affairs. She never told me how many physical/emotional affairs she had. Just that she made many “mistakes”. My line was physical affairs.

    My current wife was to chummy with her ex husband. She thought it was none of my business what they talked about. THIS time I drew the line with that. I told her I would divorce her if she continued. She told me that she didn’t think it would bother me. But now she has proper boundaries with him. Tell your husband what your line is. My trust in my wife is damaged. Her XH is very abusive, so more of a abusive dynamic.

    Stand up for yourself.

  • Just leave.

    1 year after we married and he had joined the police i had a miscarriage and ended up in hospital. He was texting his colleague the gory details before i even had chance to tell my parents. She was a lesbian so i thought nothing of it.

    Roll forward 3 years, 1 child and another horrendous miscarriage. Unbeknown to me he is now “courting” his colleague, the AP. Get pregnant again and hey presto he leaves me at 4months pregnant with a 2yr old and pregnant.

    It’s almost 2 yrs since he left and tonight he decides to bring AP to drop the kids off for the 1st time and continues to subject me and my mum to verbal abuse because it is all my fault obviously.

    If only i could roll back 4years to when i now consider the emotional affair he had. Pretty sure if she wasn’t a lesbian i would have been Chumped then.

    Just run run run now!!!

    • And are you entirely sure the first woman was truly a lesbian? That she didn’t also have sex with men? I ask because Mr. Sparkly Pants spent an awful lot of time with a lesbian couple who were also friendly to me. Turns out one of them liked sex with men and the other liked to watch. Of course I had no actual proof of this — but I decided I didn’t need proof. The fact that I happened to overhear him telling them all about how we hadn’t had ex for years and I was mistreating him all of the time (blame shifting, projecting lies!) was enough for me to trust that he sucks.

  • Yet another older timer chiming in to share that what seemed to be an EA that turned out to be more. X misunderstood a query about a much later flirtation and directly contradicted a previous lie. (still recall the feeling of my stomach dropping like a stone). Anyhow cheaters lie. they only admit what they think they can get away with. Marriage police is not a fun way to live.
    Recommend reading CLs excellent post about true remorse https://www.chumplady.com/2013/07/real-remorse-or-genuine-imitation-naugahyde-remorse/ sounds like you are working hard at the moment. Many including myself wish we’d got out sooner, rather than spending so many years with the stress of being with a disrespectful, unreliable cheater who didn’t have your back and was shopping around rather than investing time and care into the ‘relationship’. You deserve better!

  • Emotional affairs are always bullshit claims. And even then, I still think they’re just as bad as physical affairs. Liars know you want to believe their lies.

    The truth is, the truth is usually worse than what you think. I know my ex’s was. I got a ton of info and then found out even more. I’d bank on this not being the only affair as well.

  • Dear Toto (I’m from Kansas, love your name!):
    We all get to decide what our dealbreakers are. We don’t have to answer to anybody else in establishing or maintaining boundaries. As CL says, it sounds like this relationship has not been acceptable to you for a long time. So it’s time to lay it all out honestly with your husband, and if he can’t have the conversation openly (without blameshifting, defensiveness etc.), then it’s time to consider walking away. We’ve all been there, and I’m so sorry you have to imagine your life blowing up. But it really, really might be so much better on the other side.

  • I thought my husband was having a emotional affair untill he told me he cheated , he didn’t say how he cheated but that he lie to me and he cheated He stopped seeing the OW but we’re not a couple anymore we’re like roommates two people that share a house No love or care He doesn’t think about me at all All that I did as his wife and now I’m nothing to him It’s hard we haven’t divorced yet still working out some things I know he doesn’t want me or to be with me , since his Emotional affair it opened a whole new world to him , I feel like he’s up to something , Not being care about or shown love , kindness , no thoughtfulness nothing from him He would rather be somewhere else , but he can’t I am trying to take care of my self , my home think of me for a change I’ll get thought it Haven’t told many people yet only family , glad to have ChumpLady and the rest of u To talk to thanks

  • After 35 years of marriage my husband told me he was seeing someone. Turned out to be his high school girlfriend. I am still not sure why he told me, I was clueless and probably would have never know. I spied with voice recording. If you want to break your heart over and over, listen to your husband tell another women how much he loves her heart and soul. How it has never been that way with you. You can listen to him lie about you, tell her everything about your life and money and children. It will make you sick physically and mentally. Now do that for several years. You will find out how he disrespects you, uses you to stay comfortable, but still tells you he loves you and is not seeing her, by the way she is married too. It is a courtship, an emotional affair. My husband tried so very hard to get her to have sex, but religion stops her. It is much worse to know how much your husband lies, manipulates and deceives you behind your back. I have had at least 4 Ddays and it is heartbreaking. I wish he had had sex. I think that would have killed it.

    • So sorry you had to go through this. Assholes. They don’t deserve us. Hold your head high. You’re living life aligned to your values.

  • Count me as another chump who was told, “It’s only an emotional attachment—he lives 2,000 miles away!” Turns out they have these things called airplanes, just because she says she’s calling from Portland is no guarantee she’s not hooking up in Vegas. #EAMyAss

  • Speaking of emotional affairs and limerence – readers here may want to check out livingwithlimerence.com

    It’s where the cheaters go to exchange tips and whine about how hard done by they are by their spouses.

    • A website dedicated to knowingly treating a person as an object of infatuation than a human being? Wtf!! It’s a gathering of remorseless abusers.

      Meanwhile, the discarded “limerence object” (ugh makes me feel sick that that’s an actual terminology they use) gets survivinginfidelity.com

  • “Emotional affairs are courtship.”

    Jackass was a type. He loved the courtship and he really, really loved courtship when either he or the woman or both were cheating. He loved to chase and court women when they were in relationships–he even lost a job because he got involved with his student’s wife. He once bought a car for a married woman. I don’t know what Wife #2’s marital status was when he married her but her first husband was around all the time so that was These stories made me queasy but when I asked why he chased unavailable women, he had no explanation other than “they weren’t you.” And I fell for that bullshit, but that’s another story.

    My point is that for some cheaters, it’s not about sex, per se. Jackass was not all that interested sex; what he loved with getting control of a woman’s emotions and attention. He particularly liked doing that if there was another man in the picture so that he could “win.” When he first encountered the MOW at her bother’s wake, he told me that he “wondered where her husband was.”

  • oh I lived through an emotional affair, with his best friend!
    why was I so stupid?
    the thing I liked about him before dating him was how generous he was towards his friends.

    when I submitted my PhD thesis, I got a video game as a present. when she submitted her master thesis, she got taken out for dinner (sushi) to celebrate. when it was her birthday, he built her a couch the first year. the second year, he carved her a rose out of metal.

    He was willing to build stuff, get gifts, dote on everyone of his friends (males and females alike) but never did any of that for me.
    I remember always hoping for a self-built present from him…
    Now I build my stuff myself. and where I need a man’s help, I call on my trusted and true male friends to come help me with household stuff.

    In reality, I felt so devalued. Watching someone be charming and loving to everyone but you can harm you so much

    • Devalued and unloved that’s exactly how I feel. The gifts, the cards, the food and the things he built for her. The time away from working to talk to her and take her things. Hours writing songs and cards to her. Never in the years we were married did he ever treat me this way. Hours spent chasing her down and running after her and not working. The gas spent taking her for rides and taking things to her. All for no sex. Ha ha.

  • chumpedLindyHopper, I can *so* relate to this.

    “In reality, I felt so devalued. Watching someone be charming and loving to everyone but you can harm you so much.”

    ^^^^^
    This.

    The rat faced whore was ‘just my fishing buddy’, then ‘just a friend’, then ‘my best friend’ 🤮

    Fucktard didn’t go in for making gifts, but he travelled 30 miles to put a lock on her door, then threw a screaming tantrum when I asked him to pick up my prescription from the chemist, a car journey of 5 minutes.

    I invited her for Christmas, (before I knew).

    He gave her *exactly* the same table gift as he gave me. His card to her said, “to my best friend”, mine said “love from fucktard”. Right in front of my fucking face.

    Oh, they fucking *suck*.

    ((hugs)). xx

  • Hell, yeah! I didn’t even have to read this. If your husband or wife is out trying to screw A whore, it’s more than enough reason to kick their ass to the curb!

  • I grew up hanging with the guys and it was never romantic. I have a 2 year younger brother and was friends with all of his buddies. In high school, his best friend, Micah, was blindsided by his parents divorce and anytime my brother wasn’t home and Micah needed to talk, I was there for him. Like walking-miles-in-the-rain-in-an-Oregon-winter-to-ease-his-nerves-kind of there for him. So, I know how to be friends with the opposite sex and for there to be nothing inappropriate.

    STBX believed that wasn’t possible. He had his harem of ex’s and told me while dating that when we married, he would get rid of them. Chumpy me, I believed him. Nope, he kept them all. First, he said that he never told me that he would get rid of them. Then, he told me that they would leave on their own given time. He still has them 20 years later and is super upset that I have too much dignity to join his “ex-harem”. HOWEVER, He was so insecure that I had to give up my good guy friend that I have known since the first grade who is happily married. Talk about a hypocrite. He literally slept with these woman and yet I couldn’t even see my friend who I’d only ever politely side-hugged. You know the hug. The kind they teach you to do at youth group at church.

    All of that having been said, my friends, ALL of them, feel completely comfortable offering to have their husbands come over and help me. That PROVES that I am trustworthy of respecting the sanctity of marriage. STBX, not so much!

    That is the difference between an emotional affair and the ability to be friends (and nothing more) with the opposite sex.

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