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Don’t Wait on That Apology

Dear Chump Lady,

For some reason I have an incredible need to be validated and vindicated as being “right” about things by my ex. I don’t want her back at all, but I really want her to come completely clean about all the bad things she has done and the lies she has told — basically to confess, for her to confirm and affirm that I was right about my suspicions and suppositions all along, and for her to feel bad about what she has done.

It’s the “not knowing” about what really happened about certain relationships that drives me crazy. I suspect many things, but can prove only few. And believe me, they are enough to make walking away the best decision. I have a high sense of “honor” about doing the right thing, even when I’ve done wrong. So I guess I’m projecting that onto her. Plus, since she did a total mind-%#@*/gaslight job on me, I just want to know I wasn’t crazy all along.

I know the problem with my desire for this is somewhere in my twisted mind and heart, but beyond that, I don’t know how to break free of what is presumably a totally unrealistic expectation.

Could you address this issue?

Thanks. And don’t take your foot off the neck of these liars and cheaters. Pain/pain avoidance is the only thing that motivates them.


Dear Palmer,

You just answered your own question there, Buck-o. “Pain/pain avoidance is the only thing that motivates them.”

Yep. Cheaters have a pathological need to avoid — responsibility, grown up life, feeling bad, feeling guilty, feeling frustrated, feeling anything less than deliriously entitled and exceptional. Given what you know about cheaters and your wife in particular, Palmer, do you really expect her to say she was wrong? Because, gosh, that’s kind of a bummer.

Much better if you’re just an asshole who she had to cheat on because… oh I don’t know… you watch those insipid “Storage Wars” TV shows. Or you didn’t trim your ear hair. Or she never liked your cousin Ronny.

Because you know, if you cornered her and asked her to “feel bad” about cheating on you, she’d have to give you some crazy blameshifting excuses. And do you really want to stick your head in that blender?

Okay, I get it, that’s not the fantasy. In your imagination, she validates you. She dissolves into a puddle of moist, hanky-clutching remorse and answers all your questions. Yes I screwed him in our bed. On your birthday. I have multiple online identities, a drawer full of secret cellphones and assorted chargers, and a blonde wig I wear for incognito hook ups. Bobby? Oh yeah. Bobby too. And Jeremy and that guy who gave us an estimate on repaving the driveway. There were others.

Then she cries out in soul-piercing anguish, “And I am SO SORRY! I know I can never feel even a FRACTION of the pain I have inflicted on you! I am a terrible, terrible person unworthy of your forgiveness.” Sob. Sob. Sob.

And depending on your fantasy, you either turn on your heel and leave without a word. Or you magnanimously confer absolution of her sins, and then depart. And she’s crushed. And wrong. So, so Very Wrong. She’ll never get over it and she’ll spend the rest of her life trying to live with herself.


That doesn’t ever happen, Palmer. I’m sorry. You’re going to have to let that one go.

Why doesn’t it happen? Several reasons. Let’s start with the most obvious one first:

1) She’s not sorry. Sorry people act sorry. She’s not tripping all over herself to apologize because she doesn’t feel she has anything to apologize for. At some level she thinks you deserved this. (What did you think would happen when you didn’t trim your ear hair? Huh?) Your grief is this annoying background buzz that’s getting in the way of her fabulousness. She’s not going to bother herself with that.

Some of the freakier cheaters can fake remorse when they want something. But they cannot sustain it, nor can they describe it. (Ask “what exactly are you sorry about?” and watch them sputter to come up with the particulars.) Her lack of remorse is a sign that — yes, she’s perfectly capable of betraying you and not feeling one bit bad about it. She might care what other people think about it (she’s got a pocketful of justifications and self pity just in case), but you? Nope, she doesn’t care. It doesn’t hurt her to hurt you.

2) Even if she was sorry (and she’s not), narcissists need to save face. And they’ll do that at great personal cost to you. Character assassination? Bald-faced lies? Sure. If we’re having an epic battle of Who Is Right, they’re going for the jugular. It’s a dirty fight you won’t win. The best thing to do is trust your senses, know you’re right, and not engage. Walk away from this and live your life with integrity. The people who matter will get it. The one’s who don’t matter will be swayed by her spin, and good riddance to bad rubbish.

3) They get their sick jollies from knowing what you don’t know. Gives them shivers of delight, makes them feel powerful having this knowledge you want. Why would they hand over their power? Why would they make themselves vulnerable? Disordered people love to lie about stupid shit that doesn’t even matter. Why? Makes them feel superior. I know this Thing You Don’t Know.

I know that’s the dumbest thing ever. It’s like saying you’re the greatest boxer in the world when your opponent is blindfolded and handcuffed, but that’s the kind of pathetic validation they need. They’re better than you! Don’t forget it!

Why do you need the details? Because denying someone’s reality makes a person stark raving bonkers. You want affirmation that these things really happened from the person who did them. But Palmer, listen to me, you’re never going to know all the details, and it doesn’t matter. Because she’s not in your life. You know enough to know that she sucks and she cannot be in your life. The rest is just the cherry on the shit sundae.

So why do you need to hear her apologies and explanations?

Bargaining stage of grief. You’re having a hard time wrapping your mind around who she really is, how little she cared, how much she got off on having a double life. And so the bargain your grief is trying to strike is, okay, she cheated and lied, but maybe, maybe she’s Really Sorry About That. So, she’s not a total waste as a human being. If she’s a total waste, then you have to accept that you invested in a truly dreadful person who doesn’t give a shit about you, and that’s a bitter pill to swallow. We’ve all been there, Palmer, some of us are still gulping.

If she wakes up and finds her conscience, first I’d be highly skeptical. What does she want? Next, remember it doesn’t matter. Your healing is not dependent on her confessions or remorse. These betrayals happened. They were real. You had to remove yourself from that painful situation. This can never be a “love” that is healthy for you. There is no explanation other than she did it because she could. Because her character allowed it. And people don’t get new characters overnight. If it happens at all, it happens over a long, painful period, when the boot of those consequences stays firmly planted on her neck.

Don’t waste your life waiting for that day. Trust that she sucks, Palmer. Trust that she sucks.

This column ran previously.

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  • Excellent advice CL!

    It’s been 10 years and still no remorse. Oh well, that means admitting you cheated with HoWorker.

    Instead today I am concentrating on my Mr CL and the epic camping/hiking adventure we are going on today! The best way to social distance is in a campground!

    • I wouldn’t believe an apology anyway. I’d assume some sort of ulterior motive was in play and ignore it.

      • This! I wish this were emphasized more. I waited for an apology and then when it came so beautifully wrapped, I fell for it. Only to be deceived again and worse. Please don’t look for, wait for, hope for, or depend on an apology. It is not worth it from someone who hurt you. To any new Chumps especially, please don’t think you are special when they come around with the fake apology. Walk away and find the person who will never hurt you in this manner, or be that person in your own life.

    • It’s been 10 years for me too and I never got an apology either. On the rare occasions I run into my ex, he still acts like we’re friends and is always so hurt when I’m indifferent and too busy to catch up with him.

      This is the guy who told me years ago: “I don’t owe you an apology. I’ve already forgiven myself.”

      Some people don’t have a functional soul.

      • The few times (family events) I have seen my ex, he avoids eye contact. He has mumbled a hi a couple times. Schmoopie is usually pleasant. Those two are weird. At my granddaughters graduation, some lady on the bleacher seats below them, ask him to quit poking her with his legs, and he and schmoopie kept making snotty remarks to her. My grandson had to move them over and take his seat. My husband and I were sitting in the same row as the lady, and we just pretended we didn’t know them. It was stupid of the lady to make a scene, as it was a crowded situation, but they kept trying to escalate the fight.

        My daughter in law said he hates my husband, which is stupid because I didn’t meet him until we had been legally separated for over 6 months. I had even changed work facilities before I met him.

        • Susie Lee, I remember some of your stories. They’re eerily similar to mine.

          Cheaters are deranged. They’re like children in adult bodies.

          • Yep, and honestly for many years; I knew nothing of the commonality of cheaters.

            My ex blew up his relationship with our son, and at that time it just upset me so; I started researching narcissists’ and came across CL, and some other sites. Dang if I had only known then, wouldn’t have changed anything, but may have helped me through the process a little.

            There is no indication from what my son and daughter in law have said, they he has changed any. But that would mean he would have to think he needed to change. I suspect he doesn’t. Likely he just sees the piles of shit he leaves all around him and blames it on someone else.

      • The apology I received was “I’m sorry that whatever I did hurt you physically and emotionally”. There’s that.

        • Sounds familiar-
          I got a 2 page letter with a generic “I’m sorry for anything that I may have said or done to hurt you”

          Like there was a chance I wasn’t going to be hurt by him with-holding sex from me and frequenting hookers and massage parlors?

          I’m thankful that it is all in my rear-view mirror now!

      • Even when you get an apology it’s just more lies. I got a 2 page apology, cards apologising, he told how sorry he was a number of times. Meant nothing to him. As soon as I told him I was done he started dating again within a week & started on a nasty divorce settlement that continues a year after separation

  • Wow. Needed this one today. I’m glad more male chumps speak up because it does validate what a lot of us feel. Palmer I totally get your need for this but sadly, I’ve come to realize it’ll never happen. They’re only sorry when it benefits them. It’s such a mind f’ knowing that the person you actually had deep feelings for never really cared about you OR the kids. They’re “kid-appliance’s”. It’s so sick. Hope you’re doing better Palmer.

    • They’re only sorry if they’re caught before they finished using you.

      • THIS. ☝️ How dare us chumps get the hell away before they are totally finished with us.
        Thank you CL and Chump nation for giving me the wisdom and courage to leave my abuser before he could do anymore damage.

      • Oh, so on the spot.

        I am pretty sure my ex was pushed by his work situation into making sure I found out. Then he walked away without looking back. Until more than six months after we were legally separated. Then I changed work facilities, met a nice man and went out to dinner with him.

        Bam, our preacher called me and said that my ex wanted to have a “counseling” session. I went, and it was a joke. He didn’t want me back, but he hope to give me hopium long enough to break the dating situation. He still might have use for me. There is no doubt in my mind. He called twice after that, before our divorce was final; to “talk” about working it out.

        Yeah, sure. Just needed to destabilize me. Didn’t work. He wanted a divorce, he got it. If it didn’t make him happy, it is all on him.

    • I’d not care about the why and how and what really happened. My STBXW cheated on me with over a dozen men. Sexting over a dozen men on a daily basis, sneaking video calls with some, caught asking four men if they be available to hook up that week and many other wonderful things. I caught her cheating with one guy in particular and I packed all my belongings and she kept on cheating, I said I’m going for divorce and she kept on cheating. She started drinking and then was angry at me non stop. Even a simple walking past her was met with her screaming why was I giving her dirty looks and absolutely anything I did was wrong. Even screamed how I never loved her, how she carried the marriage for over a decade. That’s called gaslighting and blame shifting. All these marriage problems that were never once mentioned prior to her cheating.

      So I filed for divorce and started looking at moving out. I was then arrested for suspicion of domestic assault. How convenient. So she is gone and we are broken up and divorce is near finished and I’ve moved on and met a girl who was also chumped. We are both in our 30’s and we just click so well. I feel alive again and I love our days together. Meanwhile my STBXW is emailing me about how much she is suffering and how she is on anti depressants and sleeping pills. How she regrets everything and wishes she could go back in time. The thought of being with her now makes me feel repulsion. Everytime she drops the kids off she breaks down in floods of tears. Now she keeps asking me if I have a girlfriend and what’s her name. I avoid that like the plague as no doubt she’ll use it against me somehow. Cheaters hate consequences. My lawyers said to me that of course she never wanted divorce or me leaving as she wanted the stability of marriage and me paying the bills and minding the kids whilst she is away fucking all these men behind my back. Now she is a sing,e mother in her late 30’s and life ain’t going so well. Ah well, cheaters should think about all this before they go destroying people lives.

      • Your wife’s issues go way beyond being a cheater. Are you sure the kids are safe with this woman? She sounds extremely disturbed.

        • I think she has a personality disorder. Her sister is a pathological liar and was diagnosed with opposition defiance disorder as a child as she use to tell lies and say her parents were abusing her and the sheer amount of lies she told me when I first met my wife was unbelievable. She apparently got diagnosed with a personality disorder last year but she was apparently not told what type, so I assume it’s another lie. My wife has a half sister who also I found out years later is mentally ill and is a pathological liar too. My STBXW had lived with her ex boyfriend for three years before we met and she cheated on him with multiple people. Trust me, I wish I had a time machine.

        • Character is fate.

          Then, why does it seem like the cheater always wins? My ex has a fiance half his age. He has a job making more money than he did when we were married. He has an expensive modern condo that he shares with his fiance. He got away with paying me less spousal support than he should be because he told the mediator he just could not be pushed any more!

          I, meanwhile, fret about my retirement years (my ex left me when I was 49). I can’t get a job in my degree because I am considered old in the workforce and haven’t worked in my degree in many years. I make a low salary and struggle to put money away for retirement. I was left with our two dogs (thank God!) but they cost a lot in food bill, pet sitting and veterinary bills. Not to mention all the cleaning to keep ahead of the fur! I am alone during COVID except for my two dogs. I have met no one. I likely won’t because I’m now 51 and dating at 51 is not like dating at 30.

          He wins. That’s the only way I see it. He was callous and cruel. He never loved me. And he dumps me on the side of the road to move on with his 30 year old fiance while I’m left alone. He wins.

      • What IS it with cheaters being such depressed, miserable losers?

        They destroy everyone around them and they think THEY are the victims. It’s unbelievable.

        • They blame others for their stuff / zero honest self- reflection – We Chumps blame ourselves because we are chumps- it’s the perfect match!

      • When I confronted her with 110% evidence of her affair I was in tears shattered, she suddenly said in a robotic scripted voice ”I don’t feel safe in this environment, I’ll have to call the police if you don’t leave”. My reptilian survival instinct kicked in and I ran straight into my teenage son’s bedroom and told him he needed to be by my side at all times as a witness so Mom wouldn’t file false DV charges against me as her lawyer intimated. She absolutely flipped her shit. I told her I was leaving for work and I wanted HER gone when I got home. To my surprise, she left, for good. I guess I had ruined her evil plan. I’ve never been alone with her since. #notmetoo

    • Absolutely agree the Canadian RCMP told me the women are just as bad today due to hanging off social media and dating apps!

    • I think it is more traumatic for men actually. Today’s society vilifies men anyways, “men are pigs” “men only want one thing” “men can only think with one head at a time” “men cheat” you’ve heard them all. But I was taught that girls are made of “sugar and spice and everything nice”. Not so much it turns out. It was quite a shock to find out my XW was just as evil and creepy as any equivalent man. They have achieved equality of evil. But I’ve still never seen a feminist marching on the stairs of the family courthouse. I’d pay anything to go back to high school days and pick differently.

      • “More traumatic for men”…

        Blaming feminists for men’s problems…

        Bro, you’ve been through a trauma you didn’t deserve, and I’m deeply sorry. You deserved so much better.

        When you’re ready, I cautiously invite you to reexamine your beliefs around the societal-wide misogyny women still have to deal with (and often die from). We certainly do NOT have it easier than you.

    • Their fragile sense of self cannot handle truly knowing they are on the wrong side of integrity.
      They have non, but can’t face it.
      And there are the others who just simply don’t give a shit because they are extremely focussed on themselves; the damage they’ve caused doesn’t even enter into the equation.

    • Timely one for me too. D-day was July 4th. She finally agreed to move out this weekend. She also continued her relationship with Schmoopie. She said sorry once, when she needed something. “Sorry people act sorry.” So true.

      Hang in there Palmer. We’re going through Hell so let’s keep going!

  • I got this four days after he confessed. It seemed real to me at the time.

    “What I did to you is unforgivable. I am so sorry. I’m not the person you thought I was. I’m not the person I thought I was. I’m so sorry.”

    Only days later, he sent me a list of all the stuff in the house that he wanted. “Oh, and I’d like our wedding champagne glasses.”

    And months later, when we were on a joint phone call with the real estate attorney, he said, “I feel sad every day.” He didn’t inquire about my own sadness because, as he put it, “She’s sitting pretty.” What?

    Ping pong. DARVO.

    These apologies don’t help. Judge them by their actions.

    • 100%. It’s like they read from a script and even that is torture for them but sometimes worth it because they want something. Diabolical.

    • Good grief.

      I remember in the same conversation that he told me that he had never loved me and had never been faithful, he said his friend told him he should just stay married and just go out and have sex every once in a while with someone else. Then he said “I can’t do that, it is just not me” Unbelievable, I did have the wits to react and say, “Not you?, you just said you have been lying and cheating for 20 years”

      He just looked at me. Honestly, I just think they flail, maybe sometimes they say a truth maybe it is all lies, who the hell knows.

      • I received three pages of, “I’m sorry, but here is why it’s your fault…” He went back to before we were even married with his grievances. In 25 years of marriage, I had never heard one of those grievances! All he said was that he loved me to the moon and back and I was his soulmate. But, suddenly, he was never happy because I was never happy, and no matter what he did to try to make me happy, I was never happy. Never ask for an apology. All you will get is blame. Asking for anything from these cheaters is asking to put your brain in the blender like Chump Lady says. Resist the urge for requesting an apology.

    • “These apologies don’t help. Judge them by their actions.”

      This. Apologies are words, words are easy. Words are a tool for liars. I did get apologies, none of them was a worth a thing, because an apology only matters when it goes hand in hand with actively seeking change. Most of my cheater’s apologies sounded like he felt sorry for himself rather than me.

  • Palmer,

    Sadly the kind of person who cheats in a relationship is the kind of person who doesn’t do consequences, doesn’t do responsibility and doesn’t give a rat’s ass that doing the right thing might bring some measure of healing to their spouse and kids if they have them. And I’m sure that the power trip that comes with withholding something that they know would benefit you but not them.

    My Ex-MIL (who I still get along with very well) went to great lengths to explain to our youngest daughter that Ex-Mrs LFTT – who cheated on me and left me and 3 children to be with her ex-boyfriend AP – was just like her father; she would never accept that what she did was wrong, would never admit that what she did hurt us, would never accept responsibility and would never apologise.

    I knew all this, but youngest daughter found it easier to have it explained by her Grandmother. It was still f*cking heart-breaking to see it though, as our youngest desperately wanted some sign that her mother wasn’t the person that she suspected she was.

    I guess that the lesson is to work on the assumption that the apology will never come; that way they can’t disappoint you all over again and you start to heal.

    • Should perhaps clarify that “her father” refers to Ex-Mrs LFTT’s father, who was a cheater.

        • BCC,

          It sounds awful, but it was better coming from Ex-MIL than me. Even if I had used the exactly same words, it would all too easily have come across as an attack on Ex-Mrs LTFF.

          It helped our youngest understand that waiting for an apology was stopping her from moving on and starting the healing process.

      • LFTT–What an assertion that getting away from cheaters is the best thing to do for children so they don’t grow up to reenact the destructive pattern.

        I assume MIL regrets not ditching her cheater sooner? Her wisdom sounds like it’s from the hard knocks school.

        • HOAC,

          MIL never ditched cheater FIL, and she put up with what I can only describe as a toxic sh*t show of a marriage until he died about 15 years ago. I guess that things were different back in the 60’s. If she regrets not leaving him, then she’s never said so – just that it would have been very difficult to leave herr husband in the mid-60’s and whilst pregnant. Her wisdom was hard earned and I am glad that she and I remain on good terms.

          I am sad to say that I do not know who has caused her more pain; FIL or Ex-Mrs LFTT.

          • This is why it’s essential to end marriages to cheaters when children are watching. There’s a 50% chance the child may take after the abusive parent.

          • LFTT–

            How commendable that the cross-generational damage buck stopped with you. Your daughter is so much better off seeing consequences leveled, as much as all of it really sucks, should never have happened and left a trail of destruction a mile wide. But the consequences you leveled likely restored order to the universe.

            You make a good point about MIL since women couldn’t get a credit card without a husband co-signing until 1974 and were denied all sorts of other basic rights and protections. I would guess a lot of that suppression got internalized even after laws were changed.

            Though it doesn’t seem like something to celebrate in the short run, being treated this way by your particular cheater sounds like firm acknowledgment that you’re nothing at all like her FW daddy. Yay for that. I suspect a lot of cheaters secretly long for the stability and constancy provided by normal, healthy people, almost like committed love is something exotic and magical to them. But then they find that they can’t keep up the act of earning the privilege and the ruminating rage and resentment tapes begin playing in their heads. On some level cheaters are right that chumps don’t “really love” them since we don’t know who TF they are.

            • HOAC,

              I don’t wish to immerse myself in Ex-Mrs LFFT’s world of crazy ….. but I’m pretty sure that what she longed for was all of the benefits of living with a loving, loyal and well paid husband with a secure and prestigious job and three fantastic children …. but without putting any effort in on her part and without accepting any of the irritating constraints that would normally come with a healthy relationship; things like don’t be unfaithful, don’t secretly trash the family finances, put in more than you take out, treat your family with respect etc etc.

              Why else would she have pushed me to adopt an open marriage when she was discovered (that got a big fat “No” from me) and why would she have demanded a settlement significantly bigger that she would have been entitled to had the children gone with her (they stayed with me)? This was all about image management and wanting the best of both worlds in the first instance and then trying to destroy me (and the kids) financially because she couldn’t have what she wanted in the second.

              And she sure as hell wasn’t admitting or apologising for anything.

              • If a lot of male cheaters have “Madonna/Whore” complexes, then what’s the equivalent for she-cheaters? Stable, loving guy at home and lurching strange on the side– “Mensch/Manwhore” complex?

                I don’t get how it’s so hard to give up sex with strange and not trash family finances as part of the contract. Putting more into the family than one takes out takes work for sure, but the rest is not “work” or “sacrifice” for those without criminal tendencies. These people bamboozle, baffle and befuddle me.

          • “just that it would have been very difficult to leave herr husband in the mid-60’s and whilst pregnant.”

            It would have been nearly impossible for her to find a job. In the mid-1960’s, women who were engaged or discovered to be married were often fired for it.

            Pregnant on top of it? Yeah. Difficult doesn’t begin to cover it.

    • I’m not sure it’s really about not accepting consequences. The fundamental defect is a lack of empathy – an inability to see or comprehend that what they’re doing is going to hurt the spouse and kids, because they just can’t wrap their heads around the idea that just because they want to do something doesn’t make it right. It trickles over into refusing consequences only in the sense that since they don’t really understand how their actions caused harm to others, they don’t comprehend that they will ultimately properly incur certain negative outcomes.

      I mean, if you really – in your heart of hearts – didn’t understand how ignoring traffic regulations puts everyone else at risk, then you probably would just consider any traffic enforcement to be unfair. It wouldn’t mean that you thought you didn’t deserve the consequences of breaking the law, it’s more that you fail to understand the entire concept of laws in the first place.

      It’s clear that my XW really didn’t understand how her actions affected me. It was little things, like thinking I would want to discuss how she would decorate her new house; proposing that I meet and get to know her AP; not understanding why I refused to pay hundreds of dollars to change plane tickets and cut short Christmas vacation with my parents so the kids could be back early for her marriage to her AP. I really think that a normal person, someone who understood how adultery affects the betrayed, would never have brought up those things. I really think that because *she* was happy to trade me in for her AP, she cannot understand that *I* was not happy about it. This has come up in other contexts as well (her professional life, and with our kids): she just cannot comprehend that another person can have a perspective that is different from hers; any time she encounters that phenomenon, she thinks the other person is insane (she accused a coworker of being bipolar because he disagreed with her) or malicious (I’ve lost track of how many times she has accused me of trying to sabotage her career because I won’t give up my custody time with the kids when she wants to travel).

      • Involuntary Georgian–

        I think it depends on what kind of personality disorder the cheater has whether they are utterly “zero empathy” remorseless or simply practiced in rationalizing away any sense of responsibility.

        Before John Gottman went all RIC, he contributed some valuable research on the subject of domestic violence by categorizing batterers into subtypes like “the cobra” or “the pitbull.” Then Amy Holtzworth-Munroe and Gregory Stuart graded abusers by further subtypes that could be predictive of degree of violence and nature of abuse, type of personality disorder, whether they wholly lacked empathy or were more the dramatically suffering borderline type (who can be even more lethal than anti-social “cobras”), etc.

        Even in the absence of overt violence, these categories are chillingly applicable to cheaters. It’s kind of like the oddly flavored candy in Willy Wonka– some of us get puke flavored, others get shit flavored and some get rotting roadkill.

        • I dug it up in case anyone wanted to see it. This is the reader’s digest version.

          Holtzworth-Munroe & Gregory Stuart reviewed data from over 15 studies related to types of batterers, and developed three overarching abuser types based on the severity and frequency of IPV, the generality of violence (extrafamilial or intrafamilial) and the perpetrator’s psychopathology or personality disorder:

          Family Only: FO batterers represent about fifty percent of batterers. They have the lowest frequency and severity of violence and rarely engage in violence outside of the family structure. Alcohol is a factor in about half of cases involving FO perpetrators. There is generally no psychopathology present, they have remorse for their actions and respond best to intervention/prevention programs. They have generally positive attitudes toward women and marriage, but lack the regulatory/communication skills that can prevent disagreements from escalating.

          Dysphoric or Borderline: DB abusers represent about 25 percent of batterers. They are the most psychologically abusive of all battering types and have high levels of pathology, including borderline or schizoid personality disorders. Their abuse is primarily wife-focused, but can, at times, extend outside of the family. They are the least predictable in terms of levels of violence, with long periods of calm and then intensely violent outbursts. DB batters often have very dysfunctional childhoods and are extremely dependent, afraid of abandonment, jealous and possessive. DB abusers are reflective of the more “classic” models of domestic violence, where they experience shame, rejection, fear and feelings of inferiority, then lash out in violence or anger, then make attempts to repair afterwards.

          Generally Violent and Antisocial: GVA batterers are the most violent subtype, with high levels of violence within and outside of their families. They are the most likely to evidence characteristics of antisocial personality disorder and will often have histories of criminal behavior, arrests and substance abuse. [1]

          These types are seen to be fairly stable over time (i.e. they don’t change or transition into another type), but there are some questions to subtypes beneath the surface of these broader categories [2].

          Written by Abigail Hazlett & Chelsea Brass

          [1] Holtzworth-Munroe, A., & Meehan, J. C. (2004). Typologies of men who are maritally violent: Scientific and clinical implications. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 19(12), 1369-1389.
          [2] Holtzworth-Munroe, A., & Stuart, G. L. (1994). Typologies of male batterers: Three subtypes and the differences among them. Psychological Bulletin, 116, 476-497.

          • NSC– Subtypes puke, shit and rotting roadkill.

            I think all chumps should study these things if just as an antidote to RIC minimizations. Due to the devastation it causes, infidelity is being included under the heading of IPV (interpersonal violence) by more and more researchers and specialists. It fits. Personally I think that many cheaters go through the same cycle of tension building and explosion that batterers do, may even have the same murderous tapes playing in their heads prior to “acting out,” but for some reason this veers off into cheating in the “explosion” phase rather than violence for many. Perhaps many are cowardly would-be batterers and too afraid of consequences? In any case, all batterers cheat even if not all cheats are overtly violent.

      • I have actually resisted (aside from jokes) labeling my ex as a narccissist. But, the more I read about it…

        For example, my ex tried to tell me of his first sexual encounter with schmoopie, then he came by after he moved out (left me for schmoopie) and ask me if I wanted to go see his apartment. Like I should be excited for him that he has his own eph pad now.

        Another time, evidently he and schmoopie had a fight, he tried to tell me about a date he had with an 18 year old. So weird. I cut him off on all these types of things, made it clear I had no interest.

        Did it ever occur to him that might be hurtful to me, hmmmm. Or did he just enjoy twisting a knife.

        • Susie, I think – based on things I’ve been through with men who have flicked the switch and shown no sensitivity- he was so detached by that point he actually didn’t consider your feelings one way or the other. It’s like we have become inanimate objects. Some people seem to quickly move to another planet – it truly is surreal because we are still on earth.

          Do you want to scream “hello hello hello, is anyone home? I’m a human being’

          • Yep, in hindsight that seems to be the case. I did try a few times to “reach” him before he left. Nothing. Just cold shark eyes.

  • Why does this still bother me? My STBXW filed for divorce over a year ago, lied about reasons, treated me like complete shit….even worse after I found out about her affair and cheating.

    Not once has she offered any empathy, remorse, sincere apology.

    Accepts no responsibility….blames me…..blameshifts…..mirrors…..projects.

    She recently stated “I will not grovel”.

    She does suck….big time.

    Yet, I feel I deserve something for the 20+ years I spent as a loyal and faithful husband and father to our children.

    I feel like I am wasting energy for no reason. I’m not sure a sincere apology would change much…..she still cheated and continues to be shady (online dating….hiding things from my kids).

    I can’t wait til this divorce is final. Even more, I can’t wait until kids are old enough that I do not have to have any contact with that awful, moral-less and low character person.

    • its where you’re at. Take a big breath and let it pass. Give it time.

      Think about your focus; its still on her – though now in the negative sense – its on her. Let it change to you and what YOU want to do in this life.

      I wont get the apology I wanted. I now view the divorce as the apology. And I have been let free from a woman who did not, would never be able to love me.

      And then I found someone who loved me.

    • NC2U … you’ll get the rewards of a life well lived. These are early days. Keep reading everything you can about narcissists and surviving from their abusive tactics. In a few years you’ll hopefully be at peace, content in your new life. You’ll never forget what she did, but you’ll love your new life and be in acceptance. That’s where I am – 6 years since Dday, 25 year marriage. Malignant narcissist/sociopath- completely blindsided.

      • MC99- Your comments and advice have really helped me. I’m 3 years out from a situation similar to yours and have days where I’m wondering why I’m not yet at peace and why (oh why) am I still demanding justice? I can’t seem to let go of that need for justice. I’m reading constantly to get there. Thanks to you and all CN.

        • Because your heart was broken in a very cruel insensitive abusive way. It is natural to want revenge through justice. And living a life of integrity just doesn’t seem revengeful enough. And maybe it isn’t but the alternative of carrying around the resentment and hate and wishing badness on the ex is an even suckier way to live. I know bitter exes and I don’t like being around them cuz they bring me down. I don’t want to be that person even if it would be so great to see him suffer in some way. It just can’t matter to me or I will be unhappy forever. And that is truly unjust! Hugs!!

          • Yep, and it does take a while to get past that.

            The pain of betrayal and all it’s components is gut wrenching to the point many of us in real time, don’t think we will survive. No one can know what that is like to a spouse who loved their partner. I know it is true because I don’t imagine that I love my cheater any more than others.

            I am sure there are some exceptions, but not many.

        • Llamalu–

          Adding to what Thrive wrote, I think the first step you’ve taken is recognizing that the need for closure really is a need for justice. Not for the abuser to come back and magically transform into a good person but for them to get comeuppance for actions that, due to the trail of real
          destruction they leave, *feel* like they should get stiff legal consequences.

          I can attest from once prosecuting a stalker that seeing real justice done has the magical effect of removing a perpetrator from your mind. Suddenly they’re shrunk down to flimsy, forgettable paper dolls. Before the criminal conviction, I got a lot of CODA based mindfulness advice about not letting bad people live rent free in my head and charges that I wasn’t “letting it go,” etc. A wise and experienced friend laughed a bit after the conviction because, as it turned out, justice took care of it all. No “mindfulness” needed.

          But other than being issued a whopping divorce settlement, punishing cheaters is unlegislatable so real closure is more elusive. The so-called fixation on abusers following abuse can also almost seem like lingering, pining “love” but it really isn’t as time will prove. It’s a reaction to injustice.

          It can take awhile before subviolent abusers reap what they sow. Better not to wait around for it for purely practical reasons (because life can pass you by as you wait), though the need itself to see balance restored is natural and universal.

        • This is going to sound crazy, but that desire for justice (or at least a confession) made me want to watch police procedurals on TV. Law and Order, Blue Bloods, CSI Miami–whatever was in in bingeable re-runs. I think that helped me broaden my vision. Now, for those who don’t know, I wasn’t married to Jackass, so I didn’t have years of marriage and kids to deal with. But I had known him for 30+ years and thought he was my friend. I couldn’t understand how he could do what he did and why he wouldn’t discuss it with me.

          Reading here was a huge help. I started to see him not as an individual but as a “type”–as the type of person who uses lovebombing, devaluation and discard as relationship tools. That helped me see that I got discarded because he knew he couldn’t fool me forever. I had already asked too many questions, expected too much from him. And of course he refused to meet, to talk, to discuss, to explain, to apologize.

          What I think I worked out in my daily binge-watching is that some people are bad people. They hurt others. On TV they kill and steal and deal drugs and rape. And on every show, while the bad guys get arrested and tried and sometimes found guilty (or not), at some level that’s the only satisfaction. They get stopped. But even when they confess, they never really explain their evil deeds–because the cost of what they do always exceeds what they want. That is: wanting a shit-ton of money doesn’t excuse robbing a bank or taking hostages. Wanting the family business doesn’t excuse murder. And so on.

          People get caught and consequences ensue. A robber gets caught and tried. A cheaters gets caught and the chump files for divorce. But what we suffer is always in excess of what they cheated for and for that there can be no justice. And like other criminals, while they may confess or we might catch them, they will never give an explanation that will satisfy us. They were willing to torch this lives of spouse and children for…nothing that matters. There is no explanation other than they have no empathy and can only see what they want.

          • There’s a new series on ABC here in the States called “The Con”. One victim wisely pointed out that con artists don’t out think us, they out feel us. They toy with our feelings and are not truly remorseful. A cheater is running a con, short term or long term.

          • Hah, I started binge watching crime shows as well. I agree that one of the benefits of, you know, saying what the ef and delving into certain skein untangling recovery fixations (as long as the skein untangling is not about “fixing” the abuser or taking blame as a concession) is that they are reduced to a “type.” While that could seem dehumanizing, they dehumanized themselves with their actions in trying to dehumanize someone else.

    • My STBXW also had tinder. I checked tinder as I just had gut feeling. Anyway there she was in her profile saying she wanted fun and to hook up with guys whilst her boyfriend watches. Her having a boyfriend was news to me. So tinder shows location. Her profile was within 0.6 miles of our house. I screenshot it and messaged it to her. She went into total denial that someone very close to our house has done this maliciously and it definitely not her. Despite the fact it spelt things exactly how she spells them and had exact same spelling mistake on the one word she always made. 20 minutes later the profile was gone. Funny how it was done maliciously but 20 minutes after I found it, it was deleted. I have the evidence to my lawyer and she rolled her eyes at how stupid the excuse was. I said well if you never made this then we should phone the police as it is cat fishing and surely illegal or worried for your safety and that was met with silence.

      Or how during this time I found out she was ordering stockings and lingerie. Her excuse was she just wanted to feel beautiful for herself. This is the same woman who in 15 years of us being together never bought or wore stockings.

      So glad I’m away from her and the pathological lying.

    • I got “I’m not going to apologize AGAIN!” Umm, I don’t recall any apology in the first place. Psycho tactic.

  • I think that we all wanted that apology.
    But a sincere apology and cheating are like north and south poles on a magnet. They are forces work against each other.

    • Palmer, think of it this way, even if that lying cheating whore did offer an apology it would be suspect. Whores lie, it is what they do. Don’t waste another second on that cheater. She isn’t capable of a genuine human emotion like remorse.

      You are, which is why “your stock trades high”. I think every chump spends some time wishing for an apology. I hope that helps you feel less alone.

      • My STBXW said she was not a whore after I called her one. I asked what her definition of a whore is as she was sexting near 20 men daily behind my back, asking four if they be in the area to hook up, found her tinder where she stated she had a boyfriend who wanted to watch her with other men, and carried on a affair with one man during this whole time. Plus before we met she lived with her ex boyfriend and cheated on him with multiple men including a threesome while he was at work, so please please I’d love to know her definition of what a whore is. She also claims she is not a liar despite the years of pathological lying.

    • Amen to that.

      They may say the right words, but how can anything they say be trusted? These people lie with ease. And they’ll say anything to improve conditions for themselves (divorce settlements, good-guy narratives, etc.).

  • The closest to an apology I got from my ex wife was: I now do realise I should have handled it differently.
    they (her and the AP) are telling our kids they did nothing wrong. They are going to get married next year BTW.

    • I’m 5 years out from Dday, and about two years out from XW marrying AP.

      Not only no remorse, she still hasn’t acknowledged that the affair even occurred. I don’t discuss it with her any more (because what’s the point?), but she is still actively denying it to the kids.

      Don’t put your life on hold waiting for an apology / closure.

      • Tnx. My ex actually did admit that she left me for him, but it took a few weeks.
        I don’t discuss anything about our former marriage or her current relationship whatsoever. She got annoyed once that I didn’t ask how things were going at their place. That truly amazed me. They really are selfish.

        • See my comment above about lack of empathy.

          I’m sure that normal people – even people who’ve never personally witnessed the devastation of adultery and abandonment up close and personal – understand perfectly well why you’re not interested in having that conversation with your XW. The fact that she doesn’t understand that says a lot about her.

      • Ugh, X does the pretending with the kids thing also. It was a complete double life since the day I met him. He admitted to it even! Then after the divorce when DS started pulling away even more from the only 5% of time he spent with him, he comes up with this shit.

        “I had to divorce your mom because I was so unhappy. I had to make up some things to help her fall out of love with me and now I feel those *stories* are hurting my relationship with you.”

        Wow, dude you are so helpful and charitable helping little ‘ol me fall out of love with fabulous you. WTF?! DS was 20 at this time and knew for himself how disordered his father is. He came home and told me and his sister laughing hysterically. I was homicidally angry at first but later did find the humor in it. Kind of. I kind of feel pissed again typing this actually. Lol!

        And the closest I got to apologies were firstly, “I’m not going to apologize again!” said screaming literally in my face. That one must be in the handbook because others here have mentioned it. That was during the looong divorce process. Then the second one, the actual day of the divorce we exit the court room and he sits down on a institutional looking chair in the hallway and rubs his forehead all dramatic and exasperated like he’s in a movie and looks up meaningfully and says, ” Well, I sorry for MYYYYYYYY part.” And raises his eyebrow all aggressively implying ‘what about your part?’ This from a fucker who blindsided me after using me as double-life beard from my age 18-44, porn addict, alcohol abuser, threatened to kill, harm, and make it so I’d never see my kids again after the threads of his lifelong deceit and lies started unraveling. I wish I’d had the guts to say “Yep, I’m sincerely sorry I didn’t get out of this shit show decades ago”… instead I was shocked frozen and mumbled “I have to get back to work.”

        • beenchumped,

          Glad you’re away from that lowlife!

          Isn’t it great how these adult kids can see through the crap and find humor in it?

          My kids (late 20s, early 30s) did the same thing. They’d either laugh at the ridiculousness of something he wrote or point out the abuse.

          Them: “Mom, you know that’s really abusive. That entire email is abusive.”

          Me: Really? ????

    • “I now do realise I should have handled it differently.”

      I got that as well. I don’t get get, it’s like they all pick the same lines to say.

  • That was the first thing my ex said “I handled this wrong” what the hell does that mean. I handled committing adultery wrong, I handled letting you find out wrong, I should have blown up my marriage in a better way.

    Then a few days later, I have been “dating” for five years, no ten, no I never loved you, I never was faithful to you. I didn’t mean it when I said that, I was just trying to get you to hate me. All these sentiments over the course of a few days.

    They say so much shit, they don’t even remember.

    I got a letter of apology after we legally separated, poor sausage just didn’t know why he acted like such a low life. Here is a hint you sadistic bastard, you acted like a low life because you are a low life piece of shit.

  • I don’t think an apology would help. Either it would be an effort to lessen his guilty feelings or a rationale for his cheating and lying.

    I have been wanting some sort of validation from my in-laws. That they believe the cheating began while my STBX and I were together, while her husband was still alive. That she won’t be allowed to move into my old house and attend family get togethers with impunity. That they appreciate that I was a loving wife and sister-in-law for 30 years.

    • They raised him so the odds are they will make excuses for him. It is suprising what some people will overlook if there is a benefit to them.

    • I had that hope to, but my inlaws were never good at delivering consequences. “She is still our daughter..”
      They did stay in contact with me and were supprotive. In hindsight I suspect that they wanted me to keep the door open, because maybe my ex would want to come back if it didn’t work out with the AP.
      Maybe I’m just cynical…

      • GuideDog– I think your guess is spot on– that your in-laes wanted to keep the door open. Users raise users to think like users

      • Well if you don’t take her back, they might get stuck with her! Wouldn’t want o disturb their empty nest now.

    • A brilliant article, Tracy. Simple, accurate and a sledgehammer to me. I’m 7 years out from d day and I still hope that she sometimes acknowledges, even to herself, that what she did during and after d day were abominable. In fact, it was the post d day behaviours that still floor me. But she won’t do this. She’s fabulous and I deserved it. She’s the winner.

    • I was a devoted daughter in law for 25 years. I hosted hundreds of family gatherings, always showed up with gifts, did dishes, was kind and tolerant and courteous. I gave birth to their first grandson and three granddaughters. After Dday they never spoke to me or their grandchildren again. Despite being married 50 years and raised in an evangelical Lutheran church as children, they allowed my now XH to bring young goldigging AP to their home for holiday weekends while we were still married and he was telling me he wasn’t seeing AP and wanted me to stop divorce and reconcile. The in-laws’ conduct was as hurtful as what XH did. They all suck.

      • I’ve decided that the actions of in-laws who act like this is a kind of second level trauma. Another kind of discard. And the actions of those acquaintances and so-called friends who question what you did to “force” him/her to cheat, or excuse it, or want it not to matter, the flying monkeys and Switzerland friends who invalidate what happened and how hurtful is is/was, is yet a different version of that second level trauma.

        At just the time we need to be able to reach out to others, we discover that some of those people are as untrustworthy as the spouse that devalued and discarded us. Unfortunately, I think this further trauma is all part of the overall rotten experience, because few of us have the wherewithal to be able to armor up and go through it alone. Even those of us who seek professional counseling can’t be assured we can trust the counselor not to further traumatize us with questions about what we did to cause our spouses to stray.

  • Feeling powerless makes us want our power back. The brain tricks the powerless person into thinking their power comes from an external source. That’s a common experience. If I can get you to do what I want you to do, I’ll feel powerful again.

    Knowing all the things isn’t truly where my power comes from, though. The illusion crumbles fast under mild scrutiny.

    Knowing all the things won’t make it impossible for a person to ever succeed at lying to me again. I can’t become a human lie detector and perfectly protect myself from all possible harm.

    The thought that I’ll never be totally safe is terrifying, I know, but I think it’s ultimately true. Some people are asshats. I can’t change that.

    The real powers that matter are critical thinking, boundaries, and communication.

    Critical thinking helps me review ALL available data and let myself see what is actually happening more clearly.

    Being able to form boundaries ,and the energy to set and enforce them based on the critical analysis of the data I’ve observed, helps me keep my own space clear and authentic.

    Communication skills and assertiveness help me validate the data through more discussion, set the necessary boundaries, maintain the boundaries, and remove asshats from my space swiftly and effectively. (I realize there are outliers who are a lot harder to remove — that’s a different discussion.)

    These are the real sources of one’s power. It’s scary at first to think, a big lift to learn and practice, and a lifelong refinement process to keep getting better at it.

    And it’s all worth an elephant’s weight in gold for how much better life gets when it’s free of asshats.

    Your power doesn’t come from knowing what the asshat really did. It comes from knowing you can recognize asshats after you receive enough data (it takes time to gather data, so you’re not stupid or weak if it takes a while to see the asshattery) and, once recognized, remove them ruthlessly from your healthy space.

    THAT’S power, my friend.

    I’m working on it. Stronger every day. You can too. We’re doing it together. ⭐

  • Yep. Today’s CL post is spot on, as usual, especially from the perspective of a male chump, though most cheater methods and practices aren’t gender specific.

    Do not make the mistake of projecting your values on a cheater. If they had your values and world view then you wouldn’t be experiencing the living nightmare they created.

    • Amen. Projection isn’t just for narcissists. I spent most of my marriage projecting character onto my ex. This was what enabled sparkling, hopium, etc. If I had just taken a clear, cold look at who was really in front of me, I would have left long before he cheated on me and abandoned me.

    • Agree with this. I projected a lot and also had moments of clarity about who he was. However, I was focused on my family and building a life for all of us. After the shock of it all and being 4.5 yrs out, I can see it in him all along. I just wish he’d have done it earlier so I would be 10 yrs younger or more. Oh well-playing the hand I have been dealt.

  • Asking the cheater for an explanation or apology just got MY character and actions ( and those of my friends and family) attacked even more savagely.

    If they were normal they would not have been capable of the deceit and betrayals. You can’t milk a bull.

    Their behaviour and reactions will always be f’d up.

  • “And believe me, they are enough to make walking away the best decision.”

    I pursued the truth for years and when that line was crossed, I immediately stopped caring about everything else he may have done. If I have enough that leads to walk out the door, what’s the point in knowing the rest? Your decision is made and nothing more can change that.

    You know they’re scum. That shall suffice. You can now “trust that they suck”.

  • “you have to accept that you invested in a truly dreadful person who doesn’t give a shit about you, and that’s a bitter pill to swallow.”

    So true. It is the bitterest pill of the whole mess. I laid in bed and love and cuddled a man who was going out and screwing another woman, likely several women. For anywhere from two years to the whole twenty years, depending on which of his stories I choose to believe.

  • My ex absolutely LOVES to withhold. He totally gets off on it. Now that I am caring less and less, he and his affair partner need to stir things up. They stir it up with my kids and tell them I’m stalking them because their life is sooooooo wonderful and I’m terribly jealous.????

    It’s exactly what it was when he was with me. It’s nothing spectacular… the only difference is that it’s a marriage of two fuckwits instead of a fuckwit and a chump.


    • I wonder to, sometimes what me not giving in to their triangulation, does to their relationship. At some point their eyes must be pointed to each other for kibbles.
      i just hope it isn’t directed at our kids…

      • It was many years later, but my ex FW did turn his sites on our son. He blew up that relationship. Long story, but FW and schmoopie were the cause of it, due to their lies and nasty comments.

        I never thought of the triangulation theory, (before CL) but it does appear that these two fuckwits need a third party to turn their misery on. They have also, gotten in fights with preachers, church people and neighbors. I guess it is them against the world.

        • How sad.
          Another part of the triangulation is probably that if you are upset and still pining for the ex, they both feel validated. They have something someone else wants.

          • Yep, back in that time I never heard about triangulation, (no internet) but it seems to hold in many cases.

            As horrible as the experience was at the time, aside from some pick me dancing while he was still at home for a few weeks, I walked away and never even contacted him except for a couple calls. One to tell him to file as soon as possible, the other was because he didn’t return a call that he was supposed to. Business stuff.

            I knew even then that I would survive and schmoopie deserved him way more than I did.

      • I think that’s spot on. Now that they are failing to triangulate me like they once did, they’ve moved onto my 12 year old Daisy who they manipulate by letting her bend the APs ear as to how “terrible” I am (she’s 12 and in the 6th grade and she’s the 5th kid I’ve raised through this particular stage. Every one of my kids hated me at this point. They all got over it, so will this one.)

        • I’m not terribly concerned, because this is short term and I’m playing the long game. I’m not threatened by her temporary need to cleave to this horrible woman, and I trust she will come to understand who that dumb broad actually is.

    • I remember that my ex soon after we were legally separated came over and told me that schmoopie was getting phone calls.

      I said, I never once called her, and you know it; I wouldn’t give you or her the satisfaction. He didn’t argue, just left. He never accused me again.

      To this day I don’t know if he/she made that up, or if his mom was calling. She would be more likely to than me, and I seriously doubt she did.

      I think it bothered him that I never “fought” for him. It was all I could do to survive and get through the days, the only way I could do that was to not think about him at all. I never really thought about her anyway, she was just the available hole. She found that out later, when he went out hunting for other holes.

      • Of course it bothered him that he wasn’t central in your life despite the fact that he fired you.

        How dare you not fight against his unilateral and self centered decision to blow up your life and just pick up the pieces and move forward!!! /s

        • Yep.

          And the “hope we can be friends” comment. You told me when you fired me that you had never loved me and had always cheated on me, so on what basis would that friendship rest; is what I should have said.

          Instead I said, “nope, I am particular about who my friends are”

    • They need you for their relationship to survive. The drama and sneaking around high has been taken from them and they need to get it back. The odds are one of them will end up cheating soon as they can’t do boring.

      • Funny you say that KB22 as I was advised that they will do anything to stay together to prove it was right to blow up the ( my ) marriage .

        I’ve said before I don’t think either of them will cheat on each other . But I can hope ????

        • This makes sense intuitively, that they would have to make it work to justify all of the cheating. And yet 75% of the AP marriages end in divorce. I guess that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll cheat on each other; it just means that the marriage won’t survive. In the case of my ex who *cannot* be alone, I think there’d have to be another woman. I don’t know.

          Here’s what I found online: “According to statistics by WebMD, on the average, the timeline of the ‘in love’ stage of an affair is between 6-18 months. More so, only 5-7% of affair relationships lead to marriage and about 75% of these marriages eventually end up in divorce.”

            • Oh, I see. I’m sorry. Well, as you say, you can only hope.

              Mine and the OW are probably married by now. I have no idea. And they’ll probably defy stats, too. Still, that 75% stat is a bit of a balm for me, at least until I get to meh.

              • Exactly, some likely are but many aren’t. They can’t escape who they are.

                My ex and his schmoopie have proven that a few times through the years. The last time being when they blew up my sons life. He is fine now, and he has reconnected, kind of. But, his wife has not spoken to them since they pulled their crap. The last time he went to see his dad, his wife stayed in the motel. I can’t blame her, they were extremely nasty to her and her daughter. (his own granddaughter)

                I know my son only does it for his dad, he accepts his dad is an asshole, but he is his dad. I suspect when his dad is gone if she survives him, they will never see her again.

          • From what I have witnessed those stats are accurate. I only know of one long term affair marriage. A friend’s father left his wife and kids for his secretary and she left her husband and kids. I know, how cliche. She was an attractive woman and my friend’s Dad would be considered good looking as well. Both had low key personalities so there was never any blow ups and they seemed ok, just ok. Of course the thrill wears off after awhile and they seemed sort of resigned to their fate I would say. However the OWife while very pleasant and polite, also seemed very sad, just sort of existed. I think they were both weak people that later in life regretted their actions. The real kicker though was the Owife’s ex husband came into a huge inheritance after they divorced. They use to pass him on their boat and he had a huge Hatteras. OWife also had to work for many years due to my friend’s father’s business failings. Other than this couple every affair couple I know divorced and it was ugly.

        • Ah, but time passes and pretty soon without the triangle, the devaluation sets in. They may or may not cheat. They may or may not divorce or separate. But guarantee you neither of them have learned how to pull their weight in a relationship.

          • I would agree that cheater relationships will probably not be fulfilling in the end, even if they stay together, because they don’t know how to “pull their weight in a relationship.”

            I would add that the following characteristics of cheaters would be an impediment to happily ever after:
            *poor character
            *lack of empathy
            *sense of entitlement
            *lack of shared history
            *resentment (esp if one cheater feels he/she gave up more than the other to be together).
            I can’t imagine that everything is rosy in that type of relationship.

            Two people who suck at relationships (who suck in general!) are now together. I suppose they could be unicorns, and it all could work out, but it seems unlikely.

            • “*resentment (esp if one cheater feels he/she gave up more than the other to be together).”

              I think that is a big one. My ex gave up a long term marriage (20 years) his standing in the community, he was busted in rank, put back out on the street. He left his volunteer work for the service club he had been in for years. I never did understand why he did that. Maybe because schmoopie refused to do the volunteer work that he signed up for, like I did, while he attended “meetings”. After all she knew what he was doing at those meetings, while I was filling in for him at the ball park and other sites. If I hadn’t done that she wouldn’t have had near as many orgasms.

              She had nothing going into the marriage. In debt, renting a small trailer and three big assed lazy boys. So even with them running up gambling debts and filing bankruptcy, she is still likely better off than she was.

  • The way the ex tried to scorch earth me into living in a box, I wouldn’t believe anything he says, ever again. He also smeared me to the kids and to anyone else who would listen, I was told. He is lower than the scum of the earth, it would take a hell of a lot of work for him to ever elevate himself to even remotely human. Best to stay away from that sludge and live my new life. Which ain’t to bad after all! I win because I am human and care and love and am loyal and honest.

  • I watched a show last night about a serial bomber in Austin, TX. The investigators kept looking for his motive — were his victims targeted for a personal reason, was it a hate crime, was he acting alone or part of a terrorist agenda??? The dissatisfying answer at the end of the show came from a video the bomber made before he blew himself up, rather than be caught. He self identified as a sociopath, and the bombings made him feel good.

    The bomber was a young white man, with average looks. They didn’t tell much about his personal life. He lived in a home in Austin, filled with explosive materials. He enjoyed building bombs, and blowing up people, and frustrating the police. He did it until he couldn’t get away with it anymore. Then he blew himself up. What could he have been thinking, and why? We will never know. We will never have that satisfaction. I doubt there would have been any sane reason for him deciding to do this awful thing, or that we could have done anything to stop him thinking this way. People died, were maimed, a lot of money was spent by law enforcement to find him. Because he liked building bombs and blowing people up.

    No apology. No closure. The world will just have to be happy he is dead, and move forward with life. Sometimes that is all any of us can do. Being alive, and not getting joy from hurting others may not seem like much to some people, but to me it sounds pretty good.

    Some people do not have the capacity to examine their actions, and self correct. Some never feel remorse. We cannot force others to think as we think, or feel as we feel. Logic tells us to stop demanding something that is impossible. It is exhausting and demoralizing to look for a reason that explains why a person would act in an indefensible manner, when the answer is because I could. Just stop wasting your time expecting something you will never get, and walk away. Life is much better when you don’t try to understand a fuckwit.

  • I know the most important thing…that he’s a liar and a cheater and a thief. I don’t need backup. I don’t need details. I don’t go to the hardware store to buy bread. I don’t ask someone for five dollars when I know they are broke. That’s MY insanity to do so. I trust ME and my experiences. Being a criminal and lying go together. Detectives and judges and juries deal with this all the time. They don’t have unrealistic expectations of perps. Be like Lieutenant Joe Kenda. (Google…he’s my unflappable hero and role model for keeping calm).

    Cheaters are emotionally immature and morally bankrupt. HERE is where you get validated. Reading the experiences of the other chumps who have been through and heard THE EXACT SAME CRAP, eerily and creepily enough. Now THAT is what I find extremely satisfying and validating.

    And the cheater ARE sorry. Sorry excuses for partners and people.

  • It really doesn’t matter. My ex cried and said he was sorry….and then said he thought he might cheat again.
    Needless to say we never reconciled and split Immediately after d day.

    What I really wanted was for him to prove it wasn’t true, lol since that was impossible, nothing he said or could say was going to change reality.

    I fought against this for a while and became paranoid, severely depressed and suicidal. Trying to match their behaviour with your reality is impossible and makes one ill.

    Eventually I realized I didn’t need to know any more that this – he is a liar. I am not willing to accept infidelity. We are divorced.

    I know I am a good person and bad things can still happen to good people. It’s not me…it is him. I believe this in my bones.

    From then on I have moved on and made myself a new, Independent life. I have created a family of 3 with my kids that is amazing. I am happy. Life is good.

    As an aside, ex got his gf pregnant and they have a baby. He is 49. She complains to home about his child support (yes, he told me this and I threatened legal action if it was brought up again). His new life is much hard.

    My new life is so much easier it’s out ex to take care of. I was so codependent.

    Stop trying to make an illogical situation logical. It is what it is. Abuse. Betrayal. Unacceptable.

  • sor·ry (sŏr′ē, sôr′ē)
    adj. sor·ri·er, sor·ri·est
    a. Feeling or expressing sorrow: We’re sorry to hear that you’re leaving so soon.
    b. Feeling or expressing sympathy or pity: She felt sorry for the rain-soaked cat.
    c. Feeling or expressing regret, especially for a misdeed or mistake: He said he was sorry for breaking the window. I’m sorry I yelled at you.
    2. Worthless or inferior; paltry: a sorry excuse.
    3. Causing sorrow, grief, or misfortune; grievous: a sorry development.

    See definition 2.

    So if they say they’re sorry?

    You can reply, “Yes. Yes you are.”

  • I received a faux-apology that pretty much blamed me for everything, including his having an affair. His lame attempt at re-writing the apology was just as harmful, as it contained no actual remorse, just lots of “confessions” (but only about things I already knew), followed by “this was not in alignment with my values.” There was absolutely no interest demonstrated in exploring why so much of his life for 25 years was out of alignment with his so-called values, no attempt at self reflection beyond “I did not feel appreciated” or “I should have been honest about how my feelings had changed.” Absolutely no regret for throwing away a long term marriage & family, just the painful sense that the only thing he really regrets is that he should have discarded us even sooner.

    The whole ugly process did more harm than good, because it confirms that he is not really sorry, and now I come across as the bitter shrew who won’t accept his apology (“I said I was sorry, what more do you want”). Can’t go completely no contact yet because of kids and some finances that still need to be untangled, but every day I come to realize just how terrible a person he is/was/always will be. Best we can do is move forward and focus on rebuilding our lives, slowly crawling out from all the damage and destruction caused.

    • ‘I should have been honest about how my feelings had changed.” I got that too. Infuriating.

      For those of you who got that after decades of marriage – don’t think it’s because your marriage went flat – I got that as an excuse after our first year of marriage (after an extraordinary belated honeymoon and happily planning for our future ).
      In other words, in my case – the truth was ‘I met someone a lot younger who blew smoke up my ass – she was married with a family too- but our connection was out of this world -as it was for us before the officeW and I kept flirting – so my feelings for you changed. Sorry about that, I should’ve discarded you and my beloved stepchildren first and then screwed her.”

      In other words – the sense of entitlement is so huge – they do not get it.

      • Yep.

        In my case he and schmoopie sat together in his office and she told him of her woes, and I am sure when he made the first negative comment about me, she zeroed in on it. After all he was not her first married man rodeo, she had been trying to lasso one of them paychecks for years.

        Add the mind blowing illicit sex (which I am sure he thought was going to last) and there you are. I am guessing whores know a lot about sex, as it is their meal ticket.

        I was the wife of one man, who had never had sex with anyone but him. Maybe he wasn’t a good teacher? Just kidding, we did have a good sex life, but I was no porn worker.

  • I wished for a grand apology. Instead, I was served with an Order of Protection from XH after an Injunction Against Harassment from OW. How’s that for remorse?

    As a chump, it’s so difficult to realize that there’s often no genuine remorse and often no justice. Just an endless supply of shit sandwiches to ingest.

    In time, you come to realize that an apology from a liar is most likely just another lie and not relevant to your new life. Don’t let their lack of empathy define you. It says more about them than it does about you.

    • I’m so sorry he did that to you

      This is what sticks in my throat

      He can stick any apology ( will never ever happen anyway)

      It’s the lack of justice . The lack of any consequences it boils my blood

      • Thank you Karen!

        Yes, lack of justice and consequences for sure. I know that being them (crappy people) is karmic, but sure would be nice to hear of something biblical happening to cheaters!

  • My Ex, at different points with the kids and with me, did apologize, take responsibility (fairly well, at least) etc. (Mostly while hoovering, his attempts there were long and persistent.) But even that was super frustrating, because he seemed to FINALLY ‘get it’, but this stuff was so freaking obvious, and his behaviour so STUPID.

    AND that was temporary. Was it all bullshit, saying whatever seemed would work to get us back? I don’t even think so. I think he actually sometimes has moments of insight and understanding. But they truly don’t last. How he thinks about things and how he feels is so very temporary! Truly like a toddler.

    Then he returns to his default usual thinking; he’s not perfect, but everything he does is justified, usually by his unhappiness and/or the inadequacies of others. And while he does sometimes do things that are not that great, the consequences people levy for those (amorphous) things are way out of proportion, so mean and unfair. Which makes him MAD, and nasty.

    So even when we DO get this stuff we crave, it’s extremely unsatisfying and doesn’t last.

  • “I mean, if you really – in your heart of hearts – didn’t understand how ignoring traffic regulations puts everyone else at risk, then you probably would just consider any traffic enforcement to be unfair. It wouldn’t mean that you thought you didn’t deserve the consequences of breaking the law, it’s more that you fail to understand the entire concept of laws in the first place”

    I just remembered how my husband was endlessly annoyed with new stop signs, traffic lights and rumble strips. Especially when I pointed out they saved lives. Also, I remember how he never apologized during our marriage. I would sometimes try to give him the words.

  • Here is a passage from the end of Shakespeare’s play Othello, in which the title character is gaslighted by his subordinate, Iago, into believing that his wife is unfaithful:

    Othello speaks to Cassio when he figures out Iago has gaslighted him:
    Will you, I pray, demand that demi-devil
    Why he hath thus ensnared my soul and body?

    Demand me nothing. What you know, you know.
    From this time forth I never will speak word.

    Over 400 years ago, and pre-Freud, Shakespeare created a literary sociopath for us to study. What Othello wants is the same kind of answer the chump wants: Why did he [Iago] do this terrible thing to him? And the answer is the most honest one Iago can give: “I know something you don’t know, and I’m not saying another word.”

    Lots of criminals refuse to confess to their crimes or provide any sort of answer for why they did what they did. The murderer/spree killer Stanley Hoss kidnapped a young mother and small child while escaping from a murder spree in Pennsylvania. To the end, he refused to tell police or that poor family what he did to either of them or where the bodies could be found.

    For all of you asking yourself what YOU did to bring the cheating, the devaluation, or the discard, the biggest hurdle you have is getting that you can’t understand their motives. They aren’t like you. They lie. They deploy all sorts of methods–direct lies, lies of omission, manipulation, gaslighting, false equivalency–to get chumps to believe lies, lots of lies, daily lies. And there you are, hoping for or expecting that person to tell you the full truth of what he or she did.

    One big step on the road to Meh is to accept that “you know what you know” and you can skip the lying jackass excuses for what they did. You know what you need to know–you were married to a hollow person capable of terrible betrayal. That’s the whole story.

    • You’re the first person I’ve encountered that remembers Stanley Hoss. He singlehandedly changed my mind about the death penalty.

  • I used to think that my ex didn’t understand that screwing someone else in secret then going home and screwing me was hurtful even if I didn’t find out.

    But now I’ve come to realize that the hostility involved towards me was what got her off.

    Totally a deliberate behavior.

    All the cry-cry moments and vague apologies I wrung out of her wanting to know why and how could you do this were pointless exercises on self flagellation on my part.

    I’ll never know how many there were over the years.

    I’m glad I’m away from that evil person.

  • I made the unfortunate mistake of calling my first ex husband and after a couple of years telling him, “I forgive you for what happened in the marriage.” He said, “I am sure that means something to you, but I don’t think I did anything to be forgiven for.”

    He had cheated from the reception to when I filed after both myself and his GF were pregnant.

    I have kept myself from making the same mistake in this second divorce. Maybe I forgive him, maybe not, but I know for sure he will never admit any wrongdoing, he will just blame shift on to me and if I give him that opening, he will take it for sure and I DO NOT DESERVE THAT, NOR WILL I ASK FOR IT.

  • I got the level of closure you are seeking. My instinct tells me it’s probably only about a fraction (10%?) of what he actually got up to in our marriage (so not dissimilar to you already) but the first I finally got 6 months after I left was enough for me to connect enough dots and close that desperate seeking/discovery phase of my escape from hell.

    I got a message on Facebook from a woman he’d been seeing for a year (we’d seperated for 6 months!). She connected dots (yep, we’d been divorced over a year according to her vis a vis his version of events). I could have been realistic and called bullshit, but I was that hypervigilant by this stage I knew she was fed lies too.

    It was bad. Real bad. I became friends with this lady, also a chump (to not only my ex but her ex husband too) and we both got closure. Honestly, we laugh so much about him (and the OW I thought he was seeing when I left him, yep they’re still together). They are truly pathetic.

    I’d also found out just after I’d left him he was mid 5 year affair on our wedding day 5 years earlier, a relationship I believed had ended two years prior.

    I saw a psychic. He also confirmed my tip of the iceberg theory, yes yes, that sounds crazy, psychic bullshit, but he just reinforced what I knew. It was another layer I haven’t had proved wrong yet (not that I’m digging).

    I totally understand the need for closure and justice. I got closure, still no justice. Through all of this the thing that pissed me off the most (past tense, I’m at meh now) was how he never apologised. Oh he said sorry a heap of times. I would say what for? He would say for hurting you. I would say how did you hurt me? It would end there. I said the day you can explain word by word, woman by woman, man by man, gay sauna visit by gay sauna visit, swingers club visit by swingers club visit what you actually did, you’re not sorry at all buddy.

    But I got enough insight and hard evidence of all those things to know I don’t want that either. Why retraumatise myself? He’s so depraved and he knows it, why would I put myself further into the abyss of being lied to even further? Hell no. I know enough, and it’s more than most but less than is truth. I just trust that he sucks.

    But, having that other secret OW come into my life was a godsend. Helps that she’s hilarious, and owns her shit too. It really showed how twisted he was with his decoy OW and the main prize (my new friend) being invisible to me. The shit she believed he did to her was awful. Massive scale theft and lies, so much staging the Superdad pity play. Connecting means we were both able to compare the two versions of his lies we got told. That was enough.

    I get how you’ll ruminate until honour and justice is served. But that comes from inside you, not outside her and her lies. Just trust that it will come to you like it did for me, and know you don’t have to go looking. By the time you get it you won’t care (I didn’t) so working on your internal meh will set you up well for that.

    • I too was contacted by the OW. At first she denied not only her involvement while I was still married to XAss, but a lot of his behaviors. After months of communication, mostly instigated by her, she finally admitted to much of what I had suspected, and a lot more pathetic behavior that I wouldn’t have thought of him. That is the only validation that I will get because XAss will never admit to anything, much less apologize (fake or not) for it.

  • Maybe one of the upsides of waffling in making my exit was having more time to wring the facts out of cheater. But doing this comes with downsides so, in the end, getting out of the toxic orbit of barren planet cheater should be the first order of business.

    It wasn’t an entirely useless endeavor to get the facts because it allowed me to very specifically match up dreams, nightmares, thoughts and and intuitive flashes to what cheater was really doing at various moments over the course of an 18 month affair, during which I was expertly snowed and mindfucked half to death.

    Call it a chump science experiment. Comparing dated journal entries and text exchanges with actual events and secret credit card charges showed some novel ways by which my subconscious was trying to warn me (like waking up with eerie poetic phrases on my mind and writing them down, dreams about stocky women climbing out of suitcases, that time I felt like I couldn’t breathe at the park out of the blue, that time I fell down the stairs at the concert hall, etc.) and also the specific emotional manipulation tactics cheater would use to fry my circuits.

    It was edifying to say the least. On the one hand I could have just read about “FOG” (fear, obligation, guilt) tactics in a book, but that would not have been the full story. One of the things that gets severely damaged from gaslighting is intuition. When I think of how many times I’ve avoided danger to myself or others due to gut sense and a clear enough mind to read those cues, having someone repeatedly jam a wrench in that faculty by lying and mucking up the gears seems like being partially blinded. It leaves you walking into walls, feeling unsafe and less capable of protecting children, etc. So I think a strong reason we want to know the facts comes from a drive to repair and recalibrate intuition.

    So there’s an argument in defense of the impulse to know the truth. We can marvel at the power of human instincts. But you know what came with most of the key confessions? More chances for cheater to deliver a dose of DARVO, causing the head-in-a-blender effect.

    I don’t know if this is a “thing” with cheaters but every time I managed to wring out some key piece of data I sought, he’d punish me for it with bs editorials I didn’t ask for, didn’t need and that simply left more shrapnel that had to be removed from vital organs after the fact.

    It didn’t matter when he admitted later that the DARVO crap was all lies and came from a place of rage. That’s the point in the chump science experiment when the psycho lab rat gnaws through the cage and leaves you bleeding profusely with infected bite marks all over your face and neck.

    I have more facts but also more scars. I managed to get written confessions that help in a fault state. But more scars. I got incontrovertable evidence of how truly creepy and worthless AP’s are (crying and tantruming because cheater wouldn’t ditch his three minor kids on CHRISTMAS? Yikes). But more scars.

    • HOAC,

      the way gaslighting will damage one’s intuition—that’s such a smart observation.

      I’m three years out and just yesterday had a flash insight in which I understood somebody I worked with had known about the AP a year before I did, and that insight blinded me momentarily.

      Ultimately it doesn’t matter. Also true, my intuition is healing and repairing itself after a decade of being told to stand down. It’s not unlike welcoming an old friend. Re-cognize: the Aristotelian heart of the story’s matter: to know again what one has already known.

      I like my scars. They tell me where I’ve been.

      There is a wonderful exhibit at the museum in the Cloth Hall at Ypres. It’s a slice from a tree planted in 1787, or thereabouts, and the tree survived two world wars. One can see visually the decades it took for wounds caused by shrapnel to heal. And still for over two centuries the tree stood, magnificent and tall.

      • Epictetus–

        You remind me that I recently found an email in the mass of files I’d sent to my lawyer in which cheater’s lesbian “work wife” had sent him a podcast from This American Life about the benefits of fucking around on committed relationships. Ah, so she knew about his creepy workplace affair all along. The discovery momentarily made me nauseous, but then I realized this just confirmed my gut sense about that woman. I couldn’t stand her but wasn’t exactly sure why. It’s because I knew what she was.

        But it still got under my skin. It makes sense that she wasn’t exactly a friend of his marriage for all her proto-feminist lip service since the secret credit card bills showed the epic sum of family money that went to pay her bar tabs without my knowledge or approval. That was food taken out of my children’s mouths, part of their college fund, etc. Cheater apparently had to pay top dollar for his flying monkeys. It’s oddly comforting that they didn’t come for free, though it still bothers me that some walk around getting creds for feminism when they enable abuse of other women and children for their own gain (she also hustled for job opportunities).

        I want that money back. I firmly believe that, just like it takes effort to suppress a victim’s intuition, it takes effort for even the worst people to suppress their own. That enabler is trailing around some serious debt. No wonder she drinks so much.

        I didn’t know about the tree at Cloth Hall but what you write reminds me of kintsugi, the Japanese art of “precious scars” in which broken pottery is repaired with molten gold.

        Thanks for the “re-cognize” reference. How apt. Getting the faculty of intuition back is definitely a profound part of recovery. Clearly that kind of prescience is the mortal enemy of all betrayers so it’s no surprise they instinctively attack that faculty. For both political and personal abuse, the term “perspecticide” comes to mind.

        As far as owning one’s scars, I agree though I never take that extra new-age step of “thanking” the icky forces of evil we encounter. I’ve never been religious but appreciate certain scriptural passages, like Matthew 18:7– “For it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man [or woman] by whom the offense cometh.”

        • HOAC,

          I’m typing this from a place where the smoke of wildfires fills the air. North of me several hundred miles a friend’s ranch is in peril. There’s a new age performativity to all that thanking of adversity that does not provide much comfort to those whose houses are on fire. I keep thinking lately about Anne Beattie’s story “The Burning House.” Still, sometimes, in the wake of such devastation, what are the options? Aeschylus sometimes speaks to me: “I think the slain care little if they sleep or rise again.”

          Because the slain are gone, have moved on, they are also free of care. And the trees will come back. It took years for me to appreciate that my vow, ‘til death do us part, spoke to the marriage and not the life. And then I was free.

          There is something to be said for letting go and passing through and on. You are versed in compelling matters of astrophysics that dazzle and reflect. My reading of Karma is that it’s premised on matter, magnetism, and attachment, and that the best way to detach from the unpleasant is, having reflected and shifted one’s focus, to attach openly to the desired. If object fixation takes you directly at what you look at, then maybe the antidote to perspecticide is to not fixate on the unpleasant while also not denying—and accepting—its presence. Acknowledge and evade the Gaslighter. Look where you want to go.

          Likewise, release is such an ample word: it speaks of the sexual, the spiritual, the indebted, and the imprisoned all at once. Feeling released from the past brings me joy. As does my nimble Honda motorbike.

          Debts encumber the indebted and the bank which makes the loan. Writing off those loans, all of them, accepting those losses while paying clear my own debts, has freed me to move on. All those flying monkeys wearing their flying monkey suits, especially those dressed in sanctimonious and political regalia—sympathy doesn’t really come to mind, though pity often does. How awful it must be to be them. Such ugly and restrictive uniforms. And how grateful I am to be myself.

          And my kids! I’d do it all over again to get where I am. Differently, yes, or not.

          Increasingly I’m persuaded that the materiality of the body is a mechanism, both delightful and demanding, sturdy and fragile, by which I have been meant to experience this life. This not to presume my lens speaks for others. Maybe we are clumsy—hurt others, injure ourselves, hide from the light of what’s true amidst our own shadows—because these bodies we travel in are simply unfamiliar.

          Mathew 8:26: Why are you afraid, Christ asks. Do you not have faith?

          Those who are unfaithful—those who cheat—live in fear. Maybe that fear is the agent and import of their woe?

          They have become faithless?

          Light, observes St Thomas, dwells within light.

          • Epictetus–

            I like the idea of looking where you want to go. That can be slow going after a major life trauma but it’s good to bear in mind as a goal.

            I will look for wisdom from any source if it’s sound, like the Taoist view that “If you want the universe to fill your rice bowl, clean it out,” or “Never rob anyone of their consequences.”

            My objections to Western use of Eastern philosophies–aka, new age– is that, if taken out of original context, some of it is downright Calvinist or this is how it is sometimes misused. As the filmmaker Kurisawa joked, the typical Western practice of Zen tends to leave out the fact the philosophy was intended to make the lives of indentured feudal soldiers– those who had no say if they fought or lived or died on any given day– more bearable and made them more effective servants, killers or canon fodder. Not everything in it applies perfectly to those living in modern democracies. But these modern misinterpretations of Eastern practices have a certain appeal to those who victim blame, either out of guilt or as a kind of superstitious rite to feel exempt from misfortune themselves.

            Yet, with that in mind, there is still wisdom that can be drawn from such ancient philosophies. Or from physics or the bible or a group of grandmothers. I’ll take whatever I find if it fits into a consistant whole.

            I hope you are safe where you are. I have many friends living near the fires and I worry. We talk about how this is part of the fallout from an industrial economy which manifests in so many terrible ways, how these “manifestations” claims so many victims who have no idea that they’re experiences are linked in a larger way and relates to the whole gamut of abuse of power from political to interpersonal. We talk about how to make people more aware of this link between them to forge greater pushback. One friend produces a political radio show, another got an ACLU award for bringing awareness to state violence, I write about environmental illness (but do it far from the fires). I guess we’re all looking where we want to go but God is there ever a lot of ugly things to note along the way, things that must be noted and documented and shared to get to that better point. At least the company is great.

            I hear you about looking at the what is pitiable in fools and jerks, their requisite lousy childhoods, etc. I get into trouble talking about it because it sounds like a plea for amnesty to some. But understanding isn’t the same as giving a pass. It’s just a reminder of why it’s better not to be an asshole. It doesn’t look fun.

            Monkey suit, lol. Thank you for the great insights and sorry for any typos.

            • H,

              Yes, I hear you and share your thoughts on the bullying impulses of much New Age dogma (or platitudes?). Your idea of New Age Calvinism rings clear. The baked-in victim blaming, what with insufficient positive thinking leading to any number of purportedly self-inflicted circumstances (health, relationships, financial well-being). Not to cause offense: it has sometimes occurred to me that many of the prohibitions conveyed by, say, Catholicism where similarly designed to protect the political apparatus of the institution and not necessarily those who physically built and gathered in the cathedral. Likely this observation is not limited to Catholicism. To pinch from Madonna, Beauty, like Wisdom, is where you find it, not just where you pump and grind it. That rice bowl metaphor is a treat. And even the best ideas become clubs to bludgeon others when deployed by bullies.

              A few months ago on my bike I had this startling vision of leaving behind the circumstances of so much collected grief, stacked in piles of rubble, like those arranged by the women gathering bricks on the ruined streets of 1944 Berlin. In the moment it was as if I was being pulled (and not propelled) through a door of light. The door was framed as if it belonged in a farmhouse. This event took place on my birthday, three years out, and took a long while getting to. And then I passed through into an open sky.

              Sometimes it rains, too, and thankfully.

              One rule for many artists seems to be Everything connects.

              Another seems to be Everything reflects.

              Theodore Roethke: “And things shed light on things.”

              There are so many conflagrations, as well as tender mercies, and it’s a comfort to know others—your friends, those wise grandmothers, and those who love them—are out there doing their part. It’s similarly no surprise you are a writer.

              Tracy really has created a marvelous place to gather and collect.

              • Epictetus– I love this forum. Full of especially stellar humans and brain candy. In every org, everything is a trickle down from the founders. CL has created a great community.

                Damn, I wish I had visions. I just get technicolor dreams.

                When you’re talking about the iffy aspects of any religion– the weird prohibitions or victim blaming, etc.– I think this represents a struggle within any institution to turn religion into “cult.” According to Chris Hedges in “When Atheism Becomes Religion” (about the new organized atheists who’ve become a front group for various industries and institutions. It’s a companion book to “American Fascists” about the violent Christian political movement), cults are defined by claims of creating a paradise on earth free of suffering, horror, disease, etc. This is coupled with the myth of moral progress– the idea that a transcendent caste of humans can be bred or appointed to lead the rest of us riffraff to this paradise. There are such things as existential cults (for instance, all forms of totalitarianism) which are cults based on expedient, crap state science or “scientism.” The book is short and sweet and worth reading for the bibliography alone.

                Anyway, the point Hedges makes is that all religions have their “tumors” of cultishness, probably representing shifts of whomever was in power at the time certain scripture was written, and that religion is not the problem per se but cults and cultishness. The same is true of many secular ideologies and political movements. But prescriptions against this are often built right into modern religions, such as Jesus’s assertion that “My kingdom is not of this world.” No paradise on earth, folks, and don’t believe anyone trying to sell it. And Karl Raimund Popper left us with a wonderful anti-secular-cult political manual: The Open Society and its Enemies: The Spell of Plato.

              • I don’t know why I wrote modern religions. I think I meant religions that are currently practiced.

  • CL is right again. Even with my ‘Nice guy’ exit affair cheater – it all fits. I did get ‘remorse’ but I realized later it was about him and how he made himself look like an ass. He was embarrassed for himself.
    I did get an ‘I’m a bastard.’ But when I asked him if he really thought he was a bastard his answer was ‘No.’ Just telling me what he thought I wanted to hear.
    As CL says this will never happen: ‘She’ll never get over it and she’ll spend the rest of her life trying to live with herself.’ Bahaha. They spend the rest of their life trying to be happy ( because they deserve it at all costs) and we are only vague memories.

    • Zip! You nailed it.

      Mine trotted out these: “I made a mistake,” “I f**ked up,” and “I’m sorry.”

      Undercutting all of those fauxpologies were these gems:
      “I want to marry her” (looking forward to a happy future),
      “You gave as good as you got” (word-salad blaming)
      “Will you and the kids even come to my funeral?” (playing the victim)
      “I probably did you a favor.” (justifying)
      “If you meet someone new and he becomes the new grandpa, that will cut me to the core.” (threatening+playing victim)

      I could go on…

      • Playing victim but also showing his “worse fears” jugular. Definitely don’t go to his funeral. And I’m sure the replacement grandpa you find will be loving and constant considering all the wisdom you’ve amassed.

      • When I asked mine for the truth (after many days of lies lies lies) -he literally said ‘if I’m able to.’
        That’s probably one of the more truthful things he said- ultimately I guess he was a weak and immature man.
        I was so shocked… I don’t even understand the concept of knowing the truth but not knowing if you are able to say it if you are asked directly?

  • “basically to confess, for her to confirm and affirm that I was right about my suspicions and suppositions all along, and for her to feel bad about what she has done.”

    When it happened to me I had been suspicious for about 8 months or so before I deciding to look for evidence and found it. At first I felt what I could only describe as elation; I wasn’t paranoid! I wasn’t making things up in my head! I was right to doubt him and not trust him!

    Then I found out that the cheating had been not with one person but many, over the timespan of 3 years (or so he says). So at that point I was blaming myself for being so stupid and only noticing relatively recently.

    Thing is… These people will never tell the whole truth, they tell what is convenient to them, what you already know, and in some cases they vomit some details on you so that they can feel better. I think chances are you will never know the whole truth, but you know enough to know you can’t stand for this.

    Apologies, I’m not sure how much they mean to cheaters. My cheater did apologise more than once, but more often than not it sounded like he felt sorry for himself and ashamed that everyone knew, rather than genuinely remorseful for what he had to me and our family. In the end, apology or not he took so much away from me that no apology could possibly ever fix this. It reminds me of this passage from the book “This is me letting you go”:

    “The very thought of letting someone walk away scot-free from what they’ve done makes us sick. We don’t want to simply wipe our hands clean. We want to transfer the blood onto theirs. We want to see the scores evened and the playing field levelled. We want them to bear the weight of what they’ve done, not us.”

    And I get it, I feel the same.

  • I got this too. About 12 months after separation, he accused me of making nuisance phone calls to Schmoopie, and called me several times to tell me in no uncertain terms to cease and desist. Wasn’t me, or my kids.
    Suspect it was likely one of his other girlfriends harassing Schmoops. My kids had already told me at that stage he had 3 girlfriends, sleeping over different nights. They all got what they deserved.

    Almost 4 years later, and despite no contact, he still regularly begs to come home. Not a hope in hell. Thank you Chump Lady, without your wisdom I may have fallen for his crap!

  • The confession I received was that it was always about the thrill of the chase. And centrality was attempted through a sleazy bar whore who harassed me viciously for years. And even that didn’t work he attempted to humble himself by stating he’d be willing to talk to me three years ago. No deal.

  • Somewhere in his blistered life he realized he claimed zeros on much of his working years being self employed. Then the narrative switched to be ‘gave’ me my pension in the divorce. Nope, I earned it. And because I’ve stayed the course with my home and professional work life I’ll be doing alright when I retire in a few years. He bet on a lame whorse. They get consequences. Never doubt it.

  • All in all I’m living the life I deserved. Two cheaters know what the other is capable of, lying and cheating. By far I believe we inevitably get an authentic life. Popcorn all around.

  • You will be waiting for an apology until one of you dies. Focus your energy elsewhere . What do you want from the rest of your life ?
    If they were sorry, they wouldn’t have behaved that way in the first place. They don’t care about anyone but themselves.

  • Be careful what you wish for. My XW finally was forced to admit her affair. As she told me about the AP sex, she wore a smirk on her face and had a gleam in her eye, she was getting off on the gory details. Or was she getting off at humiliating and emasculating me? Who know? Who cares? She said she was going to fuck more guys just to see how different it might be. I guess I was lucky, I had her served within a month. Buh-bye psycho slut.

    • Lol– “Buh-bye psycho slut.”

      From your description, I caught a hint that cheating wives bear a certain resemblance to female APs. I wonder if this is true for cheating men and male “mate poachers.” There’s some infantile, wounded ego compensation thing going on, pea-sized self esteem, a sort of toxic-macho and smug need to one-up and wallow in conquest. Healthy people of either gender don’t act like this.

  • I got my apology. But he was noticeably vague about what he was apologizing FOR, which makes me doubt he’s truly sorry, rather than sorry he lost his cake. And oddly, he apologized profusely (again without specifics) for pictures on his computer that until then I never knew existed. (My friend joked he was hanging himself with his own rope). But I’d already figured out he’s a liar. Like CL says, people don’t change character overnight. If they do, that’s a red flag in and of itself. Seems convenient that a week after I leave, he has a glorious transformation that would normally take years (if ever). C’mon.

    Palmer, it makes sense you want validation after all that gaslighting. But someone with the emotional depth of a mosquito probably can’t give it to you. (Any more than they can refrain from cheating and lying to you). Hopefully, here you’ll find support and insight to heal. This blog has helped me reconnect with feelings and hunches I’d buried but turned out to be spot on. It’s helped to know that I’m not alone. (It can be so isolating to be gaslit). But we’re not alone. More than that, we’re pretty awesome! Ultimately though, this validation can only come from you. You have to learn to trust yourself and your instincts. Even without clear proof laid out unmistakably for all to see in Exhibits A thru Z. But the beautiful thing about giving away your power is that once you realize it was your choice to do so, no one can take it away from you. Ever.

    Blessings and the very best to you.

  • I got an apology. Well sort of. He said that he was sorry for what he did. But, I needed to understand that they were only friends. He only went away with her occasionally. Because I did not want to go anywhere. He did not think I would have cared nor loved him.
    The only thing he was sorry about was getting caught. Cheaters are not sorry. If they were capable if feeling sorrow tbey would not have lied abd cheated.

  • My STBX and I were married for 22 years, everything was great, no major problems. Life was good! The only thing was that he travelled a lot for work over the past 5 years. In May, he came home after 2 weeks away. As he slept that night, I looked through his phone and saw sex videos of him and the OW. It was like a bomb went off in my head. I kicked him out at 1:00 am as my 3 kids sobbed in their rooms. I had no clue. They’ve been together for 2.5 years and he actually lives with her in her house with her sons when he was “away at work.” I was at the lawyer’s office the next day.

    I wanted him to be sorry. I wanted the full comprehensive, bulleted apology so bad. He wrote to our kids, apologizing for everything. But never to me. I demanded an apology.I wanted to know everything!!! I wrangled up a therapist to facilitate a disclosure session for us.

    It was painful to hear (he had pretty much been unfaithful since we were dating in 1990! 30 years!) and had been addicted to porn since he was 12 years old. I had no idea. The painful part? He still did not apologize. I sat there listening to him talking about his escapades, their trips, raising these other kids, without a hint of remorse. I stood up and left. I literally ran out of the therapist’s room.

    So yes, the desire for an apology is completely justified and human. But cheaters are animals. Sure, they can say sorry and look sorry because they are actors. But they are completely incapable of being sorry. It is like asking a paralyzed man to walk. They just don’t have the insight to understand what they have done. I am letting go of that.

    The book “Why Won’t You Apologize” by Harriet Lerner really helped me. She points out that the worse the actions are, the greater and more chronic the shame is, and so the more iron-clad the defenses are—all the denial, rationalization, minimization, projection, etc become completely impenetrable. They are literally dead inside.

    My therapist says it will take 3-4 years of intense biweekly therapy for him to even develop empathy. Remorse follows years later. It is rare. By then, he will be with someone else, ruining other people’s lives.
    No way will I be around for that.

    For now, an apology will have to come in monetary form. Prepping for mediation in December!

    • I forgot to say, CL’s book is a godsend. Thank you so much, Tracy. I have it as an audiobook. Once I finish it, I start it all over again. It is like having a wise and funny friend putting both a gentle lamp onto your feet and floodlights on the path ahead.

    • I forgot to say, CL’s book is a godsend. Thank you so much, Tracy. I have it as an audiobook. Once I finish it, I start all over again. It is like having a wise and funny friend putting both a gentle lamp onto your feet and floodlights on the path ahead.

  • I forgot to say, CL’s book is a godsend. Thank you so much, Tracy. I have it as an audiobook. Once I finish it, I start all over again. It is like having a wise and funny friend putting both a gentle lamp onto your feet and floodlights on the path ahead.

  • I think the apology (were you to get one) is unlikely to be helpful because even the cheater probably could not figure out where to begin. The affair(s) may have a start date, but the lying probably began much earlier–the first time he/she decided to exaggerate their accomplishments when you were dating, or the first time he/she had lunch with a “friend” because the two of you weren’t exclusive yet and he/she enjoyed the thrill of romancing two people at once. Cheaters cannot figure out how to apologize because manipulating people is central to their way of operating in the world. The affair was just the place you drew the line–it wasn’t the beginning of the problem.

  • Palmer,

    that is never ever, ever ever going to happen. Letting go is the hardest thing but you must LET GO. It is the only way to freedom, promise!

    She is never going to say sorry because 1. she doesn’t understand the way you think 2. the only thing that matters is her needs 3. she doesn’t have empathy (feeling how you feel) 4. you are an appliance that must comply;

    and the biggie:

    5. She will do anything in order to not be wrong. Destroy your assets? Lie? Deny? Hurt your children? Start World War III? Whatever it takes to not be accountable and not feel shame, she will do it.

    Let go. Walk away. Don’t engage.

    • So spot on. Re item 5: it astounds how the desire not to be wrong becomes morphed as a justification to destroy the life of another. These people are incalculably dangerous.

      Never try to reason with a dragon or a snake.

      • “it astounds how the desire not to be wrong becomes morphed as a justification to destroy the life of another.”

        So much truth there. It strains the mind to understand it.

        My ex, went out of his way the last few months to hurt and humiliate me. He admitted he did after he left, he said he did it to make me hate him. I assume he thought if I hated him I would be the one to file and kick him out, thereby giving him license to say; I tried but she kicked me out.

        I was in shock for a while, so a lot of the conversations I remember, I am just remembering the words. At the time I didn’t have the mental capacity to figure anything out. Or even try to figure it out. Unfortunately there were many red flags that I saw in our past, post Dday that made his statements believable. So who knows. Either way, they (most of them) will save themselves at all cost.

  • Sometimes the answer of knowing every sordid detail happen when the AP#1 gets sick of Cheaters lies and blabs….. then you find the same presents given to both, same dinners…. and you realize that You broke up with Cheater because Cheater is a dunce too.

  • It took his death for me to know everything. Did it help? Maybe in some ways but I don’t think I would have ever been voluntarily told. I knew about an affair. I did not know about the other affairs, strippers, and prostitutes. Quite a shock to see the proof that the last 8 years of a 25 year marriage were a lie. I wasn’t crazy. My gut told me the whole time but I believed him because I loved him and may not have ever believed this stuff if I didn’t find out upon his death. Cleaning up his mess has been quite the deal.

  • CL’s advice is so true.

    They can’t be sorry, in the same way they can’t love like you love. Forgive them once and for all then leave, instead of having to forgive them every day.

    My SBXW said “I’m sorry for the hurt I caused you, but I’m not sorry for the fun I had” and this was in a therapy session! A year on it’s darkly funny.

    • I don’t think forgiveness is even necessary. I just came to the place where I didn’t envision him floating face down in the Ohio River. That is good enough for me.

  • I am, thankfully, not a chump. I found this site while looking for support in my recovery from being raised by a narcissist. I visit here often because the insight into narcissism is amazing.

    Today, I read this three times:
    “She’s not sorry. Sorry people act sorry. She’s not tripping all over herself to apologize because she doesn’t feel she has anything to apologize for. At some level she thinks you deserved this … Your grief is this annoying background buzz that’s getting in the way of her fabulousness.”

    I too wanted validation that what happened to me happened and that it was wrong. I never got it but I know I deserved it. The lack of validation doesn’t make my situation any less valid. Then came the smear campaign, controlling the narrative, blame shifting, gaslighting, pity party, repeat-repeat-repeat. This forum is such a comfort.

    Palmer, your validation is here, in this community.

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