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My New Husband Is a ‘Sex Addict’

Hi Chump Lady,

I’ve recently discovered my partner of 5 years and brand new husband is a sex addict.

He has cheated on me in massage parlours and with escorts numerous times, and cheated on his ex-wife 20+ times (she didn’t know. I found the email trail. He’d been writing fucking REVIEWS of them!!)

Once confronted, he couldn’t even see there was a problem or take any accountability. With the ex it was “she was an alcoholic, she was never home, I was lonely, there was no love between us”, with me, he supposedly loved me so much, I was his soul mate, bla bla bla, but the excuse was the fact I have a mental illness. Which I told him about from the start, unlike him, I never hid my problems.

He knew I had trust issues to begin with. I confided all this in him from the start. He told me he’d never hurt me, never cheat, and he slowly built/rebuilt my trust in men and life, over the years that followed. I couldn’t have been happier marrying him… Why do they do this?! Why the mind games??

Anyway. I left him. It’s been a few months. I’m struggling with betrayal trauma, PTSD, whatever you want to call it.

My question is… How.. HOW.. do you EVER trust ANYONE again?? I don’t trust any men at all now, not even friends or family. I am totally traumatised. I see ghosts in the shadows and sex addicts everywhere.

I feel like in future relationships, if I ever have one, I’ll just be a basket case of fear and paranoia. 30 minutes late from work? You must have been getting a hand-job massage!! Not answering the phone for an hour?? Guess you’re off with a prostitute.

That’s what was going on in my life for 5 years and I had NO idea. I slept with / beside him at night never knowing who he really was.

I just don’t know how to ever recover. What’s worse is he stole the prime fertility years of my life, we were due to start trying this year.. now I may never have kids, by the time I get to grips with this and start over.

Please help. How do I ever heal?

Any advice appreciated.

Honeymoon Chump

Dear Honeymoon Chump,

Please take trusting future men in future relationship off your plate right now. That’s a big lift. Right now, just focus on getting safely OUT of this marriage.

You left. YOU LEFT. That takes an incredible amount of strength and clarity of mind. I know you probably feel like you didn’t have any other choice, but HC, you did. He tried to mindfuck you, say the things you longed to hear (you’re his soul mate, blah blah blah) and you rejected it. Rejected him. You’re STRONG. So stop thinking you’re weak and may never recover. You WILL recover. But you’ll have a big scar — all badasses have scars.

Trusting again is really a matter of trusting yourself. Of knowing you can enforce a boundary. Of believing in your own resiliency. We don’t control all the crazy out there. We just control ourselves. Based on this test, you CRUSHED it, HC. You didn’t know, but when you DID know? You took IMMEDIATE action and ENDED it.

You’re not going to feel particularly trusting right now, because you’re flooded with Escape the Motherfucker adrenaline. You’re in a dangerous situation — leaving a freak with a double life who rates sex workers like Amazon purchases. So, of course, you feel hypervigilant because you SHOULD BE. You’re not out of the woods yet. So please don’t second guess yourself. Just move toward safety. Shut down all channels of communication with him, except through a lawyer.

brand new husband is a sex addict

He’s not a sex addict. He’s an entitled misogynistic, lying asshole who enjoys having a wife appliance and a buffet of pussy on the side. We just have a whole bogus relationship industry that is happy to make money off this “diagnosis.”

Your husband doesn’t whip out his dick at work, does he? He doesn’t compulsively have sex while getting his tires rotated or shopping for groceries, does he? No. He PLANS for these rendezvous. Hides them. Pays for them. And has the executive functioning to write reviews afterwards. Seems like a very selective “compulsion.”

If he’s addicted to anything, it’s the power of deceit and fucking around on the side. It’s the power of convincing TWO women to invest in him, believe the lie that he is committed to them and safe, while deceiving them and endangering their health. That’s a CONTEMPT problem, not a “sex addiction.”

Once confronted, he couldn’t even see there was a problem or take any accountability.

That’s a CHARACTER problem.

Why do they do this?! Why the mind games??

Why do abusers abuse? Power. Entitlement. Don’t untangle his skein. He did it because he can. Because that’s his value system. He matters a LOT, you not so much.

I don’t trust any men at all now, not even friends or family. I am totally traumatised. I see ghosts in the shadows and sex addicts everywhere.

This “I distrust the whole gender” thing is an unfortunate side effect of being chumped. You’re trying to figure out who’s safe and who isn’t, and so writing off the whole gender seems sort of safe. Well, I won’t make THAT mistake again

Look, there are way, way, WAY too many creepy Johns out there, but there are scores of good men who don’t buy women, who aren’t misogynists, who respect women and who would feel honored to know you. But get your sea legs first. You’re not going to date right now. First job is to heal up from this nightmare.

What’s worse is he stole the prime fertility years of my life

And for this, I hate his guts. Please get a full STD work up. I can relate to your story. I also lost the last of my fertility years to a cheater. I thank God every day I didn’t have a child with a sociopath, and I’m sure in time you will too. But it’s a LOSS. A tangible LOSS. Which is why people who are so flippant and casual about the damage of betrayal piss me off and fuel this blog.

I don’t know how old you are, but fertility science has come a long way. Consider freezing your eggs. Or — again, after you heal up — having a child on your own, or adopting, or being a step mom with a future partner. Or having a child with a future partner. There are MANY ways this could work out. This dream, with this fraud of a man, died. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other dreams to dream.

You are a STRONG woman. And I know you’re going to be okay. He will always be a misogynistic piece of shit. And you will always be a badass. It just takes some time to heal. Big (((hugs))

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I was struggling with trust too, in the end I decided it’s not about trusting others, it’s about trusting yourself to do the right thing for you. And you did, you left him! You will be ok. As I said, it’s about trusting yourself, your instincts, your intuition, 6th or 7th or whatever sense…

    • I agree. And I think that’s where the trust issue is coming from. I just can’t get my head around that I didn’t know. and would have CONTINUED to never know!! except for one random email I saw that I wasn’t supposed to. I might have lost decades of my life to a man who was a monster, and never know. That just terrifies me in ways I can’t even explain.

      • We all felt that way, HC. We chumps are good and decent people, and because we would not betray others, we don’t typically think to look for poor character in other people. Now that your eyes have been opened, you will learn to better discern, and become aware that other people might not be as trustworthy as you. You will see red flags early. You will be better able to protect yourself. I promise.

        • God I hope so. I’ve spent the months since leaving absolutely trawling my mind for red flags.. I really really can’t find any. I’d almost prefer there were some I missed, if you know what I mean. It would be less scary than there being none. The only possible thing is – my Mom really really did not like him. She says it was mother’s intuition, as her own mum, back in the 70s / 80s, saved her from a bad guy or two with instinct. Apparently. I don’t know if I believe this. But everyone else was fooled by him and she never was…

          • Sometimes there really are no red flags, I’m a bit on a paranoid side and didn’t see any in my case. The first one I say I acted on it (he was shaving before going montain climbing in winter, this was really odd and I began drilling). Don’t beat yourself up, you will be OK, you are OK!

          • I related to a covert red flag someone mentioned the other day: Only wants to do their date night plan. My ex-hat, lack of enthusiasm for my ideas was a sign of narcissism I missed. Also, lack of charity for anyone other than me. To say the least I was blindsided to his cheating and never would’ve considered that he was a narcissist. For my post divorce ex-hat, a narc for sure, that charm channel was so strong. Way more obviously a narcissist, the entitlement to the resources of others, and lack of endurance on goals that weren’t mostly to his benefit. Anything clicking?

            • Yes it is. I echo everyone else above too…there were no signs. I’ve racked my brain and as paranoid as I am now, nothing at all stood or stands out. That’s what’s so scary. It’s not that I don’t trust myself exactly, which ai kinda don’t, it’s that some people can completely split like that. That some people are capable of that. I lived with the man for a decade too. So how could I know if it happened again??

              Also seconding the narcissist thing. I always thought of narcissists as loud showy look at me braggarts. And sometimes it’s not that way at all. It took me some time to wrap my mind around and understand covert narcissism.

              • One of the most frustrating things in this is that somehow people always assume you must have known to some degree, and sometimes many do. But other times we deal with such skilled liars that it’s impossible to tell. Also the gaslighting, when you’re told that you’re making a big deal out of nothing, you stop trusting yourself.

                Before this happened to me I always assumed that the person who was being cheated on knew but they were complicit in their silence. What a fool I was…

              • If I ever date again, the only answer I will accept if I bring up something of concern is, “I hear that this bothers you. How can we work together to address the problem?” No more minimizing of ANY kind – that’s a red flag, too. Part of the trick there is to bring up issues diplomatically, so that partners don’t automatically feel defensive. But if you bring up something calmly and make it clear that you are looking to share feelings and have a conversation, and the other person bristles and acts like you’re being unreasonable – not just once, but several times, or if you try to circle back to difficult issues when things are not so stressful – then it’s time to bring in the calvary (therapy, mediation) and let partner know this kind of thing is a dealbreaker.

              • Lez Chump , that’s a GREAT red flag!! Is there a list of these anywhere we can compile??

              • Sorry, cavalry, not calvary!

                ChumpLady had a great Friday challenge a couple of weeks ago about red flags. I would also recommend Dr. Ramani on YouTube – she focuses specifically on narcissism, but a whole lot of cheaters are narcs. (It certainly sounds like yours is one. And/or sociopath.) So, I would recommend searching “Ramani red flag” on YouTube, and then just basically watch every video involving her.

                All best to you, Honeymoon. If you ever need to vent, please go to Reddit r/ChumpLadyNation and ask the moderators to add you. We will get it like few other people will.

            • Wow you described my STBXH exactly! I never knew anything about narcistic personalities, and never thought he was one, until he cheated on me and then I came across this blog and found so many personality traits that he had.

              • Dr. Ramani is my internet mom. You can get all the validation you need from her if you need it on as rough day.

          • In my case, there were no red flags that he would eventually cheat. The red flags I chose to deny early on were things such as him always having to win an argument, always placing blame on others and not accepting any himself, and gaslighting behaviors. The fact that he moved 1,800 miles away from his two young daughters from his first marriage for a job. Irresponsible actions, like buying something he couldn’t afford and didn’t need then defaulting on the loan. Gosh, when I look back on all the things I dismissed, it kind of makes me sick to my stomach.

            I was at a very vulnerable time of my life when I met him and he caught me with my pants down, so to speak. I was young, my beloved mother had just died of breast cancer, and I had lost my dad to heart disease years early–I really had no one. I was afraid of being alone. It was a predator and prey situation. Never again.

            • Wiser Now-that’s EXACTLY what I experienced with my ex!

              In terms of the never being wrong, always blaming everyone else for anything negative, gaslighting me over the smallest things AND not ever making a decision when it came to our kids about anything! I finally figured out he did that with the kids because it forced me to make a decision, i.e. should the kids be allowed to spend the night at a friend’s house?-and if the decision I made caused a problem (the kids were out door bell ditching at midnight)-then he would blame me for saying they could go!

              Never again is right!

          • Hi HC. I saw red flags when you wrote: With the ex it was “she was an alcoholic, she was never home, I was lonely, there was no love between us”, with me, he supposedly loved me so much, I was his soul mate, bla bla bla
            This screams red flag because it is all her fault and he is not getting enough love or attention. They all have that same play book. Why was she never home? What did he do to make her feel loved? Still, he is a liar, so how to know the answers are true? It sucks, for sure. You’ll trust again, don’t let him steal that, too.

          • Early on after finding out about the cheating, I swore there were no red flags that this person was a fuckwit. Quite the opposite! I’d tell my friends this person had been amazing, there weren’t any red flags, and be so freaked out at “how could there be no red flags? What do I even watch out for in the future???” But, as time went on, slowly things started to come back to me and—in the light of continuing to be No Contact with the cheater—made me go “wait a sec, that… that was actually _really_ not okay”. But I’d spackled, or simply not had a frame of reference for understanding what was going on, or I’d dismissed my own gut for any number of reasons. And then, in the thick of getting away from the cheater, surviving the divorce and the mindfuck and everything else, my brain was so on overload, I couldn’t process one more thing. Every memory hurt and my body was caught up in the need for immediate survival of the divorce. It took a long while before things started to come back, bit by bit, and make me realize “oh wow, yeah, that… that actually _was_ a red flag.”

            All of which is just to say, maybe give yourself time? Maybe you’ll start to see things as time plays out and your brain can process more than immediate survival or the aftermath of all that (necessary) adrenaline and hypervigilance. As time goes on, maybe the pieces will start to fit that give you a better awareness of those warning signs, going forward. Be kind to yourself.

            • It is weird how those red flags pop up in hindsight. Doesn’t mean we saw them then, or even igored them. We simply were trusting and in a different situation.

              The very first flag that popped up retro for me was when we were 20, had just moved to Manassas VA with our son (he was in the Army) He told me about this WAC that had befriended him, she was an old lady; so no biggie. He brought her home to introduce me, as she was going on a trip and she wanted him to keep her care while she was gone, and pick her up at AP when she returned.

              She was age 40 (which to me was old) she was polite and quiet, not ugly not pretty just kind of plain. Zipped right over my head. I bought it hook line and sinker. He likely knew then, he was going to have a blast in this marriage. And with me loving all over him, and worshiping him, while he lived the single life whenever he wanted, I bet he did. I also bet he hasn’t had much fun lately. He had a massive heart attack, plus emphysema soon after he retired which likely curtailed his fuck fests. He can barely walk across the room now.

              I am sorry for his health issues, but I bet it is easier for schmoopie to keep him home nights now.

              So WAC who was screwing a 20 year old when you were stationed in Manassas VA in 1970, fuck you and the horse you rode in on. she is likely dead by now.

              There were many other retro red flags too. That one was the first head slapper for me.

          • I lean toward the theory that are always red flags, but a good con artist figures out where a mark’s blind-spots are before he/she begins the scam. Part of healing (and regaining trust) is putting up more mirrors so we can see those odd corners where the cheater planted the red flags on the last go-round.

      • Girl, I was 15 years in before I was able (willing?) to see any red flags at all and 2 years post-divorce to actually be able to see how many there were. With time, I promise, you will look back and see them. And then you’ll know what to avoid in the future. Right now, you’re still in the “shell shock” period.

        Recovering from this level of lies and betrayal is a marathon, not a short foot race. That probably doesn’t provide much comfort, but maybe you can at least take a little comfort in the fact that the pieces will eventually come together for you.

      • Me too sister. I was caught completely off guard. Was looking over his shoulder as he was showing me a video and a DM popped up “ok sweetie, see you soon. ” three months later, I left and filed. I think I dodged a bullet on this one. We will be ok, eventually. I’m proud of both of us for not falling for their bullshit and leaving.

  • He’s not a sex addict. Yoir mental health issues didn’t make him cheat, plenty of people with often serious mental health problems have living, faithful partners. He’s a pathetic cheater with pathetic,lame excuses.

    You can completely trust yourself in your future relationships. You don’t have trust issues. You only have issues with untrustworthy people. Your intuition works, you felt something was wrong and that your ex shouldn’t be trusted. You just need to listen better to your intuition and act upon it. That’s all.

    • i really didn’t though.. feel anything was wrong. I was blissfully happy, on cloud 9, just married, when I just happened to accidentally see an email that I wasn’t supposed to.. the whole world collapsed from there. So that’s why i don’t trust myself.. why didn’t I sense anything at all in 5 years, I thought he was perfect and loving and the most amazing man!! uugh..

      • It’s normal to question yourself, we all do. It gives us a sense of control. If we couldn’t see it, it was beyond our control. If we missed it, it’s aour fault, but it’s STILL under ourr control. Please don’t make ypurself crazy, you will trust again.

      • The problem is that he is that good a liar. Not that you didn’t sense anything. He gets an A+ for deceit and subterfuge. A real con man and perv.

      • Liars are good at well, lying. That’s why sometimes it’s really hard to tell. I also beat myself up for not seeing it sooner. My cheater was at it for 3 years, and I only started to have doubts in the last year. The reason he got away with it was that he travelled a lot for work, so it was much harder for me to see, as it was all very well hidden from me.

        Chances are your ex was an expert in keeping up with his web of lies, and that isn’t your fault. It’s not your character or intuition lacking, it’s him being extremely deceitful.

        • I didn’t notice anything either. Nothing. They even slept in our bed. Over 2 1/2 years of a double life.

          We can’t trust that we’ll be able to pick up on clues in the future. Yep. These cheaters have robbed us of so much.

          HC, you’re not alone.

      • I’ve wondered the same thing about my Whore Fucker. How could I have not known?

        The answer is, it’s REALLY easy to fool someone who has given you 100% of their trust. It’s not even that they’re good liars, they’re just going for the low hanging fruit. Once I knew, I knew..:and that’s what matters.

        • Absolutely.

          My ex even bragged to my friend about a month before Dday, that I wouldn’t believe he was cheating unless he told me himself. He was right.

          I am pretty sure he enjoyed his sneaking around thrills. Wonder how long it took for the sex with schmoopie to get dull after they were outed. Per my daughter in law about a year. Though I am betting it only took a couple weeks, and she didn’t find out until about a year in. She did better than me finding out. To be fair though she knew what he was when she picked him up.

          Snakes don’t change into teddy bears.

          • Of course she found out sooner. Whores recognize a whore when they see one!

            Which is comforting to me. When a relationship starts with at least one of them cheating on the other, there’s never going to be any peace in their mind. They’ll be lying in bed years from now (IF they make it to that point of course) and thinking “when will they do it to me?” They’d never admit it but the doubt is always gonna be there.

            • Oh for sure.

              They will always know exactly who the other is, when ever they look at each other. Won’t always be on the surface, but many times it will be. No doubt. It is only human nature.

              Had I stayed with him, I would have thought of it most every time I looked at him.

              I don’t know if she cheated on him once they started humping. But, I do know he was not her first married man rodeo, in fact it was a joke around town. He knew that, which was puzzling to me. (though I am glad they did marry) I mean I get he was a whore monger and she likely offered it up fairly easily, but to want to marry her. So weird. Of course she was also his direct report, so maybe that played into it.

              Maybe that is why he moved her out of the country right after they married. So she wouldn’t be around all the married guys she humped.

      • Honeymoon Chump, it was no “accident” you saw that email … you were meant to see it so that you could get to the place you are today. I know that place sucks right now, but you are strong and will get through this! Don’t try to figure him out and untangle the mess … you’ll drive yourself crazy doing so.

        Be gentle on yourself … you got this! Much love and {{{hugs}}} to you! 🤗💜

      • I remember being shaken that neither my intuition nor my logical brain had allowed me to see through this destructive person! I felt so undefended after that, and so unsure of my judgement, even at work. Please give yourself some slack on this right now, your confidence will justifiably return. Because people like your husband spend a lifetime developing deception skills, but you have used your time much much better than he, to develop the skills and character traits of a good person!! I strongly recommend getting a bunch of your eggs frozen ASAP, as an insurance policy so that you don’t have to mourn the loss of that possibility. And when you feel ready, go ahead and have a kid on your own even if there isn’t a good man in your life yet. Don’t let that sleazy bozoid excuse for a human being prevent you from having kids or anything else you truly value.

      • You didn’t sense anything because he’s a practiced liar. None of this is on you. We aren’t supposed to have to use our spidey senses in a relationship anyway. A relationship is supposed to be a safe place in which you can let your guard down, so you did. That’s perfectly normal and natural. Creeps like your ex take advantage of that. I believe they sadistically enjoy the process of convincing you to trust them, while inwardly snickering because you don’t know that they’re not trustworthy at all. It makes them feel superior. My creep caught me when I was vulnerable, too. I was a single mom just out out of an abusive relationship. He even had a special ring tone for me, which was the theme from the con man heist movie The Sting. He said he picked it because I like old movies, but I figure it was really because he got a kick out of the reminder that he was conning me. Everytime I’d call he probably had a big, evil grin on his face from the reminder. That’s your answer to why they do it; they are evil. They like being and doing evil. They think good, honest people are suckers and losers and that we therefore deserve to be duped and mistreated. They seek us out as prey, not as partners. Imagine using your illness as an excuse! Absolutely despicable.

        I totally get the I might never have known thing, too. If my fuckwit hadn’t made a stupid mistake I wouldn’t have either, and I’d have spent the rest of my days with a sick freak. Just thinking about it feels like somebody’s walking on your grave.
        But onward and upward we go. Perhaps you might benefit from some therapy for the trauma, but be choosy about who you go to. I have found therapists who specialize in victims of domestic abuse to be the most suitable. After all, what happened to us was domestic abuse. It’s just the kind that, unfortunately, is legal.
        Good luck, and good on you for the mightiness of sending the trash to the curb right away.👏

      • Honeymoon Chump–

        I suspect the speed with which you escaped might be due in part to the fact that he had not yet gotten around to sawing away at your self esteem and sanity in more active– if still passive-aggressive– ways. I think eventually they all get around to it and, by then, victims are so bled dry they have even more trouble escaping.

        You got out by the skin of your teeth. As you cling to the walls, wild-eyed and wild-haired like a cat that just escaped a rabid coyote, take a monent between gasps to congratulare yourself. You DO have your mother’s instinctive capacity. You just located it. Some never do! Over time this will become polished and calibrated like a Webb space telescope.

        Sorry for my love of analogies (and physics), but one of the biggest fears you expressed was that it was only by sheer “luck” that you even caught this bastard. Hee didn’t wave red flags and fooled nearly everyone save for your mother, so you’re not sure you can keep yourself safe from future monsters.

        But yet your mother’s radar is hopeful. In order to function, telescopes first have to be aimed at objects and the focus trained and adjusted to these objects. Yours just found its first black hole!

        Maybe you weren’t yet able to identfy it just by the way light bent around it, or by how nearby objects rotate (like your mother the vibe-genius did). You just accidentally saw it eat a star ehen you looked in the lens at the right split second. But now that you’ve got your crosshairs on the black hole and have adjusted focus, maybe things won’t be as blurry or mystifying as you go into the future. You might more easily determine how time and space subtly warp around creeper singularities. You could eventually get the Nobel Prize for the unifying theory of POS detection.

          • Kiddo–if one could tell by looking at or hearing from a liar, then the BTK murderer, the Zodiac Killer, and countless other horrible people would never have succeeded in their awful antics. The sociopathic/psychos look and sound just like everyone else.

            Don’t flog yourself for not being able to tell at a glance about your Ex; and then take some time to heal before you step out into the world of other people. You are entitled to be with someone who loves you and whom you can trust, just like all of us are.

          • In my case, I noticed the red flags after I was out, safe and divorced. There were many big, fat, flapping red flags, but because I was wearing rose colored glasses, they didn’t look so red . . . .

            Three years ago yesterday, I left the fuckwit, and NOW I can see the freaking red flags. Many, many red flags. I know we’re not supposed to untangle the skein, but I keep looking at these red flags and looking FOR more so that I don’t ever get fooled again.

      • HC so sorry this happened to you. IT’S NOT YOU! it’s never us. They are exceptionally good at lying. Because we are honest chumps who wouldn’t do what they did in a million years, we will never get it.

        I was fooled for probably our entire relationship (18 years). There were no fidelity red flags. He was the most generous, helpful, nice guy you could find full of morals. Now in hindsight I can see some narcissistic qualities (silent treatment, always right, lots of DARVO) and of course the manipulation and gaslighting (mine was living a second life for years, all kinds of affairs) I had no clue. My friends, our family – all shocked. No one saw it. He was that good.

      • I’m 12 years out. I was married five years and knew him and then was engaged for a year before marriage. Five years into the marriage, I got a call from a nasty stripper/prostitute who ratted him out. I was absolutely floored. Turns out she was blackmailing him. Also turns out there were other strippers/prostitutes and a couple of neighborhood women (all at the same time). I imagine his serial cheating went on throughout our entire relationship/marriage.

        I booted him out on D day and I immediately retained a lawyer. I filed for a legal annulment and it was granted by the judge. The basis was fraud. This worked for me because I was the primary breadwinner, had pre-marital assets and I would have had to pay alimony and share part of my 401K with the jerk if I had gone the divorce route. It is fraud when someone lies to you about who they “are” as a person. He lied to me about everything. And worst yet, his family backed up his lies.

        If a person would have asked me when this was still fresh if I had seen any red flags with my ex, I would have said no. It took me a long time after this happened to accept that I did choose to ignore some red flags. I ignored them because I did not see evil in him. I only saw good. My parents never liked him and I put that off to thinking they just didn’t want me to get married at all. He had a horrible attitude toward his employer/job and he came home one day and told me he quit his job because he wanted to be self-employed. I’m pretty sure he got fired. That put all of the financial responsibilities on me. If I had to do it over again, trust me, I would. That cost me a LOT.

        Throughout our marriage, he did things like trying to rip off the utility companies. I intervened when I discovered this and made him stop it immediately. When we were selling our first home, he stole some “for sale” signs out of a neighbor’s yard and he got caught. I couldn’t believe he did that. The signs cost very little and we had the money for it. There were some other things and he just liked to try to see what he could get away with. That’s anti-social. Now I know what it is and my eyes are open to others who have the same tendencies. I don’t want anything to do with people like this.

        I’m a very different person than I was before this happened to me. I don’t make excuses for anyone who exhibits or has exhibited character and employment issues.

        Don’t be hard on yourself. Good people don’t tend to see the evil in others, especially when we love them and we’ve been lied to by them. If you are thinking about dating in the future, I’d suggest seeing a counselor to make sure you are ready and that your radar is keen.

  • Thanks Chump Lady. I have to keep reminding myself of all this, when my brain plays tricks on me. It whispers that I miss him. I whisper back that I didn’t even know him.. have had an std check and all clear. I too am glad I don’t have a biological tie to him for life. He already has a 9 year old, I have step parented since before he even started school. The fact that child is now totally befuddled at why Daddy has lost two wives in 5 years, seems irrelevant to him. God, why are they so crazy… P.S. I take your point re: sex addiction although it turns out he DID get his dick out in work – he masturbated in the bathroom every day, sometimes several times a day, and has been reprimanded twice. Another thing I didn’t know! #gross

    • There is no guarantee re trust but to increase your odds you will find a good one note how much accountability they take for their past bad choices ~ if it’s someone else’s fault leave ASAP because one day it will be your fault. Now that I am educated on the sex industry, I also avoid anyone interested in porn or even makes innocent jokes about it. Pay close attention to actions not words. Does this person treat the other people in his life like they matter? Does he make choices that don’t hurt other people? People can always tell you what you want to hear ~ you need to learn to interpret actions and understand how they reflect ones character ~ this probably works 90% of the time while the other 10% will be true sociopaths.

      • My therapist says he is a sociopath.. she met him many times, before the truth came out. She says for him to have been that convincing with EVERYONE, he must be.

        Re: “I also avoid anyone interested in porn or even makes innocent jokes about it.” – that’s another sad part for me. I was already doing that. I asked him at the start about it and he said he never ever watched porn and found it disgusting. HAHAHA – HE WAS A RAGING PORN ADDICT.

        I feel like all ways to spot a bad guy and trust etc are based upon one fundamental flaw – people lie. Some lie so well they fool two wives and everyone else in their lives. One random accidental email is the only reason I know and the past wife had no clue.

        • My therapist said that my ex has no conscience. What does that make him?

          He was addicted to porn. I’m repeating myself on this site, but he gave being “tired of needing porn” as his excuse for the affair. He effectively gutted me with a knife and then twisted it for good measure. [I think I can safely assume he’s back to porn now that the penis-stiffening excitement of fooling around is behind them. One can only hope.]

          What’s weird is that I never knew him to be a liar. That’s the thing that boggles my mind. He was always on a high horse about morals. Where was my spidey sense?

          That man lied every day for almost 3 years. Now I look back and wonder how many other lies he told over the course of our 35-year marriage. He swears up and down that there were no other lies, but why would I trust anything he says?

          I remember after D-Day, I told him I was going to visit his mother. He said something about planning to visit her the day before but told me that he could pretend that he didn’t know I would be visiting. What? I asked, “Why pretend?” It was his knee-jerk reaction. Also, “pretend” is a euphemism for “lie.”

        • HC,

          If it makes you feel any better. I was also blissfully in love, there were NO RED FLAGS, everyone thought we were perfect, and so did I.

          He came home and told me he wanted a divorce and walked out the door never to glance back even once. I figured it out after the fact it was for another woman. I also figured out why his ex wife was so crazy too. She had been abandoned just like I had. I, sadly, have procreated with this fuckwit so I get to see and hear about him and his newest twu luv daily from my kids. It’s been 3 years and I still hate his face and everything about him. I also hate that I can’t trust either. But with time I am doing better and better. Maybe in a decade I will trust again lol.

          As much as this ultimately sucks right now, be so thankful that you don’t have kids with that piece of garbage.

          • UC– What were his excuses to abandon his ex? DARVO-y bs to be sure but some of these thugs learn to spin a good tale of woe or cobble credible rationales. We chumps should always catalogue every spin-iteration for posterity.

          • I think absolutely they can just change. In my case there were red flags that I didn’t see at the time.

            But, I don’t think that is the same for them all. Honestly, the more I read about the effects of the sex hormones in illicit sex, the more I think it can change them. They are still dirt bags, but dang, my ex acted like a hormonal teenager, and got angrier and angrier at me. I suspect because he had turned me into a two dimensional parent figure. I was coming between him and his bitch in heat.

            By the time they realize it, too much damage has been done. I also think that once they get a taste of that, they are not going to give it up, so they will keep doing it to either the same wife, or the next one.

            Good men (women) are not susceptible to it, but cheaters are. I am not of the belief that good men (women) can cheat. Nope it is character. Can a person change themselves, of course; but it will take heaps of work. Most won’t. Most won’t even try. Especially after they have crapped all over their lives anyway.

            Having said that, most of them are assholes from the get go.

            JMO.

            • Susie Lee, I really think you’re right about the strength of the hormonal response to illicit sex. My experience with my ex sounds similar to yours. There were a number of times I felt like I was being pushed into a parenting role with him during our marriage with even mundane things, but it definitely felt this way when he realized I found evidence of his “mentoring” of his 30 year younger work associate. “Hormonal teenager” is a great way to describe his behavior, both in how he pursued her but also in his response to me. In a text, she complained to him that they had been a “thing for, like 2 years,” and he still hadn’t discarded his wife and kid for her – “I have a right to be happy, don’t I?” And he defended her when I read her text back to him. His response: “But she does deserve to be happy.”

              It hurt, but looking back, it was the best thing he could have done – it sucked the last bit of hopium out of the room.

              • Right? My ex even tried to tell me about their (vomit) first time. I stopped him and said, why are you telling me this? I am your wife. I also ask him if he had any idea how he was hurting me. He just looked at me, then walked out. At that moment I am sure he hated me.

                He wrote a letter of apology down the line, but it meant nothing to me. Still doesn’t.

        • Your therapist is most likely right.

          I can so relate to how you feel and I do have some good news for you – it does pass.

          After dday, I absolutely couldn’t stand men, wanted nothing to do with them, didn’t even want to speak to any man. I also felt like I see a demon in every shadow and didn’t know how I would be able to function going forward. I’d imagine that after such betrayal, this is a fairly normal reaction.

          So, first thing is give yourself time. Yes it really does heal. Second thing is be kind to yourself. I actively sought out the sisterhood – hung out with my girl friends, made some new friends. Really focused on myself and doing things that would actually make me feel good, things that I enjoy, made a point to spend time with those that leave me feeling like normal life is out there, it exists, and it’s within my reach.

          The above helped to calm down a bit and that allowed me to start dealing with the damage better. I literally sat down with myself with the same questions – how can I ever trust again, if I ever get into another relationship, how do I police it. The answer I came to is that I like who I am as a person, and so yes, I will trust again. Anything less than that would be giving fuckwit way too much power over my life and that’s not happening. No, I will never play relationship police because that’s a nightmare. If I cannot trust the guy I’m with, I shouldn’t be with him and eventually I will trust my judgement again in that respect.

          As for trusting my judgment again, I actually did spend a great deal of time learning about these people – who they are, how they operate, etc. I needed to know what red flags I missed and turns out that they were there. I just didn’t recognize them and most people wouldn’t. We are not taught about that stuff. For example, learning to see the difference between genuine kindness and image management. Learning to notice the smirk when they see someone getting used, abused, duped, etc. Some of these are small, fleeting things, but they are there and once you learn to see them, you can’t unsee them ever again.

          In that quest to figure out what I missed and how, I actually found that youtube videos from women like us are the most helpful. While there are maybe some psychiatrists who do have a grasp on the subject, majority really truly do not. It seems that to grasp what you were facing, you really have to have lived it and experienced it. Yet, these sociopath aren’t really that unique. Once you hear enough stories and examples, you start to realize that they really do operate from the same patterns, behaviors, pretenses that can clue you in.

          I still have some days when I feel shaky and rattled, but more and more I feel like I can trust my judgment again. I no longer see demons in every shadow. Some are just shadows and nothing more. This is 3 years post dday for me. I feel like I have a new awareness, one that perhaps I didn’t really want to have, but recognizing that you are talking to a charming sociopath is a useful skill.

          • Any tips on which videos ? I feel like I need a PhD. Also it terrifies me how innocent I was = how innocent almost all my friends are and they don’t even know.

            • I watched so many back then. I just used search terms like covert or malignant narcissist, dealing with, passive aggressive behavior of covert narcissists, how to recognize a covert/malignant narc, duper’s delight – the smirk they can’t hide when duping you or someone else. A huge giveaway, btw. I just watched in particular videos by women who’ve been there and dealt with it. A lot of them don’t have a lot of views, but I thought they were way more valuable than any commercialized “advice”.

              Speaking of commercialized drivel, one in particular that makes me cringe is “look out if they are mean to the wait staff,” – yeah, sociopaths and narcs are brilliant image managers. Of course they will be nice to wait staff, especially when you are watching them. In fact, that can be a bit of a clue early on – if it seems like he is showing off how nice he is or how generous he is with his tips, etc – consider it a bit of a yellow flag. Tap the brakes and pay attention to what else might feel a bit fake nice. Normal people don’t make a show of that kind of stuff.

              The other you might want to look up is mirroring. So sociopaths like to mirror your behaviors, thoughts, hobbies, interests, beliefs, etc. They do this by getting you to chatter on about yourself and then they just happen to agree with everything, have such similar experiences, interests, beliefs, etc. If you barely know them and it already feels like they are your instant soulmate, probably not a good thing.

              • The last narc I dated (and tossed back into the sea) liked to flirt with waitresses. He needed lots of ego kibbles when we went out. “S.P. Give me five dollars for that homeless guy, will you ?” “No” Liked to play Mr. Born Again Christian.
                We did an overnight for my birthday. On the drive back, we stopped at an overlook to admire the view and he had to get into a lengthy conversation with a trucker. What was the point? Empty soul
                I dumped him

              • You’re so right. My narc cheater was unfailingly polite to waitstaff when he was sober. However, when he was drunk he was a prick to them. In vino veritas. Since I was almost never around him when he was drunk I didn’t know this until shortly before Dday, when he was brazen enough to do it in front of me.

        • I absolutely do not trust a man who says he never watches porn.

          A man who claims he doesn’t or never has watched porn is either lying to hide a darker secret, or lying because he thinks you would feel threatened by it. Either way, it’s a lie.

          For some people, porn is a deal breaker. Which is their prerogative. Everyone has their dealbreakers and the things they are and aren’t okay with within the context of their relationships. Porn doesn’t happen to be a dealbreaker for me, but lying about it sure as hell is. I’d rather ask my partner if he watches porn and have him be 100% upfront about it if he does than give me some bullshit about never touching it no matter the reason. To me, saying “I never watch porn” is a red flag. I always call bullshit on it.

          • I agree. Which means if watching porn is a deal breaker for someone, the liklihood of them every finding a man who feels the same is about 0 🙁

            I would rather be told “no, I’m not agreeing to no porn, sorry. not happening” than be lied to and have internet history deleted daily. And I never even asked him not to! He volunteered that he simply didnt. Ugh.

            • I dated someone who had a horrendous porn habit (no surprise a cheating habit too…) and it took me 5 years to be ok with porn. What I came to realize was the problem wasn’t the porn itself, it was him. He had a selfishness and lying problem, and a problem with blaming me for not measuring up to the women in his porn, which was really just his inability to separate fantasies from reality. He would hide it, lie to me about watching it (how many times I heard “I don’t watch it anymore” only to catch him again…) but he was also lying about numerous other things. Who he was with, where his money was, whether he was showing up to work or not, and on and on. If he wasn’t lying about porn, he was lying about something else.

              I asked my current partner straight out “Do you watch porn?” Not only was he honest with me, he asked if I do and turns out we like the same kind. I know I can trust him with that because there was no bs. Just an honest answer that lead to an honest conversation. And since then, he’s never pushed or pressured me to measure up to anything he’s watched, or compared me to it. He can turn it off and be in the real world.

            • There are men who object to porn on “blood diamond” political grounds because the industry is horrific. Men like this are not common but also not unicorn-rare. They’ll admit to having used it in the past or may still even consume “erotica” that doesn’t use live models or abusive narratives.

              Read Chris Hedges’ critique of the industry. https://www.truthdig.com/articles/pornography-is-what-the-end-of-the-world-looks-like/

              I wish I could report some surefire system to tell the difference between faux feminist men and men with actual principles but so far nothing beats time and approaching relationships with eyes open.

              • Online porn just seems like a scary, deep hole to fall in. Windows that pop up to offer more options, often hardcore, bestiality, kiddie porn and why not a snuff film for good measure ? And the money spent on webcam performers. Next thing they know, hours have passed. It’s no wonder men who do this can’t get aroused by a real woman-fried synapses. I’m sure there are women with porn addictions but they are few and far between.

              • A former colleague travelled around the world by herself twenty years ago. Men would approach her using the English they learned from porn “I want to f*ck your face” Good thing she was a tough broad from Long Island ! 🤦‍♀️

          • What you have to change is your information about porn. When I was young I thought it was curiosity, and I equated it to my brother’s hiding Playboys and Penthouse magazines in their rooms. If memory serves, every man I have ever known is curious in that way.

            However, porn, and the way it changes the brain is devious. Some men are compulsive and go beyond the “what do girls look like naked” phase to more and more explicit porn. They are no longer satisfied with seeing the forbidden, they NEED to see more and more, they absorb the misogynistic message, women become objects, violence is introduced. The obsession grows.

            It becomes harder to hide the further they go down the path. The need a computer, privacy. and extra money to feed this obsession. Those things can leave a trail of red flags.

            Some men want you to find out, hoping you will become a willing partner in the pick me dance of porn. You are a normal woman, not a staged sex goddess interested only in serving a man. You cannot compete with a fantasy world, and if you think you should (to avoid being a prude, or repressive, or any of the other insults provided) then you need some help to build your confidence, and help you resist the assault on your values.

            I did not enjoy the education I received when I found out about the obsession and results of extensive porn viewing. However, I needed the information to protect myself. Believe me, if a man chooses porn over a real life relationship with you, you will be better off walking, no running, away.

            • I like your comments. I think porn was the “gateway drug” for my husband’s S&M fantasies. I caught him watching porn, then I found out that he was searching for prostitutes (it’s legal here), then he was going to S&M clubs, then he found a willing sex slave to be his girlfriend. All the while he was watching porn though, and his interest in me waned to the point that he just lost interested in me after 20 years of a great sex life….it just kept going down as his addiction to fantasy sex went up. I noticed the porn he watched (he was sloppy with his history of viewing) got more violent and the girls got younger. He then got angrier and angrier with me, devalued me, made me feel bad about myself, and generally his psychological abuse and manipulation ramped up to sheer crazy narcissism that ended with him imploding his whole life, losing me, his community and his job at our business. It’s like the porn and the fantasy sex he was having fueled his image of himself as some power and control master. Trouble is, everyone just thinks he’s a fucking asshole! He doesn’t pay his bills, he’s fake as fuck to everyone, and he uses people. Even his own parents don’t like or trust him now. I don’t know if I truly believe in sex addiction (I think it’s probably rare) but I certainly watched the demise of my husband as he slipped into a fantasy-fueled world where he was king and women are his slaves at his beck and call. I would never, ever have been able to compete with the un-real world he was participating in. I hope he thinks it was worth it. I hope his new sex slave girlfriend is proud of herself for taking on the responsibility of a broken 50 year old man with a broken family and a broken business.

          • Respectfully, the deleterious effects of porn are well established. The industry only exists thanks to the trafficking of women and children. Rape is common. Porn screws up perceptions of sex and causes erectile dysfunction.

            Pornhub’s been under fire this year because they refuse to remove rape videos, some of them of children. Can’t hurt the profits, can we?

            Also google GirlsDoPorn, another website under fire for human rights violations.

            Ethical porn does not exist. Don’t let the porn industry tell you otherwise. Unfortunately it’s hard to have an honest culture-wide conversation about it because porn is big business and the industry has too much to lose if we had transparency around it.

            • I think porn is satan-sperm. But unfortunately statistics show 98% of men watch it. So.. unless I plan to be a nun.. 🙁

              • Somebody’s gotta love that 2%. Why not you? 😉

                Noam Chomsky didn’t know what Hustler was:
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNlRoaFTHuE

                Noam Chomsky eating a sandwich while answering frat boy questions on popular culture and porn. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Fu7gDyooHw

                Chomsky has three children with his first wife whom he was married to until she passed away. Love or hate his politics, he’s never been divorced and we can presume he knew how to procreate. I always thought he was the bomb. In fact, in one of his epic DARVO attacks before D-Day, cheater in my case wailed that I didn’t truly accept him because he would never be Noam Chomsky. Ah, cheater knew the secrets of my heart, lol.

              • A lot of men don’t bother with it. Just like not every man bought playboy or went to strip clubs. It’s seen as smarmy and juvenile by many men.

              • I’m very confused by this statement.

                There are good men out there. And in any case, I would rather be fabulously single forever than settle for a man who gets off on institutionalized rape.

                Respectfully, please reconsider your standards. You deserve better.

    • Oh, that poor child!

      Your prime responsibility is to yourself, of course. I am not a lawyer nor have any experience in child custody issues. But in my uneducated opinion, this POS should not have custody of a kid! If he acts like that at work….who knows. I hope there is some alternative (while recognizing that regrettably, there is not always a safe path for a child).

  • Dear Honeymoon Chump, You are a badass babe who is leaving an abusive man. He is an abuser. Adultery is abuse. Of course you are traumatized. Of course you see his betrayal in all of your interactions with others. Give it time, dear Honeymoon. You got this, you do!

    You will heal yourself with the help of Chump Lady, Chump Nation and a therapist who agrees Adultery is abuse. You will learn to trust your judgement. Life will get better.

    Don’t let that failed human steal your dream of Motherhood. Don’t let him define how you live your life. You are an amazing person who has escaped an abusive marriage. I am so glad you are out. Some of us stayed for far too long.

    Today is the thirty fifth Un-niversary of the worst mistake I ever made. Nearly two years ago I finally left him, an unrepentant serial cheater. It has been a wild ride, bumpy and full of unforeseen adversity. How I wish I had left the very first time I discovered him cheating, just a few months after we married. It is my deepest shame, that I stayed.

    You are so smart and brave to get out of this abusive marriage. You are nobody’s fool. Get to work. Do your research and educate yourself, check out the archives on this site. There is an absolute wealth of knowledge there. I’m so proud of you for leaving that cheater.

    • Thanks 33years.. To be honest, the fact it was prositutes, and not an emotional affair or one night stand (even though he tried to convince me it was a one time thing.. HA. Your reviews say otherwise you idiot) is what ultimately actually saved me. If ever there was a line in the sand, that was it. I barely remember leaving to be honest. Some reptilian survivalist part of my brain shut down my emotions just long enough to get out. After that, they came flooding back of course and the grief is powerful. But I will never go back now.

      • I think that happened to me. I was in shock for about a year of horrible treatment, just trying to figure out what the hell was going on. Nothing made sense. I think I stayed in shock until about a month after we were legally separated. He wanted to come back and try again. I let him, he treated me so coldly, it lasted a week. It was like he just wanted another chance at hurting me. It was the end of that week when I started to come out of it, and realized how horrible he was. I gave him a week to decide to go to counseling, and he was to call and let me know, he of course didn’t call and let me know, and I called him and said you were supposed to call me, he said I can’t decide. I said, you don’t get to decide anymore, we are done.

        I was pretty pissed by then, so I never gave him another shot at me after that. Though he circled back three times, that I remember after that. Still thinking he could control me I guess.

  • Right there with you in untangling everyone’s skein. After 18 years marriage, 2 years separated and 1 month divorced, I find myself trying to untangle EVERYONE’s skein, STILL. Myself, my ex, my nephew, my ex sisters-in-law, my brothers and sisters, my mom, my dad, my ex-parents-in-law, my brother-in-laws parents, my previous boyfriends (from over 20 years ago?! Why?!) I’m even trying to untangle WHY I’m trying to untangle literally everyone’s skein after all this time!! I have a problem. Don’t be me.

    • Dear Honeymoon Chump,
      I am so sorry for all you have been through.
      When I read your letter to CL I wanted to stand and cheer that you left him when you found out.
      All of the horrible character flaws are on HIM, not a one is on you.
      You are a loving, trusting, honest person. He destroyed his right to be worthy of sharing a life with you.
      He definitely lost a gem in you.
      Take all the time you need to heal, but remember underneath you are , and will always remain, YOU!
      It was brave of you to come to CL, CN, another part of who you are. You are not afraid to ask for help.
      How could a wonderful, strong person like you not win in the end! That is a statement, not a question.
      Be kind to yourself.
      There is happiness in your future HC.
      You can, and you will be, another CL!

      Xxxxx
      Peacekeeper

  • Had the same, Honeymoon. 20+ years of cheating every which way, with no inkling. Didn’t think I could trust again. It was almost freeing to give up on that. But then when I started dating again for fun, I realized that my experience with the cheater held powerful lessons. I knew what not to trust. And knowing what not to trust brought into sharp relief what I could trust when the time came.

    But “time” here is key. It takes time to get out of the fight or flight mode, to settle your heart down again, and to accept the loss. And the time is worth it. Don’t rush it. Just take good care of yourself, and happiness — on your own or with someone else — will follow.

    And one more thing: Just like being cheated on and not knowing is a problem that lies with the cheater, not with you, not trusting is not your burden to carry — it’s something that gets sorted out in a relationship with someone who is trustworthy.

    And people worthy of trust do exist. They eventually become easier to spot once you know what not being worthy of trust means. Eventually, this shit that happened to us becomes our superpower.

    • “They eventually become easier to spot once you know what not being worthy of trust means.” – that’s what I’m struggling with. The fact he had everyone fooled. There were no signs and I get really upset when well-meaning friends say there must have been. THERE WEREN’T. Hopefully in time, clarity will come.

      • Yeah, that’s a bit of bullshit blame-shifting. You could not know — that’s the whole point. Cheaters, well, cheat. Most people are not supposed to see it. Most people are fooled. But once you see behind the curtain, you can’t unsee it. It’s ugly at first, but it’s a gift. Chances are, going forward, you’ll be able to spot assholes better than most people. That’s clarity 🙂

        • “Chances are, going forward, you’ll be able to spot assholes better than most people. That’s clarity.”

          HC, you, like all of us, have lost some much as a result of being tethered to a cheater, but at least we’ve gained this: a good BS/asshole detector! It’s a kind of door prize for chumps.

  • He was sexually abused as a child, his dad died of addiction and his mother abandoned him to run away with another man to another continent when he was 10. leaving him in a boarding school with sexually abusing priests prowling the dorms. I don’t know if that’s a route to addiction but I do know that – people have problems. That’s fine. The mark of a good man / woman is dealing with them. I didn’t put my head in the sand and say “hey, I have a mental illness, no big deal” – I treat it, fight to get better and most importantly TELL MY PARTNER, so that they can have agency and the power to make informed decisions in their lives. Unlike him..

    • While those things are terrible, you don’t take others down with you. A well-crafted story of childhood abuse keeps many a chump locked into relationships that are a sham. I’m proud of you for getting out. I wish I had kicked my ex out when I found out about his cross-dressing and weird sex habits he hid from me. I stayed because I thought I loved him, overlooking the escalating equity line and the wad of cash always in his wallet. He presented himself as kind and quiet, so everyone thought he was a “nice guy”. Beware the quiet ones – they will gaslight and stonewall you when they are outed.

      • The gaslighting was off the charts. He tried to tell me the email I saw, with a review of a prostitute 28 days after our wedding, was evidence of him being “hacked by the Russians”…………………. it was almost more insulting than the cheating.

        • “it was almost more insulting than the cheating”

          It really is. Mine tried to convince me someone must have used his credit card to buy expensive lingerie, it was ridiculous. He also tried to convince me he had become asexual. Idk what he was thinking tbh lol

        • Those darn Russians. OMG really though, he really doesn’t have much imagination. I hope you have separated your funds/finances from this man.

      • The wards of cash is a huge red flag. I didn’t realize it at the time—“I like having cash on hand” was code for hooker money. Thousands of dollars hidden in his car. Masturbating at work to patients CT scans (he’d look at the weight/height/age of the patient) and then pull up their photograph from registration. If he thought they were attractive, he’d masturbate to them. Sneaking a prostitute into his medical office, getting her scrubs, rating hookers on websites. Stupid me, hung around for 30 years, raised the family. Now come to find out he thought I was a lazy, stupid (college educated), agoraphobic, waste of space while his sex worker (who slept until 4pm) was a mother of the year, who earned on par with him ($500/hr). Nauseating.

        • It’s too bad we can’t out freaks by name like this doctor. I’m guessing he only told you about his unethical, boundary violating behavior. Any woman would avoid this pervy doctor like the plague.

        • That is about one of the sickest, grossest and most perverted things I’ve ever heard!! Masturbating to a CT scan?! For fuck’s sake. Someone needs to turn that sick and twisted creeper in to his superiors. Eeewwwww.

        • What an absolute swine of a man. I’m so sorry. What a fuckwit. I really, truly hope he lost his job. Sicko.

    • A bad childhood isn’t an excuse for what he did. There are many people in the world who become more empathetic after trauma because they don’t want others to suffer the same way.

      He may well have had a shitty upbringing, but the moment he used it as an excuse for abuse of you, stop believing him. It’s an exaggeration to get you to see him as a victim. This is a common emotional manipulation tactic. It’s intended to take attention off the terrible way he’s treated you and focus on you feeling bad for him and his painful childhood, then it becomes about you making him feel better instead of him being held responsible for his choices.

      As NoMoreNarcs said, you only have the story of his childhood from him, and he’s an unreliable narrator.

    • Take his story with a grain of salt. Sociopaths thrive on playing the victim so they can’t be blamed for bad choices and of course their love of manipulation. If he has no contact with relatives it could be they want nothing to do with him not the other way around. In any case I’m pretty sure you are about to learn a lot more about your stbx.

    • I find this story hard to believe–it is filled with unconfirmable assertions. Every element makes him a victim, but no one who perpetrated the crimes is around any more. They are all conveniently dead, fled, or anonymous. I suspect he did suffer some bad experience at some point (most of us do), and then he learned that retailing his bad experience got him pity or second chances. But different people responded more generously to different kinds of tragedies, so he added a few. He may hardly know himself any longer if his Dad got a DUI once or was a raging alcohol addict. You are likely to be closer to the truth if you assume that everything he told you that inspired an empathetic response or compassion was a lie.

      It took me years to understand how often basic “facts” about my EX’s history were utter bullshit. And there is absolutely no reason to think that even now I have any real sense of what was fact and what was manipulative exaggeration constructed to allow him to gain some self-serving end.

    • I say this as a survivor of incest who had a very, very, hard childhood – I’ve never cheated on or betrayed anyone. I know right from wrong.

      I know how deep the scars run from these things, how hard life is when someone shattered you at a young age.

      But… having a bad childhood has nothing to do with being a lying piece of shit. The same goes for risking your entire life and health for mere moments of his own fleeting pleasure.

      You deserve a standing ovation for leaving and never looking back!

  • It has been a loooooooong time for me, and I totally get what you are saying about trust. Later, way down the road, we can talk about how trust does return but it looks really different (informed, data-driven trust is different from innocent/blind trust). It’s not time for that right now.

    Right now what’s important to grasp is that neither his shit behavior nor your intolerance of it are indicative of some sort of jealousy problem or dysfunctional ability to trust on your part. This stuff you’re struggling with is indicative of authenticity, not dysfunction, of intelligence, not stupidity, and of strength, not weakness — even when it doesn’t feel like it.

    One coping mechanism that helps me sometimes when I struggle with trust (because I still do and maybe always will) is this: I ask myself, is there really a need for me to drop my guard and trust this person right now? Is it really hurting anything real that I’m cautious and validating things before moving forward?

    Mostly, the answer comes back that there’s not a damn thing wrong with validating and thinking critically before making choices (and if I feel like there IS something wrong with it, it’s generally because some defensive person with a big ego is getting their panties in a wad because they want to believe they know everything and I’m daring — oh, my stars! — to have my own brain.)

    In other words, maybe the reason you don’t trust is actually 100% valid — maybe the other person’s reaction is about *their* egotism, not about *your* well being or choices. Some people feel invalid if we don’t just believe them. That’s an entitlement problem.

    And even if it you ARE being pretty intense about it, there’s nothing inherently wrong with caution. It might be useful to turn the volume knob down on how you express it, perhaps, or how extreme it is, but it’s still ok to wait to trust until you’re ready. Even if it takes a looooooong time to be ready.

    Go easy on your poor heart, friend, and give yourself the patience and support you’d give a friend. You’re going through absolute hell at the hands of a diabolical monster. Of COURSE you’re wary. Because you’re smart and using it.

    We’re here for ya. Keep on coming back. 💚

    • “ One coping mechanism that helps me sometimes when I struggle with trust (because I still do and maybe always will) is this: I ask myself, is there really a need for me to drop my guard and trust this person right now? Is it really hurting anything real that I’m cautious and validating things before moving forward?”

      Excellent coping mechanism Ami.

    • Some people feel invalid if we don’t just believe them. That’s an entitlement problem.

      Yeah, think I’ll print that and paste it all around the house!!

      See, I never really trust anyone.. it took me 3 or more years to trust him, and look how it turned out in the end. It’s sad. He stole everything.

      Thank you, I appreciate your advice.

      • If it helps, I am glad for it, always. All my wisdom (well, thoughts, anyway) is someone else’s smart thing that I’m paying forward. These are long roads. It’s good that we stick together. ⭐

      • HC, I hate to point it out, but there’s a giant red flag in your own statement above …

        “it took me 3 or more years to trust him … “

        The red flags were there, you just didn’t trust yourself enough to see them. I was the same way until I found a therapist who helped me work on and resolve my unresolved childhood trauma (which I think most of us have to some degree or another) of being adopted. My life changed (for the better) dramatically after resolving that issue. My ex had(has) unresolved childhood issues as well, but refused to acknowledge it and deal with it.

        As you move forward and get healthy, the red flags will become more apparent. Don’t beat yourself up, though, about not seeing them sooner.

        You got this! {{{Hugs}}} 🤗💜

  • You say tomato and I say tomahto…
    He says sex addict and I say sociopath…

    Seriously, pick up a copy of the book “the sociopath next-door“. You might see your STBX in there. Also, ask yourself if it’s your fault your X picks women he can take advantage of? That makes him a predator.

    You’re doing the right thing and please take a moment to be proud of yourself for taking care of yourself.

  • He is not a sex addict. He is an entitled ball of slime. He needed a wife appliance to manage his image. You are mighty and should be proud of yourself.

  • Good for you for leaving him. As a Chump who procreated with her abuser, it can be rough trying to co/parallel parent with him. I don’t know how old you are, but it is a myth that we somehow become “old infertile crones” at 35. Studies have shown that we can stay fertile way beyond that, and the chance of our child having a genetic defect goes from 0.5% to 1%. Yes, it’s double, but it’s not a huge number to start with. You’ll be ok, you will have children with someone else. Or alone. Why the heck not? My two children are the best people I know.

    As for trusting… I’m 4 1/2 years out from finding out that my 10 year long relationship and marriage was based on lies from my ex. The constant trauma response is mostly gone. I sleep well most nights. I’m getting off anti-depressants as I type. Will I ever trust a man again? Maybe. He’ll have to show me I can trust him. Next time, do NOT give the guy as much power as you did. You told your ex right up front HOW he could “win” your trust. You gave him the power to manipulate you by telling him exactly what to do. Let any future man in your life figure something out on their own. That way you can see how they respond under pressure. And I’m 100% guilty of giving my ex too much power as well. The next guy, if ever, will have to do some of his own legwork.

    Just know, that down the line, it gets easier <3

    • You told your ex right up front HOW he could “win” your trust. You gave him the power to manipulate you by telling him exactly what to do. Let any future man in your life figure something out on their own.

      YES YES YES YES YES!!!

      I thought I was doing the right thing.. being upfront, not wasting anyone’s time, hoping they wouldn’t waste mine.. When you know better you do better I guess.

      • My former FIL gave me this advice too right after I divorced his son. They don’t make too many like him anymore. He said, “just keep your mouth shut, watch his actions, and listen carefully.” He will show you who he really is. Don’t give him the ammunition to betray you with.
        As for the advice to freeze your eggs, do it. I wish i had. Now it is too late. I’m in my 50s.

  • Trust is something I’ve struggled with ever since I was molested by my mom’s father and she and my grandmother did nothing about it. I made two bad choices im husbands….one was abusive and the other was a cheater dishonest liar.

    I can say without a doubt that there were red flags with both that i ignored and this is often the case. It may not be clear that they’re actually cheating….it wasn’t with my cheater….but there were signs that he was shady and generally full of shit. These are the things we have to own.

    I spent a lot of time in therapy to explore why I made such poor choices and ignored red flags, and I think this is important because its something we control. If you learn how to spot red flags and don’t ignore them you’ll weed out a lot of the scumbags. Most people can’t hide who they are forever.

    But nothing is 100% and there will always be one that fools everyone and leaves absolutely no signs. There’s nothing we can do about that; life requires a certain amount of risk to live it.

    Control what you can and understand that there are some things you can’t, then enjoy the ride as long as you’re being treated well……a lot of cheaters don’t treat us well and we spackle.. stop sparkling and you’ll get rid of a lot of them..

    People deserve to be judged on their own merits. I have a lovely bf now who hasn’t shown any signs of being shady, but if that ultimately happens? I’ll have enjoyed my time with him.

  • Hi Honeymoon – I just woke up, so I’m not awake enough to write much right now, but at first I thought your letter was mine.

    But unlike you, I spent 20 years with my Whore Fucker. One day I stumbled on something that also led me to the john/Whore review site. He never came clean on much, but from what I can tell from his over 4000 posts on that website, it had been going on for about five years.

    I also lost my child bearing years to him. To make it worse, about three years before I discovered what he was, I became pregnant. He told me “if you have this baby it will ruin my life“ I loved him, I aborted my pregnancy. I’m 52 years old now, I won’t be having children. I lost my only chance to be a mother. sometimes it really, really, really hurts.

    And then sometimes I can remind myself that if I had given birth to that child, things might’ve been even worse. As it stands now, I left him the day I found out, the divorce was final about a year later, and I’m now living on the other side of the country. I never, ever, ever, ever have to talk to him/deal with him. Thank God for that.

    You’re also lucky that your tests came back clean. Mine gave me HPV, which after a few scrapes with a burning hot loop on my cervix, is gone. Again, I’m lucky I got tested and had it taken care of before it managed to become ovarian cancer.

    Five years out, believe me when I tell you that life is better without that crazy, disgusting bullshit in it. Let me go gulp down some more coffee and I will write more later today. Stay strong, you got this.

    • I had HPV right around one time that my ex’s whore flew in and they had dinner, then he drove her back to her friend’s house. That was all I could prove about that incident based on messages I found, but since he lied about every last detail and then continued to change his story based on what i could prove I just assume he fucked her.

      I told him about it and suggested he watch himself for the head and neck cancers that they’re now seeing in men his age thanks to HPV. I know for a fact he’s terrified of it.

      I told him that i hoped his trashy whore was worth it and laughed at him.

      Fortunately for me I never had any complications and it went away. I’ve had many tests and exams since then to confirm.

  • My story is similar. Except my ex refused to admit there was any kind of abuse in his background to explain his “sex addiction.” But, like yours, he said the most amazing things when we were dating, such as “I’m going to be the one who shows you what a good man is like,” and “I’m going to take care of you when you are old — we are going to be that old couple holding hands on the street.” Mine, too, knew that I had trust issues and was so kind about that. The shock of discovery is really intense. You left, and I did, too. When I left, he said, “No one will ever love you the way that I do.” But do people who love you lie and cheat on you? Do they give you an STD? It’s hard, and you miss the person you thought he was. Yes, there will always be a scar, but you do get better, and it does get easier, slowly but surely. I promise. Also, I highly recommend what someone has already mentioned, the book called “The Sociopath Next Door”and also another book called “Red Flags of Love Fraud.”

      • Honest men don’t love bomb. And honest men are wary of getting hurt by women, so they don’t jump in too fast.

        Right or wrong I had a criteria for dating after my divorce. They must have a good relationship with their family, they must like their job, they must have long term friends, they must not run down their ex’s.

        • Good idea, but my ex would have passed all but one of those. But he was only 18 when we married, so…

          Unfortunately, I didn’t really get to know who he was until after we married, and even then he was a good faker evidently for many years. By his own words as his parting gift, he never loved me and was never faithful, so he had to be faking.

          Or he was lying to himself to keep the illicit sex excusable. Had to keep that high, for as long as he could. I swear though I don’t hold “affair fog” as an excuse for anyone, these idiots act like pimply faced teenagers getting their first nookey.

          I would have love to have been a fly on the wall when the illicit thrill ceased with schmoopie. Quite an “oh shit” moment I imagine. That is likely when he started cheating on her.

  • Dear Honeymoon,

    Welcome to Infidelity Anonymous, aka Chump Lady, the BEST PLACE IN THE KNOWN UNIVERSE for what happened to you.

    I am going to pray that the AH you married did not steal your dream of having children. I don’t know how old you are, but I got pregnant easily and naturally at 43. I did have to have fibroids removed but that was the only medical intervention.

    One reason I stayed in my relationship because I was afraid of missing out on having a family. I have a beautiful daughter I would take a bullet for, but she has a father who got someone to help him throw us under the bus. If only there was a way to keep her, alien mind wipe him, and get my 27 years refunded.

    I do not want to minimize the grief and loss of not being able to start a family right now. I am hoping you are just being saved from doing it with a world class jerk and that it is still on the table for you.

  • This echoes a big part of my experience, I remember vividly the moment when I went from “ok, I’m going to get out and I will be able to have a new partner one day” to “This has just tipped me over, I will never be able to trust someone else again”. It was like a physical switch had flipped.

    I, too, lost almost all my fertility years, I have about 5 left and I’m single, and now a chronic dehabilitating illness and a career to start from scratch once again, so I know it’s unlikely that I have a family someday. Im still focused on survival and that’s a little sad, but it would have been sadder to keep wasting years in a scam.

  • PS…

    We don’t know what we don’t know until we know.

    It may very well be that the email you found was the first red flag…..AND YOU LEFT!! Yay!!

    Unfortunately liars and con artists and cheaters can be real experts at hiding their true selves. We can’t blame ourselves for not seeing. That’s another illusion of control we like to think we have.

    What’s most important is how you respond when you get the memo. Please don’t beat yourself up.
    When you got the memo you LEFT. That’s what you can control and I’m giving you an A+.

    There is nothing wrong with any of us for not seeing sooner than we see.

    • Thanks Velvet, I’m definitely moving through stages. For a few months it was all about how did I not see.. now I realise there was nothing to see or know, until there was.

      So the concern has kind of migrated to – ok., there was nothing to see. not my fault. but still OMG i lost 5 years and almost my mind.. This could happen again?!?! There’s no way to stop it!!!

      That’s where i am right now 🙁 maybe it’s all about time. I’m also a little resentful of my childhood friends, with their partners since we were 16, 2 decades, married with kids..And I’m starting over with nothing, after my THIRD long term heartbreak while they coast along oblivious to this kind of pain.

      • HC, if it makes you feel better — it happened twice to me. Two abusive marriages.

        I’ve been happily remarried to a fellow chump, Mr. CL for over a decade.

        This isn’t the end of your life. It’s the beginning of a better life.

        I really understand how it feels like the end of love. Like this was your LAST CHANCE. It isn’t. That’s a lie. There are many, many worth people to lavish your love upon and be loved in return. Not just a future partner, maybe a future child, future friends, future passions.

        He stole 5 years. Don’t let him take another second.

        • Oh absolutely. I think of you a lot when I’m really really down and remember that you met a male chump and are both now happy, post chumping. For me, I’m worried about trauma I guess. I *know* there are good men out there but I don’t know that I’ll know how to tell the difference.. that’s the fear. And as much as I think I’m wiser, not everyone gets to learn and walk free after one go on the merrygoround – you had to do it twice, for example.

          Hard not to feel resentful of the friends who married their childhood sweethearts and are completely oblivious to this particular flavour of grief and pain.

          • No one knows what really goes on in a marriage. A lot of these so called perfect pairings are not happy behind closed doors.

            I believe that everyone struggles in life. In some way. It is all an uphill battle, but we do our best.

            • I married my childhood sweetheart who had an emotional affair after 13 years. Covert narc, and recognised a few red flags now….. The attachment I had a child towards him is hard to severe even after divorce and no contact. A lot of my personality developed based on how he views me… Joined CoDA and that helped a bit. Still an uphill marathon. We were doing IVF and I had an ectopic last year, my last embryo in storage will be destroyed. That hurts and is my next milestone to heal from. I’m moving on at 37.

      • Here’s what my therapist told me after yet another “long term relationship” collapse: “You don’t know when to leave a relationship.”

        What patterns do you see in the 3 relationships? Examining that helped me a lot.

  • For me, the issue of trusting again is the hardest thing to do. You have lost your innocence. You will never be able to see the world in the same way, again. Thank God!

    I really believe there needs to be a revolution of thought as important as the industrial revolution or the digital revolution when it comes to how we date and marry. We went from an ancient way of looking at marriage as a business relationship, to consolidate land boundaries and wealth and procreate heirs, to a highly romanticized view of finding a mate who was the “One” and would fulfill our lifelong dreams happily ever after. When I was 16, and finally allowed to date (somewhat), I had no clue what to look for in a mate. I was looking for handsome, intelligent, and ambitious, with a willingness to entertain a world view. Doesn’t sound too bad for a kid, but after wasting over a third of my life with men who appeared to be one way but actually were another, I decided the whole way we seek another is wrong

    For one thing, we concentrate too much on appearance. Not just good looks, although an unbelievable amount of time and money is spent seeking those by our culture. But also the appearance of our life. I believe the obsession with social media and posting selfies and fake news about our lives is indicative of obsessing about pleasing others. It is fine to want to get along with others, but when you obsess about pleasing others, you lose yourself. I believe the most important thing to do to prepare yourself for finding a mate is to work on your own character and consolidate your own worldview. Then seek someone who has the same values you have. Don’t believe in fairytale happily ever after’s, or the “one”. Know that any relationship will have good times and bad times, and be prepared to WORK through both.

    I also believe we need to work to update the law. If we are to be a part of a nation governed by laws, we have to make the laws reflect equality, and value the truth. A marriage should have a legally binding contract which sets out the boundaries and expectations of the participants, and sets out the terms of any dissolution of the union if the terms are violated. Contracts can be renegotiated and altered if needed, if there are life changes. However, one partner should not be able to violate the terms of the agreement and still benefit financially. If monogamy is a deal killer, there should be penalties.

    This point of view might seem cold and calculating on the surface. You just have to take my word for it, it is not. I am a warm and caring person, and I have lost many material things over the years. I have also bled a lot of my lifeblood when my heart was broken. The emotional cost was worse, for me, than the material cost. I believe if there had been contractual agreements in place, the temptations to marry me because I was such a useful wife appliance would not have been as attractive to the sociopaths who pretended to be one type of man, but actually were another. They could not have benefited while leading a double life if they were penalized financially by a marriage contract. It would have been much easier to dissolve the union. My heart may still have been broken, but I would have been protected from the economic loss. In the long run this has to be better, and may serve as some type of deterrent to users.

    Personally, at my age I do not expect to marry again. But if I ever do, there will be a prenup. I have a will to set out my legal wishes, why not a prenup? Romantic love, if true, will not be deterred by having a brain. If you have been conned, you learn from the experience, and you say to yourself, never again. It does not penalize a future love for the sin of a past love. It protects both parties. It is a more realistic way to govern marital law. We have a lot of work to do to create a world where this will happen. I am sure lawyers and jurists and legislators will have many arguments about the particulars, but that is part of the process. Just ask yourself, would this have helped me?

    • oh i will 100000% have a prenup. My cheating shitbag had nothing when he met me. Almost 40, divorced, single parent. I was 29, working on television with my own home. What an unbelievable sucker I was.

      Prenup for sure.

      All I want is a best friend. Like one of my best girlfriends, but with a penis. Is that so impossible to find? 🙁

      • There’s your red flag, honey: “My cheating shitbag had nothing when he met me. Almost 40, divorced, single parent. I was 29, working on television with my own home.”

        He wasn’t your equal. A 40-year old man should have a home, even if it’s a nice apartment. He shouldn’t want to move in to his much younger GF’s home. Red flag city if they don’t have their own life together.

        • Very good point. I posted above about unrecognized red flags. As time goes on, she’ll see more and more details that were clear red flags but her brain spackled over them, for a million reasons. This is how this works. Sometimes we spackle because the world around us tells us to (as in, “it’s ok that he’s almost 40 without a proper home or resources or whatever, don’t be so judgmental! people fall on tough times”) and sometimes we spackle because we want it to be true. Either way, with time and distance and commitment to learning, we see how many red flags actually existed. Makes it easier to see them in the future.

    • Nice guys finish last (and probably girls too). I can only speak from a guy standpoint.

      The laws SUCK!!!! How is it that nice guy (me) was faithful and provided to wife and family for 20+ years. Wife cheats, lies and files for divorce (irreconcilable differences….not the truth….it should be HER ADULTERY).

      Regardless…….law in my state does not care…..she cheated and lied and caused the financial harm…..now, I get to pay $1,000+ per month (AFTER TAXES) and she receives it tax free! And I have the kid 50/50. It costs my STBXW $500+ per week (she has child 2 weeks per month) ??? Give me a break!

      What an injustice! Even if I filed for Fault of Adultery, it would cost me more in attorney fees than it would be worth and even then, that state may or may not adjust property division 50/50.

      Why bother?

      No one thinks of this shit when they are young and dumb and in “love”. There should be contracts….I agree 100%.

      • “irreconcilable differences”

        That ticks me off to this day. No he was a lying, cheating, abusive, asshole; and he gutted me.

        His own words to me as he went out the door to schmoopie were “I never loved you and I was never faithful” by his own words he was a lying cheating asshole, but nope “irreconcilable differences”.

        He went on to cheat opn schmoopie too, per my daughter in law. I guess that was my fault too.

      • NC2U,

        Th perception may be that nice guys/girls finish last, but only because people fall into the trap of thinking that this is all a sprint …. but it is anything but.

        I have played things long from the outset; granted I didn’t get (and still don’t have) the immediate gains that Ex-Mrs LFTT got in terms of her shiny relationship with her shiny AP. But ……. I divorced her and got a clean break, the kids stayed with me and now, 5 years on from D-Day and 3 1/2 years on from finalising the divorce settlement, I am out of debt, the kids are doing pretty well (give or take the odd issue), I got promoted at work and should be ready to get back into the housing market in about 12 months time.

        She, on the other hand, is realising her shiny AP (twice divorced, broke and a drunk) isn’t the catch she thought he was and the money she got from the settlement isn’t lasting in the way she expected it to. Furthermore, the kids (now 24, 21 and 17) won’t have anything to do with him and very little to do with her.

        So my advice would be not to focus on the immediate situation (for some reason it always favours the cheater) and focus instead on the long term.

        LFTT

    • I agree with every word you write here, Portia. I would add that the “selfie/social media/impression management culture” is not just about pleasing others but also about BUILDING OUR “SELF” AROUND WHAT WE WANT OTHERS TO THING ABOUT US.

      That’s a complicate idea, but I see it every day on Facebook.

      • Absolutely!!! Denial and delusion are strong influences which add to the hopium addiction. We are who we really are, not the person we think others want or think we are. Very complicated.

        I think that is why we have to be willing to learn all of our lives, because as we age we have time to analyze and reflect. I would not choose to be 16 again for any reason. I may have had smoother skin and perkier parts then, but what I did not know almost killed me!

    • Well put, Portia. I cannot believe my EX would have married me if there had been strong contractual expectations that penalized him for lying, hiding money, making plans with a “soul mate,” etc. I was a catch for him financially, but I felt at the time it would have been materialistic and faithless for me to demand pre-nuptial protections. Ah, the idiocy of youth fed on Disney dreams.

    • “I have a will to set out my legal wishes, why not a prenup ?” I love the idea in theory but how many times have I heard of people winning a settlement yet never seeing a dime ? Unpaid child support for example.
      My father Harlow demanded a prenup for wives 2.0 (dead of pancreatic cancer) and 3.0 ,the one I call Hell, the Flying Monkey. Her career was as a paralegal in estates and trusts. “Prenups aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. They can be challenged.” said the gold digger.
      If people don’t want any/more children, why get married again and risk losing it all again ? Just food for thought.

  • Addiction isn’t a free pass. It is a sign that one must take responsibility to change. If she met him while he was still married and he used these bullshit lines on her she should see the writing on the wall…

    Cut ties, no contact, find herself again.

    • Where did she write that she met him during his first marriage ? She didn’t. Please don’t blame shift and victim shame a fellow chump.

      • He was a separated single father when I met him. He had BEEN married, sure. For 12 years, to a woman who knew nothing. Sometimes the writing is not on the wall.

        • I’m sorry. I did make an assumption and that was unfair to you.

          I can on,u say that if you surround yourself with people who you like and you share your journey you will find people you trust. Your own views on trust will change.

          They may never be the same again (see, my own are sullied by my cheating ex), but that’s not always bad.

          Read Brene browns book the gifts of imperfection. She has some amazing tools for finding appropriate vulnerability. I listen to it often.

          Again, apologies for my assumption.

  • I understand. I also feel like this experiences has tainted all that was good, innocent and pure in terms of relationships. I can never be with someone again and have the privilege of not knowing there are people who would treat me that way and take advantage of me.

    Like you, it’s early days for me. In a way I’m thankful to be an introvert, which means I’m not afraid of being by myself, but I am afraid of being alone in old age. Once I was crying because I was terrified of the idea of growing old alone, and my sister told me “you won’t be, you’ll have me”. So I think if we are lucky enough to have one or two people in our lives we can really, truly trust then that’s good enough. I don’t think I will ever feel like trusting a romantic partner to that degree I did with my cheater husband, the pain was too much and the risk too high. But I think maybe we can find happiness in other things and people, like family, friends, pets, and perhaps boyfriends one day but with a different type of commitment. I don’t want to make myself vulnerable the way I did and cannot afford to, and I’m sort of at peace with that. I know a few women in my life older than me, women I respect who divorced and stayed alone and their lives are very full and happy and seemingly uncomplicated. This is what I strive for too, I hate all the drama my cheater has put me through, all I ever wanted was a gentle and simple life.

    I can sympathise with the loss of your fertile years to someone who did not deserve it. I did have one child whom I love dearly so I count myself lucky, but I did want more and unfortunately had miscarriages so it never happened for me. I’m now 39, so I probably won’t have other children, unless I decide to do it alone. The idea that my ex will have more children while I probably never will, stings. Nevertheless, in a way it’s better not to have children with these sort of people because it means you can have a clean break, whereas when you do it means this person will be in your life for literally forever, and it’s not the most comforting though lol (I wish I didn’t have to see him again ever).

    You’ve been so brave to leave. I’m sure you will continue to be brave going forward, and no matter what there are so many better things we can build for ourselves that have nothing to do with the telenevola drama a cheater bring to our lives, not to mention the negativity they surround us with.

    • I just turned 34. I cannot and will not condemn myself to live alone from here. I cannot and will not abandon the idea of having children. If I do either of those things, he wins. If I do either of those things, then he truly has destroyed my life. That’s why I am here, and other places, trying to learn to trust again.

      I can never get back what he stole. 5 years, and a lifetime of innocence. I used to think married men visiting prostitutes was just something depicted in movies and on TV. The fact he could do that to me has changed me forever. But I have to find a new way, to reach the same overall goal.

      I’m not saying a loving relationship and children is the only thing of value in life, of course not. But it was my dream and a simple one. If I give it up, I give up myself. I simply cannot.

      • I married the traitor at 34. I had been with him for seven years. I got pregnant at 43 and had our daughter. You may be gravely injured right now but you are young and are not sticking around another 20 years with Mr. Icky Secret Sexual Double Life. It’s my feeling that you ARE going to get your dream and that’s WHY he is being removed from your life.

      • I’m about to turn 33.

        My story- I married at 25 to a man I met when I was 22. Divorced by the time I was 28. Why? We had a lot of recurring issues I was finally tired of, but all of those things could have been resolved were it not for one major dealbreaker: My (now ex) husband wanted an open marriage. We’ve been divorced 5 years and from what I hear, he has three simultaneous wives (no, he is not religious, just “poly”) as well as several other rotating girlfriends at whatever given time.

        I have had some not great relationships since then, including a very abusive and traumatizing one that left me with a lot of the same fears and scars as you. After that relationship, trusting men was out of the question for a long time. Hating myself for missing the red flags, fearing that I was never going to have the life I had dreamed of (how could it have been possible? I wasn’t good enough for my own husband and then I got thrown away by someone who replaced me so fast the relationships overlapped!)

        I recognize a lot of the same nervous triggers as you. The assumption of the worst when there was something slightly out of the ordinary. Any more than an hour between replies in a text message and I’d be panicking. In fairness, sometimes I was right. I had a couple guys who suddenly would go non-responsive, or inexplicably cancel plans because of “work” or “got busy” or even “my parents wanted to have dinner so…” And they were actually cheating. Obviously that didn’t help my fears and anxieties.

        But I had an astute therapist who told me that’s not anxiety. It’s PTSD. You’re triggered by the fears of the past repeating itself. When someone asks you “What’s the worst that can happen?” it’s a useless question because to you, the worst already has happened, you just don’t want it happening again. So you are hyper alert to behavior patterns that in your experience, have lead to terrible pain.

        But, the good news is it can get a lot better. My therapist focuses a lot on learning to trust myself. I beat myself up a lot for “fucking up” picking partners that turned out to be liars and cheaters, and every time it happened I got more cagey about the end of a relationship and ignored red flags and stuffed down my anxiety, and fiercely defended assholes because I didn’t want to face having screwed up again. But my therapist told me it’s not that I “fucked up” wanting to trust someone, or look for love, or want to see the best in someone. It’s that I need to learn to trust my own gut when it tells me that something is not right. Or trusting yourself and your self worth when somebody does something that is unacceptable. Yes, this may make some people walk away from you, but the short term pain of someone who is untrustworthy walking away is better than the long term pain of abuse, cheating, or lies.

        Right now, I think that’s what you should focus on. Trusting that you are worth more than that asshole. Trusting yourself is hard after you’ve had the rug pulled out from under you. It’s easy to say “What would have happened if I hadn’t seen that email?” The fact is, you DID see it. It doesn’t matter what would have happened if you didn’t. You did see the email, and on top of that, you took decisive ACTION. He gave you some abusive, manipulating, bullshit excuses and you said “fuck that” and refused to accept garbage. You do have a truly solid foundation to work with there. You know you are already capable of looking at bullshit and rejecting it. Trust in THAT. The rest will come along.

        • “Yes, this may make some people walk away from you, but the short term pain of someone who is untrustworthy walking away is better than the long term pain of abuse, cheating, or lies.”

          This is very smart. And I would add that YOU may decide to be the one who walks away because you have spotted a dealbreaker. That’s why it’s important to DATE rather than BOND. “Dating,” especially keeping it somewhat casual and maybe not exclusive for a while means you go through stages. You don’t just start dating and then not see anyone else, hang in there through some BS, and end up married by default. Even if you don’t like dating more than one person at a time, make sure you aren’t seeing someone 2-3 times a week. Keep your life full of other people and activities. See how it feels to have someone as PART OF YOUR LIFE, not as the significant other you revolve around (I’ve been there, done that). Go out once a week. Enjoy the hell out of it. Remember that sex will lead to bonding too early so be smart at what “stage” you go there.

          And (while I’m thinking about it) when you’re 29, a man who takes up 5 years of your time is all wrong, even if you are co-habiting (the single stupidest thing most people do and do too soon). If someone isn’t marriage material after a year, time to find someone else–no matter how many issues he has with the X or the kiddo or his job or his $$$.

          • I think there’s a cultural element at play there though… Everyone I know has been with their partner 10, maybe 20 years, before marriage. Where I live, married after 4 or 5 years is considered a whirlwind romance!

          • Some man once told me “If you get to the year and a half mark, it’s pass or play.” I wonder if courtships are so much longer now because people had parents who divorced.
            My best friend dated her husband for over three years. Her parents (born in the 1930s) couldn’t tolerate the idea so shortened their courtship to one year during the wedding toast.

    • I’m 37, struggled with infertility for 13 years. I feel the same. It stings that after everything we went through together with the ohss in IVF, the ectopic last year, my last embryo fertilized with his sperm that will be disposed as per our signed contract… That he gets to go have kids. His online affair began 2 months after the miscarriage. I feel that pain. It’s also true that it’s a gift that I don’t share a child with him. He said he can have kids but I can’t. So I just think go do that, you disordered POS. I’d rather adopt and raise a child on my own when I’m able to.

      • ((((Y A S))))
        I just want to send out big big hugs to you.
        I hope one day you will have a child. You would make a wonderful, loving Mother.
        Your cheater will not be a good father, he puts himself first and you just can’t do that with a child. They need strength, stability and someone who is always there for them. Someone like you.
        Please don’t give up.
        Thinking of you,sending hope, love & prayers!
        ❤️🙏❤️

  • Honeymoon Chump, I feel your story in my soul. I had a similar experience with a “sex addict” and fertility issues as well. I wish that I could give you a hug right now.

    One thing that really helped me heal and learn to trust myself again was EMDR therapy. It helped me much more than traditional talk therapy, although that had its place in my healing journey as well. It is a journey, and CN is here to help you along the way.

    *hugs*

  • Honeymoon Chump! Do yourself a favor and STEER CLEAR of the “recovery industry” zealots who will try to convince you he has a “disease” then victim blame you…and demand to know “what was your part in it”. RUN! RUN! RUN! to skip that mindfuckery!!

    • I agree. “Sex addiction” is some bullshit label he used to try to shirk responsibility for the cheating. If it’s a “disease” he can’t control, then he doesn’t have to take responsibility (case in point: his refusal to take any culpability when you caught him.) Abusers and cheaters will often use this excuse to place the blame on something nebulous and out of their control. If it’s an “addiction,” then not only would he have wanted you to think he has no control, but he would expect support and understanding.

      Nope. That is 100% grade-A buuuuulllshit.

  • This is unrelated to the topic at hand, but does anyone else whose cheater was/is addicted to porn think he might have homosexual tendencies? Despite my ex’s overt homophobia (which always bothered me), I still have a feeling he might actually be attracted to men (no judgment). In the end, he accused *me* of saying that I wanted to “suck the dicks” of his two best friends. I can assure you that I *never* said that. I suspect it might have been projection on his part.

    Just throwing it out there. I mean, do men who have homosexual tendencies have a greater need for porn to get the hetero juices flowing?

    [Oh, and side note. He once told me that when he was a teen, a man mistook him for a homosexual. Also some kids at school called him “gay.” I just feel that he’s spent his life overcompensating.]

    • I don’t know that it would be about needing porn to get stimulated with a woman; it might be that he was living a double life or aware that he’s not what he advertised to you. I also think that being in the middle of a discard (which is, in my view, what an affair is, even if the cheater wants to keep living in the home) is not a big turn on.

      I’d guess that your XH is one of those guys who lies by telling the truth–he admits he’s gay by saying people think he is but then denies it. (like, “people think there’s something going on with me and Schmoops but it’s nothing.” Who hasn’t heard that one?

      Don’t untangle the skein. He’s a guy who likes porn as much or more than a partner and may have been a closeted gay man who cheats. (I’m always suspicious of overt homophobia.) What you know is that he attacked you and accused you of things you didn’t do, while he was cheating and addicted to porn. Dirtbag.

  • You want to see a red flag? Here it is. You write:

    “He knew I had trust issues to begin with. I confided all this in him from the start. He told me he’d never hurt me, never cheat, and he slowly built/rebuilt my trust in men and life, over the years that followed.”

    What you did was give him a road map of your vulnerabilities so he knew how to manipulate you. You think you are being honest and up-front, but just as with all con artists and manipulators, when you tell them your private fears and vulnerabilities, you are handing them a tool of manipulation.

    Then, his move is to tell you what you want to hear: “he’d never hurt me, never cheat.” It’s not anyone else’s job to build or rebuild YOUR “trust in men and life.” That’s your work. It took me 60 years to learn this, so I’m saving you 30 years. Trust yourself. Trust your instincts. Go slow in relationships. Remember that it takes a year or more to really learn what a person is about.

    Learn to DATE. Learn to observe someone in many situations. Listen to how that person talks about others and interacts with them. If your mother thought there was something wrong with him, her gut was telling her some serious truth. Learn to withhold your positive judgment on someone’s character until you see it tested. Don’t listen to what people say, other than to determine over a year or more how their words match how they live, what they do. I’m going to make a guess that your mental health situation makes you feel like you have a limited pool of partners to choose from, that lots of people won’t want someone who has an issue like that.

    The benefit of going slow is that you don’t need to tell your whole life story in the first weeks and months. As Brene Brown says, people need to earn the right to hear your story. Don’t use your vulnerabilities to sort out the dating pool. Use your observations of their character and their values as your sorter. I’ve been in therapy for years for FOO issues and depression. I don’t share that information other than with people who need help and a push to start therapy. I’ve been dating the Very Kind Man for 4 years (I think) and we never discuss my mental health. There will at some point be a time when you may want to disclose this information, but your work before that happens should be to trust in your own judgment, resilience and self-efficacy.

    • You were involved with this man for 5 years and the mask falls off after you marry him. Because now he has you hooked. Don’t tell yourself there was nothing to see. If he was transparent with his finances, you would know his money was going somewhere. Hookers are expensive. I’m willing to bet that some of the red flags might be financial. He was married before. I’ll bet there was a sketchy story about the XW or a bland story that doesn’t explain what happened. Does he have kids? How is he with them? If he doesn’t have kids, why? He was cheating on his XW and she didn’t know? Pretty much everything he said to you about his life was either a lie or hidden so there were things to see but YOU DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO LOOK AT THEM. He was mirroring your needs from the start and lying to you about the things that would have been dealbreakers. So the job is to know how to observe those things.

      For example, Jackass was a boundary-less whackadoo with his XW2. So when the VKM had a lot of contact with his XW (kids are grown), I took a long, long look at that relationship, with the idea that if I felt uncomfortable, I was just going to break off the relationship in spite of all the things I liked. I don’t ever want to have a triangle with an XW. Over time, I came to understand how they interact and HE NEVER TRIANGULATES. EVER. He doesn’t trample on my boundaries or flirt or any of that. And I’m confident enough to allow him to conduct that relationship as he always has done. He’s not a cheater or a liar or a user. And he’s no love bomber telling me what I once thought I needed to hear.

    • He used his “tale of woe” (all the childhood trauma) to hook you as the empath Honeymoon Chump. The pity play/ploy is a tool sociopaths use to manipulate others. This is a huge red flag for me now and I run in the other direction.

    • I am guessing my ex FWs story and schmoopies story of their twu luv is that the ex and I grew apart, divorced then he met schmoopie and they have found twu luv. They are all into church, so they have to have a con at the ready.

      I am betting the church ladies don’t know they were humping like rabbits at least two years before I found out.

    • Learn to date! You nailed it. You don’t owe anyone an explanation of your life. It takes time and a lot of observation to know someone. Personally, if I go out with anyone, male or female, and I don’t know them well, and they start pouring out a tale of woe, I am turned off. I am not a therapist. We are not in a 12 step program. I’m just thinking about finding a new friend with some common interest. If either a man or woman starts being too interested in my life, or seems jealous of my time with other friends, those are flaming red flags for me.

      I was 32 when I got pregnant with my first son, 35 with the second. I wanted children, but I chose a poor excuse for a sperm donor. I was 45 when I married Love Bombing Cheater #2. I thought I was running out of time for children and for love. Please don’t let fear of time rush your important decisions. I love my sons, and I am glad we all survived them growing up, but make no mistake, I paid a very dear price for thinking my time was up. Your life may have a different path than the one you think it has to have. Remember the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for!” Good advice from where I sit now!

      • “. I am not a therapist. We are not in a 12 step program.”

        And I’m not in the remodeling business.

    • “You think you are being honest and up-front, but just as with all con artists and manipulators, when you tell them your private fears and vulnerabilities, you are handing them a tool of manipulation.” My oh my what a valuable piece of information that is. I thought I had it all figured out at 29.. I was a child. I thought I was doing the right thing, but I actually said that in therapy recently = I inadvertently handed him an instruction manual.

      • Read Gavin De Becker’s book “The Gift of Fear.” It will be a tremendous eye-opener for you.

        He had 11 years on you and he saw a mark–young, successful, smart with money. I’ll bet your mother thought he was a user and too old for you.

        • THIS. Currently, my ex is mid-40s paired with a women in her mid-20s. It is my understanding that said women’s father doesn’t like my ex, who apparently is now working double time to try and convince her that HER dad is a controlling jerk and she should cut him out of her life. I’ve pieced this all together over time from tidbits our daughter tells me about what’s happening over there (I don’t ask her anything but I always leave the door open for her to talk about anything she wants with me so she can have a sounding board).

          And this is exactly what he did with me, except that my parents actually loved him but he was threatened by anything or anyone that took any attention away from him.

          The point is, that LoveaJackass is correct–that age gap leaves you ripe as a mark. He has a decade of life experience on you. It’s an unfair advantage even in the BEST of circumstances. Relationships with age gaps CAN work, but the younger party should always go into them with a healthy level of suspicion and boundaries. And, you might consider vetting any future partners through your mom…sounds like her instincts are sound. And, yours will be just as sound one day, if you do the work.

      • Another really good book is “Why Does He Do That?” By Lundy Bancroft. It thoroughly goes through and explains how abusers think and act. I cannot recommend it enough.

  • HC,

    My heart goes out to you. I am one year out from D-Day, and my story is similar to your’s. Except I am a man, and my wife was the one with the double life and lots of affair partners. She too seemed perfect, and I was happily married. I didn’t find out until she confessed everything when she was running away with an AP. I was strong like you at first. I immediately divorced her and got out of the marriage safely.

    I hope you do trust again. Cheaters and liars are not just men. Bad people are bad people I’m learning. Here I am, frustrated financially and career-wise because of everything I sacrificed for this relationship – so I can only imagine the fear/pain when it comes to your child baring years. Be strong, put this person behind you, and tackle each day a day at a time. Wishing you the best.

    • Thank you. I’m going to hope your “Strong at first” doesn’t mean you’re not strong now 🙂 Wishing you the best back. I know it’s not just men, it’s people, but that’s just it. I don’t trust anyone now. I can’t believe how innocent I was. And wish I didn’t have to be less so now.

  • Honeymoon Chump– You rock! Instead of waiting for this sociopath to boil you like a frog and murder your feelings over the course of years and years, you yanked this parasite off your neck in one gesture.

    I think this can cause more acute agony and bleeding in the short term, but you’ll heal much faster and more thoroughly in the long run. It won’t feel that way for awhile because of that PTSD-induced “telescoping” sense of having a shortened, darkened life, but the shadow will eventually pass.

    It was the shadow of a monster. You were in proximity to someone who you discovered was capable of God knows what inhuman acts. The ganglia at the base of your skull that manages risk assessment will, for the sake of keeping you safe, automatically factor worst case scenarios and logical extremes, which can be terrifying when dealing with someone without empathy. If you feel shattered and weak in the knees, it may be because your sunconscious picked up on very real and imminent danger beyond what the conscious mind can grasp. That feeling of the ground beneath your feet crumbling away is the sensation of falling into the gap between conscious and unconscious perceptions. Conscious percrotions can be manipulated and formed by cultural biases and minimizations (“Oh he only cheated, everyone cheats, he’s not a *monster*”) but unconscious risk assessment faculties are ancient and deal in the real (“someone incapable of love may be fully capable of any monstrosity”– hello, Chris Watts).

    I think once you’re out of immediate danger, the divide will close, conscious and unconscious perceptions will meld, and you’ll be on solid ground again– even moreso due to clearer understanding of events and your own safety instincts

    Bottom line is that cheaters are scary. As benevolent as many people can be, human beings without the capacity for love or empathy are demonstrably the most dangerous species that ever existed. That’s one reason the sex addict thing is pretty iffy. Bottles, powders and pills don’t shriek in mortal despair and pain while being consumed, but people do. Hurting people in the name of sex– using people in any way as a means instead of viewing each as an end in themselves– is leagues darker than mere substance addiction. It’s the heart of darkness. This is why I think the research on domestic batterers is far more to the point and useful to chumps than nascent and wobbly sex addiction “science.”

    All the elements of control, impaired or absent empathy, “perspecticide,” isolation, and crippling emotional abuse present in battering are present in cheating, even the factor of placing victims at risk for their lives is there, just minus the tire iron in some– but not all– cases. There are commenters here who’ve told harrowing stories of violence, often happening for the very first time after D-Day or when chumps attempt to escape.

    In any case I believe there is a relationship between battering and cheating, which is, if you think about it, just a form of sexual abuse. Untangling skeins in order to “fix” an abuser is a bad idea but if you want to fix your picker– and get the bonus reassurance that not all men are “like this”– Canadian criminologist and clinical researcher Donald Dutton has published some excellent books on battering and batterers that include case studies of “sub-violent” abuse.

    Once put in the context of battering with its 98% recidivism rate, cheating can no longer be sold to victims as some fixable sad sausage “challenge,” so the reconciliation industry (RIC) won’t touch that view and pretends it’s an entirely separate field. By pretending no inherrent link between the two things exists, the RIC condemns victims to tumbling into that gap between conscious and unconscious perceptions and getting burried there.

    • What a great comment, thank you. Yes I experienced what you are describing the day I threw him out. I don’t even remember deciding to do it. I opened my mouth and the words came out and my entire head started to feel tingly and tight, as if I’d inhaled a load of helium. It was surreal. I didn’t even cry for the first week and then I was hit by a wall of grief so strong I thought I’d die. But I have been describing it to friends by saying that some survivalist part of my brain took over, and ‘it’ shoved ‘me’ into a safe room and locked the door. I couldn’t have changed anything if I tried, I was literally not at the wheel.

      I’m a bit of an adventure sports junkie.. I’ve done several parachute jumps, the world’s highest bungee and cave dived with great whites. And that’s what I compared it to – suddenly, in that moment, I felt the exact same way I’d felt in the little cage in the Atlantic.. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs paired right back to a single concentrated point —– escape this now, escape this now, escape this now.

      Truly bizarre. And oddly comforting.

      • As odd as it might seem when you try to explain it in “polite” company, it does sound very comforting to be beset by survival instincts in the right moment. Something was at the wheel even if it wasn’t your rational faculties. Like I wrote in an earlier comment, it seems your mother’s special talent was lurking around in you after all.

        You know who shares your “odd” intuitive bursts? One of the recent Nobel Prize winners for physics, Roger Penrose. He said he felt a “strange” burst of elation while writing his theory, sensing he was onto something.

        Penrose puts a lot of stake in gut instincts apparently. In the earlier comment I went on a spiel about physics (lots of typos, sorry). It’s been on my mind a lot since Penrose won the prize for his 1965 paper on the theoretical basis of black holes. Since I was a kid, he’s been one of my favorite figures in physics due to one of his weirder, more obscure speculations about the sensation of “deja vu” and premonition. Borrowing from Einstein’s concept of the relativity of time, Penrose surmised that the human brain has quantum capacity. For a gross oversimplification, he argues that subatomic black holes may exist in matter all around us (“molecular foam”) through which the past and future may “leak” and that quantum functions of the brain may be able to pick up on and interpret these “leaks.”

        We all know lore about people who seem to “know” things before they had any rational means to do so. My grandmother was one. She was a very tightly laced type even when she was young, but reportedly flew out of bed and ran onto the beach in her nightgown at 11:11 PM the night two cruise ships collided roughly 100 miles off the coast. Dozens of people died. According to my grandfather, she was screaming “All those poor people!” There were no instant media reports of the disaster– she just “knew.”

        My grandfather liked telling that story and a few tales along the same lines but, even if she couldn’t deny that the events happened, it embarrassed my grandmother. I would imagine it even scared her. Too witchy for her staid personality and what an unsettling thing it would be to sense even danger and suffering that was unrelated to you. But it turns out it might just have been her quantum brain capacity, not Voodoo.

        Raise a glass to Roger. You made a “quantum leap,” more than figuratively speaking.

        • Also wondering if your extreme sports adventures have turned you into a kind of emotional athlete who doesn’t fold up when your instincts scream “Jump.”

          Note to self– more roller coaster rides.

          • Well, my therapist tells me my adrenaline chasing side is actually likely an offshoot of whatever dysfunction draws me to ‘addicts’ or bad people generally – the risk, the thrill, the emotional rollercoaster, the manic highs and lows. So I’m not sure it’s a good thing!

            Thanks for that information, I will check our Mr Penrose 🙂

            • Dr. Drew Pinsky the addiction specialist taught me to be wary of adrenaline junkies. And I’ve dated a few alcoholics who hid their addiction very well.
              Hugs to your HC-you’ll walk through your pain and thrive.

            • Hmmm, not sure I agree with your therapist. There can be all sorts of reason for enjoying thrills, some of which might just boil down to arbitrary differences in the nervous system. Plus all your sports adventures are fun and interesting and abuse is not. Did you actually try to climb out of the shark cage to commune with the sharks? Plus at the first sign of “roller coaster” drama in the relationship, you bolted like Roadrunner from Wile E. Coyote.

              From all the reading I had to do a DV advocate, I think the answer to why abuse happens always lies with the abuser. There’s an excellent chapter on therapeutic misconceptions of victims of abuse in the book “Posttraumatic Stress Therapy and the Victims of Violence” edited by Frank Ochberg that I recommend ordering from the library (the book costs a fortune). It explains the origins of clinical misconceptions as well as the dire effects. And in other research, it’s clear there’s simply no statistical common denominators among victims as a whole that support the old, moldering “drawn to abuse” theory of victimization. There can be individual differences and some might decide that they didn’t know what abuse was due to abuse they experienced in childhood. But this isn’t true of enough victims to make generalizations about it.

              Victims of abuse show literally no difference from the general population– not by childhood background, education, socioeconomic factors, preexisting psychological factors, whatever. The only difference researcher Lenore Walker was able to find was that victims tended to be *higher* in self esteem prior to abuse than average, which speaks more to perpetrators’ taste in prey. Some might like bagging bunnies but some appear to like hunting lions. Bigger challenge, bigger trophy.

              There are plenty of common denominators among perpetrators. According to Donald Dutton, virtually all experienced some form of catastrophic shaming or violence in childhood at the hands of a role model that burned out their capacity for empathy and which drives them to culpulsively reenact the worst of what had been done to them, except with roles reversed. Dutton isn’t making a sad sausage case for amnesty for these types since he argues that jail time seems to be the only thing that even makes a very slight dent in recidivism. Also it seems the worst offenders proportionately tend to cover up for their own past abusers (because they have come to identify with their own abusers) so this might not be an obvious red flag to prospective victims. Statistically abusers show a greater channeling of psychic energy into image managing (on the “catch more flies with honey” principle). All engage in something called “neutralization”– the long term formation of preemptive rationales that reduce or eliminate the abuser’s sense of responsibility and culpability for committing heinous acts. Neutralization helps abusers appear “innocent and normal” to other people since they’re not beset by guilty tics The latter “reduction of guilt” mechanism is shared by chronic school exam cheaters and serial killers alike.

              It’s just one more reason that survivors of betrayal could benefit from availing themselves of information and research on domestic violence: because a lot of the misconceptions applied to victims of infidelity were the same crap that had been wrongly laid on victims of domestic violence for ages. In DV research, the latter is known as the “second injury” of trauma (or by other names). “Second injury” is when the helping professions inadvertently add more shame and blame to already overburdened survivors of a range of abuse.

              Again, a survivor can decide for themselves if their backgrounds or circumstances added to becoming entrapped or conned but should be wary of being influenced by typical clinical and cultural biases. The statistics simply don’t support clinicians making automatic assumptions about survivors’ “abuse proneness.” The latter is part of what is called (in some circles) the “safe world” construct where clinicians, like typical bystanders, try to find fault with or weakness in victims in order to support the “vital lie” that the observer is somehow magically exempt from falling prey to the scary misfortune that befell the victim.

              • Wow what an incredibly helpful and insightful answer, thank you. Yes, husband had been sexually abused by priests in a boarding school and abandoned by his mother, who left him there and moved continent. As for me, you hit the nail on the head in the one example you gave – my mother is a narcississtic abuser, so I felt comfortable with the familiar and just thought that was love. I have so much self education to undertake. How anyone manages “normal” relationships in the face of all this dysfunction I will never know. And he definitely had the reduction of guilt thing. He told me it was “just friction”, “no big deal” and “Everyone does it.” Lol.

  • Honeymoon chump- what mental illness?

    My ex told me he loved me mental illness and all. I have ptsd showing as borderline and have been in so much therapy and making strides- but the symptoms are things like self-harm, intense fear of abandonment, etc. I was also a rape survivor and had trouble with sex. He said he was ok with all of this- but then he precisely used everything against me.
    He cheated on me- i ask why he didn’t come to me if he was having urges like this? For him it was also “sex addiction”. I asked why not ask me and we talk through it. He said he was afraid of my borderline and me cutting or getting angry or sad because of my rape trauma. I told him im angry NOW because the cheating happened.

    He felt as if I didn’t trust him. Like I wasn’t confident etc. yet he cheated on me, which caused all those problems to be worse on me. Eventually he mind broke me. I couldn’t tell what was a lie or truth anymore. I needed so much help from friends and family and therapy to be able to leave the relationship without causing myself considerable self harm. Literally hours after, he went straight back to the other woman… with literally no remorse. He gaslit me into believing I was crazy and used the stigma of borderline to put me down. It just made me feel broken and much more ashamed than I’ve ever been in my life. I regretted trusting him with something so personal which i was already ashamed of, because whenever i questioned his actions and decisions, it was never “my gut feeling”, he dismissed it as if it was just me being a bitch or being mentally ill. Even though he lied about so much.

    Anyway honey chump… i am so incredibly sorry. It’s such a difficult thing to be betrayed in this way. I found that gratitude has been my best friends through this time. Because of all the gaslighting I’ve contacted friends every time i remember a conversation in which he made me feel crazy, and people assured me that yea, it would make sense that i want full transparency if my partner is repeatedly cheating on me. My anger made sense, my tears, my need for comfort. None of those things were abusive to him (he claimed this to his friend all the time). It’s still very hard for me to come to terms with everything but it’s little by little. I’ve also trusted my friends so much and that’s helped me slowly regain trust on others as well. If you haven’t reached out to them, please do! A support network is sincerely the best thing right now. <3 im rooting for you

    • I’m not joking – also ptsd manifesting as borderline!!! 😮 😮

      My therapist said every “sex addict” she’s ever worked with has had a borderline partner and she can’t explain it…

      • Another Dr. Drew opinion that stuck with me but I’m not certain how credible. “Narcs and sociopaths usually end up with borderlines or bipolar.” Fits with some couples I know but doesn’t address the theory of response to abuse.

          • Focus on your own healing for now. I’m assuming you’re doing DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) ? I know a couple of women with BPD who’ve found this treatment to be very helpful.

  • Well HC, I guess you can see you are not alone….I’ve managed to read a third or so of the responses and see that many of us have gone this road of deception, porn. I was married 15+ years, and not just one email, but ALL the emails from ALL the years downloaded. Crap, bad crap, was going on the whole time. My man was wonderful. Men thought he was the perfect man – tall, handsome, educated, athletic, highly educated, a moral beacon – never did an illegal drug, hardly ever cursed. Modest it seemed. But there were all the logo shirt and hats telling everyone the elite schools he went to. And he was exciting – we did very exciting fantastic things. All okay so far. And I am repeating myself on this forum too. So, I found out my guy, my perfect guy, who left for a business trip, never to initiate contact with me again (until I filed for divorce), was a pervert. I would wake up in the morning and tell myself this out loud because I couldn’t process it. No one could. I felt shame, I was scared, it was horrible. I see tons of red flags in hindsight – and I excused a number of them. He had left a previous wife with an infant….and like another chump here – moved far away from the child. No one caring and normal does that. There was security coming to our hotel room because there was a peeping complaint. That was 4 years in. Then nothing of real note until years later – passed that one off too. Sex was fantasy based and he often had performance issues. Once I saw his browser history had some porn sites. I showed him how to clear it. I thought it was harmless. Ixnay. I don’t know what the progression was, but know it ended with real people, real sex clubs, nude profiles, really weird stuff. I HAD NO IDEA. I consider it a blessing those emails downloaded and you should too. It ain’t you sister. Believe me. Now, as far as whether he’s a sex addict, narcissist, sociopath – you will wonder. We all have. Now I just tend to think that he is just messed up – maybe every crazy – so compartmented and with defenses so built in, there is no hope. He’s a nice person. He’s a monster. I don’t think there’s an answer here, but I can’t deal with it, nor should you. I am 15 months out and well on the way to meh. It helped I got a decent settlement – doesn’t give me back all those years though where I should have been given a choice. So, know you aren’t alone, you aren’t going to understand it – ever – but better than most due to the email revelation, and head on down that road to better things.

  • Late reply.. but it hurts terribly no matter how long we are with them. You 5 years me 35 and it’s been years that I haven’t reached Meh yet.
    It does get better as time passes. We just have to believe that CL is right on with her reply! Leaving is hard but living a life with a cheating, selfish narcissistic is worse.
    You deserve so much more and someday you will find it. Good luck and Go Bless. 😊

  • Wow. That sounded awfully familiar – I may be the ex wife lol.

    Hugs Honeymoon Chump. It gets better with time, I promise.

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