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Debunking ‘Affair Fog’

reconciliation_fogDear Chump Lady,

My husband had drunk sex with a woman who works for him when our little boy was 9 months old and we had been married for just a couple of years.

He was remorseful (well he cried a bit and said sorry and, hey, at least he told me — yeah right, now I can see I was a chump…) We had a baby and a new marriage and I thought “we are better than this, this isn’t our defining moment.” Sure you know how it goes! Anyway, we carried on and I put it as far out of my mind as I could  and things went back to “normal.”

We were a couple with lots of friends and family, a gorgeous little boy — we had date nights and family holidays and plans — but it turns out my husband never stopped getting oral sex from this skank. Last Christmas — when I was 12 weeks pregnant — he “kissed” ANOTHER employee. Over the months that followed this developed into a full on affair until I eventually kicked him out.

I did all the stuff I thought would break it — called her, called her husband — but nothing would stop them and I had to practically watch them fall deeper “in love.” Six months on and I have just given birth to our daughter. He is still with this woman (seriously, what sort if woman could get involved with a man whose wife was pregnant??) and juggling his time and his finances between seeing our children and seeing her (she has now moved 2 hours away).

My question is if you have an opinion on the Fog of the Affair? Lots of sites mention it and I really felt that for him to walk away from the son he adores and his new baby there must be something to it? Sometimes it’s as if he has become remorseful and wants us to spend time together and tells me he misses us — or is this all just kibbles and cake?

I really don’t want him back (and my heart is slowly catching up to my head). I would not put our children through this again. I just want him to come out of the fog to a moment of clarity in which he sees how monumentously he has fucked up — or does this never happen?


Dear Liz,

I don’t believe in a great mythical fog that turns ordinary humans into assholes. I just believe in assholes. You know how you can tell if people are assholes? They behave like assholes.

The fog is one of those Reconciliation Industrial Complex canards that subtly (or not so subtly) absolves cheaters from moral culpability. Your husband didn’t really cheat on his pregnant wife and abandon his infant children. No, he was in a fog. This dark, wet cloud descended on him and muddled his thinking. He knows not what he does! At some point the fog will clear and he will have that “Oh my God, I fucked up” moment of clarity. He’ll return to his senses, return to his family, and be that person you fell in love with again.

Yeah, I don’t believe that. However, I totally believe in the “Oh my God, I fucked up” moment of clarity. But here’s the thing — it’s only a MOMENT. And then the vast majority of cheaters IMO do everything to not feel it. They drink it into a stupor. They shop for shiny new Schmoopies instead. Anything to blot out the stench of failure.

Cheating is about entitlement. OMG-I-fucked-up is about humility and lucidity. Entitlement feels better than humility. Lucidity means dealing honestly with the consequences of your appalling behavior. Serial cheaters like your husband are gluttons who need feel-good kibbles. As long as there is an affair partner out there who will shovel the kibbles at him, or he believes the opportunity for more kibble production elsewhere exists — why would he change?

Because you hurt? Because your children are so precious and wonderful?

He already demonstrated exactly how he feels about you and your children. He cheated on you while you were vulnerable and pregnant with his child. Not once, but twice (that you know of) with two different women in a rather short span of time. His abhorrent actions tell you everything you need to know about how deeply he feels about his family. You did not matter to him. He is not a person who bonds and connects.

And Liz — that is NOTHING on you. It says NOTHING about how lovable you are or how precious your children are. It says everything about him and his character.

A “fog” didn’t make him that way. That is who he is. If the fog exists, it’s what I call Narcissist Ego Chow — kibbles. That high feels better to him than the love of his family. That’s sick, and that has nothing to do with you.

This is not a person who can love you or your children the way you deserve to be loved. You refer to him as your husband, so I assume you are still married. Please, make him your ex-husband.

This column ran previously.

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  • Hi CN, just a housekeeping note. I’m working out some kinks on the site. I’ve taken down the “Log in” box. You don’t have to register to comment. (That’s a leftover from the forum days.)

    If you’re experiencing any funkiness with the comments, please let me know off this thread at my email info at chump lady dot com.


    • Needed to hear this today. The DOCTOR has not spoken to me since I filed for divorce after he blocked me from our bank account.

      That’s over 4 years ago. He has written off our son completely, due to son’s “betrayal”, which was the affidavit our son signed saying he witnessed the DOCTOR getting my signature to waive my rights while I was cognitively impaired with encephalitis…(just reading those words makes me cringe).

      The DOCTOR has not seen our kids in 4 years…

      I could swear he loved our kids. But regardless of what HE MAY feel, it’s evidently outweighed by other “factors”- beyond my comprehension.

      YES I believe he has moments of clarity. I saw a few during our marriage and they gave me great hopium.

      But if I were the DOCTOR now and had those moments of clarity – about the wounds I’d inflicted on the 4 people who loved me the most, it

      would kill me or bring ME to my knees in prayer.

      But guess what?? We are not them.

      AND if the real question is about the cheater seeing the light as the “FOG LIFTS” – here’s my answer:

      IF THE “MOMENT OF CLARITY” LEADS TO CHANGE IN THEM — WE would be the first to know.

      Crickets…stop wondering. Stop asking why. There is no why.

      Endless questioning is endless suffering.

      • Doctor’s…I agree with your observation that crickets implies no great moment of clarity/change or else we would probably know….. and that there is no why. My STBXH hasnt spoken to our 2 adult daughters in 2 years. They are both amazing, smart, talented, beautiful , independent, strong professional women and for two years have doubted their worth and value because of his discard of the 3 of us. I will continue working on convincing them that there is no why and that endless questioning is endless suffereing. Thank you for these insights.

      • “Endless questioning is endless suffering”. Omg yes. Looking forward to the period of my life when I no longer care about why and how.

  • Completely agree with chump lady’s advice
    I always find it funny, the excuses it was a fog, it was a accident I didn’t mean it to happen, oh ok seems to be a lot of premeditated calculated accuracy and coordination to cheat and be intimate, don’t buy the excuses, takes a lot of coordination to put a golf ball into a hole on the course, just as it does to have sex and a relationship behind you partners back( it is evil)

    • My STBXW stated she totally fucked up and just stopped thinking. Cheated with over a dozen people in space of few months. Daily sexting dozens, asking four when they be available to hook up, continued affair with one person in particular despite being caught, had men’s numbers stored under females names, found her tinder and on and on. Months of gaslighting, blame shifting, lying, sneaking around, anger at everything I did, devalued me, discarded me, But it was just a “fuck up” that she now deeply regrets.

      • Even if–especially if!–she does “deeply regret” her “fuck up,” she should expect that there will be consequences for her behavior. Now she can learn what “sadder but wiser” feels like.

        The fact that they believe they should not have to experience consequences for their behavior says everything about their character, and tells us everything we need to know.

        • I went straight for divorce and been living apart now for several months. Everytime she sees me she breaks down in tears and plays the pity card. Keeps saying she wishes she could go back and change everything and how much she has ruined her life and destroyed the kids. No amount of money in this world could make me be with her ever again. She is also going through a meltdown phase at the thought of me dating and other women wanting me. I’m still in my 30’s so hopefully have many years to rebuild my life. The one thing I noticed was how her hurt and regrets were all about how it’s affecting her. She is the biggest regret of my life.

          • Yeah man, you don’t just wake up one day and start banging a bunch of random dudes and then feel regret about it. It’s who she is and I’ve been there. You can’t change them. Sorry you had to realize it this way but better than living with a woman having a separate(her real life and who she REALLY is) while you’re doing he heavy lifting. Hang tight brother.

            • BBM is sooo right!!!
              That wasn’t a change outta nowhere. For men or women. You either fuck around
              or protect your family and home jealously.
              Honest, moral people who can bond normally don’t find foggy weather and
              the STRANGE that can over take someone. Sounds like a stupidly written horror
              novel. R.L. Stine can come up with better shit than these RIC dickheads.

              • Please try not to get caught up in the “wasted time” bit. It’s a deep black hole of rumination that keeps you trapped. I’m 55. Got married to a nice, dependable man when I was 32. Did everything the right way to ensure a foolproof foundation to build a family on. Part time teacher, stay at home lacrosse mom, community volunteer, member of the PTA, hosted parties for his staff, prepared dinners for his clients. Kept myself and our home beautiful. Wrote and edited marketing materials for him (I have a graduate degree in English). Our life was enviable. Never once did I ever imagine that he didn’t cherish it as much as I did!

                Still, the first thing I said to him on D Day was, “I wasted my life.” Imagine getting dumped as a 52 year old stay at home mom with a spotty resume! I lost my beautiful home, my identity, my financial security, and my love life all in one fell swoop.

                When I read that you were still in your 30’s, I envied you. I imagine that, since you’re a man and we still live in a sexist culture, you didn’t give up your paying job or sacrifice your career in any way? If not, then
                YOU, my friend, are going to be just fine!

                Know that you are a wanted commodity by many fine women – a stable, mature man who is able and willing to commit himself to a woman and family?

                YOU are the fantasy that single women in their 30’s dream about! Remember that every time you go out in public. That’s why your X is all teary and “sorry” – she threw away something very precious, and now she’s frantically trying to get it back. Stupid girl!

                As long as you’ve learned how to spot, and deal with, a fuckwit like your ex, you did NOT waste your time. Congratulations on cleaning up the trash in your young world! You have so much better ahead of you, and some very lucky lady is in for a treat.

              • I was married to my STBX 24 years and together for 29, I’m 63 now and on my own just when life was supposed to get easier with kids raised and retirement so we could travel and spend time together. Now the financial fallout of divorce.

              • I was married to my STBX 24 years and together for 29, I’m 63 now and on my own just when life was supposed to get easier with kids raised and retirement so we could travel and spend time together. Now the financial fallout of divorce.

  • Here’s the line that gets me: “He is still with this woman (seriously, what sort if woman could get involved with a man whose wife was pregnant??) and juggling his time and his finances between seeing our children and seeing her.”

    Life is tough enough financially for a family with two young children. And yes this guy spends his time and money on his OW. I wish chumps cared more about where the cheater puts their time and money and less about whether they had missionary position sex. Cheating is also about taking the resources that belong in the family and using them to keep the ego kibbles coming.

    • That’s a great point. Cheating is shitty but it seldom exists by itself in that cheaters almost always either treat their spouses poorly or spend family resources on their genitals.

      When I found out about my ex’s ex gf that he’d kept seeing our entire relationship a good friend of mine told me that it wasn’t my biggest issue….she felt the shitty way he treated me daily was a bigger issue. In hindsight I think she was right…..the cheating was the final straw i needed to dump him but he’d been treating me like shit for most of our relationship. Why I put up with that is another story.

      In some ways his skank did me a favor… life is much better without him.

    • Yep. My XW used thousands of dollars on her affairs. I understand now why our finances were so tight. My XW is an accountant. So trusted her with our money.

      • My ex spent lots of money on the whore. I had proof in credit card histories. All while our house was torn apart because of termites. He ripped the cabinets and part of the walls down after the tenting to replace everything, then walked out before it got done. I took pictures of it all.

        Asshole was convinced that I would end up with the house, which is what he wanted; so why should he put any effort or money money in to fixing it.

        The judge was no amused.

        I got the property that was paid off, free and clear; he got the termite ridden marital house. Plus he had to pay off all the debt, since the debt was incurred to satisfy his urges. Annnnnd, he had to pay my house payment, my car payment, and my electric bills, (we had electric heat) until the divorce was final. One year. So, he actually paid for my lawyer, and I got a lot of the stolen money back via the maintenance plan.

        Didn’t make up for the pain, but cooled his heels for a while. I honestly figured he would give me a hard time over it, but he didn’t. But I have no idea if he ever went to court, or what the judge might have said to him. I only know that my lawyer said; I can get you three years. I kind of wish I had gone for the three years. It wasn’t like I was in any hurry; but I let it go with just the one. I actually only requested six months, the ex delayed for the next six months.

      • We never had money despite having decent jobs. The minute the cheater left my house I was suddenly able to save money, buy a house and help DS with college. Amazing!

        • Yep, this. Mine was skimming money all over the place. He used to tell me off for buying wine. I liked to have a glass with dinner and he lectured me once saying, “You know, your nightly glass of wine is expensive.” This, after finding out that it costs $400 to see a hooker, and then there were countless expenses on the new girlfriend, including buying her a gift – wait for it – on my birthday. I got a shitty, ugly watch he purchased from an outlet mall and she got a nice new dress and a necklace. The upside of kicking him out – I have so much more money now!

      • And in the end you have clarity. After spending all our limited resources on OW the blame landed on his not being able to get anywhere with me. What was key for me after I finally divorced the asshole was seeing I never needed him. Finally, I was able to get somewhere all by myself.

    • I think this is a good point. Cheating is certainly about entitlement and it certainly is about sex, but it’s also about where the Cheater spends their time and money. Cheating is deceit and theft. That time, that money–all of it could have been going into the marriage. That shows, in a very literal way, that Cheaters really do devalue the marriage, their spouses, and their families.

      I would also like to point out that while it’s natural to be angry at the AP, the AP isn’t at the heart of the problem. Of course, people who knowingly fuck other people’s spouses are terrible people, but the point is that the Cheater should be able to see that. The AP in my situation had a track record of screwing other people’s husbands. She had two failed marriages behind her, both of whom she’d had affairs with before marrying them. CheaterX knew all this and still carried on an affair. So yes, she’s a terrible person, but my goodness! I am way too smart to be married to someone so stupid as to choose THAT kind of person!

      Interestingly enough, once I saw that he was having an affair, and because I had to line up my ducks before filing, I got a chance to see the ups and downs in their relationship and more importantly, how that affected the way he would treat me. If they went on a date, I got some kind of half-assed token in return (example: he would take her to dinner, and then bring me a dinner from some kind of carry out as a kind of “surprise”). If they had a big fight, he’d start being super nice to me. Once they got together again, he’d treat me like shit.

      The point is that his focus wasn’t on the marriage. It was spending his time and resources on the affair.

      • Agree with everything you said but the bit about the AP having diminished responsibility.

        I have a nother view. Within the perspective of affair costs, if an AP knew FW was married and especially if FW has kids while accepting gifts and meals and travel, an AP is like the fully witting, equally scheming fraud partner of a company executive siphoning company funds and should be legally liable for all of it with damages and malice (unable to declare bankruptsy to avoid payment).

        I realize that a judgment like this and the general comparison to organizational fraud could be problematic in case, say, a spouse sues an exotic car dealer because their spouse bought a pricey car without spousal knowledge or consent. In that case I think the only way out of paying should be for the AP to publicly acknowledge being a sex worker– a kind of contractor paid for goods and services. If prostitution is illegal in that state or region, they get prosecuted along wirh the “John.” If in a legal Nevada county, they get fined and/or jailed for not registering for a licence.

        They should also be reported to the IRS.

        IMHO (emphasis on HO lol).

        • Agreed my fw’s whore knew fully well she was scamming money and “gifts”. Hell she had been doing it with married men for years. She had been divorced twice, they got rid of her as soon as possible. She was in bad financial shape.

          I remember once long before Dday FW told me poor schmoopie’s ex had caused them to lose their house. So, I guess to console her he fucked her on a regular basis and gave her money. Then when they married, he bought her a house. Then within five years they had lost it and everything but their car to bankruptcy due to massive gambling debts. Not to mention all the property he got in the divorce. Well deserved.

        • I think there is a lot of misplaced blame. “Oh, if only that hussy hadn’t come along and tricked my husband with her magical vagina!” So I agree with KB that the AP isn’t the heart of the problem, but I absolutely agree with you that they’re often not totally clueless accomplices. I love my therapist, but I really hate when she asks me to focus less on the OW. She had been invited to kids’ birthday parties. I wasn’t some faceless wife of his. Our two families had hung out several days before the affair started. I just want to vomit thinking about it. After her H left her (not because of the affair; he didn’t know yet), my H was helping her out because he felt bad she was now a single mom. Obviously H was an asshole, but I also wonder wtf is wrong with her for taking a married man’s money AND still thinking he’s a standup guy.

          • Limbo– I thought RIC therapists who bar discussion of APs were stupid or corrupt and definitely missing the point that a great part of betrayal trauma is the realization that we’d unknowingly been in proximity to real danger (or evil) from not one but two (or more) people.

            Gang rape and rape involving negative bystanders is generally more traumatic than rape by a lone perp. Most trauma professionals wouldn’t argue that point. If you were raped and there were passive bystanders or people who helped entrap you, flagged on or helped plan the rape or held your arms, each participant adds to the trauma and complicates recovery. Each act by each knowing participant is a separate crime and requires its own processing.

            If you include the financial abuse which APs are frequently fully knowledgeable of, if not inciting, it’s tantamount to gang mugging. Any kids involved are also victims. To me, that made the whole thing unfathomable.

            There have been some interesting studies in the past two decade on the personality construct of “mate poachers.” Statistically speaking, the behavior is not an idiosyncracy but relates to overall character. Some highlights:
            Male mate poachers tend towards narcissism while female poachers tend towards psychopathy. Female poachers are more likely than male poachers to particularly seek attached targets. Both are high in dark triad traits and tend to have poor long term relationship outcomes and high rates of addiction. Female mate poachers have high rates of eating disorders. Cheaters and poachers have far higher rates of STD’s than those practicing ethical non-monogamy, a fact related to cheaters’ tendency for risk-taking and high risk sex. Another study found that “infidelity tolerance” correlales strongly with “rape myth acceptance.” Then a further study ornately breaks down competitive strategies of mate poachers, including “friendship infiltration tactics.”

            Most countries punish traitors more severly than captured enemy combatants. Unless you’re a straight person married or committed to a closeted cheater, the AP us usually the same gender as you. I don’t know how that works for men (well actually it’s clear since male mate poachers more often risk violence for interloping), but among women this brings in an element of breaking the sister code and adding to the burdens women often face (increased rates of poverty after divorce and all the horrors that come with it, discrimination when rejoining the workforce after raising children, etc.). That requires its own processing and also makes it more than a little ironic that apologists for she-poachers often cry “misogyny” if poaching is criticized.

            Yet Malcolm X called out “house slaves” as traitors and Solzhenitsyn sadly makes a pretty startling admission in The Gulag Archipelago that the killing off of prison camp informants by political prisoners was the only thing that ultimately improved camp conditions under Stalin.

            Solzhenitsyn takes pains to argue that he’s not advocating violence against turncoats in any but the most extreme situations, but he doesn’t leave the anecdote out of the book either. You could take a sort of middle ground approach that the story allows for giving traitors their fair share of responsibility for negative political ramifications and hindering group progress.

            To get a bit of an overview of what some of those political ramifications are, go lurk on the Reddit sub “Female Dating Strategy” and see how younger, single women are starting to reject this new militant “sex positive” view that tacked itself onto the #MeToo movement like a tumour. The group maintains that while it’s obviously not permissible to commit violence against women for their sexual conduct (raping a sex worker is still rape), they reject the idea that what other women do with their bodies (referred to humorously as “choicey-choice” on that forum) has no impact on general conditions for women.

            I see that thread as sort of a nascent attempt at mobilization and non-violent resistance. It allows for internal criticism. There are some problems with the general philosophy that seem to be under debate. But it’s interesting to see a group of women giving no quarter to something like mate poaching (among other behaviors) within a political framework without the usual religious “sin” rhetoric.

            • P.s.– Obviously focusing ire on the AP is a problem if it’s to lighten the burden of blame for cheaters. But I never see a distinction being made between that and the natural need to process the additional trauma of what basically amounts to gang bullying or even gender/political issues.

              • What triggers me more than hearing about cheaters, is hearing people defend their cheating partners.

                I would like a Clady to write a post on why we need not defend – in any way shape or form – people who knowingly fuck married people.

                They are the selfish, entitled, accomplice to the cheater who inflicts life altering pain and trauma.
                Their hands are dirty.

                They should be shunned by society…then maybe selfish family destroyers would think twice

              • Zip– After being robbed, living under the sword of Damacles while I wait for an abnormal PAP screen and especially seeing the direct damage caused to my kids when one hacked dad’s devices and came across incriminating emails by the AP, I have zero problem with anyone who wants to expose an adultery collaborator. It’s not a violent act, it’s not on the level of vigilantism and since APs can be male or female, so much for “slut shaming.” It’s just refusing to keep an abuser’s dirty secret. Whether they get shunned or not is up to society. Not our problem.

                I was reading an interesting article on the benefits of revenge. Turns out people actually do feel better in the long term after an act of nonviolent vengeance against parties that genuinely did them harm. But I tend to think economic reparations are a more appealing solution. Bring back alienation of affection suits but make them more about real economic harm, lost time, lost labor, lost assets, damages, etc.

              • While APs are obviously crap (regardless of gender or sexual orientation) focusing on them is a serious risk, as it diverts time and energy that you should be using to separate yourself from the cheater, heal emotionally, and fix your picker.

                So… sure, out them or don’t, depending on what benefits you the most, but keep the focus on you and fixing yourself. Don’t get bogged down in trying to blame gender politics, or blaming the moral-less youth of today – that’s just another rabbit hole that’ll keep you from moving forward.

                Think of it like this: if your roommate keeps stealing your shit and selling it for drugs, the problem is not that there’s a secondary black market that’ll buy from your roommate. You focus on getting the thieving roommate out of your house and away from you.

                In the big wide world there’s always gonna be some crappy people in it, and they’ll always find each other. The important thing is to focus on your own life and the people you allow in it.

            • Thank you for all of this. There’s a lot of stuff there that I will have to look up. And wholly agree on the “breaking the sister code.”

              • Like in the 70s, women’s rights have yet again been bogged down by the question of sexual peccadilloes. In the 70s the discourse got taken over by women arguing that BDSM was a legitimate expression of sexual freedom and they ended up harassing those who believed commercial porn was generally misogynist. Susan Brownmiller writes about this in Men, Women and Rape. Now we have the “sex positive” crowd and sugaring to pay off student loan debts and “choicey-choice” that includes the freedom to blow your married boss in the parking lot and all the freedomy rationales that go with those choices.

                As a lifelong lefty feminist, I can’t help but wonder if the latter view is being sponsored or “encouraged” by the porn industry which, since streaming services became available, is bigger than any other media combined. That’s power and power pays for PR. The whole thing has become pretty militant since the #MeToo movement got traction and I also wonder if that’s really an accident. Muddying the water is a tried and true tactic to snuff progress.

                Very Sisyphean, sigh.

              • Traffic,
                Interesting post. I think the burn is bigger when you were discarded for the cheating partner. I agree with what you said, however I also think that cheating partners get off way too easily. They have a hand in destroying families – ideally people who purposefully hurt others for their gain should have consequences.
                Often they are welcomed into the cheater’s family etc. And absolved of all wrongdoing in general. It sucks.

            • RE this in our post:
              If you were raped and there were passive bystanders or people who colluded with the attacker to entrap you, flagged on or helped plan the rape or held your arms, each participant adds to the trauma and complicates recovery.

              Each act of witnessing by each knowing participant is a separate crime and requires its own processing.

              This finally explains what has been a burr in my shoe for decades. My husband allowed his mother to insult me over and over again in front of him and our children and at times all the guests at the table.
              I could never get him to acknowledge his complicity in this. The most he ever said was that he was too immature to have an adult relationship with his mother. In light of your comment (above) though I realize that it was watching her seeing him betray me that caused another layer of misery for me, he openly betrayed me (and preferred her) in front of her. Added layers include my children watching this open betrayal, humiliation, his brothers watching all of this, other bystanders having this play put on for them.
              Your comment has helped me put this miserable stuff in perspective.

        • States should bring back “Alienation of Affection” laws (and give the states that still carry the law some teeth) so chumps would be able to sue the AP’s. Hit the AP’s in the pocket. When you think of the cost of time, marital funds, retaining divorce lawyers, division of assets, etc. makes sense to have a law that recoups some funds back.

          • KB22– Agreed. I’d settle for just recouping the value of stolen assets from an AP and sanctions for not reporting affair spoils to the IRS. That alone might give some pause and the all-important bit of justice, not to mention the fact that chumpdom mostly involves financial hardship for chumps and children.

          • At the very least, there should be a provision for cheater to have to pay the legal costs of the divorce. All of them.

          • “Irreconcilable differences” enrages me. Even is there wasn’t as much of a difference in the settlement I would’ve still liked to be able to check an “Adultery” box for the reason for divorce, but my no fault state doesn’t allow that.

            • “Irreconcilable differences”

              Same here, I wrote down everything that happened years ago. I kept it. I have two histories written, one is what I thought my life was, the other is what happened in our last 1.5 years. My son can choose to read it or not. I mean he already know his dad was a bastard, but he might be interested in the details from my view.

              It was fun writing about my childhood, my family was what I called lovingly dysfunctional. It is fun to compare with my brother who is two years older, many events we saw in completely different ways. Not bad just different. But, it makes sense because of our age difference, we were focusing on totally different things.

          • KB22, AGREE, bring back “Alienation of Affection” and ditch ” No fault ” divorce. Women are being screwed twice by the laws we have now. No other contract on earth would read this way. Women, get what we are owed, do not roll over and take it just because lawyers, legislators, and men in charge dumped this on us!!!!!!!

            • I work full time in a STEM field and make peanuts. It is beyond depressing how short alimony is in relationship to the length of the marriage (usually about a third) the idea being that ex-spouses don’t need to be supported forever and can use that time to brush up their resumés or go back to school. I have a very specific skill set. It would cost me a lot of money to do a hard pivot into something pays more. I made career decisions based on the idea that I could rely on his income and some of those decisions afforded me greater flexibility when it came to having and raising children, which benefitted everybody. And women who haven’t been in the workforce in ages are at more of a disadvantage. Maintenance reform has oddly gotten more sexist over the years.

      • I agree about the cheater being the main culprit, not the AP. She doesn’t have a magic pussy and he doesn’t have a magic dick. The cheater is the one who broke his/her vows to God and to the chump, therefore the cheater should be the one to pay the price of breaking the marriage contract.

        This may be easier for me to say because I never met the OW. She is a non-entity to me. I did meet the OM a few times (I suspect Nitwit was a bisexual cheater). If I think of them at all it is with pity that two people in their early 20’s, in the prime of their lives, couldn’t do any better than their married 30-year-old physics tutor. They also don’t know about each other.

        My feelings towards Nitwit, though, were anything but “Meh”. I had some really dark fantasies involving him being forced to walk naked through the streets while people shouted “Shame! Shame!” a la Game of Thrones. Someone else on this thread talked about how enemy combatants are treated better than traitors. From my POV the APs are the enemy combatants assuming a) they knew the FW was married and b) they were not the chump’s friends prior to sleeping with FW. But the FW is always, always, a traitor to the marriage. Every time he said, “I love you”, every time he took care of me when I was sick, everything nice he ever did was a complete lie performed for the purposes of image management. I don’t care if the APs gave him the best orgasm of his life. I don’t care if one or both of them outright ordered him to divorce me. There is nothing they can do to me that can hurt me more than finding out that the man I loved never existed.

    • I spent a long time combing over secret credit card debt, cash withdrawals, etc., and came up with two versions of the affair bill– one with and one without attorney fees and kid therapy.

      The bill was whopping with or without attorneys, etc. I’ve been tempted to report Shmoopie to the IRS since her “half”of the bill boosted her after-tax income/lifestyle by about 40%.

      It gets worse. Then I factored the rise in value of the investments I thought were being made with the money at the time. With that considered, the pricetag of the affair comes out to be $233,303.03 USD– and rising. That works out to a Tokyo escort fee per fuck.

      Personally I think he got ripped off since the beluga whale apparently didn’t like giving blowjobs. This is confusing to me since it’s her big mouth that brought on DDay. Oh well, she wasn’t exactly full service. As a partner and CEO of the marital corporation, I would not have agreed to the hiring of this particular contractor or the overblown fees for poor service.

      If you think about it, an affair fog is often a “financial fog” to boot. Imagine if every embezzler, thief and Ponzi schemer could get off with that excuse.

      • I just posted that states should bring back “Alienation of Affection” laws. The states that currently have the law in place should give it some teeth. This would give chumps a chance to get back monies spent on AP and monies spent on divorce lawyers, division of assets, therapy, etc. Many years ago there was a price to pay for having an affair with a married person. My mother knew a woman that had to leave the state when she carried on with a married man. of course nothing happened to the cheater husband but just saying there was a huge price to pay for bad behavior.

  • I believe in the concept of an affair fog, but the one in it was ME.

    The fog is created with lies, gaslighting, deceit, mixed messages, intermittent reward. Brainwashing. Emotional, mental, psychological, sexual abuse. My denial. Smoking hopium and my daily dose of Kool Aid.

    I didn’t have a marriage. I had a MIRAGE.

    The one in the fog is the chump.

    • Yes, me too. My “fog” after dday had me searching the internet for brain tumor symptoms. His behavior was so bewildering & cruel that I thought he had one. He had confessed to having an Owhore days earlier but MY brain clouded that fact & went in over drive to explain his sudden change in behavior.

    • Agreed.

      I have no doubt that if my ex could have kept the whore quiet, and me in the dark; I would still be married to the asswipe, and the whore, or another whore would be filling the side piece position.

      Someone dropped a dime on him and outed the whole mess. Could have been schmoopie, or could have been another police officer; but I know he was in a panic when he was outed. (the whore was his direct report.

      Thank God he was outed, because FW descended into bankruptcy and chaos after we divorced. Actually it started (or continued) after we were legally separated; but since we were legally separated I was no longer responsible for his financial crap.

      • I wish more people would “drop the dime”.
        I got some hints, but she had already created a cover story and I am a loyal person.
        Glad you got out in time.

        • I do too. I don’t know who did it, but I am forever grateful. My only complaint is, I wish it had been at least two years earlier.

        • Amen. There were, as it turns out, quite a few people – some I considered “friends” – who knew about his affair(s). Those who knew, but didn’t tell me, have moved into category of acquaintance. I might smile at them and nod my head, but that is it. No, I’m not available for coffee. Period. I get that it was uncomfortable for them, but it was life-shattering for me, even more so when I found out how many people knew. As far as I’m concerned, they are culpable in my HPV diagnosis.

          Affair fog is BS. My cheater knew EXACTLY what he was doing and went to great lengths to keep it a secret from me. That isn’t “fog”, that is a very insidious clarity with malice aforethought. All the “I can’t remember” BS mumbled from his mouth. Please.

          I agree with “chump fog”, though. I couldn’t see which way to go, was stumbling in a very, very dense fog. The CL and CN were a light shining brightly. Thank you for all who contribute.

          • Exactly, all the switzerland friends who watched my husband and his whore dance, giggle, go on group dates, … F them.

        • FW’s and AP’s coworker anonymously dropped a dime and then I hired a PI for the rest.

          I sometimes lurk on quora and Reddit threads just to take the pulse of public attitudes towards cheating (and the fun of watching cheaters and APs get the crap kicked out of them). As far as whether to blow the whistle on adultery or not, the views seem roughly split down the middle. The argument that the risk of STDs tilts things towards dime-dropping is usually the show stopper that no one can effectuvely counter.

    • Yep. That’s 100% correct. Many of us spent years not seeing the reality in front of us, or seeing it and denying what it meant.

  • He’s as good at aking the love for his children as he’s good at faking being a (loving) partner. Or he does love you all but just in and for particular moments. I had a boyfriend like this. They’re very dangerous because they do love you in such moments and you can feel that they’re sincere and in love. It’s just that they can switch to non-love in a moment. Their love is gone. Or until next short switch on.

    Forget his fog, you have to come out of your fog – he cheated on you at least with two women while you were pregnant with both children! Hie’s just being a ticking bomb for at least two sexual harassments (his employees!) might quickly bring you out of your fog.

  • Oh! I always thought the fog was what we Chumps experience. Dday is stepping on an IED and after that everything gets blurry, time races and slows and loses it’s linear flow as we try desperately to figure out what happened and understand what in the wreckage of our life is true. I couldn’t even focus enough to read a book for two years, and had to start with crappy beach books to learn again how to follow a plot. And reading was a great pleasure of mine, one of my degrees is in English and I’ve taught it at the college level. My husband, on the other hand, didn’t seem to be in any kind of a fog at all.

    • Bingo. There’s a different column that CL re-runs every now and again that talks about cheaters using chaos as a strategy combined with the three usual mind-fuck channels (rage, charm, self-pity), and I figure if “chump fog” exists, that’s what it is.

      • It took CL to point out that the permanent chaos my ex created was a way of keeping me on the back foot! I wonder if he’s still doing that or if latest Schmoopie doesn’t stand for it!

      • Chaos is a frequent tactic of abusive bullies and politicians.
        They like to provoke things and then offer a solution that would never be acceptable without the chaos.

        • In the corporate world they are called fire starters. Fire starters create chaos and division to get the focus off their substandard work and/or to look like a hero when they “save the day” and attempt to make decent employees look bad.

          I’m glad there are sites like this that expose these defects. No matter what side of the aisle you are on politically I think we are all sick and tired of these warped manipulations.

    • I love to knit & after dday I couldn’t bring myself to do it. My mind raced so much that I couldn’t follow pattern directions correctly. A friend who lost her first baby at birth told me she was 6 months along with her 2nd child. That joy snapped me back into knitting a sweater for that sweet baby girl. I haven’t stopped knitting since.

      • I’m glad this was mentioned as since I caught my ex wife’s affairs, I’ve abandoned my main hobbies. Even the thought of doing them makes me feel sick as I was upstairs doing said hobby whilst she was downstairs sexting and sneaking out. These cheaters really suck the soul out of us chumps. And good for you for getting back to your hobby, that’s a great step forward.

        • The only ‘hobby’ I’ve had since Dday is reading CL and all things self-help – oh and some therapy sessions.
          Thanks Fuckwit and office whore.

        • When you’re ready, one of the best parts of “gaining a life” is reclaiming the many, many things you gave up along the way. One aspect of being in a relationship with a narcissistic person is that they don’t do compromise or reciprocity, so chumps end up giving up things they love because to either keep the peace or have family time or pick up the cheater’s slack.

          Start thinking about what you gave up to be in the relationship and what the trauma made painful to you. Take it back. Take it all back.

          • Exactly. I never had time for hobbies when I was married to Nitwit. I was always working to support us financially, doing housework (he never lifted a finger), or tagging along with him to events involving his friends. Naturally whenever it came time to spend a holiday with my family he would suddenly develop a bout of “depression”.

            Nitwit once sneered at a Dungeons and Dragons character I made. Now I am writing a novel using some Dungeons and Dragons characters I rolled up during the lockdown.

            The character in question actually was underpowered, given that I was a novice player at the time. Still didn’t give him the right to tear me down in front of the group.

      • I was in the final year of my PhD when DDay hit. Total disaster. Luckily got an extra year to finish as I explained I couldn’t concentrate on anything. 3 year affair that started from an online married ‘dating’ site. Went from a comfortable life, nice house, 3 wonderful kids to something out of a nightmare. It really was something out of the twighlight zone.

    • I had the same problem with reading. The physical impact is just amazing to me. After 2 years I can finally read book.

    • That’s why I had to listen to the audible version of LAC;GAL. I couldn’t read. Amazing what trauma does to a person.

      • I’ve listen to a couple of book on audible, I couldn’t focus enough to read either. I’m only 9 months out form D day which was literally a few days before COVID lockdown. It’s been hell. No where for him to go for a few months and talking to therapist virtually for a good portion of the time. He moved out three months ago and now I am finally starting to heal. I was able to read leave a cheater gain a life, however I’ve read it about 3 times and refer back to it. Also helps to read the comments here. Thank you CN

    • I can relate to your reading dilemma! I am also a voracious reader but had to resort to the same kind of reading material. I always wondered what that was, now I know! Thanks for your comments!

      • I can’t read or watch TV or movies. I can’t listen to music. I have to keep myself distracted by doing weird things like cleaning obsessively. PTSD is hell. It’s been 18 months of it for me.

        • Ugh. Although I can watch some TV or movies, they can’t have anything to do with romance or affairs. It’s all so damn triggering.

        • I’ve got 3 English degrees and I couldn’t read at all for nearly a year. I couldn’t do movies, either. What I did was watch police procedurals, starting with Law & Order, CSI Miami, Blue Bloods. I think I found the pursuit of justice comforting, as well as the formula that these shows follow.

          • LovedaJackass me too (only one English degree though!). Reading was a passion my whole life but I could rarely finish a book unless it was to do with abuse and trauma … I used to despise police procedurals but I watched my way through all the ones I could find on TV and streaming over a couple of years or so. Especially cold cases and wrong convictions. Funny that.

            Three years out and I was in such a ditch, wondering if I was ever going to feel any better than crap. COVID-19 hit – but very lightly in my neck of the woods. I signed up for a free 10 week CBT and hypnosis program some guy was doing as a research program. It was incredibly helpful. The sessions gave me some strategies for understanding and managing my emotions and reactions but also lifted the lid on my complex trauma from where those reactions came – and the researcher put me on to a great therapist. It must have been time, because I have got so much benefit so far from four months of weekly sessions.

            Now after nearly four years I can read a novel for pleasure, I am drawing again, singing, enjoying music, finding my style again and buying clothes I like, pottering in the garden, enjoying an interesting part-time job that pays well.

            The sustained happy that I hadn’t felt for so many years and thought as recently as six months ago wouldn’t return has stayed and grown for a couple of months now and if/when it ebbs it won’t be so bad because I am also content. I have been supported and materially helped by generous, kind and loving people (thanks sisters) around me through the worst of times, ditched Switzerland friends, my relationships with my children are healthy and enjoyable, and feel like I am back on my own two feet waking up into a new and rather pleasant life.

    • Me, too. I sometimes worry if my continued research into PSTD, CPSTD and narcissism is healthy.

      After 18 months I have more confidence in my attention and decision making. I don’t think my family or my in-laws can grasp the enormity of the trauma. It doesn’t help that the legal system serves continued shit sandwiches.

      • Me, too. I sometimes worry if my continued research into PTSD, CPTSD and narcissism is healthy.

        After 18 months I have more confidence in my attention and decision making. I don’t think my family or my in-laws can grasp the enormity of the trauma. It doesn’t help that the legal system serves continued shit sandwiches.

      • Yes, the legal system here is completely re-traumatising. I get abuse via his lawyer now. I agree, no one gets how this feels and it’s lonely. I get you! Remember to stay in the present time as much as possible and expect nothing at all from your ex. They are assholes – they behave like assholes. It’s not you. Hugs!

        • No one grasps the longevity or enormity of the trauma – unless they’ve been through the same with someone they really loved (and they would never cheat themselves)
          The amount of truly insensitive things people have said (even friends), is mind boggling.

          • From a “friend”: These things just happen followed by (after only a few months) “You’re good now. Right?”

            Guess being in the presence of a betrayed spouse is such a downer. “Oh and look, she’s crying again. Can’t we all just past this?” Grrrrr!!! ???? They don’t get it.

      • I’m pretty sure no one can understand the trauma without having experienced it. Mine had been cheating on me for the past 6 years with hookers, the last 3 with the same one that he actually fell for. To think that this secret life was going on all whilst pretending to be the perfect husband.

      • feelslikemonday, you NEED that research. That was all I read for a few years. You need the knowledge and you need to reinforce your belief in yourself and that it WASN’T YOU. When you don’t need it any more you will lose the desire to read so much about it.

        Let yourself work through the process in the way your mind and heart and soul need. Its part of the processing and the trauma is real and deep and very few people who haven’t been through it understand it, or have the patience to walk with you while you go through processing it and recovering from it. I am fortunate to live in a place where the divorce law is pretty clear and reasonably uniform – but f*ckwits can make even the easiest process horrible.

        That’s why places like CN and people like CL and all the posters here are so so so important and wonderful. We are all at different stages of the recovery journey. There is nothing too awful to talk about here. We get the snark. We’ve all dealt with f*ckwits in all their nasty yet banal shallow iterations. There is so much wisdom and support – and also coffee-through-the-nose laughs more often than you might think.

  • “You know how you can tell if people are assholes? They behave like assholes.”

    Rule to live by. ????

    To those (not us, fellow chumps, but out in the world…) who say that a person is having trouble coping with the stress of adult responsibilities and acted out because of their personal issues/fears, my response is this:

    Adults are required to relate with other adults as adults. When we fall short of that goal, we receive the outcomes that correlate with our poor behaviors.

    Ergo, if you make a relationship agreement then behave in a way that violates that agreement, you have nullified the agreement. This means the relationship, as it stood, was over the second you chose the behavior.

    It doesn’t matter what extenuating circumstances exist. What matters is that everything lands back on the negotiation table from that moment forward, and the other person is not under any obligation to remain in any direct relationship with you, good or bad. (The person may have to co-parent with you, but the person is not required to observe the prior agreement when doing so.)

    I don’t need to stand in any sort of judgment or in any way evaluate the circumstances to observe and acknowledge that these things are true.

    Just like I don’t need to stand in any sort of judgment or in any way evaluate the circumstances to observe and acknowledge that a person who behaves like an asshole, for all practical intents and purposes, is, to me, an asshole.

  • I stand by what I’ve said before – “affair fog” may not be real, but the smoke/fog of hopium smoking absolutely is, and the cheater actively encourages it!

  • “I don’t believe in a great mythical fog that turns ordinary humans into assholes. I just believe in assholes. You know how you can tell if people are assholes? They behave like assholes.”

    This advice was the 2 x 4 I needed to conclude that my XW was not in fact in an Affair Fog….she is just an asshole.

    Thank you Chump Lady! BEST ADVICE EVER! I still recite this statement when I’m enforcing my boundaries with my XW and other narcissistic people I run into.

  • There is no affair fog, just shit I got caught.

    It is still seared Into my brain the concern asshole had for his married AP when they had to break up, and NO concern about my well being after I busted his ass.

    The cheating spouse does not care about his wife/her husband/SO, otherwise they would never have decided to lie cheat and steal from you and your kids in the first place.

  • I wish EVERYONE would read what CL wrote. I’m so sick of hearing about the “affair fog”… and it’s close relative: “Limerence”

    I was told repeatedly “oh, he’ll be back. He’s just in limerence… it’s not really love.” Or “He’s in an affair fog… once it wears off, he’ll be back.” Even the therapists believe this… “it won’t last more than 6 months” blah blah blah

    As if I should want him back. As if any of his love was real to begin with. For the narcissists like many of us dealt with, they go to their next victim and discard us.

    He was never coming back… and 5+ years later, he’s still with AP. That’s because he’s broken and bizarre… not me. He discarded me and his own son. His mask came off and his personality dramatically changed. And I have no idea what version of him his AP has (nor do I care).

    But in no way was that “affair fog.” This romanticized version of their selfish mental illness (and blame shifting to the innocent trusting spouse) p*sses me off.


      The RIC totally predicates its advice on the assumption you should want them back.

      You shouldn’t. We all deserve better.

      • And if you don’t want that person back, you are at fault. Your standards are too rigid, your heart too closed off, whatever. If a person steals from a place of work and is caught, no matter how fond of person the boss may be, that person loses his or her job. Lying and cheating and stealing is a dealbreaker.

  • I remember the day my ex showed up shaky and red-eyed full of regret and shame. It gave me hope, but it was a moment in time where he needed someone to make HIM feel better. Famous line from Spanglish..your low self esteem is just good common sense.

    It passed and he continued to seek kibble.

  • I don’t know where I heard/read this but I think it’s true. Guilt has a shelf life or a sell by date. The exes do not want to live with guilt so they don’t. Just like water seeks its own level so do assholes. My ex SIL has never shown the first inkling of remorse. She just smiles her way through life and gets away with it. If guilt hit her over the head she would not feel it.

  • Mine claimed he had a “personality fugue”, was a sex addict who had the prostitute as his “qualifier” i.e. his drug of choice. Claimed he was done with her, while stalking her apartment, looking in strip clubs. Of course, once he knew the divorce papers were coming, he decamped to a hotel and has since proceeded to continue his love affair with the same prostitute. He’s nothing like the person I knew, emotionally and physically absent from our children’s lives. Claims we are entitled assholes and the hooker is a deserving, mama bear—who abandons her small children to hook and buy drugs.

  • The truth is, there is. I thing a cheater can say that will make you understand their behaviour. My own ex had a lovely family, money, a fun life. He acknowledged he fucked up and was sad to lose us. Did it make me feel better? No. Did it change anything? No.

    Cheating is a conscious decision to lie and deceive and to expose that lovely family to disease and trauma. My ex didn’t expect to be caught by his 13 yo daughter…but he was. This is serious trauma for her and will carry through her life. She did not deserve that. No one does.

    When I Drew the line and refused to accept this behaviour (thank you chump nation) I took control of my own life. I filed for the divorce. I did all the paperwork. And now I am living a lovely life with my teenagers. Remorseful ex has already had a baby and had started again. Yeah. They are full of crap. No one wants to live in regret. It’s easier for them to move on.

    Divorce. Minimal contact. Time finding you. There are beautiful days ahead where you will look areoinf and thank yourself for choosing you.

    • Yea, the type of person who can betray a family is not the type of person who will live with remorse for very long. I know my Ex was thinking ‘it’s done’ meaning, he cheated, he discarded, time to wrap it up and move on.
      That’s how he is – I know that now….
      And any regret was about him…and what this did to him

  • I am struck by the same line Loved a Jackass is. What kind of woman…

    It breaks my heart all over again when I see women being cruel and disrespectful to other women, especially when there is a cheating man in the middle. If all you know about your boyfriend’s ex or spouse is what he tells you, you don’t know anything. One of the rules I developed when I was younger and tried to date ( I know, long ago and far away!) was if a potential new man trash talked his ex, it was a short night. It is inappropriate, inaccurate, and indicates he needs pity and is seeking consolation. If she was that mean/crazy/awful why did you pick her and stay with her??? What do you expect me to do about YOUR past?

    Here is the other issue — any group that is already “less than” socially, economically, historically, should not fight with each other or other similar groups. No matter our differences, we are being oppressed by the culturally entitled. They use us to their advantage. When we fight with each other, we lose.

    Before you blow a fuse, I am not saying the actions of the OW are not infuriating, they clearly are. I was angry, and appalled when I found out the depths OW would sink to, and I became disappointed in myself for trying to hold on to a man who was clearly not worth it. I think all chumps wonder “What did I do wrong?” The true answer is you did not do anything to “deserve” your spouse having an affair, but you did live in a bubble of unrealistic expectations and you spackled over problems. Those are the things you need to concentrate on. I think there is a phrase in AA called “stinking thinking?” It seems to me we all get this from the culture we grew up in, and it is hard to overcome.

    I try to stretch my brain, and educate myself about other generations and cultures thoughts and actions. I don’t have an excellent source for information, especially since Covid keeps me home most of the time. But I do watch TV, and Netflix, and I listen to my sons and their friends talk. I challenge many of their statements and attitudes, and they tease me back with “OK Boomer.” But I have observed that many women, especially younger women, have what I think is a low opinion of themselves. They fight for better status by using bad language, taking drugs, and adopting an attitude abut sex that falls in line with what I think is the male perspective. (Not all males, I know, but a significant number. )

    I believe in equality under the law as a goal. I do not believe men and women are sexually equal. Men do not get pregnant and give birth to children. Men have different mating instincts. It is extremely hard to raise a child by yourself, but many women end up trying to do this. Even willingly paying child support does not equal the scales of responsibility. I absolutely believe if women try to participate in sex the same way men do, or want them to, those women are betraying themselves and all other women.

    You cannot expect change if you adopt the mores of the oppressor.

    I cannot and will not spackle over the depraved actions of the misinformed. I do not believe these people are merely confused, IMO they are delusional and obsessed with their own importance. The “fog” means you are wandering around in a hostile environment, unable to see how to defend yourself. It is not an excuse to seek the “fog” as a defense for indefensible actions. If you find yourself in a fog, stop moving and start thinking. Clarify your goals. Determine what actions you need to take to better your life. Don’t keep doing the same things which caused the fog over and over expecting a different outcome. Choose sanity.

    We cannot stop the actions or cruelties of other people. We can only choose to control our actions, and refuse to be cruel ourselves. Perhaps if enough of us do this, the culture will eventually change. I hope so, because if we don’t, I cannot see a way to divert disaster.

  • In my experience, the best way to clear up the affair fog is to apply some repercussions, but then you’ll just end up with temper-tantrum tornadoes. The weather in Cheaterland is very unappealing.

  • Ahhh, the affair fog caused by pheromones and hormones. I fell for that bullshit in my quest for a unicorn. What my mind would believe in my state of shock now leaves me incredulous at myself.

    Rational humans are able to override hormonal feelings. It is the animal world that depends entirely on instinct for survival. We have language to differentiate.

    Cheating is entirely asshole behavior.

  • Fellow pregnant chump here! (he left a newborn and 2 year old)

    There is no affair fog. I went through the stage where I thought that could be true. The truth is far more horrifying.

    He cheated because you got pregnant. They have to be the center of the universe and your attention.
    When you get pregnant, the focus goes off of them. So they purposely have an affair so they have a person where they can be the #1 priority. Our marriage counselor said his brain was hijacked by the affair. But I know it was a deliberate choice.

    They don’t care about the child like a normal father does. They just don’t. If anything, they dislike the child deep down as competition. That is so painful to accept.

    Stbx tried to hoover right after filing, but I shut that down. He tries to appear kind and charming, but he has NEVER shown any remorse. None. They aren’t like normal people.

    Read up on NPD, sociopaths, and psychopaths. 9/10, a cheater walking away from a baby puts them in those categories. Once you accept 100% that they are a narcissist, you’ll realize there is no affair fog, just a soulless human.

    I do believe in limerence, but that just means they will find a new supply to cheat with when the excitement fades, not that they will come back a changed person when it ends.

    • This is the most depressing truth of all time. My ex cheater only really began to enjoy our daughter when she was old enough to adulate on him, to look at daddy like he was this perfect man, even if he’d done nothing to deserve it. And, now that our daughter is entering her teen years and the adulation has slowed if not stopped, he’s becoming less interested in her, yet again. And this shift is what I’ve been trying to mentally and emotionally prepare her for, and will continue to help her through, so that she understands that any rejection from her father is on him, and not a commentary on her, because she’s wonderful.

      The moment I got pregnant he began to cheat and treat me poorly. I see that now. There were small signs before that, but it was my pregnancy that enacted a major shift from whence there was no recovery. Because, as you say, it threatened his centrality. Back then I was so naive, not understanding that a father might not really want his own child, and I kept thinking “he’ll come around, he’ll adjust and love her the way I do.” But he never did until she made HIM the center again. No matter how many backflips I did to try and create a loving and special homelife for us all.

      My life is now 1000x better without him, but, no matter the personal work I do, I think I’ll always grieve never having had a father to my child, and life partner, who was actually present and loving toward us in those early years. It’s such a special time, and I wasted it with him.

      Now, I’m too old to have another baby, to get to have that special experience with my current, loving partner. So, we got puppies instead. It’s not the same thing, but still is a fun experience and a small chance to experience actually co-raising and co-loving living creatures. Plus, my current life partner loves my daughter like his own…so, in the end I got my loving family. But, I suspect I’ll carry some of the trauma of my former relationship forever.

      The lesson here: don’t waste years on a detached cheater because you think they’ll come around and be the father and partner you expect (and are right to expect). Leave and build a new life. It will save you years of sadness and disappointment.

      • “And this shift is what I’ve been trying to mentally and emotionally prepare her for, and will continue to help her through, so that she understands that any rejection from her father is on him, and not a commentary on her, because she’s wonderful.”

        This is so important to note. Let the kids know that the parent that ignores, rejects or is abusive to their kids is a defect. Do not make excuses for the defect as it just confuses the kids. Children need to know they got the short end of the stick in the father or mother department and it is in no way their fault. While this may not make them happy (everyone so wants the perfect loving parents) it will prepare and equip them down the road.

    • I’m so very sorry what happened to you but what you said I’ve found fascinating

      My situation is different as in he never wanted children as in NEVER . I’ve since realised it was only me he never wanted children with as AP was pregnant immediately and is now pregnant again

      The reason I found your comments fascinating is my ex had to be the centre of attention . He would talk over people , he would drop drinks , he would shout oh no so everyone would turn their attention back to him . I spoke to him heaps of times about it like when one time I was talking to my SIL and he interrupted and said “ babe, babe remember this etc” he said he had never done this but it was in fact me that did it all the time . So I basically stopped talking to anyone for the last 5 years and he still said I did it and when I asked for an example I was told to shut my fucking face

      Anyway I wonder how that is with him not being the centre of the room with a baby as I know he will hate that eventually

      • Your ex may have had two children with AP but doesn’t mean he changed his mind about kids. It more than likely means AP rode roughshod over cheater and had two kids. Now AP has had two kids with a complete obnoxious bore. Those poor kids.

    • “They don’t care about the child like a normal father does. They just don’t.”

      This^^^ I never saw truly normal father behavior with the kids. I think his high point as a father was taking my 2-yr-old to brunch every Sunday morning while I stayed home with a newborn. He loved all the young cute waitresses fussing over him and my sweet little girl thinking he was just the best dad ever! All those kibbles. No thought to my daughter’s well being when she was exhausted and sick from pancakes when she got home after a 2 hour brunch. His behavior was more like that of a fun uncle who always made you a feel a little uneasy.

      And now the kids (21 and 23) have no contact with him. Oftentimes you reap what you sow.

      • “I think his high point as a father was taking my 2-yr-old to brunch every Sunday morning while I stayed home with a newborn.” Gosh, these cheaters make our expectations reach all-time lows. I have one distinct memory of my cheater ex playing and trotting, somewhat joyfully, with our newly walking toddler. And I clung on to that for dear life as a sign of his “fatherness,” when in fact it was its uniqueness that made it stand out.

        It wasn’t until our small child made him feel centralized again–by her adoration of him and by the attention he started getting from others when he’d take her out, that he took any kind of interest.

        • I often think this is why there is one variety of discard that happens when kids hit adolescence and are cute creatures who adore their parents but raging hormone factories who periodically hate all adults for 3-4 years.

          • Ha.

            Mine stayed until two years after our son graduated from high school. I think he needed me to help him in politics, and to get that coveted promotion. Almost immediately after he got his promotion, I noticed he changed. Started ignoring me at first, then when I talked to him about it, he put it off on work stress. Then a few months in the scream fests started, then going out for hours during the night etc.

            I honestly think he needed me for another year, but someone talked and he got caught up in a scandal at work. (she was his direct report).

            To whoever dropped the dime, I am grateful; wish they had done it a couple years sooner.

  • A good man would have been thrilled that he had a little boy and his wife was expecting another child. Only a bum would jeaporadize that.

    There is no fog. They can put on a good act when they want to, but they are of poor character and lack moral fiber. And that does not change. Don’t fall for any pity or false remorse head games. IF he was a decent guy none of this would have had a chance to happen.

  • To me, “affair fog” describes the tingly feelings the cheaters get in the early stages of a new relationship when the cheater is in a constant state of sexual excitement and the kibbles flow nonstop.

    I don’t think it absolves the cheater of responsibility for poor choices (understatement) by saying they were caught up in the moment and not thinking straight. You can be an asshole and be so caught up in the feelings of the affair (the kibbles, the sex, the planning, the scheming, the lying, the sneaking, the thrill of the naughtiness of it all) that you are not thinking of consequences or thinking of anything else beyond getting your next fix.

    When consequences hit and real life burns off the fog, many cheaters might say they fucked up. But they don’t mean “fucked up” in the normal, remorseful sense. They mean they didn’t intend for it to end this way, didn’t anticipate that the spouses (those vindictive partners) would react so angrily, didn’t expect to have to split assets and time with kids, etc… They weren’t thinking. They were living in a fantasy world.

    Even if a cheater never feels or admits that he/she fucked up, the affair fog dies when the sun comes up. That constant state of sexual excitement doesn’t last forever.

    • I second every thing you wrote.

      No excuses, but the “chemicals” present in the illicit situation are a real thing. But, the decision to proceed is square in the cheaters ability to control.

      The hateful way they treat their spouses is the hardest part to deal with, or get over. While I don’t judge anyone for trying to save a marriage, I don’t see how one ever gets past that treatment. Maybe there are some who are not treated that way, I don’t know.

    • “The planning, the scheming, the lying, the sneaking, the thrill of the naughtiness of it all”… same thrillz felt by embezzlers and serial killers and criminals of all stripes. Somehow that rationale has never been admissible in court. Ted Bundy was executed as I recall and Bernie Madoff rots in federal prison. :/

      • Right? No one can argue that they don’t get a thrill out of it, if they didn’t they wouldn’t do it. The point is, they are as capable of saying no to destructive behavior as anyone, they just choose not to.

        They don’t give two shits about their spouse/family when they are getting their kicks. Dump em and they will quickly find another chump (usually the current fix) to ramp up the thrill of cheating.

    • Agree
      And because we get angry and let them know what we think – maybe after the pick me dancing has stopped
      They use that to justify their cheating and rewrite our story
      So even if the fog is gone – they wouldn’t be getting the same spouse back that they had before Dday- so more reason to stay in the swamp with their cheater

      • Absolutely they are foggy enough to think things will go back to normal. If they thought that would happen they would do it in a heart beat (most of them). No they will have a long hard row of work ahead of them, and they are just not going to bother with that.

        Better to move on and extract whatever value they can out of the next chump.

    • Right, Spinach. This was exactly what I saw with my cheater, too. A *little* more reasonableness as the months ticked by after she broke it off with the AP, but mainly resistance to any consequences.

      And I didn’t succumb too far to the chump fog. Not long after STBX ended it with the AP, I realized how unlikely it would be that we would be able to recover that time (because, of course, there had been a prior time). I stayed in an in-house separation for another 15 months or so, because I was just so exhausted and having a hard time figuring out how to find the energy to move on. But of course, I couldn’t really begin to heal until I was out of that house – as long as I was there, I was in the mind-fuck blender most of the time. Every single emotionally vulnerable conversation we had for those 15 months involved at least one manipulation on STBX’s part, though I genuinely believe she couldn’t see why those things she said were problematic. (She was not actively malicious, but it was still a mindfuck!)

      But I can see very well why people talk about affair fog in cheaters. STBX’s major affect has been confusion, this whole time – the timid forest creature CL describes so vividly. Of course, I don’t find it acceptable that my once-upon-a-time spouse is so confused about how to treat me with respect. So, I cut through the fog and left!

  • This is a tough one. In hindsight of course (eight years ago in my case) it all makes awful sense: there was no fog except my own denial. The hard fact to swallow is that did what they did because they simply did not care about your pain. They did not love you. It’s not terribly complicated. But man, when your life has been upended like that? You’ll cling to the idea of the “fog” like a drowning person will cling to a straw. I never criticize those who are convinced their spouse is somehow lost, fogged up, whatever. I remember all too clearly how desperate I was—an otherwise very logical, rational, skeptical man—to see only what I wanted to see. I had to come out of my own fog in my own time—when the pain had become unbearable and I finally acted (divorced her). But even after the divorce for some time I still had moments where I caught myself thinking along the lines of “she’s still in the fog. I guess it’s gonna take even longer than I thought!” The truth is, ain’t no fog. They know what they are doing to you; they just don’t care. A sad, sad truth.

    • All of this. : ( I feel your pain. It’s more like the “fog” was their dalliance with pretending to enjoy a normal family life. THAT was the blip. The rest of it is who they truly are, and they just decided to stop pretending.

      • Yep, I remember once when I caught him and the whore at our river property. She fled, and he was standing there looking at the floor. I said “why are you doing this to us?” he just said “this is who I am”.

        I think it may have been one of the rare truths he ever spoke to me. He didn’t look happy, or sad; just kind of like an empty shell.

    • We could just as easily argue that batterers go into a “violence fog.”

      Actually there is an argument for this but the same criminologists discussing things like “deindividuated rage” and related “gratifying” altered states involved in horrifyingly violent acts also argue that jail time is the only thing that even slightly dents recidivism. As Taoists say, “Never rob anyone of their consequences.”

    • Yes…hard to sink in…especially when there seemed to be true caring at one point- we hold on to that- but it’s long gone for them
      – we project. I projected sooooo much.
      – I remember the look on my Ex’s face when I asked if he had ever thought of me during this romance
      The look on his face should have told me all I needed to know
      There was no fog – he could see quite clearly- he just wasn’t looking at me

  • I’m going to go against the tide here and say I do believe there is some kind of limerence or affair fog in SOME situations. My stbx turned into such a jarringly different person that I or the kids had known for 27 years that I still to this day almost 3 years later think he really lost his mind for a stretch of time. But I also to that say, so what? Whether there is or isn’t, whether it’s ‘real’ or bullshit whether aliens came out of the sky and took over his body, it doesn’t make a lick of difference to me. He cheated. For me, what else is there to know? It can’t be undone, can’t be apologized away, can’t be unknown and there is no reason/excuse that will ever change that. Affair fog/limerence? Ok fine, you cheated now you’re an untrustworthy asshole and that is not and never will be ok with me we’re done. Straight up asshole? Ok fine, you cheated and now you’re an untrustworthy cheating asshole that is not and never will be ok with me and we’re done. Infected ingrown toenail that made you feel bad? Ok fine, you cheated and now you’re an untrustworthy asshole and that is not and never will be ok with me and we’re done. If he’s a garden variety asshole, or if it’s ‘real’ and he does come out of it, it doesn’t matter to me, there was always a different choice he could’ve made and that’s pretty much all I need to know.

    • See comment above and read Donald Dutton’s “The Batterer.”

      People with personality disorders do experience alterred mental states, sure, but I think the RIC is grossly negligent to surgically remove and isolate the idea from the founding research this concept is largely borrowed from, which mostly centers around violent and abhorrent acts. People who are able to dissociate empathy are SERIOUSLY aberrant, fundamentally dangerous and need consequences more than anything else. Aluminum baseball bat first, therapy second.

      • I agree.

        My ex treated me like I wasn’t even human, after 21 years of marriage and a grown son. He wasn’t in any fog, or limerence or any other made up psychobabble, he was a sadistic bastard.

        He got his just deserts; (most of it by his own actions) but when it was going on; I didn’t think I would survive.

        • That’s why I think of cheating as subviolent battering. They just turn a sharp left before reaching for the tire iron or kicking their spouse in the temples and cheat instead. But it’s the same pattern, the same mentality.

          • Ooh, this is a hard one. I see what you’re saying, Hell, but it’s hard for me to see “the same mentality” when the whole point of chumps is that we didn’t know we were being chumped in the moment. In other words, the emotional abuse happened behind our backs, not to our faces – at least until D-Day. Based on the sad fact that many chumps experience both/all kinds of abuse, but some (like me) do not, I would suggest that physical abuse almost always involves emotional abuse, but the reverse is not always true.

            On the other hand, like cheaters, batterers have their own sets of fucked-up rules that allow them to continue thinking of themselves as “good” people. I know for a fact that my STBX placed lying to my face in a very different category from lying by omission. In one of her texts to AP #2 – (I have a whole dump of texts that she saved, which runs to 500 pages covering the last 7 weeks of that affair) – STBX wrote with pride that “I don’t fight or argue. I never ever insult LezChump or the kids, even if I am too hard on them.” So, it’s kind of like saying “I never hit them when they’re awake” – the emotional abuse is fine, as long as they remain in the dark.

            While I agree that infidelity and all its trappings are emotional abuse, I do think it requires another level of fuckedupedness to be in the same space as your person and physically hurt them or verbally abuse them to their face, as opposed to just sneaking around and doing all of that BS. Of course, I would advocate that anyone who’s been abused should leave the abuser, regardless of the nature of the abuse!

            • I think for many of us though, the emotional abuse did happen to our face, we just didn’t know why we were being abused. In my case he was constantly screaming at me and insulting me. It got worse as Dday approached.

              The lying to me about why he was going out at night, that was abuse to my face; I just didn’t know why until Dday.

              To sneak around, they almost always have to lie to you, and that is lying to your face.

              • Susie, agreed
                Lying by omission is lying – but most of them lie straight up to our face in addition to omitting things.

              • Totally agree, Susie – sorry if I was not clear when I noted that some chumps experience all kinds of abuse, including to their faces! I’m so sorry that any of us have to deal with any of it, but I can well imagine how difficult it must be to hear that kind of abuse – and I feel for you.

                It just happens that my STBX is not overtly verbally or physically abusive, as she told her AP. (We are both women.) STBX’s brand of emotional abuse has always been covert: she’s very passive aggressive, has crappy boundaries, doesn’t understand that many of her expectations are unreasonable, that others can’t read her mind, etc. She lied only by omission throughout her second affair in 2018, mainly because I did not ask any relevant questions – it was a long-distance affair, so it was mostly sexting, and not disappearing for hours at a time. She did “actively” lie after D-Day #2, but she has always been a terrible liar, and I suspected that I was not getting the whole truth. That’s why, when I found the dump of texts between STBX and AP #2, I read the entire thing. I got my answers!

                I agree that STBX deceived me, absolutely. I’m just saying that in her own mind, she clearly set a bright line between “actively” lying to me, vs. deceit by omission. It took her a long, long time to grant that the deceit was just as problematic – and even longer to grant that, even when she wasn’t “actively” cheating, it was still a problem that she was devaluing me for years, and fantasizing about cheating. (Indeed, STBX wanted me to *credit* her for not cheating in all that time between her two “hot” affairs, because it was such a struggle.) In Hell of a Chump’s comparison, that might be similar to a batterer wanting credit for all the times they *didn’t* hit their partner. I’m not excusing or condoning this point of view, just trying to describe the attitude expressed by my cheater. (“The abuser’s mentality,” such as it is…)

                All best to you, Susie & Zip

            • Lez, having experienced H #1, emotionally abusive to my face, and H#2, wonderful to my face but covertly abusing me – I would say the trauma from H cheater was worse. Maybe it was the cumulative effect – but at least I kind of knew what I was dealing with with H#1 – and so did everybody else (including therapists). No RIC involved there and no one making excuses for his behaviour. The message from all was clear « get out or there will be nothing left of you ».
              The recovery has been 100 times worse with covert devaluing then the discard.
              That’s my experience anyhow. And I think H#2 sucks more – not that it’s a competition!

              • I’m so sorry you’ve had both those experiences, Zip. Like the prophet Tiresias in Greek mythology, you’re uniquely able to judge in this case.
                I can see how more overt abuse might be different to contend with, on some levels – as you say, it’s a lot clearer for other people to see.

                While obviously I don’t envy people trying to partner with batterers or alcoholics or substance abusers, I see how at least there’s a clear model for partners and families in those situations. If my STBX were any of those things, I would be coached on exactly what to say to the kids, and all of us would know what would be necessary moving forward: therapy, sobriety, etc. The reason the RIC can thrive is that there is no clear model for how to deal with cheaters in the absence of any of those other diagnoses. And getting a diagnosis of emotional disorder will be very difficult for STBX: she’s seen a number of individual therapists over the years, and we saw three couples counselors after D-Day #2. None of them was willing to discuss any real diagnosis that might help us figure out how to move forward with robust support.

                So, instead, we victims of covert abusers must move forward on our own, without robust support (except in the form of our friends, family, and individual therapist who understands that infidelity is abuse). LACGAL and NC!

              • LC, I get it.

                ” (Indeed, STBX wanted me to *credit* her for not cheating in all that time between her two “hot” affairs, because it was such a struggle.) ”

                Right? my ex on his way out the door on Dday, told me I never loved you, and I have been “dating” for ten years. This was just after earlier in the conversation when I said, I trusted you and always supported you, and he said “I supported you too” Tell me how does, I have never loved you and have been “dating” for tens years equal “I always supported you”

                Oh logically I know he was flailing and just trying to get out the door so he wouldn’t have to look at me again, but dang, he could have at least left me with some memories.

                They just don’t care.

    • To me it’s like – yea, I get that the brain was filled up with feel good drugs – clearly this cheating brain is on a high of kibble snacks and it’s real
      – just like I get if you abuse someone while drunk – the brain was filled up with drugs as well

      But we don’t excuse abuse based on the alcohol factor anymore. Don’t get behind the wheel drunk – don’t get married and betray

  • I do think affair dog is real. But agree with the above poster re what does it matter as it has such a disastrous impact on the victim. That said, Limerence is a very real phenomenon and it can mess with your mind – it it never, ever takes away your agency or your culpability for any wrongdoing. But it exists and it can take a lot of work to overcome. I never cheated but have felt it’s pull (Limerence) and had to overcome it with professional help and a lot of reading.

    • Also – I meant affair fog not dog haha.

      I think the Limerence explains blips in character fir otherwise good people. But it doesn’t take away what they did. The OP’s spouse is not “good” however I do see him as in a fog of Limerence – and it emboldens him to repeatedly act out against his wife and family in an entitled way (cheating).

    • But, limerence centralizes another person, in a compulsive way. It’s about them, like, specifically. Cheaters, however, centralize themselves. Cheating is about self gratification and self importance. It’s about kibble and, in most cases, the AP could be anyone. And often, these APs become interchangeable and sequential.

      So, I think they’re different things.

      • I think limerence is a thing some people are more affected by than others. And it’s usually fed and fed by cheaters – then they look back and claim it was a lightning bolt of true love. OW and OM use it to their advantage to destroy families. Can’t have limerence together when doing all the daily boring but necessary life home stuff. That’s for affairs.
        It’s what you do with it that matters – and how you stop it in it’s tracks.

        • The infuriating part is while they are out having their thrills, the boring chump is home washing his underwear, fixing his meals, cleaning the house; usually while working a full time job and taking care of kids.

          Then the cheat has the fucking audacity to say she makes me feel alive. Well great for you, you sadistic bastard, maybe if you had helped, or brought the chump flowers and took her out to some fancy dinners, showed her the slightest bit of attention, the chump could have felt alive too.

          My new husband got to make me feel alive and he is still doing it. Not hard at all, he just treats me like he loves me.

  • “He is not a person who bonds and connects.” This is why you can’t have nice things if you are in a relationship with an entitled cheater. In fact, this is why there is no real relationship with a serial cheater – just a mirage. Once I understood this I was able to stop blaming myself and quiet the voices that he deliberately planted in my head that made me see myself as the source of all problems in the relationship.

  • I think the only possible “fog” cheaters are in is the fog of their cognitive dissonance of who they want to be and who they are. My exH mentioned SO MANY TIMES about how he just wanted clarity. Me, in true chumpy fashion, made the assumption that this “clarity” was choosing between his wife and the AP. No, it was just the realization that this image he portrayed to others was indeed false. Talk about a hit to the psyche. Quick – he needs a new image to make the cognitive dissonance go away (if even for a moment/night/multiple year affair): the current family sucks, be with the AP, play new happy family and oh-so-changed-one, and the process starts again.

    I agree with the multiple other comments about the chump’s fog too. Again – our own cognitive dissonance trying to align our past with the present. Trust people are who they are by their actions in the present, folks. And, remember, the actions of others have NOTHING to do with you. Take responsibility for your life and believe the message of CL – leave a cheater, gain a life. Peace is incredible.

  • “Affair Fog” always makes me think of vaginal steaming.

    “I ploughed through those red lights and ran over the baby strollers because of the coochie fog! I couldn’t see five feet in front of me, Officer!” Or “My blood coochie level (BCL) was over the legal limit but it’s not my fault!”

  • It’s chumps who are in the fog. The cheaters know exactly what they’re doing. In order to help make sense of what happened to me, I wrote a book of poems. Here’s one that demonstrates the fog of cheating abuse from my perspective.

    It’s entitled, By the Gaslight:

    You picked another fight under the gaslight.
    I asked, “Where were you? What were you doing?”
    You withdrew your affection.
    I was hooked like the needy rat.
    “Please talk to me! I want to know! I don’t know why I feel this way! I love you!”
    You threatened, if I didn’t stop, I. WILL. LEAVE. THIS. ROOM.
    Terror at the thought of being ignored. Again. Of being left alone in bed. Again.
    I complied. I apologised for not understanding. I stopped asking.
    The gaslights flickered.

  • I wouldn’t say my ex was in a fog but she was playing a part for me and the rest of the world to see that I call her “Susie Creamcheese” persona.

    To me and everyone in her life she was this sweet person. Always kind to others, loved her kids, etc.

    In reality? She screwed other men while we were engaged, had more affairs after marriage. one, the final straw and how i learned of the others and of the STD she gave me, it lasted a decade.

    She had the gall to write my then 80-year-old mother in a birthday car of the affair but tossing in blame at me.

    It was very threatening to her to be exposed as q cheating fraud. So much so that when we divorced she moved 1,500 miles away from everyone she knew.

    It was impossible for her to deal with the breqking of her carefully-constructed image.

  • A fog is when you carelessly put your eyeglasses down on a surface and can’t remember later. Or you intend to buy Sugar Free but carelessly grab the sugar product.

    An affair is millions of active, premeditated decisions, carefully orchestrated and played out with intense brain activity, planning, and juggling.

    • THIS! Literally, fog prevents you from knowing where to go and which direction to turn. In fog, you stop moving until it passes and you can safely resume your travel. Cheaters not only keep moving, they move, as you point out, in a premeditated fashion.

  • There is no Fog of the Affair. He just likes the excitement of being with someone else. That’s why cheaters cheat. You husband is a serial cheater. He wasn’t going to be faithful to you and I doubt he will be faithful to who ever he is with. I’m sorry he put you and especially your children through this. It’s sad that he brought children into the world knowing he wasn’t going to stay faithful to you. He probably thought he would get away with it and live a double life.

    My husband said he was going through a “Midlife Crisis” which also doesn’t exist, it’s just another excuse to justify cheating.

    • Yep, once excuse is as good as another. They just don’t stop after the start. And they likely started way before they admitted it.

    • I think by “fog” they also mean that it’s hard to deal with all of their lying. My STBX said to me, “My thinking didn’t keep up.” In that way, he was in a muddled “fog” because he was trying very hard to keep it all straight and yet, the wheels fell off. He was in a “fog” by pretending he wasn’t married to me when he was fucking strange. That’s the magical thinking of entitled, narcissistic behaviour speaking, not a hormone-induced fog as the RIC likes to describe. I get sick of the excuses.

  • CL writes: “I totally believe in the ‘Oh my God, I fucked up’ moment of clarity. But here’s the thing — it’s only a MOMENT. And then the vast majority of cheaters IMO do everything to not feel it. They drink it into a stupor. They shop for shiny new Schmoopies instead. Anything to blot out the stench of failure.”

    Yes! I think my ex had shut a moment of clarity and has been trying to blot it out ever since. My therapist thinks he hates himself but that he MUST avoid thinking about what a shit he is or he’ll want to kill himself.

    After my ex fessed up (approx 13 months ago), I filed for divorce and began trying to sell things, like our lake house. It was there at the lake house that my ex had his last night (he needed time alone) before returning to me to confess to his multi-year affair. Imagine my surprise when the realtor and I came across a legal pad on a desk in our bedroom with the words FUCK ME! written in all caps. Lovely!!

    So, yes, he probably had that moment of clarity. I think it meant that he knew he was fucked not that he had fucked up. From that moment on, I would imagine he’s been continuing his heavy drinking and engaging in escapism fishing (it truly is an addiction for him–hard to describe, but it is). As far as I know, he’s still with the OW. No shiny new appliances…yet. My guess is that she will be the one to leave him, preferably after they marry so that she can get half his assets.

    He lost me, the kids, his grandchild, two houses, my entire family, and countless friends. He lost his good standing in the eyes of many colleagues and neighbors. Does he care? Was she worth it? I don’t know nor do I care. Did he ever truly love his family or me? No idea. I suspect he loved his kids on some level, especially when they made him look good. I don’t think he ever loved me.

    This affair-fog business seems to be a matter of semantics. Chump fog, cheater fog–does it really matter? The bottom line is cheaters are entitled assholes who think only of themselves. They cause pain and devastation that they can’t even fathom. They torch the past, tossing bombs behind them. They may have a moment of clarity, but it is quickly drowned out by rage and a feeling of complete and total victimhood that is often fueled by alcohol and encouraged by flying monkeys.

    Our pain is an annoying side effect to them. Collateral damage. Thank god we have CL and this site so that we can support one another and vent.

    • you can say that again, Thank god for CL!!!! I don’t know how I stumbled across this site but I thought I was going insane before I found it, keeping everything bottled up! I still have not told family or friends, but I read here everyday and I joined SSN @ “No Shit Cupcakes” suggestion.. I feel like all of you are saving my life. In 2008, I found my husband’s craigslist posting and after listening to the crying, begging for forgiveness… “it will never again, I have too much to lose” bullshit. I did just that, forgave and started over. Now, I find an AFF act and it is so much worse that I could have imagined, won’t be staying this time!!! He tells me everyone is unique and people can change… nope, from everything I am reading you serial cheaters are a dime a dozen and spout the same crazy shit when you are caught! There was no “affair fog”! He said, “I just didn’t see how I could get caught”…even though you’ve already been caught once…effing idiot!

    • Pretty much anything can be used to escape reality and become an addiction. For Nitwit it was video games. I would get up at 4 in the morning to workout before leaving at 6 for work and he would still be up from the night before playing video games. He would also yell at the screens and did not cut it out until our next door neighbor complained about not being able to sleep. He wouldn’t change his behavior when his wife couldn’t sleep but he would for a random guy who lived next door? The difference was the neighbor would have reported him to the HOA if he hadn’t desisted.

      So I totally believe fishing can be an addiction.

    • Absolutely right. They drown out any hint of clarity with booze, sex, and running off to be enabled by their flying monkey cheering squad. It’s so pathetic that we might feel sorry for them if they weren’t so malignant.

  • IMO what cheaters and unicorn chasers call affair fog is simply their own self-imposed impaired ability to perceive reality. For cheaters (those who are deeply character disordered) to cheat and still consider themselves good people, they have to overcome cognitive dissonance, because they know cheating is wrong and cruel and despicable. They do this by choosing to live in a fantasy world and don’t do any form of introspection
    or reality testing. In this fantasy world cheating isn’t wrong in their case because an AP they hardly know is their perfect soul mate, the spouse is actually the one who is a terrible person, the relationship with the spouse was never real, they are the victims of of an unloving, controlling spouse/parental figure standing in the way of their independence, they deserve to get what they want because they are, in fact, great people and therefore the rules are different for them, cheating makes them happy and the spouse makes them unhappy, etc. ad nauseum. I call it situational narcissism. They might have only had narcissistic tendencies before, but it develops into a full blown disorder by their deliberate abandonment of reality.

    Well once you can do that, you can abandon reality in other areas as well, and why not? It’s working for them, or so they think. This is why they behave so weirdly and stupidly in other ways apart from cheating once they start cheating. Typically they abuse substances, are financially and personally irresponsible and just can’t be reasoned with about anything. They can live indefinitely in their fantasy world and will hold onto it so desperately that when it inevitably fucks up their lives, they refuse to see it has done that and actually believe it is making them happy. IMO any therapy that does not focus on getting them to do the reality testing they need to do to is utterly useless. It shouldn’t be about getting them to just explore their feelings, but about getting them to face observable, testable facts and integrate their feelings so they are in line with facts. With cheaters feelings and facts are so far apart they are in different galaxies. The same is true of a chump trying to reconcile.

    So that’s the so-called fog, and it is a choice cheaters make in order to keep a positive (albeit completely false) self image. It is not imposed on them by the nature of affairs themselves as the unicorn chasers would like to believe. To face and admit to being wrong would be to face and admit to not being the wonderful, smart people they believe they are and to face and admit to being the stupid, selfish assholes they are. That they will not do. The fragile ego does not allow this. So when confronted with their misdeeds, they either run away in order to live in the shared fantasy with an AP, or if that isn’t viable, they stay and try to convince you that the fantasy version of them is real, despite all evidence to the contrary. They encourage you to deny and to spackle, to resolve your own cognitive dissonance the same way they do. As we know, it works a great deal of the time. The betrayed spouse just wants the awful pain to stop, so they grasp onto swallowing this fiction as if it was a lifesaver. In reality it is a life taker; it sucks the lifeblood out of you. Living in the real world can be painful, but it must be done. Thankfully, CL and the site exists to help us navigate it.

    • Sorry, I meant to say those who AREN’T deeply character disordered. Those who are deeply disordered abandoned living in reality long before you met them.

    • Good read.
      ” that when it inevitably fucks up their lives, they refuse to see it has done that and actually believe it is making them happy.”

      I do think this happened with my ex, at least from what my son and daughter in law have seen and experienced. He will never admit he fucked up his life so bad. I am not just speaking of the way he treated me. Yes that was horrid, but he went on to do so many self destructive stupid things. It is like he couldn’t stop. Weird.

      • That would be consistent with the impaired reality perception. They don’t stop their destructive ways, in fact they usually get even worse, because they feel the need to double down in order to keep the fantasy alive. It’s under threat when they are caught out and they feel their lives are spinning out of control. Their solution is embracing the chaos as being beneficial in some way. They tell themselves their ridiculous behavior is about “searching for meaning”, “finding themselves” and other such nonsense. Your ex sounds like a textbook example.

  • I’m sorry to say this, Liz, but he does not love your children. He is not capable of that emotion. You are projecting your own normal parental feelings onto him. He is not a psychologically normal person.

    Since this is a reprint I hope Liz has gotten away from this “man” and made a new life for herself and her children.

  • I’m so tired of people calling the recipient of their cheater’s actions a whore/skank/slut/stealer/thief/whatever.

    A marriage has two people. Spouse 1 and spouse 2. If either spouse steps outside their marriage and “falls” into cheating it is on them and them alone.

    The OW/OM is the one who happens to be the current target, but if they weren’t there to be the object of the cheating spouses actions it would would just be another body on a different day.

    I get that it’s easier to blame the person you don’t know/didn’t make a vow with/believe when they promised they were Quality Humans, but it’s the actions of the one who *made the promises* that are wrong and should be concentrated on as the main target of anger.

    • VictorianGinger:

      Sorry, and with respect, you are just wrong. Wrongedy-wrong-wrong. Tragically wrong, in fact. The whore/skank/ho (and I’m being kind or at least lazy because I haven’t yet had my coffee) is a perfectly legitimate target of Chump anger. These people have conspired with our partners and hurt us and destroyed a marriage. They are not innocents caught up in something bigger than themselves: they are participants in the mental and emotional torture of another human being. If there are children involved, they have hurt and damaged them as well. Like our spouses behavior, there is a simple name for what they do: abuse.

      • Taken money from us; come to our houses; in most cases fucked our spouses in our beds, trashed us to other people, lied about us; the list goes on. And we are supposed to let that go. Nope, don’t think so.

        I suspect someone has taken a wrong turn, and needs to exit stage left. I am sure there are plenty of sites where an OW can post and make themselves feel better.

    • I think only somebody who has cheated or is close to somebody who has cheated (like a sister, a daughter, your best friend etc.) has this view.

      It’s mind-boggling to think that anyone would hold some crude labels against anybody whose life has been ransacked in part by someone who thinks it’s just fine to fuck married men with families.

      I do cut slack in terms of name calling only- to young women in their early 20s …. because their brain isn’t fully formed.
      The rest can have the names. It’s not like they care anyhow.

  • “I’m so tired of people calling the recipient of their cheater’s actions a whore/skank/slut/stealer/thief/whatever.”

    Really? I wonder why that would be. ????????????

    Certainly it’s true the cheater sucks *more* than the whore, but the whore still sucks. You see, honey, people with character, integrity, and a moral compass, do. not. fuck. married. people. It’s really not rocket science.

    Pro tip: If you don’t like being called a whore/skank/slut/stealer/thief, don’t behave like one. Again, really not rocket science. ????????????

  • I had a conversation with a Chump friend recently about this so-called “fog”. Her argument was, “but he wasn’t always cheating!” My response was because he hadn’t been in the situation where he decided that he needed kibbles.

    When they were first together, he was getting the types of kibbles he needed from her. The relationship was new it was just the two of them. He had a great job and was the star of the team. Fast forward 10 years, they have two kids, his job wasn’t as engaging, and they had more bills and more responsibilities. Then he cheated because he wasn’t getting the kibbles he thought that he deserved.

    A fog hadn’t descended – life did. Life happened and he didn’t like it.

  • I didn’t know the term about affair fog, but I see that I fell for that logic, that our couples counselor encouraged it, and my husband benefitted from it while hiding the affairs I didn’t discover. When asked about the affair by me or in counseling, all his answers were “I didn’t think.” “I didn’t know.” Our couples counselor compared his affair (the only one I knew about then, but only one of at least three he had at the time) to eating a snickers when you’re supposed to eat a salad. I was the salad, the healthy choice. She was the snickers, the fun and instantly gratifying choice but unhealthy. He made a lapse in judgement. Poor dumb guy didn’t know what he got into and didn’t know how to stop or get out, because he didn’t think, he didn’t know. It was a meaningless impulse, and he was sorry and he knew what he did wrong so it was on me to heal and trust again.

    Three years later, I found out he’s had affairs going this whole time and the first one I found out about was the least of it.

    • Clumped Over Several Times,
      A therapist treated you this way? Geez. I hope you are not seeing this therapist. The therapist was actually kind of playing with your mind, in my opinion. A decent therapist is an ally to the betrayed.

      A side note to the therapist, if this was really about snickers versus salad, there would be no problem. Go to the gym! Yes, I know the therapist was using a metaphor and a very poor chosen one because it downplayed everything to the point where it seemed there was no real transgression.

      But, this was about “knickers” versus “spouse” and there’s always the potential for an STD in this scenario.

      And he really didn’t know why he did it? Come on!!! I hate it when they say that. It makes an affair seem inconsequential, like “I don’t know why I didn’t see that stop sign on the road today,” after running a stop sign and with NO injuries or damage.

      Please, God, please create an island for all the monogamous people on earth. We seek refuge from all the psychological games!

  • I am so glad I didn’t get caught up in that affair fog shit. I didn’t enough groveling without it. About two months worth; before my pride kicked in, and I told him to go to hell. He went, and he and schmoopie have been wallowing in it for years. Not me.

    The hardest things about the whole mess is admitting to ourselves that they know exactly what they are doing, and they know they are devastating us, and they just flat out don’t care. Once we accept it, it hurts like hell; but it is the doorway to our chance at real happiness.

  • My stbx cheated on me while pregnant… I discovered it after my 3rd was born but he likely cheated with each pregnancy and inbetween. It’s a different kind of hurt to deal with. Like CL says he showed how he feels about you and the children. Despite mounting evidence my stbx still denies any infidelity, not sure how to even think about future dealings with him bc of this. Anyway, if a fog exists it exists for us chumps, we are not seeing the picture clearly of who and what they are. I don’t think they are in a fog, they know the shitty things they do and lie about. Otherwise they wouldn’t lie and portray themselves as “nice” people.

  • Here is my take (or opinion) on the affair fog. The affair fog is a phenomenon that can occur in people who are already high-sensation seekers and who get a kick out of having affairs, but this term the affair fog is NOT an excuse for cheating.

    But, I have my own definition of the affair fog, and the so-called affair fog doesn’t happen to everyone.

    The affair fog is a catchall term that I use for people who already had the ability to be lousy people. But, when they have an affair, they can experience the drama THEY chose to create as intoxicating to them. It’s why they will eat cake for as long as they can. They get a real kick out of having their cake and eating it too. In my mind, the affair fog simply describes the sadistic pleasure cheaters gain from having their cake and eating it too. When I use the term “affair fog,” it is not an excuse for their poor behavior or their choices; it’s a phrase that describes the sadistic pleasure they get from cake eating and having people play the “pick me dance.” They are the star of the show, they love it, and they do not want to give up all the drama they are causing. That’s the “affair fog;” it simply means that they love being mean, will prolong their affair, and look for phrases like “the affair fog,” to make them appear to be deep and conflicted. The “affair fog” is a concept cheaters use to buy time, and hope this phrase causes others to think they are conflicted souls, so that others don’t bother them.

    But, this is my opinion. The “affair fog” is real in that it’s a term used all the time, but it’s not a “real” condition. It’s an excuse used to buy time for as long as a cheater can. And if they have broken it off with the affair partner, they might get mean and broody and they blame it on the “affair fog.” So, in this case, they are using the term to defer taking responsibility, when in the end, they are angry they didn’t get their way.

    Again, just an opinion. I know the RIC believes this is a real thing and sometimes will give cheaters an easy out by suggesting they are in the affair fog and that means we must treat these helpless creatures because they experience deep sorrow over losing a schmoompie. NOPE! I no longer buy it, although about two years ago I did. But, I no longer believe in the affair fog in terms of how the RIC defines it. The terms”affair fog” buys cheaters time, serves as a convenient excuse, and messes with the minds of betrayed partners.

    Don’t be fooled. Cheaters are adults who need “to adult” and take full responsibility for the metaphorical nuclear wasteland they created due to choosing to cheat.
    Cheaters did create a NUCLEAR WINTER per their actions, but certainly not “affair fog.” Hmm… I like the idea of renaming “affair fog” to “nuclear winter.” It gets the point across very clearly.

    I wish all of you many blessings. Stay strong! ????

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