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‘How Come All My Boyfriends Suck?’

badboyfriendDear Chump Lady,

I was married to my husband for six years. When our youngest was six months old I caught him cheating with his assistant. After a few weeks of back and forth, I kicked him out for good.

I’ve had some bad boyfriends since. The worst being my most recent breakup — Ben. I met Ben through work and he asked me out. He was going through a divorce, that he initiated because he didn’t love his wife anymore — but I ignored the red flag. We dated a few months and he ended it without any notice. He blamed his divorce saying he wasn’t ready.

Since the first breakup we have broken up and gotten back together ten times in ten months. Every 30 days he has some crisis. First it was the divorce, then he didn’t like that we worked together, and he ends it. Within two weeks he’s emailing and asking me back saying how screwed up he is and that he wants what we have. I give it another go around and I’m back where I started 30 days later. Over the course of our many breakups he has been online dating and hanging out with other women. He says he only likes to have female friends and regularly takes them hiking. He also texts daily with a few females including two who make me uncomfortable.

When we got back together after the eighth time, I asked if he’d slept with one of these friends. He denied it and insisted I’m jealous and needy from being cheated on in my marriage. They continued to text and I eventually became suspicious. Looking in his phone I discovered they’d slept together during one of our breaks (hard to say if they were still doing it).

We broke up for what I hope is the final time this week. It was my birthday and he didn’t take me out or even get me a present or card, much less see me. Then a friend of mine told him off and he ended it over email saying this was just too much.

This is a guy who insists on only having female friends and calls me jealous and blames my divorce when I become uncomfortable. He is constantly going out alone with these women.

My question is this — how do I go no contact? How do I convince myself that he is a true narcissist and these women are just kibble? Why can’t I move on?


Dear Kat,

You kicked the father of your children out after a “few weeks” of post D-Day back and forth, and you give this idiot ten months? And he’s not the only bad boyfriend you’ve dated?

We have a “fix your picker” problem here, Kat.

We broke up for what I hope is the final time this week. 

What you hope? Like, you don’t get a say in this? Like, you hope the break up will stick this time, but if he comes sniffing around your door, you’ll succumb to his dubious charms?

Kat, slap yourself. You don’t need this loser, you need some deal breakers. Let me suggest a few.

1. If he’s “going through a divorce,” he’s not available to date. Either this is a line a cheater is giving you (he’s still very much married), or he’s too fresh from the drama to be emotionally available. The only caveat I would give here are for the poor souls who live in those dreadful states like Virginia where you must have physical separation of one year and a DAY before you can even file. If you’re in one of those It Takes Years To Get a Divorce states, then I’d want convincing evidence that it is OVER. Separate residences and a lot of emotional maturity.

But as a general rule? Be wary of “going through a divorce” guys.

2. If the reason for his divorce is something nebulous like “he fell out of love with her,” that’s a red flag. People divorce for REASONS. She was cheating with her boss. She’s a drug addict. She has a serious mental illness and refuses to treat it. See, those are sad, painful reasons people get divorced. I’m not saying people don’t divorce for lesser reasons, but the vagaries of “we grew apart” or “we fell out of love” are often concealing ugly truths like —  I was cheating with my boss, I’m a drug addict, I have a serious mental illness and refuse to treat it.

Chumps have sad reasons and heart breaking stories of trying to fix it. People with poor character usually have euphemisms.

Of course skilled liars can come up with reasons and heart-breaking stories (my cheating ex told me his two ex-wives cheated on him). My advice there is take your time to check out the story and see if it adds up. Mine was always fuzzy on the timelines of these traumatic events. In retrospect, there were a lot of inconsistencies.

3. When someone shows you who they are — believe them. The first time.

Since the first breakup we have broken up and gotten back together ten times in ten months.

Kat, he’s not entitled to as many shots at this as he wants. Why are you allowing this? Where are your boundaries?

He’s dating other people and cruising for women online while he’s going out with you — that’s either acceptable to you, or it is not. You don’t need to convince yourself that he’s a narcissist. You need to know WHAT YOUR DEAL BREAKERS ARE. Is this guy good enough to be your boyfriend? What are the qualifications that the candidate must possess for the job? Start putting yourself in the driver seat here.

The mechanics of no contact are very easy. Block his number. Avoid him at work. Trash his emails. The hard thing about no contact is mental — you must trust that he sucks.

He forgot your birthday, he sleeps and sexts with other women — he sucks. Please draw this conclusion.

It’s okay to be alone for awhile. Work on that picker. Know your worth, and don’t waste your precious time on anyone undeserving of you. Period.

 This one ran before.

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    • Instead of “is this acceptable to you” which doesn’t quite ever stick…..I suggest a change (because it apparently is acceptable because they keep accepting it) and that is this one word edit – “is this agreeable to you”? The reason is….accepting is one thing (which they apparently do accept). Agreeing is not…that’s why they are complaining and writing. I just think it’s more accurate.

  • It is ridiculous that there are states that make you wait for a year before even filing. What if your spouse is wiping you out financially, where is the relief from that?

    I can see requiring a year legal separation, where finances are separated.

    • Try living in a state where there is no legal separation. You’re married until the divorce is finalized. I’m on Year Two since filing. My STBX is refusing to cooperate, he’s broken every court order he’s been given, and the judicial backlog is endless thanks to COVID, so I wait. Meanwhile, he’s wreaking havoc with our community assets. It’s a nightmare that never ends.

      • Yes, it’s called North Carolina. Because of the state’s stupid divorce law, we also have a higher rate of domestic violence that occurs during said waiting period just to file, including some high profile cases reported in the news. I wonder why?? What is promoted as keeping families in tact actually puts women in our state at risk.

        It was 16 months from the time my Ex2 cheater pants left to divorce decree and my lawyer said that was fast!

        • I live in NC also. I was “lucky” he filed the day after our years separation. Then he married “she’s not my girlfriend “ ho worker the next day.

          I can assure you that the domestic violence doesn’t stop while you’re waiting for the divorce.

        • Just horrible to have to endure that. I was fortunate to live in a state that as soon as he filed (I would have if he didn’t) it took a week to get it legal. Once that happened I was no longer obligated for his debts that he incurred nor he mine.

          He was stealing a lot of marital funds to spend on the whore and her big assed boys; so I was in a hurry to get our finances separated.

          That was many years ago, so I am fine now; and was able to rebuild my security on my own.

        • Dang! I’m in SC, and had to do a separation of a year, to file. I did a legal one. I did not realize NC was so different.

          • Isn’t North Carolina one of the few states with “Alienation of Affection” laws? I bet it’s rare to actually collect but it would be satisfying to sue the affair partner. Has anyone in Chump Nation done this?

            • I haven’t but used to work with someone who did. He sued the OM. We lost touch so I don’t know how it ended, but he sure enjoyed going after this guy legally and tortured him for some time. I thought it was all a little strange…but that is before I was a Chump.

            • No I didn’t use that law but I threaten to you can also file a legal separation agreement and deal with all your financials that even if you reconcile will stay stay in place in the state of North Carolina I got an 80/20 split and custodial custody of my children, the house/ contents , he got his clothes, two old broken down boats that’s all he wanted and that’s all he got…. so there are some protections in the law in North Carolina I gathered my ducks , gave it to a great family law lawyer she wrote a separation agreement that I never thought he would sign, my lawyer just said you’d be surprised he’ll sign, I also got alimony/spousal support for 10 years, because if you knowingly give an untreatable STD like herpes to your partner in North Carolina it is a felony ????
              we might’ve been still married for a year and a day after he signed that separation agreement but everything was handled well before it hit the court room I never went to court, or mediation just had my lawyer file for me at the cost $500 I know I got lucky I don’t know if it was he didn’t want the long drawn out court battle, or because the proof I had was pretty Damaging, he threw in the towel and signed the papers …..

              • Same here, I never went to court; the final divorce took a little over a year.

                I honestly think once he left, he knew (at least from his view) he was about to go from the frying pan to the fire. So he was ok with delay.

                Honestly for his own good, it would have been so much better for him had he just told schmoopie, wedding is off, I need to stay single for a year or so. I mean he wasn’t going to stop screwing around anyway.

                But, schmoopie was his employee (direct report) I don’t know what pressures he was getting from the mayor to marry the twat and keep a lawsuit off his back.

      • I’m in NC. Legal separation DOES exist in NC and it gives you the right to act as if you were never married during the required 12 month separation before filing for divorce. It is defined as living apart with at least one spouse intending to stay apart. The legal separation starts the first night you don’t spend together in the same home. The date of legal separation is important so make sure it is known to the party in a writing, like an email. Please talk to a reputable and experienced NC family law lawyer!

        • Texas doesn’t recognize legal separations, and it’s a law that needs to be changed. When you file, all sorts of provisions and orders are put in place. But, if the abuser is determined, he/she can find a way around anything. And, if orders have to be changed, adapted, renewed, whatever, and counsels can’t agree, it takes a trip back to court. More court fees, more counsel fees, more time. More ways for the abuser to keep abusing.

          • “But, if the abuser is determined, he/she can find a way around anything. ”

            That is true in legal separations too. Abusers and their lawyers can still cause havoc. I was lucky in my case, he didn’t; also he had an idiot for a lawyer. But, hey he was cheap.

            My concern was that folks seemed to be saying that they just on their own had to separate for a year and there was no protection “legally” available for folks in dire situations. There seems to be legal paths for that protection, it just isn’t called a legal separation.

            As you said though fuckwits can still fuck with you if they are of a mind to. Then you have to go back to court no matter what legal route you used.

      • I live in one of these states but thankfully he moved out, we own nothing (thanks to him) and because he was the breadwinner I have a temporary support order. Been trying to get divorced for a year now. My life is on hold until he’s gone legally.

        Oh and I have to pay more taxes too because I’m no contact.

    • I’m in Switzerland and if one party doesn’t want the divorce you have to be separated for two years. We’re at 18 months. My STBX refuses to cooperate. Told his lawyer he couldn’t provide any documents because he was so, so, so sick. (He’s not).

      July 5, 2021, he can no longer stop the process and I will proceed without him. But it will probably take another year or two to get the divorce finalized.

      • In Mississippi, no separation and no divorce unless ex agrees or you can prove abuse with two disinterested witnesses to the events. In some cases that doesn’t even do it. After four years of litigation he agreed to a dollar amount, so I paid the ransom…err…payment for him to agree to divorce. Used money I inherited from my Dad but I’m sure Dad would want me to live peacefully. Felt like a talk show, “everybody can get a new car! Lawyers, ex, “you get a car, and you get a car….”

    • That was my first thought. I wasn’t sure if my FW was being financially duplicitous and I asked my attorney’s office ad nauseam when the ATRO would go into effect. Are people really liable for their spouses’ debts that are accrued when they’re living separately? They can change up insurance policies? If so, that’s insane.

      • Yes. Yes it is.
        I’ve fought off changes to our mortgage, taxes, insurance, business assets, you name it. I’m living as frugally as possible, while he’s spending buckets on the Flavor of the Month. The kicker is until the divorce is finalized, I’m financially liable for any account he decides to stop paying. It’s unreal. My STBX is getting a kick out of these games he’s playing. So thankful my counsel sees this as a continuation of the abuse I’ve already endured–he’s taking notes and saving it all for when it’s needed.

      • My ex and I were separated for 2 years and he ran up credit card debt that I had to split/payoff. Take your name off your credit cards if you can.

      • They absolutely can be. Now if one can prove fraud they might be able to get some money back in the settlement.

        But, for instance in my case, we owned several investment properties, not including the house we lived in, which I was staying in as he had moved out. Had he quit paying the mortgage on that, I would have had my credit ruined along with his, and I would have been evicted. With a legal separation, our financial history was locked into place upon the minute the judge hit the gavel. I was still equally responsible for any debt incurred before that day as was he, but the legal separation mandated that he would have to pay all the mortgages plus the utilities in the house I was living in. He couldn’t shift the blame to me. Had he not payed the bills, I would have had another avenue to go after him in court.

        It gave his responsibilities extra bite. Plus if he continued to run up credit buying more shit for the whore as he had been doing; it was on him. I cancelled all our joint cards as soon as he moved out.

        (I did get to recoup a lot of money that he had blown on the whore, just by way of him paying my expenses for a year, not to mention my car payment. He made a lot more money than I did, and he was engaged in defrauding me. Judge evidently wasn’t amused by that.

        Luckily he didn’t at that time want to ruin his credit. Though a couple years after the divorce, he and the whore ran up massive gambling debts and they had to file bankruptcy. I am still perplexed by that, as I never thought he would be that irresponsible. Glad I played it safe.

        I would have been so stressed if I had been forced to sit there for a year while he did God knows what.

    • In my experience, you can get a fiscal separation as soon as you physically separate from your spouse (and you can arrange and file a custody agreement), but you cannot divorce until after you have a year of physical separation. Yes, it is inane.

      • Right, but the way I am reading it is in some states you can’t even file for legal separation until you have been physically apart for a year or so.

        In my case the waiting date for a divorce (minimum) after filing is/was 60 days. But, you can/could file immediately and then the clock starts for the two months. Maybe folks are conflating filing for divorce with filing for separation. In our state you filed for divorce, then it was negotiated on how long the separation would be. If we had both agreed, (I didn’t) and he didn’t fight it; we could have been divorced in two months.

        My lawyer said he could get me three years of legal separation, but I went for six months.

        My divorce took a year, as I was granted six month of maintenance during our legal separation. Once my six months was up he started stalling and I didn’t care as he was still obligated to make all the agreed upon payments.

        I don’t think he cared. I think he knew as soon as his divorce was final, he had to marry the whore and he was ok with the delay. I am betting he told the whore that his bitch of a wife was delaying the divorce.

        He circled back two months before it became final, to talk about “trying again” I am betting whore didn’t know about that little episode. I think he was trying to give me hope, so I would delay the divorce longer. I just said no thanks. By then it nauseated me just to look at him. I was done.

        • My state is super lax and the ATRO goes into effect as soon as the petition for divorce is filed which does not require separation before hand. Then there’s a 90 day waiting period before the divorce can actually be finalized. I know some couples who had no kids or significant assets to split so they were divorced 90 days after filing. I know some people who have taken over a year to finalize everything. I’m just shocked that there’s no legal protections in place for couples who are living separately with everything still considered to be mutual property.

          • I live in one of the very few states where there is no legal separation. There are protections for finances and custody–the court imposes orders as soon as the divorce is filed. But, when those protections are violated, it takes a trip to the judge (and more money!) to hold the other accountable. On the upside (if there is an upside in divorce), since you are still married in the eyes of the law, if the adultery and spending on the OW/OM continues, the division of assests keeps moving away from 50/50 in favor of the chumped.

          • Yep it is kind of confusing to me. Our state you simply file for divorce and there is a minimum 60 day waiting period until the divorce is final. (though you can file for legal separation only, if you don’t want a divorce) The legal separation, (after a divorce filing, if there is one to be granted), takes place after the filing of the divorce. They are two separate things, but yet kind of go hand in hand. Hard to explain. My ex filed for dissolution of marriage (divorce), but my lawyer intervened and petitioned on my behalf for legal separation, had I been forced to file; I likely would have filed for legal separation citing abandonment/adultery/fraud. Our state is no fault, but that doesn’t mean that issues can’t be a part of the legal separation. Fraud can also affect the final split of property if it can be proven. I just got my money back during the separation vs in the settlement. In my case the ex did not object. Lol, I don’t think he was ready to marry the whore, and he knew once that divorce was final he was going to marry the whore. He was desperately trying to keep his job, and save face. I always say he was sweating like a hooker in the front pew.

            He and the whore spent at least a year and a half (maybe 2) planning my destruction, while using marital funds to finance their fuck fest. Luckily the judge agreed with my lawyer that I in all fairness needed some time to plan with him paying for it.

            My now husband and his wife were divorced in 60 days, she was the one that wanted the divorce, because she just didn’t want to be married anymore. (her words) he didn’t want the divorce; but he didn’t fight her. (they had been struggling for a while due to her drinking issues, so it was not a surprise) so they used the same lawyer and agreed to terms, so it went quick. She got half his inheritance that he got from his mom, that kind of bothered him; but that is the law.

            She should have been set for life, but she blew through it like crap through a goose.

  • I was a rebounder like this with one of my cheaters.

    It’s a painful and humiliating rollercoaster full of hysterical bonding and trauma repetition.

    It did me a lot of harm, but it was also how I found Baggage Reclaim and via her, Chump Lady.

    Never again.

    • Whenever I hear horror stories about men like the one that darkened Kat’s door, I think of Jon Hamm’s character in “Bridesmaids” as he is peeling away in his Porsche while she is walking away on the deserted stretch of road. “You’re no longer my Number 3!” he lets her know, as if this should crush her. Consider this a lesson learned, value yourself, and maybe take a break from “dating”, or maybe actually DATE. Sleeping with the office Lothario is a step down, and while one can be given a pass for having a toss with him, 10 times of him breaking it off with you while heaping the blame on you is pathalogical abuse. This creep should be tossed into the trash bin and I hope Kat sought help to fix her picker. She deserves better. We all do.

      • My ex wife is like this with her AP. They are toxic together; they are always at odds with each other, can’t even make it 30 days without some issue. This routinely occurs. She will text me or corner me when getting the kids to tell me she wants to get back with me (I say absolutely not) and how hard it is to try and break it off with her AP BF and how it’s “abusive” and then I’ll get a couple of weeks of peace because they’re “together” again. LOL

        How could you want to continue with something that’s so problematic and toxic within the first year of a relationship? Isn’t the first year supposed to be one of the best years of the relationship? The honeymoon phase? Yet, you want to continue a relationship that can’t even make it 30 days without some new drama?

    • Baggage Reclaim and Chump Lady are also my saviours!

      My ex (also named Ben) was: separated but dragging out the divorce to punish his wife, whom he falsely claimed had cheated on him; had a 30-day abuse cycle composed of a repeating sequence of one week each of honeymoon, escalation, emotional abuse, silent treatment; and during each silent treatment, he slept with other women and at least one escort.

      This cycle repeated for three damn years, until he dumped me for a married woman, but he continued to message me, even after I sent a cease and desist letter, filed a police report and went No Contact.

      In the end, I had to flee my home to escape the stalking. But I have lived in safety and peace for almost two years now.

  • Years ago, there was a young man named Kevin at my morning 12 step group with whom I often talked after the meeting.

    He was clean, polite, articulate. We only talked recovery. He never said a single thing that felt off, inappropriate, upsetting.

    Then one day I realized I hadn’t seen him for a while. I wondered what happened to him.

    I have a daughter and so I often look at the Megan’s Law website to stay informed about the sex offenders who live in my town.

    One day after Kevin disappeared I was checking out the Megan’s Law website. Lo and behold, there was Kevin. Incarcerated for forcible rape, assault, battery, sodomy, etc.

    Many times when we were talking after the meeting we were the last ones to leave and I was alone with him.

    I had always prided myself on my radar and until that day it never occurred to me that there are people walking this earth who are so skilled at hiding who they are that I may not sense danger.

    A detective interviewed on a program on the Investigation Discovery Channel
    said “you only know someone as much as they will let you.”

    So equally important to fixing my picker is to fix my LEAVER and RUNNING LEGS and Let-go-er.

    • …..and so when someone SHOWS ME evidence they are dangerous to my emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, sexual, etc. well-being, no matter how “nice” they may seem, the most important thing for me to pay attention to is their ability to harm me and LEAVE. Ignoring that evidence is one sure way to end up in a situation that is hazardous to my well-being.

      • Certainly if they do show the evidence, it’s imperative to act on it. But the lesson also to be inferred here is that although someone may show you evidence they’re dangerous, they also may be hiding it, and tailoring one’s behavior accordingly is therefore wise. So, for instance, not staying alone with someone you know only casually until you’re “the last ones” around.

        • I don’t believe that talking with someone at a community event in a public place during the day is risky or careless. It’s very much the status quo at 12 step meetings for people to stay and talk after the meeting ends until there are only two left.

          That being said, I would not do that at an evening meeting with a man I had just met.

          Kevin had been a regular at the (morning) meeting for a long time, and sometimes like with all the other regulars from our meeting, he and I were the last two to leave.

          • I wasn’t criticizing you or your action, and am sorry if it came across as if I were. I just wanted to emphasize that sometimes what look like arbitrary guidelines are actually useful ones, even in situations in which it seems we shouldn’t have to worry.

              • This theme of “how could you not have known” is highlighted in the tv series Broadchurch. I recommend it.

                It’s easy to point fingers. Before I was chumped, I had the attitude that I would always be able to tell if my partner were having an affair. I was incredulous when I heard of people who claimed they were clueless.

                Now I know better. My then-husband and the OW had sex in our bed repeatedly. WTF?

                I’m humbled by this realization and less judgemental. It happens to the best of us.

    • How you describe this guy is exactly how I feel about my ex. There were very few red flags and on the surface he is extremely charming, kind, shows empathy (faked i now believe), he cries real tears (which was always a bit off putting to me). There are people like this out there who project such a wonderful outward image but are not at all the person they pretend to be. I think this scares me the most about my ex. Also that no one else seems to have seen who he is but me so I often feel unbelieved.

    • Hi Velvet:

      I am trying to work on my picker also. It is difficult. Because my FOO included a narcissist I have learned to be very, very, careful of any romantic attachment in which I immediately “feel at home.”

      But to your point about Kevin the benign-seeming rapist… My step-mother worked with a woman who had worked with serial killer Ted Bundy at a crisis call line. This woman became friends with him and brought him into her family circle. He was so trusted she let him drive her daughters to and fro during the period when families in the Pacific Northwest who had teenage daughters were convulsed with fear because an unknown serial killer was in their midst.

      I think about that often as I contemplate my own inability to detect who my husband really was, or even that there was a mask. When the mask dropped, even our marriage counselor pulled me aside to tell me she was shocked and would never have believed it. If there was one clue at all it was a subtle energy mismatch between what he said and what I felt from him energetically. I attributed that to a recent widower’s ongoing attachment and love for a deceased wife: we chumps have to be so careful not to spackle and not to attribute positive motives and best case scenarios to rationalize gaps. I will never again ignore or rationalize when I sense weird or discrepant energy in people.

      May I ask what you look for or sense when weeding out people who are potentially harmful? Anything that has served you well as an early warning?

      • Interesting how it was an energy mismatch your senses with your ex.

        Mine also did not do anything outwardly to be caught cheating. I was pregnant during our short marriage and I always had an uneasy feeling and a ton of anxiety which I attributed to hormones. I even went to acupuncture to help with this uneasy feeling I always felt. When I did discover his cheating I was only tipped off by intuition. He had accidentally shared a girls status on Facebook and although he told me it was an accident, a slip of the finger, I physically shook inside..I KNEW something was off then. It truly could have been an accident he shared that post but it led me down the rabbit hole of discovering what was really going on with him.

        • Fellow pregnant chump here. Are you in the private ChumpLady Reddit? I’d love to have the chance to chat about dealing with all of this with a baby.

          • I am! Different name though in the group. If you post in there I will comment so we can find each other if we haven’t already

        • “I physically shook inside…” THIS!! I physically shook for about three months and now that I am away from him for long enough, I know I ignored the more subtle messages from my inner being – smaller shakes inside on a constant basis.
          I just wanted so desperately for it to be right -when it wasn’t. Then, that moment you described and just KNOWING something is off.
          That picker is going to feel every vibration from here on out 🙂

      • Ted Bundy had a long-term girlfriend who had a daughter, who had a completely different experience with him than the women who were his victims…something I often think of.

        Harmful is harmful. Did someone hurt you? Was it intentional? Was it unintentional? How did they respond when you told them? Did they get angry at you and blame you? Did they apologize and amend (change) their actions and words? Did they offer any kind of restitution?

        As for “potentially harmful”? My 100% reliable early warning system is my intuition. Meaning, IF and WHEN I get a message I need to listen to it.

        My intuition has never been wrong.
        It’s when I ignored it that I ended up in bad situations.

        The main reason I maintain my sobriety is because I want my judgement to be as clear as possible at all times, all my wits about me. I have no desire to be the slightest bit anesthetized unless it’s a medical necessity under the care of a medical professional.

        As for people like Kevin that I got no bad feelings about? Or being in denial about the XH? There’s nothing I can do about that. But IF and WHEN I get the message, I should not ever dismiss it. I need to listen to it. Though I can render no reason (Emerson?)

        Animals hone their intuition. Humans are taught to deny it.

        As for Kevin, I thought he was a nice guy. Until I saw him on the Megan’s Law website.

        Message delivered and received.

        • Ted Bundys girlfriend did have signs she could have taken note of. For example he habitually stole things and had no remorse about it. TV’s and things. That should have been a bad character indicator for her, but she seemingly didn’t have a problem with it. However I say that with the caveat that sociopaths can have such a control over their victims that they could potentially overlook such things. One hopes not though.

          Also you made a very good point. There ARE abusive men who have one woman in their life who they treat well. It’s a part of their cover to make them look normal, or even perhaps convince themselves they are normal. But when you think about it, the evil things he was doing behind her back, he wasn’t really treating her well, he was just hiding it well and she didn’t know.

          • My STBXW would steal nail polish and make up from stores whilst we were shopping and had the kids with us. Even though we could afford it, she still did it. Happened a few times around me and I got really pissed off at it but I know she probably kept doing it when I was not there. She also took out credit in my name behind my back.

        • There’s an excellent documentary about the women who survived Ted Bundy called “Falling in love with a killer.” I think it’s now on Amazon.

          Bundy disgusts me and doesn’t deserve fame, but this documentary focuses on the women: his ex-girlfriend, his ex-stepdaughter, the women who narrowly avoided becoming his victims, and the female cops who hunted him down (some of them were the first women in their police department). Highly recommended.

          • Agreed, Cam. The more I know about him, the less interested I am. He is an example of toxic masculinity at it’s worst: as a fairly good-looking white male who could pass in a different social arena than he was bought up in, his killing spree was just basically one big long entitled tantrum spread over a number of years. He was a lazy, entitled individual who wanted to cruise on his looks and charm and only worked hard if he thought it would give him what he was entitled to. His girlfriend dumping him in college lead him down the path of revenge against women and while he tried to pass his actions off as the fault of pornography, society or whatever, basically it he didn’t get his way and he was going to make women pay. In the updated book by his ex girlfriend (or maybe the officer who worked on the hotline with earlier in her career) the daughter tells of a time when she was 12 and played hide and seek with Bundy and found him hiding naked with an erection. What was even more chilling was that as he went along his victims were getting younger and a few of his last ones were near to the daughter’s age. Who knows what might have happened if he hadn’t been caught, she likely could have also become a victim. There were many red flags there, and it seems like more and more of his criminality was bleeding into his everyday life toward the end.

            • That’s disgusting about the hide abs seek. Sounds like he was grooming her. Very disturbing, as a short interview I watched with the step daughter she made it sound like they loved him so much and was happy with him. Hearing that story does not sound like a safe or happy environment. It’s like she was romanticising it all for the sake of selling their book. Her mother (the ex girlfriend) also said she believed he genuinely loved them. Talk about deluded. These psychopaths love no one but themselves.

      • All I got was “the subtle energy mismatch” as well. So easy to chalk that up to something else going on in their life. It’s not a humongous red flag, but sometimes it’s all the warning you get. I hope I won’t ever “rationalize gaps” again but it’s almost unconscious. It’s definitely on my list for weeding out people. I’m also relying on how I feel. If I feel uncomfortable and unable to relax and be myself, if I experience undue anxiety about the status of the relationship, if they like me etc – all red flags.

        “Feeling too at home” is a tougher one. I definitely experienced that with my STBX but it felt healthy to me – like we were friends not just operating on the basis of sexual attraction. In hindsight he was mirroring and manipulating false commonalities.

        • I felt exactly the same as you. Our relationship felt healthy and normal. We were friends that fell in love. It was all a farce that I am still trying to wrap my head around because it seemed so very real.

          • I had a simmilar experience with my ex who was my “friend” first, but was just lying and mirroring me. The kicker was when he reasoned his cheating with: “We probably should have just stayed friends.”
            Nope, I only keep honorable people as friends. Now if I could just work on who I am sexually attracted to!

      • A note about Bundy: Crime Writer Ann Rule also worked with him at the crisis line. She had already been a cop and was a divorced Mom starting her writing career. She let him in her inner circle too. Apparently he was good at working at the crisis line , too.

        She never saw anything amiss. Read her book “ The Stranger Beside Me” as it covers their relationship and time working together as well as more. The strangest thing about him during that time was he could be a bit evasive. But the public positive qualities outweighed the evasiveness do it was disregarded.

        • Sandra Brown, with whom I’ve done therapy, says the only difference between the psychopath living next door and the one in jail is opportunity and intelligence. I was married to a high functioning high profile psychopath. The red flags of his disfunction were waved off as the eccentricities that come from being as fabulous as him.

      • I think the first thing is to NOT see someone you are on a first date (or any early date) as a potential partner. Your job is to determine what the person’s CHARACTER is, what he wants out of life, and how mature he is emotionally, socially, and financially.

        1. Finances: You don’t want someone who should have a stable job but doesn’t. For example, Jackass has a very deep skill set in his field but has changed jobs probably 10 or 11 times in less than 15 years. He’s left a couple of really, really good jobs. You don’t want someone who doesn’t work or has big employment gaps that aren’t explainable by industry collapse, etc. You don’t want someone who doesn’t pay their taxes or child support. You won’t know any of that on the first date. But it will come out over time.

        Keep your own personal information to yourself until you get to know better. You can say you are a teacher, an accountant, a hair dresser, a fire fighter, etc. But don’t talk about your finances or owning a house, etc. Some people, both male and female, are looking to date a second income stream. So you don’t want people who aren’t paying their bills or show hint about moving in right away (and by “right away,” I mean any time before you have a LOT of information about this person’s character). That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t date a person who has some financial struggles (as many single parents do) but those struggles should not be because the person refuses to meet obligations or runs up credit cards to buy luxuries.

        2. Gauge how they relate to others: When you meet someone’s family or friends, pay close attention to how people treat each other, how they treat family members’ dates or partners, and to what his family says about him. My XH the substance abuser has a wonderful sister, who told me up front that he was REALLY MEAN to the women he dated. I already knew that and had a big bucket of spackle dedicated to that mess. In contrast, the sister of the man I date now asked to speak to me in private and said she didn’t want to see her brother hurt again because he was such a good person. Pay attention to people who condescend to service workers.

        #. Know what you want for your own life. I don’t want to remarry or cohabit with anyone. But I won’t abide a liar or someone with a mean streak. I’m done with mean. You may want a life partner, and if you do, it’s very important to walk away from dating people who are ambivalent about settling down or who show a propensity to have lots of old GF/BFs hanging around. Look for signs of temper, of contempt for others, of impatience, of always wanting their own way. Look for “kidding on the square,” where the person says cruel things and then says, “But I was just kidding.” You can’t get the life you want with a partner who is mean, abusive or selfish. You may really be attracted to someone, but you can’t get to your best life if you end up in a tug-of-war with a partner who wants something else.

    • Thank you for sharing this. It’s incredibly important.

      It’s easy for a person to sit on their throne of “look how great I am” and deride your rules, your boundaries, your risk management practices, acting like you’re some unworldly prude who has no sense of adventure because you won’t volunteer for dysfunctional experiences. It happens to me all the time. Well, that and people acting like I’m diagnosably obsessive or compulsive or a dysfunctional perfectionist because I’m cautious.

      The thing is, these predators get away with what they do BECAUSE they are so skilled at playing the long game and behaving in ways that, at first glance, appear to be worth an exception.

      In reality, the main thing that makes a person worth your time is that they don’t require any exceptions. The person fits into your comfort zone easily. When that’s not true, the call is coming from inside the house, so to speak.

      Does this mean you won’t date much and you’ll have sex even less? Yeah, probably.

      It’s all about where you want your energy day-to-day as you live your one wild and precious life.

      • Amen! I intentionally date sparingly, at a glacial pace, and am extremely picky. It would take an extraordinary partner to be better than the PEACE and FREEDOM of having no partner at all!

        I’m also careful not to share my real reasons for not dating with folks who “act like I’m OCD for being cautious.” (Well said!) Holy hell, ::YES:: these sweetly clueless friends can be annoying the way they fret about us being single, from their Pollyanna perches where life is a damn Disney movie and red flag-less predators aren’t out here trying to lovefraud us. Lol

        Gotta stay woke, look through their phones, read all of their court records, maintain separate finances and residences, and block/delete at the very first sign of disordered trouble. That this type of information protocol isn’t the common practice is why so many people get chumped: it’s still way too easy for predators to hide.

        • Exactly Amii! The mask started slipping the day after our wedding and my gut made me drag my feet on co mingling our finances. A few months later I found out about the prostitutes, undisclosed debt and disciplinary actions at work. The divorce went quickly because the pre marital assets were easily identified.

          I just paid off my house this month and am building my nest egg. I will never give a partner legal rights over my assets.

      • I’ve been accused of being “paranoid”.

        I went on a date with a man who I met during a singles hike. I didn’t talk to him during the hike;the organizer had us switch every ten minutes. Speed dating while hiking if you like. I guess he liked the way I looked ?

        We met for coffee, he did most of the talking, and told me he had to get a restraining order against his ex-wife. Too much information. emotional crop dusting is what I call it.
        After an hour, I knew everything I needed to, we left the café and he walked me to my car. Passing his car, he saw a parking ticket on his windshield and slammed his hand on the hood in anger. We got to my car and asked me if I wanted to go for a hike some time. I don’t remember exactly what I said but I knew I needed to get away from him safely. This was in the daytime with people around.

        My therapist (which I fired due to too many red flags) didn’t understand why I didn’t clearly turn him down. And she didn’t understand what a bad idea it would be to go solo hiking with a stranger. She attributed it to my trust issues and risk aversion. A woman in her fifties.

        Guess who sent me an angry email ten months later, demanding an explanation as to why I changed my mind about a second date ?

    • Velvet – they choose their targets, or victims. It seems to me you did not fit into this profile for him. I have known many dangerous people who have harmed others, but never harmed me. I fit into a different category for them. I agree it is… unnerving.

    • I won’t get into details, but I know a man who was universally beloved in my community, both as a young man and as an adult member of the community. Then he got involved with an underaged person.

      I had no idea what he was. Looking back, he was very good at at mirroring, at “doing the right thing,” at connecting with authority figures, and at using his very real talents to hide what was behind the mask. I’ve known him since he was a kid, and that was 20+ years ago. All I can say now is that I don’t know him at all. And I suspect there really is nothing inside him to know.

  • I recently went on a couple of dating sites. I still haven’t found anyone to actually go on a date with and it’s not because of lack of interest in me but I keep finding red flags that I would not have before being duped by a sociopath. Two times now I’ve had men with very young children tell me they got divorced because they “grew apart”. As someone that was left with a three month old, I can not accept this answer. You fight for your marriage and your children’s future if it is merely a situation of growing apart. If that fails, then you proceed with separating as a last resort.

    It’s a fine line of not wanting to overreact due to what happened to me but also wanting to stay away from anything that is a red flag. When I pressed these guys for a bit more information, they disappear and I believe this proved my suspicions are correct.

    The fact that this guy is using your trauma against you is manipulative. I say, stop wasting your time just to have someone around. I’m guilty of that in the past.

    • I whole heartedly agree with you and had a similar situation though my youngest was closer to 18 months. I recently told someone that even if FW went about things the honest way and asked for a divorce without cheating I would be profoundly pissed and disappointed in him. I’ve also said on here that I don’t think he was prepared for how difficult 100% parenting is even at 50% of the time.

      • They seem to have an inability to view or plan for their future in any type of rational way. When he filed for divorce I asked him “so what’s your plan? Where will you live? Are you asking for 50/50?” His response was “I’ll figure it out”. I fought very hard to avoid 50/50 and he won’t get that until our child is 5. However I wonder sometimes if I should have given him the 50% so he can see what he actually was signing up for. Even now I believe the every other weekend will be a lot for him to handle.

        • If they were capable of planning for the future, they would be able to anticipate that parenting young children is hard work and being chronically sleep deprived and barely treading water is par for the course for a bit. A relationship with an affair partner is going to look deceptively easy by comparison if they can just bring the good parts of themselves out on dates. It’s so stupid.

          Regarding 50/50 parenting vs less…it’s so difficult. I was advised by my attorney that fighting for more time would be difficult as it’s mostly the default now and he has no incredibly damning qualities that make him unfit to parent 50% of the time. I have had numerous people (including within his own family) tell me that they couldn’t see him actually wanting the kids 50% of the time. I think he is doing it because that’s what his AP has with her ex and he wants to look like a stellar father. The kids’ quality of life with him causes me a lot of concern e.g. he is not that empathetic toward them, he gives them endless screen time so he can do his own thing, and just generally disengaged from them. So while yeah, he may be struggling and wondering what the hell he got himself into and maybe recognizes all the invisible work I did for the family over the years, the kids are paying a price for it.

          • Yes it is usually 50/50, I somehow had some luck on my side and a bit of leverage to bargain with. We went to trial but he realized he may lose and settled with me afterwards. The kids suffer and it’s the most heartbreaking part of being cheated on to me. Do what you will with me I’ll move forward eventually, but to not even give my child a chance at a normal life? Enrages me to no end.

    • I would caution chumps about sharing their traumas AT ALL with new partners. Save it for down the road. Like, years down the road. Until then, reserve it for your therapist.

      It takes time to know the true measure of a person and know if they’re trustworthy. Sharing too soon leaves you vulnerable to the next predator, sadly.

      • This is why I stopped going to a coed CoDA meeting. Too many “double winners” (sex addicts) or predatory types who viewed a 12 step meeting as a dating pool to dip their toes in. I described it as doing a relationship backwards to the women in my other meeting, a lesbian/trans friendly group.
        Anonymity is key. No sharing my last name, telling where I work/what I do for a living or exactly where I live. I had to have a little talk with a man who approached me at the library “I recognize you from one of the meetings”. He’s a therapist. Just no. Boundaries.

          • Totally. It ties into love bombing.

            People who move too fast, in my experience, are (best case scenario) well-meaning souls with unresolved trauma who desperately need therapy.

            Worst case scenario, you’re looking at a predator or a crazy asshole.

            I’ve met my share of both in recent years but thank god I was already in therapy, so I saw them from a mile away and dodged accordingly.

            I used to think sharing too much too soon was “just being honest” and forcing intimacy. Now I find it repulsive.

        • The creepiest weirdo was a seventy year old man who proposed being “touch partners” ???? He had been in therapy for forty years. I witnessed him being flirty and lecherous with other women. I ignored the “Talk to each other, reason things out, let there be no gossip or criticism of one another” and swapped stories with the other targets. ????

        • Totally. It ties into love bombing.

          People who move too fast, in my experience, are (best case scenario) well-meaning souls with unresolved trauma who desperately need therapy.

          Worst case scenario, you’re looking at a predator or a crazy asshole.

          I’ve met my share of both in recent years but thank god I was already in therapy, so I saw them from a mile away and dodged accordingly.

          I used to think sharing too much too soon was “just being honest” and forcing intimacy. Now I find it repulsive.

      • I’ve thought about that too when I start dating women in the future. I don’t think I will even tell them I was married and with my STBXW for 15 years. I wish to hell and back I could wipe her from my mind and life.

  • I understand the need to want to “couple” after divorcing a cheating fuckwit. We want to prove to ourselves we are worthy of love; we can have healthy relationships; it wasn’t “us” it was “them”… but KAT… I don’t think you are ready to date. You showed your mightiness with your cheater X, but it may have exhausted you beyond reason (PTSD exists for a reason). Might I suggest that you take some time and date yourself? Get to know who you are again as a single person… develop friendships with other single people… get some hobbies and interests of your own… and maybe think about getting a new job away from Mr. I Got 99 Reasons to Be Awesome, But Not 1 Clue of How to Be Honest.

    Relationships can be wonderful if you are solid in who you are and what your dealbreakers are like CL says. I’m only recently putting myself out there – it took me six years to work through how I ended up with Mr. Sparkles and I consciously chose to put my energy in to raising my son (who was 9 when his Dad blew up our world) and my job (where I have advanced). Now, when I meet a man I know pretty quickly if the dating situation is viable (must be divorced 1 year; must have a decent relationship with his kids; must show kindness to animals; must show a reasonable amount of attention to me (but no lovebombing fast-paced “twu wuv” nonsense.

    Fool me once, shame on you… fool me twice, shame on me. Go no contact. Fix your picker. The right person is out there when you are truly ready.

  • Chumps are used to drama and bullshit so it’s a comfortable place to be. That’s why it’s important to take some time and possibly get some therapy to break this cycle.

    My first hb was abusive and if I’d taken the time to put myself together I never would’ve married the cheater. First hb didn’t cheat but he was a drunk who was verbally and sometimes physically abusive, and when you leave that anyone who’s not a openly as asshole seems pretty good. Cheater was a surface nice guy, but he was also a passive aggressive phony douchebag with poor character. I had 2 1/2 years of therapy before I left him so I feel much better now.

    Kat, you’re not ready to be dating. Step back and get some therapy to work on why you’re ok with drama and to cut the cycle.

  • I really appreciate CL’s comments under #2. Not because I need them in dating (although if I had any interest in dating I would heed them), but because I have too often felt as if the fact of my divorce is evidence I failed, and my “failed” marriage a comment on my worth.

    What CL says reminds me that I didn’t fail, and my marriage didn’t “fail” (although like a weld that fails it could be said to have been built with faulty material…my ex). I ended my marriage not on a whim, but because of a “sad, painful reason” and I tried like hell for far too long under too great a burden and at too great a cost to me to make my marriage work. My 35 year marriage ended, but I was not unsuccessful. He was. I did not fail. He did.

    It’s my now-ex, continuing to live his closeted life, seeking to suppress the truth and impose his own narrative, who prefers the euphemism “we grew apart.”

    • My stbx told our son we had “twenty nine years to grow apart and realize we didn’t like each other”. I was floored. I had thought we were best friends, we’d made plans for our soon to be empty nest. Now as I date, I see behaviors in my dates which set off alarm bells. Fortunately, I was used to time alone during my marriage. I am in no rush to couple up again; he on the other hand, is desperately trying to fit into his prostitute’s world, be her everything.

  • Try living in UK….have to be separated 2 years to file in some cases, case in point UK law states adultery is between male and female. If you have a same sex cheater you’re screwed and have to wait 2 years to get rid …. ugh

    • Huh. I’m interested in same-sex divorce issues, since I’m going through same-sex divorce in the US. I see that adultery in the UK is defined as between a man and a woman, but that’s just one of 5 different ways to show that a same-sex marriage has “irretrievably broken down.” Another is “unreasonable behaviour,” as when a partner has sex with someone else (regardless of gender) or commits abuse. Maybe there’s a burden-of-proof problem for some chumps there? It sounds like you’d have to wait two years only if you couldn’t demonstrate one of those reasons. If the other partner doesn’t agree to the divorce, you might have to wait for 5 years! (Or, “desertion for a period of not fewer than 4 years.”) So, those options would suck.

    • Lol, I had a similar question after yesterday’s post and then of course the infamous “hiking the Appalachian trail.” Wandering genitals is as good an explanation as any.

      • Let’s not forget going for a run in the ‘burbs for a blowjob in the bushes. I suspect my father did this with one of the neighbors. It was during the seventies when jogging took off. Literally running away from his wife, children and responsibilities. A creepy couple who were very permissive parents. The younger of the two daughters (high school student) lived above the garage and there was a stream of boys coming over.
        And going for a solo bike ride, to ride the town bike.

    • Excellent excuse for why you vanished for a weekend aren’t reachable by phone. “No I’m not in an Air BnB 40 miles away with AP, I’m hiking!”

      • Bingo!

        My ex went hiking, too. Turns out our daughter (26) called him when, unbeknownst to us, he was “hiking” with the OW. After a very brief exchange, he told our daughter not to call again unless it was an absolute emergency.

        And he wonders now why his kids want nothing to do with him.

  • I believe that it takes both time and some specific listening and observing skills to determine if a person is worth befriending or dating. When I was young, I definitely did not have these skills. My parents tried to “protect” me by isolating me, and creating horror show scenarios that were almost cartoon like when presenting their version of reality. As a teenager I rebelled against their restrictions, and discarded their warnings. I have come to understand that although my parents did not have the right skill set to “protect” me, I also put myself in dangerous situations because of my rebellion.

    This does not mean you cannot be “friendly” when you meet others, this means it take time to transcend friendly into actual friendship. I also believe the process is similar to a sales campaign. You will experience far more “NO’s” than you will friends, and only an occasional person worth dating. There are so many fairy tales in our cultural belief system, but one of the most dangerous is “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.” My advice is don’t kiss frogs to find a prince. Prince’s do not exist in everyday life, and only other frogs should date frogs. Find your own friend tribe, people of similar values and beliefs, people who have proven they can be counted on. People whose actions match their words. Then, if you are attracted, try dating but go slow. This is not a perfect plan, and I am sure many of the very young will be muttering, “OK Boomer”, but believe me, you will save a lot of heartache if you follow this plan.

    My parents met in high school, and married at 19. Their parents married at even younger ages. Divorce was almost non-existent in their culture. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard, “You make your bed, then you lie in it.” I would be wealthy. So, short courtship, marriage to the bitter end, many unhappy people. Endure, no thought of Enjoy. Someone you met as a teen, and you expect common interests at 45? Cultural restrictions about “roles and duties” in married life. Is it any wonder I was carrying a lot of unhappy baggage for most of my adult life? I initiated and experienced an entire make over of my life. By the time I was in my mid-fifties, I had evaluated and reformatted most of my cultural belief system. I do not blame my FOO, they did not intend to mislead me. Several of them have some bad personality disorders, and that did some damage, but my recovery was up to me.

    One of the reasons I read and comment on this forum is to try to help others save some of their precious time. I also learn a lot, even at my age. I have already lived most of my life, and I wish I had experienced more enjoyment and less endurance. But I cannot change the past. I hope the younger chumps will find a quicker path to MEH. There are some spectacularly smart and terrific communicators in Chump Nation. Hopefully their influence will help chumps like Kat reset her cultural expectations and habits. Healthy choices lead to a healthy life.

    • Portia,
      I am closer to your age than Kat’s and my time in the shitstorm has long past but I find your comments invaluable-thoughtful and thought provoking. Please keep sharing and know there are lurkers out here who appreciate your commentary.
      I wish I had found CL during my time of crisis but I suspect she was shoveling cow manure on her birthday while I was figuring out my way forward. The resources in this blog really are unique and life affirming.

      • Thanks for affirming that you find my comments helpful. I am really not designed to understand a “hook-up” world. No matter how many times each partner says it is just a physical release, and the partner doesn’t matter I cannot believe it. I think this mentality devalues both partners, and the act of intimacy, too. Getting to know someone should be enjoyable, and friendship is not instantaneous. Time is not the enemy, it is part of the investment in the future relationship.

        I had to find my own way, too. It was a hard journey. I am glad Chump Lady launched her site, and that her voice resonates with multiple generations. She delivers a powerful message.

        • I find your comments immensely helpful. I had to un-do most of my belief system after being raised Catholic by my well-meaning parents. The biggest fear for me with divorcing my ex-fw, was worrying what my parents would think. I had to let that go (I actually didn’t even tell them!)—and once I did, I was able to move forward. You know what, they got over it. I actually had to tell myself, well, they are not going to be around forever–so when they are gone, what is the point of still being with FW?

          The experience of getting away from my ex made me re-evaluate some friendships I had that started in my teens and twenties. I realized that my “best friend” from 8th grade on, was a complete and total narcissistic bitch who cut me down at every opportunity. Tried to sleep with any guy I was interested it, constantly tried to make me the butt of any joke in social situations. I look back now and cannot believe what I put up with. I felt horrible about myself!

          It is no wonder I married an a-hole who cheated on me with SO many women—and that was while we were living together—I then MARRIED him! OMG. So, yeah, it is not just with romantic relationships—friendships can do a number on us, too. It is so important to dig deep and understand and question why we believe certain things and behave a certain way. I am 50 and have just now learned that I don’t have to please everyone and apologize and fix everything for everybody else.

          I am all about living an authentic life. If someone does not treat me well, then later. I’ve cut quite a few people out. I have a small but mighty squad around me and have never felt more self-assured and grounded.

  • Kat, re-read your letter as if a beloved sister wrote it. Boom— you’d tell her to leave/cut off all contact so fast it would make her head spin.

    It isn’t hard to stop contact when you start managing your thoughts. I suspect you’re saying to yourself some variation of the following: what if he isn’t as bad as I’m thinking, what if no one better comes along, maybe I deserve this for xyz reason, maybe he will stop this a d be kind and loving, I should give him another chance because he’s troubled and I can help change him, etc etc etc.

    Instead, try an intentional thought: I can’t control him and never will be able to, I’m learning to be a woman who is comfortable on my own, I’m learning to recognize non-negotiable behaviors and protect myself, I’m learning that I matter….

    Google “the model” … I like Brooke Castillo’s free podcasts and videos. It will help empower you to choose YOU!

  • I have found the following statement to be a red flag, “I couldn’t make her happy.” If you hear that – walk away.

  • Cheaters no doubt leave us unbalanced. IMHO take years and maybe the rest of your life to fix yourself and be alert to the sharks that swim among us. I was 31 yrs married, divorced 5 now and I still can’t imagine giving myself or my heart to anyone. I do have male friends but none are intimate and I have noticed in even these “nice” people that there are red flags. I’m much more vocal about inappropriate joking or insinuations. Trigger Alert is always ON. Maybe bc Im older I don’t feel the rush to meet another “soul mate”. A close friend (also a chump) said at her age she thinks most men look at her as either a Purse or a Nurse. No thanks ….. Ive also known younger chumps who made the promise not to date or get serious until their children are 18.

    @Kat – respect yourself and be a great example to your child.

    • I’m one of those younger chumps with young kids who has made an intentional choice not to formally repartner around my kids, if ever, until my youngest is at least 16/17 at the earliest and can drive. Have ZERO interest in inviting a stepparent into my life.

  • I intercepted a email to my then husband from a friend of a friend. It said that they were sorry to hear that he was separated from me. I replied that that was news to me, since he was home every day and night with us.

    Married men are married until they are either legally separated or divorced.

    And men who break up with you then make up with you every 30 days are either unstable or using a woman for a booty call.

  • I love the scene in Steel
    Magnolias where Ouiser snaps, “Who is your family?” when meeting Annelle for the first time.

    If I ever date again, it will be like the olden days where I am introduced by someone I know well to someone they know well and someone loyal to me will snap at them, “Who is your family?”

    I have a friend who is a retired Navy SEAL. He is a loyal spouse and has the highest security clearance of anyone I have ever met. I may ask if he can refer me to someone for a kick-ass background check.

    There are no guarantees but in the future I will use all the tools for verification at my disposal….


    • Yes ! “Who do I know well who can vouch for this man’s character ?” Plus I have the name and number of the p.i. my attorney uses.
      As Dr. George Simon “Character matters”

    • I think also, just letting relationships unfold over time. There’s this real rush to escalate a relationship…it’s silly. I know that this is not the complete answer, because cheaters are real great at hiding their true selves for prolonged periods of time, but it can at least provide a longer period in which a chump can try to make some observations and spot red flags. Where is it said that one can’t date and court someone for months before taking the next step to something larger? Why is kissing on the first date the answer?

      When I see friends rushing their relationships steps, I try to remind them that its almost impossible to go back, but you can always go forward. Just enjoy where you’re at for a while. Get to know each other, learn to laugh together, figure out preferences and histories. Be flirty friends, then, if that goes well for a while, escalate to official dates, then after a few months of that, maybe try a physical connection. This may seem old fashioned, but actually its a great way to extend what should be very special parts of a relationship. You can always go forward, but you can never go back. Patience is key.

      • I was friends with my XH for two years before we started dating.

        I didn’t even kiss him until we had been dating three months.

        Our wedding day was a month after our seven year dating anniversary.

        I had our daughter after we had been married ten years

        Sadly in my case taking things slowly made no difference. Until I found out he was having affairs I thought that SLOW meant SOLID.

      • . I was friends with my XH for two years before we started dating.

        I didn’t even kiss him until we had been dating three months.

        Our wedding day was a month after our seven year dating anniversary.

        I had our daughter after we had been married ten years

        Sadly in my case taking things slowly made no difference. Until I found out he was having affairs I thought that SLOW meant SOLID.

        • Yep, there are no guarantees in a relationship. You just do the best you can. I know you did

          I turned down several dates before I met my now H. We were together four years before we got married. So far, no regrets; but there are no guarantees when two humans are involved. If I had been a lot older when the divorce hit, I may have decided to stay single.

          But, I was 40 and I met a great guy; and wouldn’t give up those years for anything. I also really enjoyed our courtship and engagement time. I had never been really courted and wooed. It was fantastic.

          I would have been fine with waiting a couple more years; but logistics took over when our facility closed and I had to move to a different state. He could have retired and just stayed where we were, but I didn’t want to start over at age 40; so I was the one to decide whether to stay or move.

          Since we were moving, he went ahead and worked three more years at the new facility; then retired. And here we are.

  • What I never see In letters like this or posts is…
    Was I the only one to hear, very soon after separation and d day, how great a catch
    I am and how I needed to “get out there”?
    You’ll find someone so much better?
    Yada yada….
    First!!! I was stunned because everyone could see how messed up and in shock I was.
    Second!!! Who the hell is going to want to be near me? LOL. I was a damn mess.
    I’m sure everyone meant well, family and friends, and yes I had a few tell me to lay low.
    That I needed time. Lots n lots of time!!!
    It would have been very unfair and very irresponsible for me to have listened to them.
    So I would tell CHUMPS to take their time. Date when YOU are ready.

    • I think quite a few commenters here have had that experience.

      I never did. I don’t know if that’s because my friends considered me a lost cause?

      But I did have one very disordered female friend who was painfully jealous of any romantic success I had, and who always targeted my exes. I suppose she had a vested interest in me not dating, because it made her own poor choices and long droughts feel less painful.

      But yes, I tried medicating with people after breakups. It didn’t work.

      Put it this way: When they meet me, no one expresses surprise to learn that I’m single. And no one suggests I get out there because I am such a good catch!

      Partly that’s my age: at my age, there’s plenty of washed-up people of both sexes.

      Partly it’s my choice of company and work: I work among very educated people, and I mix mostly with my co-religionists, many of whom are also single.

      I am really grateful NOT to have people urging me to get out there. I don’t intend to date ever again, and I have had a couple of matchmaking attempts go spectacularly wrong.

      My last two relationships were personal referrals from within my church community who looked great on paper. Both really disordered; both cheaters.

      I believe in God, and I think He’s trying to tell me something.

  • Yes. After my life blew up, sharks smelled blood and circled. I had to cut a few men out of my life who I had considered close friends. Turned out they were predators too.

  • As usual, CL gets to the heart of the matter. Short response is: don’t date. Reserve dating for a future time when your emotional and mental ducks are in a row. There are literally millions of other meaningful things you can do with your time instead of dating just as you’re existing a terrible relationship. Take some time, take YEARS if needed, to do meaningful things. THEN, start to be curious about whether or not coupling with someone is the right choice for you and what that might look like.

    THEN, if you do decide to date, take things as slow as molasses and enjoy the steps. Take MONTHS getting to know someone before inviting them into your life in any real way. DO NOT RUSH coupling. DO NOT RUSH intimacy, in any of its forms. RESIST THE URGE to rush to become a couple. FIGHT THE MAINSTREAM doctrine that currently pushes people to fast track relationships. Be old fashioned about it. Court someone and be courted. Spend time walking and laughing and sending flirty texts. Enjoy each period of a new relationship for as long as possible…and in that time and cadence, you’re far more likely to spot red flags and disordered personalities.

    • Amen to that.

      To my credit, of the two disasters where I was matchmade: the first was the Great Rebounder.

      The second was over much more quickly, and that was because I asked too many questions of exactly the right sort.

      To be honest, romance makes me feel unsafe, and with good reason. I prefer to try to work on good friendships and good working relationships.

      Dopamine can be obtained from other more healthy sources!

    • I think one of the key issues is they don’t know how to be alone. It’s part of their identity to be co-dependent or be in some relationship- same TV series but just a new actor to play the role for you. I don’t understand why some don’t enjoy being alone for awhile without going crazy. You saw it a ton this year. So many people couldn’t handle the time to themselves. It’s too uncomfortable for them and that’s sad as hell.

      With relationships, I just believe in the birth of a relationship being organic; no dating apps, not force-feeding something.

      • I mean, that’s really the crux of it. Being alone is hard work for some people. I wish it were more normalized in our society and I wish people would challenge their own fears and anxiety about this issue. Like, if you are uber compelled to couple up…question that. Be curious about that obsession and figure it out. Make some changes to better prioritize OTHER meaningful things in your life.

        Obviously, companionship matters, but above personal well being?? It just seems to me that the “life goal” should be contentment and fulfillment, and if a relationship happens into that goal…so be it.

        Of course, I know scores of folks who feel “having and keeping a man” is the end all/be all…and maybe that was more appropriate in 1945…but in 2020, when a woman can be economically self sufficient, and where we can have babies well into our 40s (for the most part)…then maybe hit the pause button on the manic coupling and, like, join a soccer team or volunteer at your local foodbank or whatever it takes to understand your issues and better your life and get to the good business of having a good life.

    • My wife and I spent months just texting about our kids and the Bible. We got to know each other as friends first. When we started dating, we didn’t kiss until 2 1/2 months of dating. I didn’t want the physical to cloud my mental thinking. I asked a TON of viewpoint questions that would make it impossible for her to mirror me. Been married 20 months.

  • I’m most struck by fact that she hopes they’ve broken up for the last time. That’s a bizarre statement. We don’t need to have hope about things that are 100% in our control. It’s totally within her control whether or not she continues to date this asshole Ben, so it sounds like she has a learned helplessness problem that needs to be worked on in therapy.

    • Gavin de Becker’s classic book the Gift of Fear has a chapter on romantic relationships. He has a script to definitively end dating with somebody, leaving no room for negotiation. Say it once and never respond to the person again. The dumped may plead, cajole, become nasty, etc. time and time again. Do not cave.

      I did it with a man I dated for a few months who was an alcoholic. Blocked him on email and phone.Two years later I was sitting on my front porch wondering if he ever got help. Looked up from my snack and he was driving down my block in his truck. No reason to be in my neighborhood.

      No contact

      • I do not understand how people struggle with no contact with people who they weren’t married to nor share kids or finances with. How is it that difficult? Block them from your phone, email, and social media. Boom! Problem solved. Close the gates if you’re tired of the enemy coming into the house.

        • And if you’re lucky, the person you sampled in the dating pool doesn’t batter ram your boundaries, or turn out to be a stalker. The psycho stalkers are rare, but it happens. I’m guessing this very troubled man had been driving by my house for two years ! I had no idea.

        • It’s because the emotional and the rational are not always in perfect conversation. I’ve managed to be entirely no contact with my ex (who I do not share children or finances with) but on occasion I have the urge to reach out. Sometimes we know what we should do, but we slip up. It’s human.

  • My first boyfriend after the divorce was not stellar. He was way better than the ex narc, and I realize now that when we met he was trying to be a better person than he really was. It was too much work for him in the end. I definitely had to work on my picker and set boundaries of what was acceptable to me. We met 9 months after the cheater left (which wasn’t enough time on my own), and after a year and a half together we broke up because he couldn’t handle my kids, he couldn’t take the ex husband (who was always trying to stir up drama and contacting my boyfriend – who never blocked him, never defended me, RED FLAG!!) He begged me to get back together, he realized he was looking for me but without kids and accepted that my kids were part of the deal. We ended up being together for 5 years before he pulled all of that same old crap again. Looking back I see that he had gotten very short tempered with my kids, and was trying to pull me away from them – but I couldn’t see it at the time. He became very jealous and demeaning. I should have pulled the plug on our relationship sooner, but I kept waiting for him to be that guy that I met in the beginning. I realized he was trying to be someone different back then, and the guy I ended up with was the real deal. BELIEVE them when they show you their true colors and tell you what they think/want. No way was I putting a man in front of my children, which is exactly what he wanted. It wasn’t easy, but I broke up with him and he continued to try to contact me for 6 months afterwards. Block block block as each new avenue of contact popped up (text, FB messenger, Instagram, LinkedIn, and then a DATING APP I was on). I also realized that I had outgrown him over the years. I found my inner strength and independence as time went on and I worked on my recovery after years of narcissistic abuse, and the bf didn’t like it. Truth be told, it’s hard to be alone and to look inwards to try and heal your own damage. But until you do, you’ll keep attracting the same type of men. There are good ones out there, but you have to know how to find them!! Heal yourself first. Get rid of this guy, he’s not worth your time!!

  • “Not available to date” because he’s going through a divorce? I take exception to that. My cheating ex had been cheating for about four years that I know of, haven’t been with her for about a year and a half and I filed for divorce a year ago and it’s taking forever. I refuse to let this awful woman prevent me from being in a healthy relationship. The notion that a person can’t date even after filing for divorce is not something I support.

    • I agree. I was legally separated for six months when I moved to a new facility and met my now H. Oh I had been asked out before, but I wasn’t ready. I was ready to spend some time with a sweet person, and it just happened we went on to get married, four years after we met.

      My ex walked away, I never once looked at another man in that way. I was not damaged, the ex was. I knew of course that I needed to take my time; but I was not going to sit at home and forgo getting to know a really nice person; because my ex was at that point delaying the divorce.

      My ex tried his best to destabilize me. But, by that time there was no going back for me. I saw my ex as a disgusting weasel; and that never changed after that.

      Had my now H and I not worked out; I still would have spent some time with an amazing person and likely had a life long friend. Had he not been a quality person, I would not have continued to spend time with him. My son was grown, so my decision may have been different if there were small children.

      In our state (where this happened) once you are legally separated, you are free to live your life; it has no effect on the settlement. Of course each person has to decide what is best for them, but not what is best for others.

  • It’s a classic example of a common issue among many females–the need for male attention and being manipulated by men who simply want to sleep with you. Ladies, you will have no shortage of men who are willing to sleep with you. Take a break with the dating apps and also don’t mess with someone from work who in all likeliness, is probably just enjoying the novelty and lust of it.

    I don’t know if there’s any ideal place to meet good people. All of these things have been infiltrated with bad people. But you got to be okay with yourself instead of feeling the “need” for a relationship. If you’re dating into your 30s, 40s, 50s, etc, you’re likely to encounter some broken people. Don’t be blinded by emotion and notice the red flags, proclaim boundaries and expectations and if someone isn’t willing, then don’t force it.

  • Wow, this feels like it could be my Ex’s girlfriend. He met her at work, they have broken up 10+ times in 3 years. He dates all these other women, most she doesn’t know about, always takes them on hiking trips, all the similarities. She refuses to meet me. I found an old cell phone of his and read hundreds of their emails for 6 months. He told her all kinds of lies about me, some are so funny. i can’t believe a 50 yr old woman would believe some of those lies. He also said he’d fallen out of love with me, but i was the one who filed for divorce, made him move out, and paid for EVERYTHING! He tells me all this crap about her when they break up, then when they get back together he says he’s lonely, she doesn’t expect much from him, she knows he’s moody, and basically, she lets him run the show. Something he always said i did, and he wanted to be the one ‘in charge’. He has bipolar, depression, several health issues he tries to hide by lying about things…One thing I’ll say is he’s a good dad to our son. If this is her, he’ll never change. He’ll keep being violent with you, lying to you, cheating on you, denying that he’s asked me back a few times, etc… You let him treat you like crap so he does, stop letting him control you. If this is not her, then still the same advice. Don’t let that man control you any longer. That’s not love. It’s lies and manipulation. Find your self a real man..

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