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Jealous of the Other Woman

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luggageDear Chump Lady,

I am sure that my story is the same one that you have heard a hundred times, I have read versions of it on your site and others… married 9 years, together 18, one small daughter and poof! He is gone. Like emotionally gone. Except that he did not physically leave.

My husband very abruptly announced that he was no longer interested in being married to me. He did not believe in marriage, did not love me anymore – maybe never did and wanted to be done. He spent the next 9 months waffling – going back and forth between being incredibly cruel to me and incredibly needy and sweet. He did not leave the house until 18 months later for a “temporary trial” separation. During this time, an emotional affair with his friend’s girlfriend came to light.

For months and months I did the whole pick me dance… maybe if I was just a bit prettier, maybe if I was more interested in the things he is interested in, maybe if I could keep the house cleaner and the kid better behaved… I tried and I tried. Until I caught them together at a public event after he had promised me that they were not in contact. After he had spent several months wooing me – talking about new houses and vacations together. Then I realized that it did not matter what I did – the one thing that I could not do was be her. We have no moved from “trial” to separated and are heading towards dividing assets and divorce.

This is what is killing me — the total rejection of all the things that I am in favour of someone else. It make me doubt everything about myself. Intuitively – I know that this is not about me. I know that it is about him and his “friend” lacking moral compasses and engaging in truly selfish and narcissistic behavior. I know that there is really nothing I could do. I also know that I cannot live another second in this insane reality that he has created.

But, I just feel so … I don’t know. Angry one minute, sad the next, then happy to be free of it, scared of what the future will hold for me and my daughter. The over riding feeling though – and the reason I am writing to you – is jealousy.

I cannot stand that he is going to get a happy ending. I cannot cope with the OW being a part of my child’s life. I cannot believe that SHE WON! I am a good person, and I did not deserve this – and she gets MY LIFE! My family. It is literally eating me alive. The fact that I did right by my family and my spouse and that he ‘gets away with it’ is more than I can wrap my head around. Why should they get to be happy when I am so miserable?

I don’t really know what I am looking for with this. I guess just a way to navigate this emotional mess that I find myself smack dab in the center of. I feel so shamed and so raw and just so stupid. I believed him. Worse than that – I believed IN him and I feel so so lost in that.

Thank you,

Allyson in Canada

Dear Allyson,

Okay, she won. She beat you in the pick me dance for fantastic fuckwit prizes. You got the set of luggage. She got the fuckwit.

What did she win? Well, by your own description — a desperately needy, cruel, and unstable man. Yippee.

Oh no! But somehow in your imagination when they’re together it’s happy and wonderful. Somehow he magically had a character transplant with maturity injections and became someone capable of commitment and deep joy. That guy who walked out on his little daughter and you — a guy who abandoned his family and betrayed his friend — that’s Mr. Happy. That’s your prize there.

Perhaps you’re new here, but we call that a sparkly turd. All the sugar frosting and colored sprinkles cannot disguise a dog turd. It’s still a dog turd.

He can dress it up anyway he wants to — she’s his Twu Wuv, it was something bigger than them both, the heart wants what the heart wants — he’s still a turd. And she’s a woman who won a turd.

It’s not about you, Allyson. I’m sorry — that’s at once liberating and infuriating. You didn’t matter to him. Your daughter didn’t matter. That does NOT mean you do not matter. It means he is not the benchmark of your worthiness — he’s someone more at home with fellow turds.

But you invested in him! Surely that must mean something! It means you got chumped. You extract the painful life lessons, and you move forward. You loved someone undeserving of your love. It was a one-way street. It doesn’t mean you were less than, because you’re not her. Thank GOD you’re not her! Do you want to be someone with less moral sense than God gave badgers? Do you want to be saddled with a narcissist? There is nothing here to feel jealous about, because she is not enviable. She just thinks she is.

And he wants you to be jealous, because that’s the pick me dance, and that provides kibbles to the cheaters. So please, I know it’s hard right now, but stop giving a shit about them. Start focusing on your new life. And stop worrying about Ms. Won-a-Turd being around your daughter. You’re the mommy, that love is primal, no one takes that away from you. This is your chance to model to your daughter how to be a badass. How you don’t tolerate disrespect. How you rebuild and reinvent yourself when life kicks you in the teeth. Do not model pick-me dancing and turd envy.

You’re going to be fine, Allyson. You got the luggage set. YOU won.

***

This classic column ran previously. 

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • This is some of the hardest lessons to learn while going through such a painful time.

    Now, several years out, I still have moments of confusion. Partly because I still have to work with my XW at raising the kids. Partly because karma hasn’t struck as hard as I’d like.

    But I have been finding my worth and it’s SO MUCH HIGHER than she ever valued it. And that feels amazing.

    • 5 years down the road, I have peace, excellent health, a thriving business built from scratch, and no drama whatsoever.

      5 years later, she still lives the same chaotic, drama filled life that is a total shit storm I escaped from.

      Leave a cheater, gain a life. You get to escape them….they don’t get to escape themselves.

  • My grandma would have said: ‘find a handsomer guy and have a child with him’. But gran was fierce.

    No, that’s not the solution. But moving on in your own life in other ways is.

    When I get in my self pity mode I remind myself that some people die of cancer at 20, some are quadripeligics, some lose their children in fires, some have chronic diseases…….. we have no monopoly on suffering. We all struggle in different ways.

    • I get this but those others things are not people plotting against her personally. This was a thought out, deceptive, life inflicted on someone who trusted him. It was personal. That’s what makes dealing with cheaters so hard. It was, and is, personal.
      CL is needed to help put that in perspective. He is a lying piece of shit. Or turd. He will be that in his next relationship.

      • I agree—it’s the actively plotting to go behind our backs and do this. I was told he never, ever thought of me at all when he was texting and calling her on the burner phone, bringing her to my house, lying that he was working late when he was either meeting her or having sex with her at his medical office. He flat out said he never thought of me at all. Now he’s working hard at convincing the world he’d been unhappy for decades, and how evil I am. Living it up. Facing no consequences. I still can’t believe this happened. My whole world changed—being forced to leave the home where we (I) raised the children; where I thought my grandchildren would visit.

        • It helps me to do the the same- to realize that there is many awful awful ways to suffer – but also agree- accidents are one thing. Happenstance another. Having the person you love and trust most in the world plotting to destroy every thing that is most important to you for years and then the lying gaslighting justifying blaming verbal abuse emotional abuse that goes with that? It’s a whole new level of suffering.

          • Do they plot against us? Or is it just so ALL about them that we aren’t on the radar?

            I’m 6 years out and he still works to destroy me in every way possible. He is a very sick human being, who can pretend to be a kind human being when it suits him, or he stands to gain. He has some people fooled. But not all.

            I do as little contact as humanely possible. That is the saving grace.

            But I won’t see myself as a victim, I just can’t play that role any longer. Life kicks the shit out of most of us, one way or another. Who can say that one form of suffering beats out the others ?

            Everyone is different. This is my experience.

            • In your cheater’s case he is out to get you if he’s still trying to fuck you over. The ones who gave no sign, where we thought our marriages were good, then they left for the AP and never bothered us again are the ones who are pathogically selfish but not necessarily malicious. But the ones who abused us before, during and after the affair(s) are definitely sadists and control freaks and it is very personal to them. They do plot and do want us to suffer.
              I had one of those. I’d rather he had just fucked off, but schmoopie was married to a guy with money so she didn’t want to run away with my fuckwit. So of course he took it out on me. I get that it’s horrible to be abandoned, but I’d trade that for the abuse I endured from that freak any day. If they’re still trying to hurt you even after you break up, they are very sick, malignant people.

        • (((Faithful Rage))))
          Your words stir emotions in my wounded heart.
          I agree that is the most painful part, the not giving the Chump one single thought.
          I know for sure this was true in my case also.
          At DDay cheater said that OW felt bad about taking him away from our tiny child. Immediately I responded, “ What about me.” ( and the child to be I carrying- first trimester)).He replied “ WE never talked about you.” I believe him. They never talked about me. He would wish me away like a puff of air.
          Our whole world changes in an instant.
          I send you many many hugs.
          ❤️

      • Tremendous suffering is inflicted on us, but I don’t think it’s personal. It feels personal, but it’s really all about them. It’s a difficult concept to wrap our heads around for those of us who have empathy, compassion and are low on the narc spectrum. It’s how they move through life, we could’ve been anyone… and this or something else that devalued us would’ve happened eventually ….. because they are needy, selfish, narcissistic, shallow people… and after having been of service to them, we were in their way. We were loyal to them and we were loyal to the marriage and family.
        They are loyal to their narcissistic needs.
        They want a fan club, not a relationship.

        • Sometimes it is absolutely personal. I think this is a hard one for me, because my back does rile up whenever someone says or implies it wasn’t deliberate or planned. He looked my in the eye and said “I enjoyed having a secret from you”. He absolutely plotted to cause the most harm with the affair and the reconciliation. I just struggle with any sort of minimisation around that fact, the fact some of these types absolutely had a plan and carried it out and enjoyed seeing the bug squirm as they ripped off its wings. I just can’t come at glossing over that I am sorry.

          • >>Sometimes it is absolutely personal.

            Then again it’s not. It’s not personal in that they’re rejecting our personality. The only thing that matters is that we aren’t a fan club anymore (to their warped head). Or we remind them of something they’re in denial about (that they’re not so great). We’re not valuing them enough, not mirroring how they’re great (like limerence or new love). Our personality doesn’t signify. Reminding myself of that helped.

            >>I just struggle with any sort of minimisation around that fact, the fact some of these types absolutely had a plan and carried it out and enjoyed seeing the bug squirm as they ripped off its wings.

            That is wise of you. Minimizing such evil can be a deadly mistake. Lucky them that don’t know this.

      • True enough, but that means that the woman she is intermittently jealous of ”won” a person who is capable and indeed quite comfortable with doing all that, with the mother of his child and even knowing it would destroy his small child’s security.

        That’s a scary thought. I know the OW / OM often feels that they are super-special and their love was bigger than everything, but time is often unkind in those scenarios.

  • Super shallow is what these cheating fuckwits are. It’s hard to wrap your head around that at first. I won the pick me dance when my kids were 2 & 4 years old. More years of him trying to ‘try on’ schmoopies to find a better fit. Caught him years later pursuing our DD14’s 20-something asst sports coach in our kids’ Catholic school.

    All the reasons I thought he had done it the first time were gone. It wasn’t an early mid-life crisis in our early 30’s. It wasn’t just stress of having two small children at home and a wife that worked full time too. He was selfish and entitled. That’s why. It is absolutely nothing to do with you (or her). She’s just willing to be as shallow as him.

    My ex is still with his young schmoopie going on 5 years later. My kids are young adults and can’t stand her. They rarely see fuckwit. Is he happy now? I don’t know but even better, I don’t care!!

  • Repeat after me:

    SOUL MATE (or in the case of my x, “Sole Mate) = CELL MATE.

    It takes a long time to deprogram from the brainwashing that he is a Great Guy and They Have It All.

    Being a chump is like being institutionalized….when the cell door opens we don’t want to go out because we have been in for so long.

    Wherever they go, they take themselves along, and being together is not proof of a healthy relationship. Affairs are dysfunction baked in.

    Time time time and feeding my brain the right information is the solution.

    • Hey, at least I got the fake nice guy for a while. The Craigslist Casual Encounters Sole Mate jumped into fucked up with both feet.
      She’s going to get everything I got and she’s not going to get what I didn’t….

      Watch the Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott episodes where they are “dealing with” him cheating on her.

      I used to work as a housekeeper for a couple who had been having an affair….FOR TWENTY YEARS…..and they FINALLY left their spouses to be together. I had a front row seat to that shit show. What did she get? A guy with a massive untreated drinking problem who kept getting fired from jobs and stayed home to watch golf. (Golf again!)
      They had a thing about “dressing for dinner” where they got all dressed up to have dinner at home every evening. I remember one night I was there and she was trying to put on makeup while crying and asking me, “Has he been home drinking all day?” And their bedroom furniture? Half of a bedroom set that was his from his marriage, though they were very well off and had the means to easily buy new bedroom furniture. Why on earth would you not get new dadgum BEDROOM furniture, for Pete’s sake?!! (His name was Pete!)

      And then there’s the day they were discussing deer repellent for the garden. How thrilling and exciting that relationship turned out to be.

      When I was 20 years old I moved to Lake Tahoe to work at Squaw Valley and spend the winter skiing. I learned right away that vacationing somewhere is totally different from living there. Affairs are the same. They are a 3D fantasy that has nothing to do with an an emotionally mature, healthy, long term intimate relationship. Everyone I know who has stayed in their marriage after infidelity has been cheated on again. After leaving our family and moving in with the Craigslist Casual Encounter Sole Mate, Benedict Arnold was caught on Tinder by our daughter and still going to the local illicit Asian massage parlors (I am Caucasian and the Sole Mate/Cell Mate is a Chinese national). So it is clear to me that cheating has nothing to do with our outsides. It’s the high from the dynamics of cheating that they’re after. Arnold Schwarzenegger cheating with the housekeeper is proof of that to me.

      • I love that! It makes me think of the difference between taking a trip to Disney world and working there full-time. Not exactly the same thing.

      • I had to laugh at “Benedict Arnold”! Also my Scandinavian looking FW decided he’s only attracted young, Hispanic women now. I discovered this about 6 weeks into the 12 week pick me dance. Sooo because I’m blonde, blue eyed it meant he was not attracted to me. Um, so how do you fix that? He told our son: you used to like ketchup, now you don’t (this to an 18 year old boy) to simplify why he was ditching his 30 year marriage.

      • VH.,

        Jaw dropped when I read that you lived up at Tahoe in your 20’s…

        Me too.

        The dream came to a grinding halt in less than a year and I had to leave due to my addiction getting too triggered..I had been in recovery for less than a year back then. Meetings few and far between. I still remember the 3 women who were responsible for bringing me to my senses and encouraging me to get outta there….I listened and left.

        Unfortunately they didn’t warn me about TFC. I learned that lesson much later in life…..

        Analogy between vacations and living oh so true. A lesson I remember to this day.

        Anyway…so here we are a long ways from Tahoe, at least for me its a long way, but here we are on CL….small world!

        Congrats on surviving:)

        • Tahoe was the beginning of my bottom….thankfully it didn’t take me long to find recovery after that awful snowy winter……

      • Yeah, everyone who stays gets cheated on again, but what about the schmoopies once they get married? I’ve heard too many happy endings for them. I wonder if we say their new relationship is unhealthy at its core just to make ourselves feel better.

        • Affairs being unhealthy at their core, marriage or not, isn’t something I tell myself. It’s what I was taught as a psychology major in my own years of therapy.

          Killing makes serial killers happy. I wouldn’t call them healthy either.

    • Cheater relationship reality check:

      https://youtu.be/5kk4lbOK07I

      I imagined I was married to someone who loved me and our family. I was wrong. So my imaginings are not facts. I have to remember that when my imaginings extend to their relationship. The facts are that affairs are super dysfunctional and what starts shitty does not get better.

      Stick with the facts and dismiss speculation and imagination.

      • I think this is my biggest gut wrenching fear

        That he only cheated on me . He’s not as far as I am aware a serial cheater & I’ve said from the start he will never cheat on her . It keeps me awake at night still .

        • Trust and safety are the foundation of a healthy intimate relationship. She will never have that. You did not have that. She gets to wonder now. You don’t have to. I trusted Benedict Arnold, not knowing otherwise; she signed up despite the biggest reddest flag in the universe and has to spend a lot of energy staying in denial that he’s a Great Guy. Great guys don’t lie and screw around. I would never be involved in an illicit relationship. I don’t even want to be involved with someone whose relationship recently ended in a legitimate way. People need time to process the end of a relationship before getting involved in the next one, as my therapist taught me in the 80’s. So whether or not he cheats on her doesn’t actually matter. They both showed with their conduct how they do not have the skills required for a healthy intimate long-term relationship. I think it’s spectacularly ironic that the disloyal fucked up parties are in the relationship and the loyal chump fears another relationship.

          If a man has a history of infidelity, he is on my no-fly list, forever.

        • My FW is not a serial cheater. I don’t necessarily see him cheating on the OW either. The thing is, he’s not a FW because he’s a cheater. He cheated because he’s a FW. He feels entitled to life being a certain way without making any real effort to improve things. He’s selfish. When trying to discuss difficult topics he either stonewalls or turns the situation around to put me on the defensive. He’s short tempered. He would rather play on his phone than play with his kids. This is what the AP won. It doesn’t matter if he cheats on her or not. He’s not capable of being an engaged partner. They have only existed as a secret affair couple. He denies her existence to his family and meanwhile she’s telling people they’ve been together since the affair started. Again, what they’re doing with their genitals is beside the point now. They’re shitty, disordered people capable of having the depth of relationship that I want to be in.

          • I like to think of a cheater like a cockroach. We don’t know what we don’t know, and it’s safe to assume there’s a lot we don’t know. When you see a cockroach, it’s a safe assumption there are 40,000 more out of sight.

            • If you mean that there are likely affairs I’m unaware of, I honestly don’t believe there were. And my point is that we need to move past thinking a reformed cheater being one who just doesn’t cheat anymore if all the faulty thinking that went into giving themselves permission to cheat still exist. All these sayings like “if he’ll cheat with you, he’ll cheat on you.” Maybe. Maybe not. He’s going to be a shitty partner regardless. Even if my STBX and the AP never cheat on each other, I don’t envy whatever garbage relationship they’ve cobbled together with their immature understanding of love.

              • Limbo, I agree. ‘ their immature understanding of love’ –
                I don’t think that 100% of cheaters cheat more than once ….. but I agree that their flawed character
                makes them damaging to be around….unless – you are also a shallow, narcissistic fuckwit. The cheater unions who stay together and seem to function well are due to the fact they are both oblivious, shallow, fuckwits.
                Even if you had the seemingly wonderful partner who cheated with one person and suddenly dropped you ….. it takes a long time to let it sink in that they really weren’t that wonderful, and we experienced the surface sparkly qualities. But the dark side is all there… whether they cheat again or not.
                In my case, I think the OW will be more likely to cheat on him and the sad sausage story will burst out of his casing.

              • Thanks for this insight, “move past thinking a reformed cheater being one who just doesn’t cheat anymore if all the faulty thinking that went into giving themselves permission to cheat still exist”. I need to do that! I need to remind myself that the predatory callousness in his personality does not go away just because he finds it to his advantage to not cheat on the new wife. He’ll be finding other ways to use her; she will still be prey, not an equal.

        • Kar-Meh –
          I hear you. See OHFFS’s comment below. Our fuckwits are still empty people, even when they’re not actively cheating. My STBX is the “confused” type of cheater, who needs an expensive life coach to help her figure out how to adult. She might well not actively cheat on the next person she shacks up with – for several years at least, while the kibbles are still good. Or STBX might persuade her next partner to try polyamory with her, so that she can reassure herself that she’s not technically cheating. Either way, STBX will still have the same shitty boundaries, and the same unrealistic expectations. She will still have confusing (to her), “affair-lite” intense friendships with people she’s attracted to – and feel entitled to those friendships, even if they make her partner uncomfortable. It’s highly unlikely that her next relationship will last long if the next partner holds any kind of real boundaries – and if they don’t hold boundaries, STBX might feel gratified for a while, but eventually will feel the precarity of trying to live adult lives without boundaries, and will start looking for different pastures. (I won’t say “greener,” because no pasture is green for long when you’re so empty you can never fill yourself up.)
          All best to you!

        • No no no, sweet chump. They cheat on everyone, including themselves. Fw cheated on me with OW, then cheated on OW with me, then cheated us both by doing/lying us both at the same time. Now that he is gone, he has cake here, there and with his new work dalliances and new online conquests. He will never be faithful because he believes he deserves more. He will die alone or making others miserable, because he will always search for happiness in others which only leads to continue to look always. It’s a character flaw. His new victim can have the pain of triangulation, I’m out.

        • I equate it to a killer. If you kill someone (not in self defense) you are a killer… whether they kill again or not, they are still a killer. Same as a cheater, even if it’s only once….still a cheater.

          • Yup, they are the people who chose to blow up families ( that’s serious shit ) devastate children ( that’s serious shit) and break very serious promises. These are not small things. This is not a ‘mistake’ like breaking a glass.

            And this is not the same as cheating when you’re a teenager (which would still be very hurtful and damaging to somebody).
            These are adults, playing with other peoples’ lives ….. rather than getting help, using big girl or big boy skills, being an honest human being and having an ounce of integrity or taking responsibility for their actions …..no – instead of any of that they just steal. And shacking up with the OW or OM is not taking responsibility for your actions.
            Many of these fuckwits are so messed up that they think they are doing right by moving forward with their cheating partne. Their sense of loyalty is nonsensical. These are really messed up people.
            I wish society understood how completely fucked up these family abandoners are and how abusive all their actions (and repercussions) are to their faithful and loving spouses.
            People need to stop supporting them, and stop buying into there nonsense stories about why they cheated.

      • While I don’t dispute Tori was devastated, why the f….k would you have cameras there while discussing this? Oh money and viewers I guess, I forgot. And I know all the stories about him cheating with Tori on his first wife. I watched that clip and frankly it just left me cold and indifferent. Sincere? Maybe. Made for TV – yep!

        • Tori got exactly what she wanted, a cheater! Being faithful and happy with the OW is a myth. Here is your example. FW1 married one of his OW and their marriages lasted all of 18 months! Last I heard 8 years ago he was on marriage #4. I’m pretty sure that didn’t last either, better still, I stop caring decades ago!

      • I just watched that clip where his former wife shows a love letter to Tori S. I would love to show all the over-the-top love letters I received from my cheaterH to OW. I won’t, but it’s a fantasy of mine! She posted the same old flowers he always gave me as her Facebook main picture weeks after he had dumped me. I would’ve loved to have shown her the exact same flowers I had received numerous times over the years. These OW’s think they are so special. They need to be taken down several notches.

    • VH– I’ve been thinkng this for s9me time–you’re officially brilliant:

      “Being a chump is like being institutionalized….when the cell door opens we don’t want to go out because we have been in for so long..”

      “Affairs are dysfunction baked in.”

      But no pressure to keep coming up with constant gems as you seem to do naturally! Here is where we let the seams show. It’s just that yours are silk lined. 😉

      • You are very sweet. My 1M and years of time spent in therapy are showing, evidently. I credit all who have taught me.

        ❤️

      • I hear the cell door thing but will just point out that there’s a lot in a life beyond just the marital dynamics. My “cell” included a nice house that we could only afford on our combined incomes, stability for our kids (not to mention seeing them both daily), flexibility in my case not to have to work full time, since I’m tired all the time, etc. As Tori Spelling noted in the video clip VH posted above, it doesn’t feel like winning for a chump to leave all of that. Even now, while I’m glad I’m out of the mindfuck blender and would not have been able to take one more day of it (esp. during Covid), it actively sucks that I hardly ever see my DD18 who is living with STBX, and only have DD9 half the time. I feel that I must take a full-time job in order to make ends meet, even though I have valid concerns about whether I will be able to hold such a job and still have energy for other things. Because of Covid and winter, I can no longer see friends in person much. I realize things will be a little different in a couple of months – but, for now, I have to say that I still feel rather keenly that I’m in a cell, just a different one. I can see why a lot of chumps (including Tori Spelling!), when faced with a cheater who seems contrite – and more confused than malicious – might choose that particular cell. As another chump once pointed out in these forums, it’s not a sign of disorder or codependency to try to save all the trappings of one’s adult life.

        Sadly, though, CL is right to suggest that we chumps can’t sit around waiting for our cheaters to do the right thing and reform themselves. As my own experience shows, even “confused” and contrite cheaters are likely to cheat again, and to have crappy boundaries and devalue their partners in between “hot” affairs. In fact, people with subtle/covert forms of disorder might be even less able to work on their own shit unless they happen upon a therapist who actually recognizes what’s going on and knows what to do – less and less likely every year, given the sub-par training standards for therapists these days. So, in the end, we chumps have to choose the lesser of two evils. But it still felt like an evil for me to walk away from what felt more like a safety net than a cell until the very end (esp. here in the US, where there’s no real societal safety net) – and of course it’s an additional mindfuck when your cheater is trying to Hoover you back in with their cheatery word salad.

        • I’ll credit my source here…from my latest read The Human Magnet Syndrome: The Codependent Narcissist Trap by Ross Rosenberg:

          “When I was a teenager, my dad unwittingly gave me unforgettable relationship advice. He said, “the soulmate of your dreams is going to become the cellmate of your nightmares.”
          (p. 4)

          I think we chumps almost exclusively get left for those “soulmates” (in my case, ‘sole mate’) and I laughed out loud when I read that. He thinks it’s all different and all he did was find a new body with a different name. We take our unresolved issues with us wherever we go until we deal…..as I was taught anyways and that’s been my experience as well.

          There was a therapist interviewed in a Time magazine article who said, “I wish I had a nickel for everyone who married their affair partner and found out they just recreated what they had in their marriage.”

          We are creatures of pattern and habit, which I know you know, and it’s hard work to change that programming. So now “cellmate” is the new nickname for the OW as it is entirely fitting for what he achieved….

          Cheaters just swap deck chairs on the Titanic….here at Chump Lady we have a chance to get into the lifeboat and get away.

          • Yes, I hear that, VH. There’s no question that cheaters and APs are cell mates.

            I see now, of course, that I never could have relied on my STBX for anything. It was always just a matter of time before she chased after some new shiny object, even if I had stayed after D-Day #2. So my marriage was always a mirage, as you often say. It’s really hard for us chumps, in the thick our own own initial trauma and then rocked by post-traumatic symptoms, to see which is the lesser of two evils, and which short-term cell is preferable. At least my current cell should open up in the future! My marriage never would have done.

            • You can never fail at something that had zero chance for success at the gate….it was rigged to fail by them. My daughter is so amazing and the dolt messed that one up which he never saw coming. Howzit feel to be blindsided, Mofo?

              ❤️

          • I remember my therapist telling me about her neighbor who had left his wife for a schmoopie. They were seen doing the same things together that he did when he was married – same restaurants, same concerts, same vacation plans, etc. So original.

        • We just talked about this. Cheating is not a mistake. You have to be looking and open to it. It takes many wrong decisions and forethought and is never a whoops!

          • Yep, someone doesn’t fall on someone’s dick by mistake. I saw fw checking out women before he cheated, I observed him acting like a frat boy and being ashamed of being a dad and husband in front of his friends, I saw his priorities shifting slowly and a wedge widening, it was a deliberated process of detachment and killing the relationship slowly but steadily.

  • she hasn’t won anything. she can’t trust him. if he lived with you your daughter could feel that cheating is acceptable. It’s probably not the first time she’s done this. He walked out on his daughter, who does this. He is sniffing around but you cant trust him. My ex said he wasn’t going to leave me, am I supposed to be grateful. He had sti, he admitted recently some people had sti he knew, but not hiv is he psychic. He actually asked me to feel sorry for his ow. She asked me to feel sorry for her, I didn’t answer. I have seen her on the bus, wearing a mask, shame she didn’t protect her genitals, or him the idiot.
    The shocking thing is she always acts like she’s the hurt one, he lived with me she expects me to feel sorry for her. we split up 8 years next month.

  • You made a perfectly prepared five course meal, they picked a vending machine meal over yours. It boggles your mind, perfectly understandable. It’s been four years since my wasband died. I still can’t believe how he could not be happy with a wife and kids who loved him, even though he was a narcissistic piece of shit. What I can believe is how much better life is without him. You did win the pick me dance. You got your life, not living his narcissistic life. She got the boobie prize, a Sparkly turd life.

  • I could have wrote this

    I’m fully jealous of them . He just turned up at his work met the love of his life and they skip off into the sunshine .
    New house , new baby , new marriage and I wasn’t even good enough for a look back from a cheater

    I didn’t even get luggage !
    These feelings are dissipating but it’s took me a long time

    • Most movies about love seem to be about the falling into it part, not the sustaining of it. So goes it with most cheaters, it seems. They might be skipping toward the sun, but not in the happy ending sense.

      • This. Cheaters enjoy and invest in the beginning of things, but it’s a happily ever after that is sustainable only as long as it’s convenient for them or when it gratifies them. When the shininess wears off as it inevitably does, they engage in the devaluing and discardment with the new cast of characters.

    • Right there with you.

      My bonus is i get to hear about the upcoming marriage and baby from my 6 year old.

      Good times.

        • Diapers, stretch marks, bottles, expenses, responsibilities, ….party over!!!! Welcome to real life asswipes!!! Sunset my ass. He will soon claim to be “unhappy” again and start looking for another way of avoiding real life

        • Having babies is not necessarily a sign all is well. From the OW’s perspective it could be “if he could leave his wife with no kids, I should lock him down with one. If he could leave his wife with one kid, I should have two.” And so on.

  • Hi Allyson
    I remember being clumped the same situation as far as being together for years and having one daughter together. I’d first like to note WHY we had one daughter. Instinctively I knew not to have any more children with him. I was unaware what a narc was until much later, but he was 100%
    Also he left for a much younger person that he was apprenticing at work. Huh. The only one I never met in there.
    Anyway I was so sad about my daughter being with this girl but I knew I was mom and loved her with all my heart.
    I was jealous a bit when she’d go have fun with her but could tell the girl was over doing it and I’d to remind myself well, she’s closer to her age than mine! Just so I could get a good laugh.
    Eventually daughter starting reporting trouble in paradise and childish acts the girlfriend was committing. She ended up breaking his old man heart. I actually felt bad for him he cried to our daughter. Which I thought was totally irresponsible and this went on over about 8 more years with 3-4 more relationships.
    The way he did it will never succeed and if and when he finds someone who will put up with him, it won’t be anything tou haven’t had or don’t already KNOW of him.
    You win because you have a beautiful child and rid of someone so undeserving ❤️ Hope you’re doing well today (ALL)

    • I’d feel worse he cried to your daughter! Completely unacceptable to treat a child like an adult confidante. Just another sign of his self-absorption.

  • I hope the original letter writer is doing much better. She’s not jealous, just hurt and angry; and rightfully so. It’s the shock of learning that your ex/cheater was a liar and manipulator; not the nice person we thought they were. I hope she’s in a better place and that she is living life to its fullest and enjoying her child.

    My Ex left us 3 years ago. Announced he “needed to be alone”. But he was living with his drinking buddy (at my inlaws house). Ex has now told the kids he will marry again someday. Our youngest has told him that he’s never allowed to have a girlfriend and if he does our son is done with him. Funny how that works. I started dating a wonderful man a year ago. My youngest is fine with it and told me “mom, you didn’t throw away our family for this man. You met him long after dad left. Dad threw you away, our family away and us away – he can stay stay alone for the rest of his life if he wants to see me”. Kids are smart. They see through the bullshit!

    • Children tell it like it is!! There is no fooling them. They know because they were there. My 11 y/o don doesn’t want to see his dad anymore. They were so close and I have never.interfered. He lived in his own flesh the pain of abandonment and suffered tremendously, he also saw my herculean efforts to spackle, make excuses for him, keep things together, try to pick me dance and advocate for more time with him. He saw himself that fw didn’t want us and preferred hoichie. He lived it, I He knows. I’m so proud of him. We are closer than ever. I told him not to pick me dance ever again he felt responsible for his happiness too and walked on eggshells also. We are free. I am so proud of my son.

    • “She’s not jealous, just hurt and angry; and rightfully so.”

      Good point. The word “jealous” is unfortunately misused far too often. When your cheating partner is with another person or when a partner/date flirts outrageously with another person and we take issue, they love to call us jealous. When in reality we are pissed off at the blatant disrespect.

  • Allyson, he never gets to be happy. People who are capable of being genuinely happy know they don’t get it by running away from their own children, or from good wives like you. He’s desperately searching for something to fill up the awful emptiness and calm the fear that’s always been inside him and has decided his friend’s girlfriend can magically do this. She can’t. Nobody can. They will put on an ostentatious show of it for public comsumption, so as to justify their stupid choices, but genuine happiness just isn’t something he’ll ever understand, let alone experience. Nor her, by the sound of it.

    Your description of your fuckwit sounds very much like borderline personality disorder, or at least strong borderline traits. I’ve known several people with those traits, even had a boyfriend with the disorder. Your fuckwit has most likely been living in his own private hell all his life. Let schmoopie live in it with him and try, and fail, to fill the gaping hole in his soul, while you sail off to your new, authentically happy life.
    Beware, though, that when he discovers she can’t make the bad feelings go away he may circle back to you, try more future faking and pull out the “needy, sweet” part of his fractured personality. Don’t be fooled. He is a black hole of need which nobody can possibly fill.

    After I dumped my boyfriend, the one who is BPD and not only cheated but stole money from me and from my parents, he went from woman to woman, searching for that one person who could make him feel okay. He never found her because no such person exists. He did a stint in jail as well (borderlines are impulsive) and alienated himself from his family. Both his parents died not having seen him in years.
    Your fuckwit’s future is probably going to be similar to this. Yours is going to be great now that you’ve got his crushing weight off you. I know it hurts, but you have to let it go of disordered people. Been there twice, done it twice. There is nothing to be jealous of with him and that silly bitch, there’s just two lost, pathetic morons in a stage play called Misery Loves Company.

    • I love everything you write, it is always so insightful. You speak truths in here, about the blackhole of neediness that cannot possibly be filled by anyone. We are the closest they got to fill that dark ugly void, and that is why new victims won’t stay very long, because we got them while they were willing to change and be content, when they destroy that, they are only committed to fulfill shallow needs without entaglents or commitments. If Ow convinces them to commit, then she will get the exact same treatment.

      • That’s so wise and so true, QOC. We actually got them when they were younger and at least had some potential. We got the best they had to offer, which sure as hell wasn’t much, but it’s gone when they make the decision to cheat. They can’t start over and have any kind of authentic, fulfilling life after that rubicon has been crossed.
        Thanks for your kind words. 💜

        • “We actually got them when they were younger and at least had some potential. We got the best they had to offer,”

          This is absolutely true. I remember thinking back when it happened and it was pre CL. I thought: “I got the best of FW, she gets the leftovers”

          In his/her case it panned out that way, and I suspect it will in most cases. As someone else said “they can’t escape themselves”.

  • Yep.

    It wasn’t that the one thing you couldn’t be was ‘her’.

    It was that the one thing you couldn’t be was ‘not you’.

    Not new.

    Not strange.

    Not a novelty.

    Not a person he’s never met.

    Not fresh prey to hunt, conquer, and consume.

    Not an object to be used, damaged, or discarded without consequence.

    Not a toy to leave laying around and come pick up again when the other toys get boring, still be crumpled up there where he last left you.

    That is what she won. That is what the shiny new thing will always win with him, because that’s how he is.

    You, my friend, you win the long game. You get to rebuild a life where you’re the leading lady and he’s not going to be in it. YOLO, and he doesn’t get to possess and squander it anymore.

    It hurts, and we feel what we feel because we need to. Your feelings are reasonable. Process it all as you need to, but not with him. He’s your past. You’re your future.

    • Well put Amiisfree!

      Cheaters are shallow and unable to form normal attachments. They can PRETEND to love us, or the next “shiny new thing,” but they are merely acting. They have no idea what real love is.

      • This!!!!! They don’t know how. They are shallow. FW admitted that I taught him how to love and that he was happy and fulfilled for the first time in his entire life, but that it was too much work and that he was not willing to give what is require to sustain a healthy relationship. He admitted that casual dalliances are easier and that he didn’t want to give to me or anyone else intimacy, monogamy or commitment, he just want to play and hunt. There, insight from the king of FW.

    • I remember having an epiphany shortly before I left the XAss. He’s a hoarder. He’s constantly ‘saving’ things that “will be worth something one day” or “We’ll need it.” Yet he didn’t take care of these ‘valuable’ possessions – instead he piled and stacked, shoved into corners. Let things get crushed, moldy, rusty and destroyed. I was just another piece of his horde. He wanted me to stay put, shut up, and accept his neglect and disregard until he was ready to use me again. Then he expected that I be happy and grateful for his attention.

      Yeah, nope.

      • SkunkCabbage, I could have written this. Are we married to the same hoarder? Does he keep the envelope the bills come in? Did he build a huge garage to store his hoard? Does he pee in the corner of that garage, making the entire building reek of urine? I’ve been suspecting he has another family, his Dad did, so did his Brother. I’m so glad to be nearly divorced!

        • Yes, he did. I once asked him to screen in a porch so I could have a place to sit out of the rain and wind. It was soon filled with horde and I couldn’t even get in the door, much later use it. He bought an old house nearby that was supposed to be for his father and guests to use in the summer. That place became filled with horde, the yard too. He built a HUGE ‘boat’ barn – filled with horde now. He has 3 separate pieces of property now, each filled with all sorts of crap. Yeah, I don’t envy my son who will have to deal with it all one day. If it is left to me, I’ll just torch the whole thing and watch it burn!

  • Narcissists are really good at the smoke and mirror thing. So as far as them skipping off into the sunset and everything just being all honky dory in their life is a complete farce. Initially, yes, they are “happy” because in their delusion they are now together after being held back by pain in the ass deadweights that have made them so unhappy. That would be their chumps and children. Do not believe for one second they don’t view their own children as the enemy. They just say all the “right” things, “I will always love my kids”, I left you not the children”, blah blah. This pretense of caring for their kids is just going along with social values, to look good. Means nothing. At the same time they need to triangulate and keep the exes in the picture to keep their relationship alive, the us against the chump thing. If they don’t have the triangle it’s just down to them and then from there it is all downhill. This is another reason, no contact is so important. Why should the chump do them any favors? If they want to see the kids, let them do all the work but don’t block as that is another kibble. Let your kids know that you are sorry their disordered parent is weak and stupid. Oh and from what I have witnessed with married couples that started out as AP’s they crash and burn far worse than when they were married to the chump. One way to know that the cheater marriage is about to fail is the cheater will start wanting to be involved with his/her kids. All of a sudden they become parent of the year.

    • Yas!!! The children are also an impediment and what hold them back from unicorn riding, that is why OW and FW resent the children and why they detach from them as well. Cold when hoitchie is abundant and willing, parent of the year when they hit dry spell and the cake far opens. Got new hoitchie? Then ghosting the kids again. Repeat ad nauseum.

    • Thanks for the tip. I will let my adult children know that this might be a sign. Right now, none of them are talking to STBX.
      He has tried to say I alienated the kids from him. They are the ones who told me he is a narcissist and to leave him.
      For now, he is in Twu Wuv and playing house. They recently got engaged even though our divorce is not yet filed (close, but not yet). I found out via a Facebook post by his sister. He didn’t bother to tell his kids or me. Instead, he cut them from his cell phone plan. Two are in grad school on limited funds and he can’t be bothered to pay an extra $100 a month on a decent 6 figure salary. So, they are now on my plan and we are splitting the bill with me paying some of their part (my choice) even though I too am in grad school and living on his 5 figure support payments (he still keeps more than 6 figures). NY divorce laws stink!

      • It’s great that your kids have his number. They’ll be able to see right through his narc tactics and nonsense. Your stbx is in the initial love bombing stage. That will soon end and then they just have each other to deal with…no kids, no wife, no triangle. Reality sucks for these people. Do you think OW is with him because she is attracted to his 6 figure salary? If so that is a train wreck in the works.

  • I hope Allyson in Canada is ok now and living her best life. I don’t know how long ago this was originally written. But for me, I have learned that after riding the roller coaster of Hell post DDay, it’s very much what Velvet Hammer said: “Being a chump is like being institutionalized….when the cell door opens we don’t want to go out because we have been in for so long.” EXACTLY. But once you break free of the spell and the brainwashing and the gaslighting, you realize that FW was all smoke and mirrors. My DDay was in 2015 and now that I’m nearly 6 years out and almost 5 years divorced, I CAN’T IMAGINE BEING WITH THAT GUY ANYMORE! It took about 3 years for me to start to really feel clear. Now I see a photo on Facebook that pops up with my ex, and I delete it without a thought. I have no feelings for him that make me want to keep it. I see the AP as pathetic. She really screwed up her life and her 2 sons (one of which is so miserable she sent him away to boarding school — 🙁 I feel bad for the kids stuck with their shit choices). FW and AP are still together. Good! They’ve had a solid 6 years together… and I know in my soul it isn’t good. I know he isn’t helpful. He isn’t kind. He is messy and gross. I laugh at what she “won.” Hallelujah — I don’t have to deal with that guy anymore. My son sees the truth too and he hates AP. Ahhhhhh…. I am sitting here just breathing in and out and enjoying that peace. Tuesday will come you guys… and when it does… everything is better.

    • Ditto here! 6 years from Dday, 4 from divorce. Kids LOATHE AP and XH and she fight 24/7 and are abjectly miserable. XH has been dating behind her back and duping more victims. He has aged 15 years… health is terrible, alcoholic/addict. Scary rages alternating with sad sausage. Yuck.

      Me, never been better! Thank God I’m rid of that mess.

  • I understand where you are coming from unfortunately. I also feel jealousy for what I lost and she gained… my future. I was married 31 and together 37, three children etc. He treated me (and the kids) like crap for years (which I regret I put up with) until two weeks after burying my father he began an affair and left me 2 1/2 months later, Friday February 13th to be exact. Threw a letter at me and said we are separated until divorced. Well 6 years later, we are not divorced. Financially dependent but it will happen eventually. Point being, I am still struggling with this whole shit feast. I worked hard in our family and married life to do all I did to finally come to the retirement years and boom…alone. And her, well she violated my marriage (we were friendly but not friends), her life seems to be wonderful from the outside looking in. They seem happy and here I am still working through the pain and envy of their relationship. Some days are better and some are worse. But working on it. How does he see her with rose colored glasses, she is as callous as he. I hate I feel this way. I hate putting this out there but I just want both of them to feel the same pain they caused me our family. Maybe then my heart will heal since maybe then he will feel the pain he caused me and our family and maybe then he will have some remorse. I think the jealousy is actually the pain of feeling so insignificant.

    • Get the divorce. Hanging on to a might have been life is would crushing.
      My ex and I were together 25 years.
      Year one after d day was a daze. All the unexpected lies made me paranoid and untrusting and clinically depressed. My ex moved away and left the kids, teens, with me. He has seen them once since that.

      During the regret and wishing I was anyone but me, I also was angry and got the divorced finalized.
      And ex had a baby with his gf. He is 48, her 30 ish.

      Somehow it all clicked. He is gone. He is not coming back. I don’t want him back. I have a different life than I expected, but hey….in this age of covid, we all do. Change is inevitable.

      The divorce being finalized was a huge step to meh.

      My retirement plans, 6 more years, ate now different. I am not sure what I want, but I am darn sure working on figuring it out. For me.

      I don’t even delete Facebook photos anymore. I tell the kids stories about when we met and other funny things along the way. They know their dad is a selfish coward…but that it is all him, not them or me. There were good times in those 25 years. I wouldn’t have stayed if there weren’t.

      Get the divorce done. For you.

    • They are two of a kind, so they admire each other as if they were looking in a mirror admiring themselves. However, the time will come, after the honeymoon period is over, when their callousness *towards each other* (rather than just towards other people) will be apparent, and they will be miserable. Count on it. Divorce him and leave them to sink in their own filth. You will come out the winner because you aren’t a shallow, selfish nitwit incapable of either love or joy. I can’t stress this strongly enough; the fuckwit version of “happiness” is just an ego and power kick that doesn’t last. When it fades, they have nothing.

    • Bboo your retirement will be amazing—- far better than what it would have been with him. Give yourself time to see this.

      He has zero respect for her and little to no investment…. it’s all an illusion. By the time it implodes you’ll care less because you’ll be too busy with your wonderful, principled life. Ask me how I know!

  • One thing I learned that helped me move on was understanding that for most of my 35 year marriage I was doing a “pick me” dance – whether he was actively cheating or not. I lived as if I had to somehow ‘earn’ his approval and cooperation and ‘earn’ my place as an equal partner in our marriage – emotionally and financially. That’s life with an entitled narcissist, whether they’re acting out sexually or not.

    Once I learned to get his voice out of my head and find my own voice, it became soooo much easier to move forward with my life. The only person you should be playing “pick me” with is yourself — what do you need? What makes you happy? How can you show yourself that you are worthy and mighty? What one step can you take today to build the best life for yourself and your daughter?

    Good luck. We’re all pulling for you.

  • I also thought the other woman won and they were going to get their happily ever after of travel and gifts and wonderfulness that he wanted. Then he had a heart attack caused by cardiomyopathy as a result of his alcohol abuse. Suddenly I realized she was with a guy who has a drinking problem and a weak heart and is also a cheater. She is stuck with him because what would it look like to unload the sick, unemployed, broke fuck with medical debt after you gave up your marriage to have him? What a happily ever after! The funny thing is that she still clings to the dream that is a deep, conflicted man with a good soul. I told her there were no takebacks.

  • Ever since I found out about the other people visiting in the marriage I haven’t felt jealous of them at all. If anything, I was just angry at being used.

    But the real breaking point came when I read what he wrote about me online to others. Once I read his thoughts about me the light bulb went on. And I was done.

    They say to pray for your enemies. Well after I read your book, chump lady, I began praying for him to find himself a lady friend. This was after we split. I wanted him to find somebody who would take his attention away from pouring it out on me. Because it was never good. It was always rage and things of that nature. Well he found someone. Amen to that. Good luck to her. And if she wises up and moves on, I pray he finds someone new. I feel bad for the new supply but that’s their look out.

  • What I resent is that during decades of MY careful savings for our retirement, STBX was stealing and hiding my assets–no way to trace or recover it since it’s over 7 years–and is now blowing all that money to love-bomb a string of women with expensive dinners and vacations. In less than a year, he’s taken more vacations with them than I got in ten.
    What is is with these guys? My friend had planned a dream vacation, and after she learned he was cheating and started proceedings, STBX took his schmoopie on the wife’s dream vacation–on the wedding anniversary, which was during the holidays (peak rates!) so he also missed Christmas break with their kids.
    Why do they spend like this during separation? It’s a level of extravagance he never lavished on me, although I’ve discovered he was not frugal as he claimed to be, but was quite a spendthrift during marriage when it came to himself.

    • Yup 👍🏻 Too cheap to take a gondola ride in Venice yet tens of thousands on his collecting. And got angry at his teenage son for “eating too much”. Raise your hands parents of teen boys who eat everything in sight

    • Oh yes, Goodfriend! Forgot about that. FW and I didn’t get to travel anymore together. We had a young son. We were supposedly waiting for him to be old enough to travel like we did before kids. When son finally reached 9 and we could maybe take a vacation again, FW left me for his coworker. And they traveled! Oh… he was going to all the places he knew I wanted to go. And it bothered me … at first. Then I realized “eh… everywhere he goes, there HE is.” My poor son though really struggled. He was upset because his dad bragged about taking schmoopie to Paris and San Francisco… 2 places he had asked his dad to take him to. His dad rubbed it in his face. And I said to son “is your dad fun?” He said “no… he’s boring.” So I reminded him that FW is no different when he goes places with AP. And son laughed. Then I traveled with son. And we had FUN! (and FW got jealous and finally took him some place he wanted to travel to — so a win all around). Of course… now COVID. But you get what I’m saying. Hard to be jealous of FW and AP no matter where they go… I’d rather not travel with that ass anymore LOL

    • FW took hobag to Hawaii, Puerto Rico and good Lord knows where else, that is just the ones that I know about, on top of their countless trips to europe. I am happy anywhere, they can go ahead and spend their paychecks of champagne and first class tickets because at the end of the day, once the amusement ride lands, it’s back to their shallow, empty existences and they have to look for their next thrill as getting up in the morning is not enough for them to be happy.

    • Some of it might be their weird way of trying to get back at the Chump for whatever. Mostly I think, the OW demands it. If they are going to be throwing fucks at a lying cheater, they are going to get theirs up front.

  • Years ago my cousin “Karen” dumped her very nice husband almost as soon as they graduated college for a cow. Long before my brother was abandoned I stopped thinking of her as Karen My Cousin and have since thought of her as Karen Who Dumped Her Husband. I recognize that every single cheater I know has that title. Male, or female, they never lose that long sobriquet.

    • Hit send too soon. I wanted to explain that this is subconscious. It’s just the way I see these people. I never stop seeing them or thinking of them this way. That’s how your friends, family acquaintances are going to see him for the rest of his life. He’s the guy that dumped his wife. Not a nice title.

      • Hope so! As they are the ones writing the story of being victims of our inability to make the happy. If Fw will forever be branded as the one that abandoned his family and babies, I am totally satisfied with that.

  • Since this one ran previously, I hope since then she has found her mighty and MEH…
    That being said, the letter could have been written by me 19 years ago with exh1.
    Exh1 spent months torturing me emotionally… one day he was Ike, “fight for me. Fight for us…” the next he was sweet, loving, promising me forever and ever amen … mind scramble deluxe.
    He finally announced he wanted out and he managed to get 50-50 of our children’s time… that was the hardest time — knowing that his OW would have so much time with my children who were so young at the time…
    I spent months, years crying and bemoaning my life, even though I was already with exh2 — I thought he was my Knight. My rock. My hero.
    Hahahahaaaa, nope. He made everything worse between me and exh1. Alienated me from friends and family. Caused disconnection with my children.
    I share this to say that Tuesday does come.
    Karma kicked exh1 and exh2 in the balls then their teeth and it was delicious to see even though for me it took too long for each of them…

    Everything CL said is true — don’t agonize or torture yourself about the new life and “love” you think they have — work for yourself to have that.
    Thats what I did. I built myself a world, a life for myself with my DD.
    I am almost 6 years free of exh2. He is still with his OWife and we are 99% no contact.
    Exh1 and I have found some kind of common ground and can tolerate each other when we’re with our adult children now.
    I found my mighty a long time ago, and MEH.
    I hope the OP has too.
    Be blessed my friends.
    You’re Tuesday is coming.

  • I need this so much right now. I am finally in the process of leaving my fw after a year and a half of discard, and upright meanness to me. He is more interested in hanging out with 20 something year old girls who he goes to community college with. He told me last week that he has been unhappy being with me for the entire 30 years he has known me. He said he was filing for divorce which I have already started. Even though he said all of that, he still wanted to talk to me about my communication problem all during our 29 year plus marriage and how I have ruined his life. I said no we are done there is nothing left to say. Which made him more mad. He has texted his sister that he feels like his life is just beginning and he is finally going to be happy. Meanwhile our 25 year old daughter feels like he has discarded her too! I am feeling jealous of these young girls he is so very nice to when he treats me like I’m invisible. I hope I get over this. And I feel really bad for our daughter.

    • They always say they were unhappy with you for X number of years. It’s such a pathetic cliche it could be in a Cheater Handbook in the Bullshit Excuses chapter. The truth is he was never happy with himself and fucking 20 somethings won’t fix it. I’m so sorry for your pain, but the loss is his. He is high on pussy right now, but highs always fade and he’ll be left with himself, a dirty old man who loves and is loved by nobody. Fate worse than death.

      • That’s a great point, OHFFS. We worry so much about “happiness” on this site. It’s like some kind of weird pregnancy test we keep giving ourselves and our cheaters: Why was he unhappy? I thought we were happy. Is he happier now? One line and you’re unhappy. Two, and…congratulations!

        I think you’re right that happiness is kind of a red herring in cheater/chump dynamics. I’m sure everyone has their own way of defining the word, but it comes from the Old English “hap,” which means “luck” (as in “happenstance”), and that’s the way I think about it: it’s my birthday and I feel great? I’m happy. I just found out my friend died, or I’m sick and have to cancel a vacation? I’m unhappy. Happiness for me is dependent on circumstances.

        So the way I felt about my marriage had fuck-all to do with happiness. My marriage was a choice, a covenant, a commitment I renewed daily to another human being whom I saw as sacred. It wasn’t a “happenstance.” If I had to assign a primary emotion to how I felt when things were going well and I was hopeful for the future of the marriage, I guess I would say I felt joy.

        Cheaters don’t get joy because it’s a complex emotion reserved for emotionally mature people. Cheaters are stuck at the emotional age of two or three when, as far as they know, all their emotions come from outside them. So, everything’s puppies and cupcakes? I’m so happy and I love you: you’re the best mommy in the world! Broccoli’s for dinner, or it’s past someone’s nap time? I’m so unhappy and I hate you—you’re the worst mommy in the world.

        So sure, OK, my ex is happy: more accurately, he’s “high on pussy” as you hilariously put it. When the high goes away, he’ll be unhappy, and then it’ll be wah wah, I hate you, you’re the worst mommy in the world. Enjoy, OW: now you get to be the one pretending you’re in an adult relationship when you’re actually in a relationship with, as Margalis Fjelstad so aptly put it, “A three-year-old armed with a nail gun.”

  • I may be wrong, but I don’t think jealousy is the real problem here. I think it is a desire for justice.

    We learn at a very early age that actions have consequences. If you hit your brother, or back talk your mother, there will be punishment of some kind. It will be direct and unpleasant enough for you to remember. It is designed to make you think before you act. A life without learned self discipline is an invitation to disaster, in my opinion. Children do better with boundaries, they understand justice. I don’t think we grow out of that.

    Some people never get the message, and think they can game the system, and selfishly do whatever they want to do. It doesn’t work. They may have a run of outlaw behavior, and get a big ego rush, but inevitably bad life choices catch up with you.

    Our problem as chumps, is we want justice, and we want it now. Life doesn’t work that way either. So we want to pop some popcorn and get a comfy seat, and watch a spectacular crash and burn fall from grace. Sometimes the crash and burn takes years. Sometimes there are several Twu Luvs who jump on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. They fall off, stunned, and wonder what happened, never realizing Mr. Toad had no idea how to navigate a life, and always depended on the skills of others to do the actual work of living. Most of the Twu Luvs are probably Toadettes. It is impossible to make progress toward a successful life if no one has boundaries or self discipline.

    So chumps, don’t be jealous of the AP’s. They have a lot of disappointment to look forward to. My first Mr. Toad was 32 when I met him, I was 24. I had some good times on my 20 year ride, and I got the best gift of all, two fine sons. None of the other AP’s ended up with any of the benefits they thought they were getting. I am not jealous of any of them. He finally married a woman about 15 years younger, I think he believes she will be a nurse in his dotage. He is old, sick, and alone most of the time. Consequences did arrive, justice was served. I learned to be patient. Have faith.

  • Luckily, Dracula moved 2,000 miles away to be with the Schmoopie, so my 2 boys are with me 95% of the time/year. But, my kids have reported back over the last 5 years that Dracula treats the Schmoopie WAY WORSE than he ever treated me. And that’s saying something. My kids are even shocked that he treats her so badly. She’s even more of just “an Appliance” than I ever was.

    Don’t feel jealous, you’ve gotten away while you’re young. Your FW will quickly stop visitation with your daughter. And pretty soon, you’ll have a new life and your daughter most of the time, and the FW will be gone, treating the Schmoopie like shit!

    • That is interesting! They didn’t respect us and certainly will have even less respect for someone willing to cheat with them. Narcs get worse with age, so it all makes sense. It helps to look at it this way, thank you!

  • I can laugh out loud at CL’s response now. That is progress. And it makes me so very happy and relieved to have come out the other side of this truly horrid and stubborn phase. All of you who are still wrestling with these feelings … believe her! You will arrive here, too. I promise! 💗

  • Now, if there were real consequences for their behavior, such as compensation, for the damage they have inflicted, then there would be be at least some restoring of the universe equipoise. The re-institution of fault divorce with real monetary consequences for adultery. That would be a start.

    • I totally agree. I live in a no fault state and since I work and make the money while he collects a meager retirement, refusing to get a job, I will have to give him something legally. I told my attorney that is what ticks me off the most! But all the attorneys I spoke to said they same. Community property state and whoever has the money pays.

      • I have come to the conclusion that they only sane way to get married is with a pre-nup. It should state that if there is infidelity or any other type of abuse, the cheater/abuser gets nothing and must compensate the victim. Since we know we aren’t going to cheat or abuse, we’re golden under such an agreement. A refusal to sign it will show you that you are marrying an asshole, so if that’s the case, don’t marry that person.
        I just wish everybody knew about this.

        • Why the need for a pre-nup if what you are describing were in-built in marriage with fault divorce. No lawyers needed for pre-nup. No extra expenses.

          Isn’t it interesting that things went the way of watering down marriage by watering down divorce, via no-fault divorce.
          It could have gone the other way. Compensation for damages/cheater gets nothing in case of adultery (adultery abuse), and/or other types of abuse.

          • Even if there is fault divorce, a pre-nup makes it so crystal clear to determine who is at fault that you should be able to avoid going to court, as the fuckwit will know he/she can’t win. Back in the days of fault divorce people got unfair judgements all the time. Judges have prejudices just like anybody else and some of them are cheaters themselves and/or bigots. LGBT people routinely got screwed before no fault divorce as did women who were accused of not being obedient Stepford wives. Men were often screwed in custody arrangements. No fault divorce was actually intended to remove judicial bias and correct such injustices. I would not want to leave it up to a judge to decide who broke my marriage. Fuckwit makes a good impression with his covert narc victim act. A judge might feel sorry for him because I could not forgive his “mistake”.

            • Well, if that is the case, then it’s the attitudes and the mentality regarding how fault divorce was done that were a problem, not the concept in itself.
              The concept of fault divorce remains sound.
              It seems to me the baby was thrown out with the bathwater.

              People who desired to do a pre-nup could still proceed and do so.

              • I agree. I also think we need to bring back alienation of affection as a basis for lawsuits against APs. Both cheaters and their accomplices deserve consequences.

            • I live in a no-fault state and I got screwed by a never married male judge. He believed most of the crap that the X spewed. I was a SAHM for most of our 17 year marriage. I gave up my career. Yet I got NO alimony and the child support is a joke, and I had to split 50/50 child custody with the kid cycling between 2 different school districts every year!

              If this was an at-fault state, I’d have walked away with EVERYTHING since he was cheating with EVERYTHING every chance he got, as well as spending marital money on himself, them, and everything except his family.

          • Dear Beyond duped, I could not agree more. I’ve been hearing this for years when I bring up your point of how women get screwed (again) with no-fault divorce. Nowhere else in life do we accept nobody’s at fault so just move on, get over it. Try having a no fault car accident. A no-fault credit card non payment? No-fault school loan repayments? Break a contract with your business partner no-fault and see what happens. Don’t pay your taxes and claim no-fault. Women, wake up! The reason the law is no-fault is because guess who’s usually at fault? . . . . BINGO!

            • Yes, AuntBea619, the no-fault is there only regarding marriage. All other areas of contract contemplate penalty/compensation for breach of contract.
              Anywhere else tort is a thing that by definition needs to be acknowledged and compensated.
              And here is exactly the point, with no-fault divorce there is no longer acknowledgement of fault, of tort. Talk about gaslighting.

        • I have a prenup with a cheating clause. The divorce is UGLY. FW’s legal defense is that I was horrible for years and he wanted to divorce me a long time ago before he committed adultery.

          Proving adultery in a court of law is pretty freaking painful too. It is worth it, but the whole situation has been incredibly traumatizing.

          Stbx opened a joint bank account with OW, and apparently that is grounds for a lawsuit against OW. I’m still undecided on opening that can of worms…

          • I’d do it if I could afford it. I’d want to teach the bitch a lesson by humiliating her publically even if I never saw a dime from it. But I have a vengeful nature. YMMV.

            As for fuckwit’s legal “defense”, that is a joke. He agreed not to cheat. I assume the pre-nup did not allow for an “unless one party to the agreement is deemed horrible by the other” exception.
            Hopefully the battle be worth it when you clean his sorry cheating ass out.

  • I’m struggling with this so hard right now. Realistically, I know that howorker has a terrible moral compass and is the worst kind of human. But I can’t get the thoughts of their twu wuv out of my head. I need to go NC but am finding it difficult to detach. We just signed papers and divorce should be final in a couple of months. We were together 9 years, married 5 and it was, or I thought it was, a beautiful life we were creating. We are both women and her cave troll AP has a flair for poetry and unrealistic love expectations “two star-crossed lovers met on a moonlit night when their eyes explored the very depths of their souls” (ugh barf). This whole mess started in 2018. We tried reconciliation, she cut contact with AP and we bought a house last summer. Three months later she left me for her and I filed but we still talk every day and I’m such a sucker for handing out cake like it’s Christmas. Not only that, but STBX is living a double life and pretending that they are just friends and could never work romantically – while basically living with her. Why is it so hard to let go?

    • If that quote was an example of her work, she has no flair for poetry, just a penchant for regurgitating hog slop.

      It’s hard to let go because loving an emotional abuser is an addiction. They get you hooked on intermittent rewards, and research has proven this is addictive. It’s the same process as gambling addiction. If you win a few bucks every so often, you start to spend thousands hoping a big payoff is coming, only it isn’t. It’s the same with fuckwits. Sometimes they are just nice enough to make us believe they care. They know exactly what they’re doing They know it keeps you dangling on a string to use as their plan b for when the shiny new toy gets old. Only no contact (or extremely limited contact if you have kids) breaks the hopium addiction. Stop talking to this asshole, not just every day, but any day. You don’t detach and then go NC, you detach FROM going NC. It will take time, but don’t waver. Start today. You won’t regret it.

      • Exactly. I’ve gotten lots and lots of little kind things that really make no sense. Like I’m not allowed to ride in his car with him but he buys me a much needed space heater. What is that? I have lots of examples of his dangling some sort of nice thing in my face all while acting like I’m completely invisible. I think this crap kept me hanging on to hoping by way too many months.

        • Sorry to hear he mindfucked you like that. The cycle of abuse requires them to treat you like shit and then suck up in some way. They are stuck in that cycle, but we don’t have to be. Stay strong my friend.

      • “Just a penchant for regurgitating hog slop.” < This made my day.

        I know that I have a serious hopium addiction and up until a few months ago, was a card carrying member of the RIC. Trying to change my view and get angry feels like an uphill battle. On one hand, I now own a home and have a super successful career. I even landed a huge raise at the end of the year. On the other hand, I still feel so heartbroken and defeated. I know time will help it pass and I'm trying to focus on building a new life and creating new visions for my future without her, but some days it just all feels too much. Trying to find the inner strength to go NC.

        • “Trying to find the inner strength to go NC.”

          *Straightens up from under sink; wipes hands on overall; shows customer weird gnarly object*

          There’s your problem right there, sir/ma’am.

          Time DOESN’T heal you all by itself. Wounds can stay fresh for decades.

          Time, therapy, and No Contact WILL heal you. These are like stitches and antibiotics and those wonderful dressings that stay on until you are allowed to take it off.

          No Contact is absolutely essential – or minimal contact, if you have kids.

          A good therapist who will help you to stick with No Contact will also help immensely.

          White-knuckling it will be an awful waste of energy right now.

          Invest your limited willpower instead in getting practical help from outside.

    • Please – go no contact. Take back your life… as long as you talk to your cheater every day, you’ll never start healing.

  • One thought that keeps me from slipping into magical thinking regarding my ex and the OW is that both cheated on their spouses. There is NO way two cheaters can ever truly trust each other.

    And he’s the jealous type…

    I also bet he blames her because his kids want nothing to do with him. He blames me, too, of course. That goes without saying. But I know he says she flirted with him and that he, a poor naive man, had no choice but to act (“I know the games she’s playing,” he said soon after D-Day). If it weren’t for this seductress, he’d still have his family, or at least I think this is his blame-avoidant rationale.

    Oh, he’s stuck with her now and, in fact, because he absolutely cannot be alone, may have consigned himself to spending the last two decades of his life pick-me-dancing out of fear that this younger, bubbly woman might leave his cheating, aging ass for someone better.

    Perhaps soon he’ll be whitening his teeth.

    • Yes, everything that used to be (wrongly) blamed on you will now magically fall on the new women. It’s justice of some sort, right?

      • Yes, and it’s freeing.

        No more walking on eggshells.
        No more catering to every fucking need he has.
        No more silent treatment.
        No more passive-aggressiveness.
        No more moodiness.
        No more silent (or not so silent) rage.
        No more blame (at least none that I experience. Yay NC!)
        No more feeling devalued.
        No more Viagra and exposure to STIs
        No more porn.
        No more toilet scrubbing (which is surely a metaphor).
        No more ABUSE.

        The OW won all these things. And, wait, there’s more!!! So much winning…

    • Yes, I have read that one of the main issues of two cheating liars marrying is, one of them usually gave up way more than the other for their relationship. Not always but usually.

      In my fw’s case he by all measures gave up way more for schmoops. Putting me aside (I assume I didn’t matter) he gave up his standing in the community, the respect of his son, his (at the time recent promotion and big office. That is not counting them descending into financial disaster due to their gambling after he retired. She was a known MM chaser, low reputation, low education level, living at the poverty level etc, she had nothing to lose. And he had to look at her for the rest of his life. I am ok with that.

      • “one of them usually gave up way more than the other for their relationship”- So true when I think back over cheater couples. They make big gambles when cheating, and they’ll never let us know how badly they lost.

    • The one thing you know for sure right now is cheater and OW’s home life is miserable. Cheater and OW have settled into reality. No more clandestine meetings, no more thrill of secrecy, no more us against them, etc. OW is likely bored living with an older man and cheater sees the writing on the wall.

    • Oh I think you can take it to the bank that he will be pick me dancing his ass off.

      In my fw’s case schmoops was the pick me dancer, she knew if she gave him any shit he would dump her ass and never look back. She didn’t have a young bod and skin to hold him. He had the meal ticket she needed, and the badge with which to scout out her replacement. He cheated on her within two years per my daughter in law. She left him a couple times for cheating, but I assume just gave up and hung on to the meal ticket.

      Not sure which I would have enjoyed more. I kind of would have liked him to marry a young schmoops and live with that age difference. As it turned out he got sick about ten years into the marriage (major heart attack) and couldn’t walk more than 30 or so feet before he had to rest a while. (imagine what that did to the sex life) Lol.

      Meanwhile the man he told me was too old for me, and I, just kept loving on.

  • We generally look at the past with rose colored glasses. If you delve deeper into the past with your x, you’ll soon remember and realize the “prize” she won. These warped individuals can present themselves as such prizes, they keep us dangling along with just enough positive reinforcement that we stay, we begin to idolize them. I recall telling a friend, I thought my husband was a narcissist and she asked why did I stay? I said because when he’s good, he’s great, when the times are good, its wonderful. I lead a life of 80/20. 80% was total shit, 20% was great, and I was holding on for that 20%. Then I finally educated myself on the cycle of abuse, and realized I was always holding on for the honeymoon phase. And now when I think I’m throwing away a perfectly good relationship, I remind myself that I’m remembering that 20% time, and it was all fake..at least for him it was fake. It was how he kept me with him. Now I realize I deserve more than holding on for the next breadcrumb he drops. I’m not sure who his next target is (I now think of women he may see as victims), but I know for sure he’s not capable of anything more, and he’s no prize.

  • I decided to focus on what I knew. The biggie was that he wasn’t satisfied with me, and that he wanted a woman doesn’t exist in real life. That’s a completely an impossible situation for any woman. The divorce was a mercy.

    Whether he found that perfect woman or not (I suspect not), I’m fine that he’s out of our lives. It took awhile to see that, but I’m there.

    • “Divorce was a mercy.” I’m far from that phase, due to state laws (and him stopping progress) but I feel that is a true statement. When I finally opened my mind up to leaving, I felt a wave of relief.
      Their expectations of what a spouse should be is an unattainable and unrealistic. They will never be truly satisfied.

  • Allyson – I wanted to touch on the shitty shitty aspect of this hoe-bag with poor character becoming a step mother figure to your daughter. It sucks, but CL is right. However well your daughter and hoe-bag end up getting along, she is not her mother. I’m going to say that again, she is not her mother. I had all the same fears you do. It’s been a while now and I realize I have nothing to worry about. When she’s sick, she asks for me. I’m greeted with the biggest bear hugs when I get home from work. We have our goofy rituals, games, and cuddle times. On transition days she might ask when she’ll see daddy again, but she never asks when she’ll see OW. We’re settling into our normal, and it looks like we’re gonna be ok. Also, after a few months, it’s become apparent to me OW is far from mother of the year (she has a kid of her own too).

    • No matter how close daughter and stepmother may seem it isn’t real. I know of 2 OWives that thought they were close with the step kids and were in for a rude awakening when their marriages ended. Step kids have nothing to do with former stepmothers, it’s as if they don’t exist. What appeared to be a close relationship was nothing more than the kids just trying to get along in a life that was dumped on them…plus I doubt they ever forgot their families being blown up.

  • Ill-gotten gains will never feel as good as integrity, a lesson completely lost on cheaters. Fine with me. I need to keep the focus on keeping my side of the street clean.

    When I was twelve, I shoplifted makeup with my best friend from the drug store. A common juvenile move which I noticed did not feel so cool.

    What felt much better was buying makeup at Neiman Marcus with money I earned.

    Cheaters can assign all the happy joyous and free adjectives they want to what they did. They just don’t know or care about the level of joy they have made unattainable for themselves with their conduct.

    Years ago I ordered a 650.00 vacuum from Sears. They sent me two by mistake. I took one back. The salesperson said to me, “Your honesty is exemplary.”

    A cheater would keep the extra vacuum and blame Sears, justify it, rationalize it.
    And probably not appreciate it, as it often goes with ill-gotten gains.

    And never know how truly good it feels to do the right thing.

    I am actually feeling a bit sorry for them all today. Birds of a feather flock together, and I hope to soar with eagles which is why the cheater and I are not soul mates. He found his Gollum to hang out with.

    • Yes!! The high expectations of the thrill of new exciting hooch with champagne sips in petal filled hotel rooms… That is the expectation of the” happiness” they feel. But, hotels will soon be unnecessary once they live together, plus child support and alternating weekends will hamper childless carefree spontaneous trip . Soon they will have to take out the garbage and empty their dishwasher too. And what if she gets pregnant?? What happened to party forever???

  • I know this is a rerun, but I am ashamed to say that I danced the pick-me-dance after D-Day (as did our kids) …. but we lost. The now Ex-Mrs LFTT left us high and dry for her AP without a second thought.

    It was only during the divorce process that she completely revealed who she had become; prior to this she had kept her alcoholism under wraps and we hadn’t worked out that her behaviour constituted – in many forms – abuse. Do I envy Ex-Mrs LFTT’s AP for “winning”?? Goodness no; if the person she is now was the prize, then I’m actually glad she picked him. Her AP gets to deal with her tantrums, her drinking, her reckless spending and her inability to put anyone but herself first; which means we don’t have to.

    The kids and I (then 11, 16 and 18 and now 17, 22 and 24) love the life we have now …… because she barely figures in it. And every day that goes by, she figures even less.

    LFTT

      • PK,

        Thanks.

        In many ways it was this realisation that set us (ie the kids and I) free. Ex-Mrs LFTT is not capable of admitting that what she did was wrong and will not admit what she did impacted the children and I to a massive extent. Understanding (and it took a while) that waiting for an acknowledgement/apology that would never come was futile, allowed us to get on with building a cheater free life.

        LFTT

    • I think that this right here is the key to meh. If you go low, or no contact, then you don’t know what the FW and OW are doing. How they are doing. You don’t get updates. You don’t respond to anything except practical things concerning the children. And if you don’t know what’s going on, you can’t and don’t think about it. You can just trust that they suck, whatever it is they are up to. My kids don’t ask about him and rarely see him. I’m too busy with my own life, I don’t have time to wonder what fresh hell he’s creating as long as it is far away from me.

  • Allyson,
    This post was from earlier,
    Please come back and say that already you are feeling better! Because, I am certain you are, if not right now, you will be, sometime in the future.
    Because, in time, a cheater like this, does not improve, even if he never cheats again. Cheating is just one characteristic or fault, or WTF ever of such a person who would break the heart of someone who truly loved them.
    No matter how hard we try to make a dram of sense of it all, the thing is that a person, who puts, him/her self first, always puts him/her self first.

    Put yourself first NEW, and ,ALL CHUMPS. It works out better for you and, especially for your precious Children.

    With❤️Peacekeeper

  • I’m in the same position. Exh told me he was unhappy and leaving. Then didn’t leave. Ended up still together. Then asked him to leave as he was prioriting his friends over me. Including my supposed best friend.

    Guess who he was fucking all along and is now with?

    Yep my best mate.

    My kids hate her. His family hate her. But they are oh so happy together apparently. She’s not allowed near my kids at all.

    • They aren’t happy, they just appear to be happy. Cheaters are still in the “us against the world” mode and that will soon end. When it is just the two of them due to everyone abandoning them they will spiral downward. Guaranteed. However, be grateful two disordered nitwits are together and you no longer have to live his cesspool of a lifestyle.

  • I sometimes daydream about having a magic TV that acts as a time machine and can go back to certain moments in my life and, in condensed and dramatised form, show what would have happened had I done something different so I can see various outcomes play out before making those choices.

    Like the time travel film “About Time,” naturally I can’t travel back to undo choices made before the kids arrived since I don’t want different kids. But everything since is up for review.

    One recurring daydream I used to have was of me walking away from FW during my last pregnancy and imagining what would have happened if I had. Maybe it would have great, maybe it would have led to unrelated tragedy. But there’s one scenario that’s a sure thing: I know in my gut that the scenario where FW ends up with the AP would have been black comedy gold. He didn’t and I’m not sure what I could have done differently that would have contributed to that happening (dumping him suddenly shirtly into the affair and pronouncing I’d fallen in love with a handsome Scottish aviator?). But I know it would have been evil fun.

    That daydream isn’t even interesting anymore and my mind drifts to other speculations like saving the world from COVID with well-timed warnings or investing in certain stocks before they took off. But because I don’t have a magic TV to trial run different choices, I don’t really have regrets. I was never working with all the information after all. When I knew better, I did better.

    But some have all the info and still make terrible choices. I was once ripped off when I was 20 by trading something of value for a small, professionally forged Impressionist drawing with fake authentification. Oops. Had I wanted to unload the worthless thing, APs are the types who would line up to pay full price for it AFTER being made fully aware that it’s fake. And the same goes for cheaters choosing APs. Unlike chumps, both FWs and their shmoops go into the deal knowing the other is a sneaky, mean, perfidious creep– a forgery.

    You don’t have to watch that shitshow all the way through to know it doesn’t end well.

  • Hope so! As they are the ones writing the story of being victims of our inability to make the happy. If Fw will forever be branded as the one that abandoned his family and babies, I am totally satisfied with that.

  • Allison, The crux of the problem really is as you said ” It make me doubt everything about myself ” An explanation of this hit me right where I live during an episode of ” Better Things ” when one of the thumped women explained her pain with these words ” In choosing you I was not only saying you were my man, I was saying “ this is me .” I trust myself enough to know what is right for me, what I need, what I say yes to in life. Marrying you was the greatest validation of the trust I had in myself. Which is why this is so painful, I question myself, I don’t trust myself anymore. I’ve lost my compass. It’s going to take a long time before I’ll be able to forgive myself. ” Hoping this helps you.

  • Look back at Chump Lady’s archives about the Tiffany windows. (Spoiler alert….people in illicit relationships are NOT Tiffany windows!)

    If you’re really unhappy in your marriage, having an affair and riding off with your cohort is like eating out of a garbage can or dumpster diving. Or getting a flat tire, then getting out of the car and flattening the other three. I have no idea what the appeal is of hooking up an arsonist who burned down their own house with their family inside, but I’m grateful not to be mired in that kind of cognitive quicksand.

    Only those without the skills necessary for successful relationships make decisions like that. If you’re going to team up with someone in marriage, the most difficult team sport there is, make sure you hold out for the top level athletes (first by becoming one) and steer clear of Little League.

    Wonderful people don’t screw around with married or otherwise committed people, and wonderful married or otherwise committed people don’t screw around.

    It takes a LONG time for your head and heart to synch up. They’ve likely been disconnected for a long long time.

    • Cheaters are partners in crime. They basically robbed a bank together, present-day Bonnie and Clydes. And that didn’t end well.

      I would think that deep down it all feels a bit “icky,” especially for the cheaters who care about their images. The AP is a constant reminder of their shittiness. Sure, they must justify it all, but I bet that can be a challenge at times…and exhausting.

      One would think it must strain a relationship, at least it would for non-disordered people.

    • “dumpster diving”

      I had to laugh when I read that. That is exactly what my ex did, he went dumpster diving, It bothered me in real time, I was thinking Really? This is who you prefer? But, now it is funny, and you nailed it. He certainly didn’t have to live up to any standards with her, and bonus, she liked to gamble; so between the two of them they burned their financial future to the ground.

      So AI guess when you compare her to me, I was kind of a buzz kill.

    • ‘I have no idea what the appeal is of hooking up an arsonist who burned down their own house with their family inside’
      Sadly, the appeal is that it makes them they think they’re so bloody special and that the lighting bolt love is incomprehensible to mere mortals – because their cheater was willing to sacrifice so much for them.
      If so many people were sacrificed, it means this is real and will last.
      These are not deep thinkers… They don’t go beyond ‘I’m so special’ …. well maybe they also think ‘we’re so special.’

      • Zip,

        I always thought that the AP must feel SO guilty that she was instrumental in causing my ex to lose his 3 kids, grandchild, two homes, reputation, and $$. I assume he blames her.

        But, as you point out, maybe it’s all kibbles. After all, he sacrificed so much to be with her. Ugh.

        And it could be the glue that keeps them together. They only have each other now. It doesn’t mean they’re happy–just glued or stuck.

        • Spinach, ugh this sucks so much. I think many OW’s delude themselves into thinking it had nothing to do with them. The cheater tells them they weren’t happy …… the OW deludes herself into thinking that the married couple would have broken up anyhow.

          My cheater definitely didn’t blame the OW, she was his angelic saviour – and he fancied thinking of himself as someone in control who was not manipulated by an OW (who played her cards right). At the end of the day she poached him and he was poachable.

          And guilt😂😂😂- I know mine got together and shed fake tears – they were plotting that he would just suddenly dump me but that I’d never find out. And their cheater little minds they thought that would make it so much better… Just up and dump your wife one day to the next and give her no reasonable explanation, and deny up down and all around that there’s somebody else.
          In they’re sick little cheater minds this made them good people ( they didn’t want to cause me unnecessary pain ).
          But of course these guilt ridden OW’s post their success story on Facebook minutes after their ‘catch’ has decimated their previous life.

          And, in your case, can you imagine a life of being with the person you sacrificed ALL that for? That person would have to be sooo much – on sooo many different levels- all. the. time. to make it a good deal. He will realize he was robbed …… but where do you go from there?

  • Their “everything is wonderful” presentation to the world is just sparkly wrapping paper on a turd. I went through these very same feelings. The reality was that he took his shit behavior and did it to someone else, just like he did to me. They don’t change- maybe the wrapping paper changes, but the contents inside never do.

  • To all the “Allyson in Canada”s…
    I know you’re probably too disappointed in your judgement, but you were never warned people like FW exists. It might help you stop ruminating to realize that his idea of “happily ever after” has nothing to do with yours. What seems like happily ever to us is boredom to them.

    The FW ideal is to have never-ending kibbles from a non-boring variety of admirers. Real life adulting annoys them (angry, frustrated, babies). So their parent-spouse has to change their emotional diapers, as well as take care of all the bother of adulting, which is so aggravating that anyone expects adulting of them. Plus one of their basic “enjoyments” in life is being the boss of you (part of why they like secrets). It feeds their sense of superiority when they get away with one-upping you.

    My Ex-idiot used to constantly complain about things which I’ll summarize as his lack of social power. I thought that this meant he’d eventually realize that he’d have to treat me better to keep me long term (along w the social power that came with me). But nope. He just got endlessly meaner to me. How could I expect such cluelessness? (Boy don’t I wish he’d discarded me sooner). Part of their devaluing of us is their overvaluing of themselves. It takes a surprisingly long time to detox from that warped emotional poison & realize the truth. They are appalling idiots, and we had to reduce our comprehension to live in peace with their delusions.

    I thought I was living a love story, but it turned out I was living a completely different story, a tragedy. The character my Ex resembles most is Iago, the villain of Shakespeare’s play Othello. Iago is a textbook malignant narcissist (according to a great book about surviving abuse, “Stalking the Soul”). Iago is a textbook picture of pathological envy (which my Ex had in spades). Iago envied Othello’s heart qualities, which Iago claims to despise. Othello’s happy love story offended Iago. No one could guess Iago’s motives, which ended up destroying Iago as well as his targets. But who expects a Iago to try to destroy them for no sane reason? We need to give ourselves a pass for never guessing that Iago exists in real life.

    I might be rambling here, but saying this was therapeutic. Thanks CN! Appreciated!

  • “Wonderful people don’t screw around with married or otherwise committed people, and wonderful married or otherwise committed people don’t screw around.”

    Which is the Lola Doctrine in a nutshell: Cheaters Never Trade Up.

    Lots of people misunderstand this as “The AP will always be a toothless meth addict.”

    It’s much less painful to believe this. The alternative is to accept that we loved someone with poor character.

    Loving someone deeply and committing to them – even a turd – is not shameful. You did nothing wrong.

    But you can’t ‘fix’ them, and they also don’t want to be ‘fixed’. Being a turd is working out just fine for them.

    So water finds its own level. Cheaters find other people with poor character.

    They’re absolutely not trading up. Ever.

  • This article was very, very helpful, so thank you. I’m in the same boat with the cheater ex with someone 20 years younger and they’re having a “great” time. But you’re right, she got a cheating turd with charming frosting who will show his stripes sooner or later. He will treat her the same way after the newness wears off.

    • I’ve always thought of committed people as off limits, that if they left someone for me they would then be a total jerk that I wouldn’t want anything to do with.

      People who are cool with cheating should stick with each other and stay out of the gene pool of people who aren’t cool with it. But I guess that would harsh the buzz they’re after….

  • It helps me to do some writing….who he IS, not who I thought he was…..and READ IT OUT LOUD.

    Rename the cheater. It helps reprogram the illusory positive associations you have with the cheater. The spoken word in YOUR voice and YOUR handwriting are powerful reprogramming tools.

    Any phrases that click and snap you back into the proper perspective and break the spell…..NICE GUYS DON’T LIE is one of mine.

    Print out a copy of the Power and Control wheel. Start a journal writing down incidents that correspond to all the categories. Anything to break the spell and get your mind and thinking back into the reality of who they are. Society minimizes and denies the catastrophic damage of infidelity…the victim-blaming that is conventional ignorance….followed by dismissing the feelings of pain and anger and fear that are actually completely normal if we respect infidelity for what it is. Holding on to the truth of what this injury is and not backing down is really challenging.

    BF Skinner and intermittent reward as the most powerful form of operant conditioning is a real thing and chumps need to practice all the deprogramming tools we can get our hands and minds on.

  • ‘Society minimizes and denies the catastrophic damage of infidelity’ And doesn’t hold the abusers accountable for much of anything.

    I think this is why the healing is so bloody difficult. You’re dealing with your own trauma and there isn’t a lot of validation out there.
    I wish more could be done to get the word out. Every time you talk about it it just seems like you can’t move on.

  • Man…..again and again and again I come here – one year out, and it’s so depressing. What I see ladies, sorry – don’t kill me – is that cheating, leaving us, was NOT a mistake. They are happier. They don’t come back. They don’t regret it. You know, nobody’s perfect – but I really still think he had it good with me. It was a second marriage so – kids grown and gone no stress there, I’m pretty, smart, fun, great income, talented, writing a book series to self publish in my retirement, beautiful home, sex life good, great cook – love to celebrate all the little and big things in life – BUT – not good enough for 53 year old man who decided to fall in love with co worker – 20 years younger. They both got fired. He lost everything – I got it all because he ran as fast as he could to start his new life which I don’t think ever happened.Last I heard – living with his mother looking for a job. We are animal rescuers too and he left behind all nine of our beloved cats (we have a big beautiful home and I’m retired – so very clean). And Thank God – I have an amazing life – blessed with everything I ever loved….but why…why was she better and if not her – then anyone will be better. Anyway…. he’s gone. Like your men – apparently no regrets? Something must be wrong with us and I just don’t see it…….of course I’m fishing here for – not true! hahaha – man – painful.

    • “Something must be wrong with us and I just don’t see it…”

      Wait. What? I’m curious as to why you’ve come to this conclusion. You said he and the AP got fired, that he’s living with his mother, that his “new life” didn’t happen. So what makes you think “they are happier”? And how do you know that he has no regrets? I mean, he may not, but do you know that?

      As others (including CL) have pointed out, the cheating is not about us. It can be painful to realize we weren’t considered at all.

      Also, most of us here (nay, all) don’t want our exes to come back. We’ve seen the light. These are low-character, entitled people. They are untrustworthy liars, willing to abuse their spouses for kibbles. They don’t honor commitments.

      Our goal is to arrive at meh and gain a life. For many of us, that necessitates a lot of therapy and self-examination to cope with the trauma and abuse. We don’t pine for the cheater to return or express regret. We shed that shit and move on.

    • First of all, cheaters are a different breed. They cannot sustain happiness so as far as them riding off into the sunset and living happily ever after…complete horseshit. Does not happen. Be grateful your cheating idiot ran off as fast as he could to start his new life. Again these twits have a real problem with reality and your cheater acted impulsively, did not make a plan. This worked in your favor. So many cheaters start planning before the chump has a clue that their marriage is about to end and get caught off guard. The OW who is 20 years younger…will be disgusted by cheater when he hits his 60’s and she’s in her 40’s.

  • I just want to add that I come here often to read the comments and the comments on this one are….WOW – you guys are amazing and I thank God for this site and for all of you and for Tracy

  • Debra –

    I am hearing that he’s still very important to you. You care very much about his opinions, his preferences, and his behaviour.

    You are also keeping tabs on how he’s going.

    This is where genuine No Contact is invaluable – really cutting ties, and working actively with a therapist to reclaim your mental real estate for yourself and the things that matter to you.

    YOU matter. But you seem to have abandoned yourself and devalued yourself because a man of poor character deserted you.

    I think most of us have been here. It sounds more like trauma bonding than love.

    What advice would you give to a dear friend or a sister who was in your situation?

  • My sitch started out very much like the one Allyson endured except that I ended up “winning” the pick me dance and I had 7 more years with Cheater before he died. I TOTALLY underestimated how sucky a post-cheating (in wuv with someone else) marriage would be. It was awful and I wasted my life in it.

    At the time, I was convinced with every fiber of my being that the WORST thing was if he left with her. I now wish that I had handed him to her on a silver platter.

    The suckiness of it is likely the reason I still come here to process crap that happened almost 16 years ago…it was SO traumatizing.

    I so yearned for him to love me and make a real life together…let me share one of my lowest moments. I was SO desperate for him love that I almost wished myself away…

    I work in pediatric end-of-life and in the early days after discovery, I washing a wee little one who had just died and (as is my custom) I was singing to them in the solitude of that sacred moment . The song I was singing was one that I was familiar with from a CD and the original singer had the MOST beautiful voice. As I sang badly, I wondered “if I could sing like her, would he love me?” I would have wished away the sacredness of what I bring to the world to be someone he might arbitrarily decide to love.

    I will never sing like a nightingale bird but forever try to be as badass and Ms Nightengale the nurse and I was ready to abandon the unique gift that I brought to humanity just to be someone he might arbitrarily love but now I see that if I was not lovable enough for him as I was then fuck him.

    I wish that my 2015 or 2021 self could have walked in and told my 2005 self that he wasnt worth any of the pain I was enduring…he was a selfish ass who hurt me to save himself and to keep doing exactly as I was doing.

    On my daughters college graduation day, I actually wished that Cheater was alive and sitting all nuzzled up with Schmoopie a few seats over ready to give our daughter a hug. My 2005 self would have never fathomed the possibility that I would ever think such a thing.

    I found love again and he thinks Im quirky as hell for what I do but he respects me and loves me who I am and neither of us can sing.

    • >>I was ready to abandon the unique gift that I brought to humanity

      <3 <3 Glad you shared. I'm sure we're not the only ones who abandoned something good within us because of overvalued FWs.

  • After telling a friend about my now ex’s affair she very wisely advised my to start writing a journal. Saying it will relieve stress as well as make events clearer in my mind. I took that advice, now when I reread what actually took place and how I felt at the time it’s so rewarding. Maybe even more rewarding than it was at the time I wrote it. So beneficial to face facts, verify reality.

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