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A ‘Fix Your Picker’ Refresher

Is this not your first time at the chump rodeo? Are you afraid you’ll wind up shackled to another person of dubious character? While I’ve got no guarantees that your life won’t intersect with another wingnut, I do have some tips on how to mitigate the damage, choose better and move on.

You control that. Fuckwits, not so much.

Here are my Improved Picker tips:

Do NOT rescue anyone. Healthy people don’t need rescuing. They pay their bills. They function like adults. They manage their crises. Sure, everyone has some bad luck sometimes. We can all use a helping hand on rare occasion. But how people meet the challenges in their life says a LOT about them. Good people do not presume. If they lounge around on fainting sofas waiting to have their brow mopped while you bring them a hot toddy and your check book — fuck ’em. Steer clear.

Do NOT settle for lopsided arrangements. You need a partner, a friend, not a project. Healthy relationships are based on reciprocity. Don’t do for someone who wouldn’t do for you. And don’t presume reciprocity (oh, of course they would) — watch what they do. Do they pick up the check? Do they hurry to do for you like you do for them? Do they get pleasure from giving to you? Or it is all about them?

I see a lot of straight men fall for this. They want to be a caretaker, feel needed and powerful, and are flattered by apparent “helplessness”. Choose a competent person with a job and their own money. Find an equal. Women fall for the caretaker role too — they jump in as “mommy” and polish the jerk up, find them employment, manage their life. DON’T DO THIS. Healthy people aren’t looking for parents and life coaches. That’s not your job, okay? Your job is girlfriend/boyfriend. That’s IT.

Do NOT run yourself down. Oh, no one would want me because I’m a single parent/a special needs kid parent/I’m fat/I’m old… whatever. If you’re a good person and you’re responsible and loving? You’re a stock that trades high. Never forget it.

Beware of people who lead with self-pity. Is it always someone else’s fault? Do they see themselves as a poor sausage, and worse, do they want you to see yourself that way too? Do they flatter you by running other people down around you? Oh, your parents don’t understand you. They suck. She’s out to get you. He wants your job. Fuckwits isolate their victims. Only you understand me. Fuckwits idolize and devalue you. Why? It’s easier to manipulate you that way. The self-pity is real. You, however, are just of use.

Beware the love bombers. If it seems too good to be true? It probably is. Take it slow. Crazy will reveal itself. Anyone who moves too fast or “loves” you before they have a good long time to get to know you? That’s a red flag. Pay attention to how much they really know about you. Are they truly paying attention to your quirks and interests or are they feigning it with vague, over the top praise? Do you feel like your best self with them, like you do a friend who loves you warts and all? Or do you feel like you’re living a fantasy? Keep it real, chumps and don’t be in a rush. Let enough time elapse to let their character show.

Last but not least — DO NOT BE AFRAID to dump someone. If someone is pressuring you for a permanent commitment too soon (marriage, moving in with you), or on the other side, is vague and non-commital about exclusivity (after many months or years together) — DUMP. If you have deal breakers, abide by them. Don’t be afraid to “next” someone, because I promise you there is always a next. There are many, many people out there. You can afford to be choosey. Don’t panic if you meet a lot of sucky people, or decent not-quite-a-good-fit folks. You’ll learn from them, and may just enjoy something light and casual. Not everyone is life partner material, (assuming you even want that).

Be careful out there, chumps. A good heart is a terrible thing to waste on a fuckwit.

What have you learned about fixing your picker and un-chumping? Let me know in the comments.

Rerun today. Working on the site in other ways this morning.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I learned that, “No” is a complete sentence and that people only get one chance to mistreat me or cross my boundaries!

  • I have set boundaries and if people cross those boundaries I move on. Life is to short to be around people who do not value boundaries.

  • When I was younger, I was definitely attracted to the self-pitying, moping, creative type as lovers and the domineering, possessive type as friends.

    The world was against them at all times, someone else was always to blame and no one understood them, themselves included.

    And because I was an armchair psychiatrist, I thought my resilience could rub off on them.

    What a silly thing to think. But still, I don’t regret those experiences. You live and you learn.

  • I’ve learned to approach every intimate relationship with one foot on the brake and a finger on the eject button.

    I’ve learned to look for red flags.

    I’ve learned that I don’t need a reason to end things or to assert a feeling.

    My ex’s permanent gift to me: don’t trust and avoid feeling too vulnerable. The gift that keeps on giving!

    • “One foot on the brake and a finger on the eject button”. Excuse me while I go embroider that on a pillow somewhere ???? That is priceless and timeless advice, thank you Spinach@35! You rock!

    • Yes, I’m embroidering that phrase too! I can totally relate to not trusting again. Once someone has put their emotional cigarette out on your forehead, you don’t forget that feeling quickly.

  • I need to learn how to dump someone and to raise my standards. Every relationship I’ve been in has been about me settling and giving the toad a chance to be a prince. I stayed too long and I settled for crumbs. Never again.

  • I’d say I was guilty of all of the above “failings” – except I never ran myself down. I knew my worth, that is until the sad, inadequate loser knocked it out of me over 26 years. No longer though. To be honest I just can’t be arsed to be in another relationship because life’s too good on my own!

  • How does one go about the impasse contained in the three good pieces of advice below? I’ll explain what I mean below the citations.

    “Do not rescue”

    “Choose a competent person with a job and their own money. Find an equal. ”

    “Do NOT run yourself down. Oh, no one would want me because I’m a single parent/a special needs kid parent/I’m fat/I’m old… whatever. If you’re a good person and you’re responsible and loving? You’re a stock that trades high.”

    I mean, for instance, if one has been decimated in the divorce, has some family responsibilities (FOO, or whatever), financially not doing particularly well (job have been hard to come by), but are a loving, competent, responsible, considerate person, how does you go about this?

    This is an instance where being rescued would be good. But “rescued” has this negative sense about it.
    Being rescued would put you back in the saddle, and you could give a lot to the rescuer. Help in his/her life and better both’s lives, maybe because you can move and be in an area with jobs, or something. Responsibilities would be shared and so would be joys. And the moneys could go a long way.

    Are you out as a candidate because you don’t fit exactly “Choose a competent person with a job and their own money”?

    Sometimes it is so that one has to return to the parents’ home because of finances/responsibilites.

    Are you out as a candidate because of the above?
    I would be grateful for any opinions.

    • I think it is all about selfworth and knowing what you have to offer.

      Yes I am single and will soon be jobless, but I know that I have my qualities and manage to get myself throught difficult times. If I meet someone in a similar situation, I will make a similar judgement, and this can only be done throughout time and good dialogue.

      • Thank you, Giraffy.
        Judgement case by case, I seem to understand, by way of time and dialogue.

        • Trying, everyone needs help sometimes! You’re in a tough spot and it’s temporary. You’re doing what you can to help yourself. Maybe some days you need to be lying on the fainting couch, but that’s not a permanent state. I think that’s what CL means, when sitting around waiting for a rescue is your default, or how you live your life in general. And if that’s true, we should fix it for our own sake, not only to be worthy of a partner.

          Your name is Trying! not Waaa Rescue Me. ☺️ Just keep trying.

          • Hehe yes i agree with Don’t feel like dancing 🙂 Don’t worry Trying, you’re putting yourself out there, I’m sure you’ll be fine! ????

    • Many partners give each other a helping hand as they go through this crazy life together. The thing is you don’t pick someone just because you know they will rescue you. You also don’t want to be beholden to someone who rescued you from a difficult situation only to have them treat you bad because you owe them and now can’t get away from their abusive ways. Or, you don’t want someone cozying up to you because you’ve got a Job and money and you’re their sugar momma/daddy and they freeload off you. A level field either way prevents ending up in an abusive situation. Taking help or giving help isn’t the problem. It’s when they can’t or won’t live or grow from that help or won’t let you be all you can be unless you do it their way. And that’s assuming there’s no deception involved. The stronger and more independent you are leads to less vulnerable scenarios where you are using or being used. Good luck

      • Thanks Trudy.
        In my marriage I managed to do so much. Meant for the marriage, for both people (no children), and ex’s career went very well. Yet I was discarded, right when things looked very well, right when I had come far. And it all could have benefited the marriage. But it was not valued, not accepted. And I was replaced and dumped.

        • TTMF
          What you offered was invaluable, although he’ll do all he can to prove otherwise because accepting that fact would mean he was the bad one. That feeling that maybe you don’t offer much was just his manipulation. Sure he believes with all his might that you owed him all that help, and he doesn’t need to pay it back anymore than paying back his mother.

          I’m going to say things I wish someone told me decades ago. Evil needs you to believe his self-serving BS that you never offered anything valuable so you deserved to be discarded. Fight evil by rejecting its BS. Do the opposite of what Voldemort wants, if not for yourself than for the free world. Just because you feel stupid/worthless doesn’t mean you are. Its not true, even though I’m sure many people who let you down did all they could to convince you of that.

          You saw the cards in your hand & offered a fair trade, which makes you a good person offering value pragmatically. Many would cherish it, like you would have cherished it had it been offered to you. But users soak it up without thought like a selfish kid who never gives a thought to what his mother gave up for his sake. Many have to learn wisdom about who is a good investment. You are just staying with relatives to get back on your feet after a bad business investment. A crisis of faith in yourself is also common after a bad investment. Finding one thing in your life which gives you a sense of value or power would be help with recovery. If not a job, then some shared interest with others. I’m rooting for you. If you feel hopelessly alone with secrets, you aren’t here.

          • Chumpkins,
            What you expressed is actually how I feel. But hearing it from someone, even one single individual, makes all the difference in the world.
            So many, many thanks to you.

      • At the beginning of our relationship, I carried just under $3k of credit card debt. I was paying it off slowly. XAss, who I wasn’t married to at the time decided that debt was unacceptable and pretty much demanded that I accept his $ to pay it off.

        I wish I had never accepted that $. In 19 years of being together, 17 married, he NEVER LET ME FORGET about his ‘generosity’ and how I was obviously bad at managing finances. Never mind that I have never defaulted on a debt, paid all my bills on time, and actually by the end rolled around, had a better credit score than he did.

        And the icing on the shit cake he served? He mailed over a lb of pot to a co-worker and got busted for it the year just before we got married. His father bailed him out with $ and expensive lawyers and he never saw a day in jail. (I should have walked then but….chump!)

        During our court custody hearing when my lawyer points out that he is a convicted felon, XAss tells the Judge that it was ALL MY FAULT ’cause he sold those drugs to get the $ to pay for my credit card debt.

        Off all the unbelievable stunts he’s pulled, things he’s said, that one right there is the cherry.

        • Skunkcabbage,
          That of pretty much demanding to pay off your debt when you were not yet married, so that he would never let you forget about his generosity, and despite the fact that you were/are fiscally disciplined, is what in “The gift of fear” by Gavin de Becker is called “loan sharking”, a thing to put you in a position of indebtedness.
          It was a dynamic with my ex as well —to his credit he was fiscally very disciplined, if not tending towards frugal in the marriage, under the banner, we save for our future. I guess he was saving for the good times ahead, after me. Somehow he managed to pull of the impression of “I am generous” when he was not generous at all.
          Overall, all this falls under the FOG thing: fear, obligation, guilt. And shame to be added for good measure. All ways to control a person.

          • And ex knew I was/am fiscally disciplined. It’s part of why he went for me. While at the same time pulling off the impression of being generous, which he was not, to make me feel indebted, and control me.

          • “Loan sharking” that’s a term I haven’t heard before, but it makes sense.

            I lived with an abuser who started out like he was this benevolent, helpful guy who was doing me a favor and helping me get on my feet while I was in school full time. The “benevolence” turned into him never letting me forget everything he was doing for me. Which turned into him throwing it in my face and calling me ungrateful every time I had an opinion or thought that disagreed with his. Every gift had strings attached, every favor came with constant expectations of complete deference to him. Living with him turned into constant expectations of doing everything he wanted me to do, except he wouldn’t actually TELL ME what he wanted, I was supposed to “Just know.” Which turned into threats of putting me on the street and threatening me with homelessness and accusations that I was blowing all my money and more threats to go through my bank statements when I didn’t shut up and comply (I was working minimum wage and going to school full time. Paying for my own phone bills, food, and paying out of pocket for all my books and supplies. But apparently I was either hoarding massive amounts of cash and lying, or blowing it all on stupid shit and lying. There was no way to win.)

            His narrative was I’m an ungrateful, freeloading, useless, crazy liar and he gave everything he had for me. He even framed calling me crazy as him doing me a favor. “All my friends think I’m crazy for letting you be here, how do you think I feel when everyone thinks I’m crazy just for still being for you? It’s so hard on me!” (I have no confirmation anyone actually thought this. I figure he either 1) Told everyone I’m crazy to make himself look like a victim. 2) Nobody actually thought that, he was just telling me they did to make me feel bad. or 3) They thought I was crazy based on other lies he told them (this is basically the same as no. 1.)

            I’m extremely wary and cautious of any man who does some kind of massive display of “generosity” early on. It will likely have strings attached. A long string that will lead to some kind of expectation from you at the other end.

            • Kara,

              I can totally identify with this that you wrote:

              “The “benevolence” turned into him never letting me forget everything he was doing for me. Which turned into him throwing it in my face and calling me ungrateful every time I had an opinion or thought that disagreed with his. Every gift had strings attached, every favor came with constant expectations of complete deference to him. Living with him turned into constant expectations of doing everything he wanted me to do, except he wouldn’t actually TELL ME what he wanted, I was supposed to “Just know.””.

            • >>His narrative was I’m an ungrateful, freeloading, useless, crazy liar

              Another control trick is how we try to prove to him otherwise. They extract a lot of value while we try to prove our value.

              • And when you try to prove them otherwise, you’re doing it wrong. I always asked him what he wanted me to do, and he said “I shouldn’t have to tell you, you should just know.” He would never tell me how to do anything right, but damn did he come down on me if I did something wrong.

                I had an interesting conversation with my therapist today about being called “crazy.” She said “Were you crazy? Or did you just reach a point where you couldn’t take it anymore and had a breakdown?”

                Context of when someone, especially a partner, calls you crazy matters. Are you actually crazy, or are you sick of disrespect and tried to hold them accountable, and they turned it back on you and your mental state to avoid taking responsibility for their shit treatment of you?

          • “Loan sharking”! I feel so validated right now, my FW did this to me as well. He paid for my masters degree and heard about it so much I wished I had taken out a student loan. It also set him up better being able to claim my “earning potential”. Mine also loved to tell people how he was paying for my school more kibbles! It was a perfect set up for a cheater, I was too busy to notice what he was doing! He also liked to tell people how everything was always all about me and I never helped financially, he carried that burden. There was a time when were newly weds during the recession I was laid off and he was not making much money, he literally refused to let me help pay our rent and bills.. we had arguments over it and I didn’t understand why I couldn’t help! Well he also hasn’t let me forget that I did not help, after refusing my help! Its so frustrating.

        • Skunkcabbage,

          How awful!! That’s blameshifting taken to another level. Unbelievable.

          Glad you’re away from this guy.

    • Trying to move forward, yes they are out of the running for me. Anyone fresh from a divorce or life upset is not ready for any relationship. Adults, heal then pickup the pieces. I had a 42 yr marriage together 46. I am now elderly, have a permanent illness making me disabled and he gambled my retirement away, online while I slept. I took CL, CN advice to heart before my heart understood it completely. In just a few years, on disability, I have a great little house, money in the bank and living an adult life. Years of your life are not replaceable. Hit next, their are many when your focus changes. I do not ever want another partner, but they ask often, I believe because I am more attractive being a mentally healthy adult. Trust the advice, if you keep thinking but they lost everything in a divorce, just went through a terrible time etc. your still doing the codependent thinking. Love yourself , more than excusing their problems.

      • Hcard,
        I was referring to myself regarding not being in that marvelous a position.
        I thank you for your point of view.

        • Exactly, I had no money, no job, no prospects of a job and multiple sclerosis. I needed to get myself together best I could. I wanted to be rescued, helped and feel cared about. Problem was it would make me prey. Somehow, crazy can smell fear, sadness etc. good luck.

      • You were married longer than I’ve been alive, so, as a person going through marriage nonsense now, and frequently feeling down upon myself, I find your advice life changing. I really do. Thank you

    • Trying to Move Forward, you said:

      “Are you out as a candidate because you don’t fit exactly ‘Choose a competent person with a job and their own money’?”

      Here’s how I look at it…if I’m in a position where I feel I need to be rescued, then I tend to overlook things that should be red flags. You need to be in a place where your life is stable, and then you can afford to be choosy. And if stable means that you’re living with your parents and content with the situation, that’s fine. It means that you feel free to dump someone if those red flags show up.

      After a relationship ends, no matter how bad it was, you feel off kilter. You were comfortable being in a bad relationship and it’s easy to jump into another one. To me, one part of fixing your picker is taking time to get accustomed to being without a relationship. If you’re desperate to be with someone and anyone will do, odds are you’ll find someone just like the last one.

      In the same way, if you need to be rescued any rescuer will do. And if you choose that person, you might find yourself with someone who isn’t really a good fit. Or maybe they “need” to rescue everyone and dump you for the next needy person they meet.

      • Thanks Lizza Lee, for your point of view.
        I was abandoned four years ago, and I have been divorced for two years.
        An international relocation was involed. My wish and FOO responsibilities.
        I am in my 50’s.

        Have not dated at all.
        It is just that I started thinking that maybe I would. With caution.

        • A bit of casual dating is fine. However, if you want a serious partner, you’ll need to do the work required to be a feasible partner yourself. That means having your shit together, living within your means, etc.

          • Traffic_spiral,

            I appreciate your opinion.
            Thing is I would not be into dating other than for the purpose of finding a serious partner. A real relationship.
            Given that I come from a family of covert narcs, and that I had serious set backs all my life for that reason alone, and that I made the decision to live with an aging parent and a traumatized sibling to share resources to make them go a long way, so to speak, I doubt that I will ever “have my shit together”.

            Despite everything, my hope is that I might meet a considerate person, to reverse, as it were, the experience of my life. To give up on that hope would be a sin, I’d dare say. Because I would have no faith in the good. And that would really worry me.

            • You’re making it sound like you have only 2 options:

              1 – Continue as you are now and hope that someone shows up to whisk you away from it all.

              2. – Continue as you are now without the hope that someone shows up to whisk you away from it all.

              You have other options:

              3. – To make progress in your life so that you can find an equal partner as opposed to a rescuer.

              4. – to operate your life on the assumption that you might not get a partner but that’s ok – you’re going to live your best life regardless.

              • P.S. I’m not saying move out if your current situation works for you mentally, financially, and emotionally. But I am saying that you need to bring stuff to the table and not just rely on “the universe owes me.”

              • Traffic_spiral,

                And why the assumption that I would not already be living as per options 3 and 4?

              • Dear Traffic_spiral,

                I find you comment above insulting. The universe obviously does not owe me anything.
                I made the decision to go back home after the divorce to be with and take care of an elderly mother and a traumatized sister.
                I happen to be quite proud for that.
                I could have stayed were I was and think only about myself.
                Would that have been fine as per bringing stuff to the table?

              • And “whisk you away from it all” I find in bad taste to say the least.
                From “it all” is my life, and my family. And I happen to have respect for both.

                It takes guts to make oneself vulnerable, even on a blog, and here is the response.

              • I have been unfair to you, Traffic Spiral.

                As per “whisk you away from it all”, I must admit that once upon a time I was hurting so much that I just wanted some relief from my pain.

                I was not aware that I had grown up in a narcissistic home back then, I was just hurting badly.

                Now that the pain is no longer there, I don’t need to be whisked away.
                And “it all”, that is, my life and family are fine. I was apportioned this lot and I have accepted it as mine.

            • >>Despite everything, my hope is that I might meet a considerate person, to reverse, as it were, the experience of my life.

              Being considerate of yourself & appreciating yourself is a good start. Also honoring your own values. That can make all the difference when life options are limited.

              But I have to ask… Are your mother & sister people who’ll appreciate you somewhat & believe they deserve to take advantage of you?? Have you been in an airplane where they ask you to put your oxygen mask on first? Before helping family? Is there any way to avoid isolation? I have found any kind of shared interest (like science fiction) helps to find someone in the world who appreciates you for who you are. (Or did in my case). Fingers crossed for you.

              • Ack. Let me explain better TTMF.

                What you’re doing with you mother and sister sounds heroic, for them and for you honoring your values. I just hope that you’re not totally isolated with them. Even though your family would never mean to be abusive, being isolated with them can warp your sense of reality in an unhealthy way. Chumps tend to overestimate their own strength, and not realize how they’re about to black out from lack of oxygen. You might be on top of this, but since we’re strangers on a blog I wouldn’t know.

                My abuser kept driving off my best friends for this reason. A friend who gets you & appreciates you will prevent an abuser from warping your sense of reality. After my abuser, I found that the only “friends” I had left were just acquaintances, not real friends. Now I know enough to hang on to such friends, and would never date again without a “wing man” friend who could check my perspective. It sounds like you are growing valuable perspective with the reading you are doing (Gavin de Becker). So some friend will be lucky to find you, with your values and perspective.

              • Chumpkins,
                Yes I know about the mask thing.
                It is just that I would not let my mother or sister starve down the road. And stretching our resources seemed the only way to go.
                Appreciated? Taken advantage of? Narc parents. Sister traumatized. We had only two loving people in the family and they died when we were young. It comes a point when it is a matter of facing what your life really is.
                I had rather not betray myself. Then I would be really lost. And I am talking about my soul here.
                The sharing interests thing is a very good idea. Thanks you. It’s what C.S. Lewis says men base their friendships on.

              • Chumpkins,
                Thanks so much for your further comments.
                Yes I am now aware of the isolation thing. It happened in my marriage as well. I wasn’t aware in the past.
                I have set boundaries with my mother, so has my sister, since my mother warps reality – I did not know growing up and I only found out after my discard. I don’t give my mother access to myself, to my inner world. I am medium chill, or very low contact.
                I think it was you suggesting Don Hennessy, whom I have been reading.
                I have just a couple of friends from back then, and a “wing man” friend for perspective. I plan to widen my base of acquaintances once this pandemic is over. And I still correspond with the people who bacame my support group post discard—they are in the country I had to leave but it’s nice to have them.
                I have also been reading “Boundaries”, “Safe People” and “Boundaries in dating” by Cloud and Townsend; Pete Walker on trauma; and all sorts of other stuff on narcissism and hidden abuse, and all manner of other stuff.
                I have let go of one old friend because with the knowledge of now I perceived her as not safe.
                And of course I plan to be active in some capacity out there. Preferably a job.
                Again, many thanks. You touched on so many points.

        • TTMF, it sounds like you do in fact have your shit together. Nothing in what you have said sounded as if you were a damsel waiting to be rescued on the contrary it sounds as if you are the hero in the narrative. It is hard enough to handle the abandonment and divorce and you found the strength within yourself to do that and deal with an international move and your mother and your sister.

          What does it really mean to have your shit together anyway? Is it about money or knowing yourself or understanding and enforcing boundaries – all of those, none of those whatever. I guess I am saying you can be a good partner even if you don’t have the greatest credit score or you are living with a family member in order to maximize resources. I know plenty of people who have their act together on paper- the house the cars, the trips, but are truly dreadful on the inside.

            • TTMF, Chumparella said it better than I could have.

              I can relate to your situation- mine isn’t the same, but it rhymes. I’ve been finding that “having your shit together” has meant more getting to the point of on-top-of-it-ness/acceptance of where you’re at and what you’re doing about it where you aren’t ashamed. It takes a bit, but it’s doable.

              I think we have to figure out for ourselves what that looks like- for me, it’s been finally reaching that point where I feel like I can actively approach and tackle my own life problems instead of being trapped in a place of passivity/terror/needing rescue. At the same time, finally receiving genuine help from good people has been SO SO NICE, when it has finally come, and so helpful. There was just always that trap as long as I felt like I *needed* it- and I did, but it left me open to a good amount of hijacking (which is how I ended up here).

              And I read the hope that you were holding out for as that you will finally have good healthy loving relationships with good healthy not-more-than-reasonably-disordered people. I’ve been really lucky in that some of my family members have been able to evolve along with me, but I’ve also been lucky in a few friendships where we’ve become our own constructed family. Good people- they’re out there! You sound like one yourself, and it sounds like you’re already working towards building yourself a life that is more of what you choose, whatever that might be.

      • Lizza Lee,
        I suppose your last paragraph would reflect my experience —of which I wrote in another response just above:

        “In my marriage I managed to do so much. Meant for the marriage, for both people (no children), and ex’s career went very well. Yet I was discarded, right when things looked very well, right when I had come far. And it all could have benefited the marriage. But it was not valued, not accepted. And I was replaced and dumped.”

    • I hear you, Trying. I’m currently unemployed, looking to possibly retrain in another field, and am just exhausted by compounded traumas over the whole of my adult life. I can’t currently wrap my head around working a full-time job, at least in any field that pays particularly well, though I will have some savings after the divorce is finalized.

      I’m not rushing to date anyone -certainly not until the ink is dried on the divorce, and I’ve had a chance to heal a little more from the most recent trauma. But I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel, and think there might be a time to start dating again in the future. I think the key is in our attitude: I would not look to be “rescued” by anyone I dated, and would approach any possible relationship in a very independent way. Those of us who have kids have to make many independent decisions, anyway. I would never dream of moving in with someone for several years, until I was absolutely positive that this was somebody I could spend the rest of my life with, and I would have to be certain that we are equals in whatever way we negotiate. (For example, maybe the other person brings home more of the bacon, and I do more household and logistical work.) And I will totally understand if others might be concerned about taking me (and my exhaustion) on as a “project” – I don’t want that, either! I think that’s what Tracy means about avoiding people who actively play the poor sausage card while dating.

      I feel overwhelmed by having to make ends meet too, so I get it. That’s one reason why I won’t be dating anytime soon – I want to make sure I’m on firmer ground first. But an emotionally healthy person should be able to meet me wherever I am, without trying to rescue me or move too fast. All best to you, Trying, and here’s to Gaining a Life in whatever way we can.

      • LC, I was where you are three years ago (exhausted, debilitated from abuse, hadn’t even found out about affair yet, but I left STBX home thinking I might die if I stayed). After about 5 months out of the house and feeling better, I just started sending resumes out everywhere (I hadn’t worked FT in 4 years due to chronic migraines brought on by..well, you know. I wasn’t sure what I could do, but just kept applying and connecting with folks on LinkedIn. I looked at each interview as a learning opportunity for me (I’m in my mid-50’s). Finally, two years ago I got an interview for a job I in a field I wasn’t even sure I wanted to work in, but I went and had a great experience! I connected with the woman who hired me and became a mentor of sorts, and started a new life in a different field and that job has given me the confidence to go ahead with the divorce since DDay last August (we were trying for wreckonciliation, thought we made it until he told me oops he’d actually been having an affair for the past 7 years!).

        My point is, I know it seems overwhelming – the job thing – but just take it one day at a time, one application at a time, and keep an open mind and the Universe will show you the way and it may even be better than you thought!!

    • I would venture if they have been decimated by a divorce, they have some work to do to get back on even footing and aren’t ready to date seriously yet. There’s nothing wrong with having taken some hard knocks in life, but I would say while someone is dealing with and recovering from those set-backs, that should be their focus because they just aren’t all that available for a relationship.

      • Curlychump,
        I appreciate your opinion.

        Given that I come from a family of covert narcs, and that I had serious set-backs all my life for that reason alone, and that I made the decision to live with an aging parent and a traumatized sibling post divorce to share resources to make them go a long way, so to speak, I doubt that I will ever “recover from those set-becks” in the way that I believe is intended here.

        Despite everything, my hope is that I might meet a considerate person, to reverse, as it were, the experience of my life. To give up on that hope would be a sin, I’d dare say. Because I would have no faith in the good. And that would really worry me.

        • This is a tough one, Trying. I hear what you’re saying, but I worry a little whenever anyone suggests that their well-being might be dependent upon the actions of another person. (Or, in your case, that you hope a new relationship might “reverse” your life experience.) That’s a huge expectation to bring into a relationship, and likely an unrealistic one. We can’t control other people, and our happiness and healing is not their responsibility. (Though of course I believe we have the right to ask those who have harmed us to make amends!)

          I don’t believe that being self-reliant is tantamount to “having no faith in the good.” It’s healthy to have realistic expectations for ourselves and for others. If we can’t be okay being alone, we are setting ourselves up for heartbreak, and even possibly for hurting others.

          Having said all this, I certainly hope you’re able to find new love if that’s what you want, Trying! I just push hard against any suggestion that we haven’t Gained A Life until we couple up again. I’d rather be alone than in any kind of unhealthy dynamic.

          • LezChump,
            I am happy for anyone who is happy on their own. And being on one’s own is absolutely having gained a life. One is not obligated to couple up.

            I am fine with being on my own. My well-being is not dependent on having a partner.
            Yet at the same time I would not want to give up hope entirely on the possibility of finding a partner. That would be a sin, I’d dare say. Because I would have no faith in the good.

          • I think the issue is that we were unknowingly naive. We didn’t realise such characters existed. We knew of them but not how they operated amongst us. How they didn’t have the same values or ethics yet pretended they did, or we assumed they did. How weak, cowardly and selfish they were. We were working with an unknown quantity. I certainly was.

            I thought we were a perfect match and couldn’t understand why my life exploded. It exploded because he was a charlatan who mirrored me and told me (and others) what he thought we wanted to hear and what served him. He could pull off an elaborate lie so convincingly, without twitching. Looking back it scares me… I believed him as I had no reason not to.

            But then I find out he’d been abroad twice with each woman – after we’d just had a baby – but he was apparently, to me and his family, away catering a wedding in the Hebrides… (Nice lie based on an old half truth) And the next time he was away in Manchester then Iceland on tour with a famous pop star. Erm no…. He was asked to help cater the tour but he turned it down then used it as cover to do what he wanted.

            Apparently I’m so “controlling” that he was able to pull off these charades. If i was so controlling he wouldn’t have had a chance to leave the country or even get to the airport. I actually was so nice and supportive and run ragged as a new mother yet probably drove him to the airport… I can’t remember, I was exhausted and struggling with post natal depression.

            He is a fucker and continues to be one. Snuck off and hasn’t bothered about his kids in 4 years. His baby is now at school and he wouldnt recognise her in the street… 21 years together evaporated and now I am glad it has. Meh is wonderful. There are still glimpses of pain and anger but on the whole my life has drastically improved and I feel so much lighter without him in my life. I feel sorry for my kids having a dick for a father but he played a good acting game. I wasn’t to know….

        • I hear you and relate, Trying. I come from a family that didn’t provide the stability or nurturing that I have always sought in partnerships. I’m the “responsible” one and have helped my parents out financially in the past, and constantly have to rein myself in from “trying to help” my brother. My take is that my father has always taken advantage of my mother’s sense of basic responsibility, and I learned that women — especially of our background — should expect not to see their industriousness, care, warmth and support valued in any real way, but rather it’s just expected as what women do. I just rejected being a “trad wife,” instead of believing that there are people out there who would genuinely value what I bring to a relationship (beyond my career accomplishments).

          I’ve been working on my picker. I just got out of a 30-year friendship with a woman who rushed to buy her traumatized sister a house and burns herself out at work and around family. We probably became friends because we have the same sense of hyper-responsibility. But as I grew, I saw that her hyper-responsibility within her own family was just taken for granted as who she is, what she does. In her mind, she couldn’t not rescue her sister, she couldn’t not work 12-hour days, etc.

          Then she gets upset when someone who doesn’t need rescuing wants her to show up just as a friend. When I started asking her to show up in our relationship, and not treat me like a rescue project to be done on her terms and convenience, who should be grateful, etc, she got very cold, dismissive and evasive. Her identity is very much taken up with her generosity and her taking care of people. But it is always her choice to over-give.

          I just seem to have always found myself on either end of this dynamic: rescuing (feeling good/strong), being perceived as needing rescue (gross), wanting rescue (and feeling ashamed about it). It’s a lot of work to rescue myself.

          Anyway, I just wanted to gently notice that you mention you made some decisions to take care of people in order to stretch a dollar (you don’t say whether you’re stretching your own dollars or helping your fam stretch theirs). It sounds like your commitments impact being able to show up independently for a healthy partner relationship? If you couldn’t afford to live on your own, then even if your sib and parent are hurting, you’re dependent on them, yes?

          I’m there right now, in my own way, too. Decisions I’ve made for my financial safety (where I live, who I work with) are now impacting my ability to feel in charge of my own life, and to feel like a chooser rather than a beggar. I know I can’t offer a stable, happy person to anyone until I’ve figured that out, and the idea that I might have to change jobs or cities in order to meet my own needs is … ugh, right now that feels too huge! I’m already so “responsible”! You mean I have to take care of this part, too?! I think I feel a rescue fantasy coming on just thinking about it …

          • Magnolia,
            Thanks so much for sharing.
            In my current situation we are stretching moneys on both sides. They save and I save so the moneys will last longer.
            I moved back from a great area for jobs (it was in another country) where I could have made it on my own but my parent and sib would have needed help which I could not provide once single. And then I would never have been able to see them because the countries are very far apart.
            Married, I could have helped, and that was the understanding with the ex in the marriage, but as I see it, he took advantage of my presence until it was convenient for him, and then avoided the part were I would have had to start helping my family. So he left me right when I could have done really well. And he found someone else who is a better deal.
            Had my husband been a normal/considerate husband all would have been well.
            In this country/area it is not great for jobs. People tend to get a job and keep it for life because there are no jobs. So for older people it is really hard to enter the job market. Still, I am not giving up.
            My identity is not taken up by taking care of people. Nor do I need a rescue project. Or to be rescued. It’s just the circumstances.
            Maybe, as you put it, my commitments impact being able to show up independently for a healthy partner relationship. But, darn, I am competent and capable and in the right setting I was thriving. And I think I would be a really good, loving partner.
            Thanks for not treating a rescue fantasy with contempt or shame.
            It’s nice to feel understood in a more specific way. So thanks for your words

    • I believe in the concept of helping others who need help if you are in a position to do so. In Tennessee we are fortunate enough to get bits of homespun wisdom from the famous Dolly Parton. She has never forgotten her early days — I live close by, and know people who know Dolly and her family — this is not just some publicity story. Dolly says there is a difference between a hand up, and a hand out.

      When the forest fires devastated the area around Gatlinburg, Dolly jumped into action. Many local people joined forces to get food and water and shelter and clothing to people who had lost their homes. Dolly had the financial means to help in an extraordinary fashion. She also donated a huge sum to Vanderbilt to help develop vaccine for this pandemic. She has provided books to children for years. She has set up scholarship funds to help educate the people in her region. She does not consider any of this a hand out. She can help, so she does, and it is not forever, and she expects nothing back.

      When a chump “rescues” another person, we generally have some type of expectation for gratitude and loyalty. You can be useful to someone, and there are many who will accept the hand out, but they do not feel the obligation to love back due to gratitude.

      Simple examples — if a man asks me out to dinner, to “get to know me better”, and I accept, I get dinner and a chance to know him, and he gets a chance to know me. He should not offer if he expects more from this transaction. If I know of a job, and help someone who needs a job get an interview, that is a hand up, not a hand out. If you are kind you can do kind things for others, but you do not expect a payback.

      When relationships are reciprocal, both sides expect the other to give and take from time to time. If Mr Dinner and I get along, as the relationship advances things will become more reciprocal. If we do not get along, or if we are not compatible, we can choose to be friends, or not. There is no contract at the beginning. If Mr Job gets the job, I hope he will help others, or even possibly me at some date in the future, but there is no contract.

      You need to love yourself. Don’t expect others to love you because they should. Do be mature enough and wise enough to protect yourself from being used. Don’t be in a hurry. Everyone I know has had good times and bad times in their life, your situation may be bad due to circumstances beyond your control. Was it always bad? Will it never get better? Do you need a perpetual hand out, or just a hand up at the moment? Do you owe someone who gives you help your love, or do you expect love because you help? Examine what is wrong with this expectation, and adjust your priorities. We all have value, some of us have had more opportunity than others. Some of us give, others take.

      My advise is find someone who knows and expects that life is a series of give and take. Develop friendship and trust, over time. Love carefully, and cautiously. Not all love will result in a life partner. A true friend is a rare find.

      • Portia, thanks.

        According to your Tennessee language, I took a hand up with my marriage to my ex, but my ex thought of it as a handout. So things went the following way:
        In my marriage I managed to do so much. Meant for the marriage, for both people (no children), and ex’s career went very well. Yet I was discarded, right when things looked very well, right when I had come far. And it all could have benefited the marriage. But it was not valued, not accepted. And I was replaced and dumped.

    • Anyone can have a patch of bad luck. But do they seek solutions and work hard to dig themselves out of that hole ? It isn’t that they have had problems, it is what are they doing/have done to address them.

      Someone who is seeking sympathy all the time is a red flag as well. We all have had past traumas, it is part of being human. But if they want to dwell on the negative stuff constantly makes for a depressing partner. Narcissists love to milk you for sympathy.

      • Mitz,
        I am not sure whether your reply falls under my original post.
        If it does, I repeat what I have already responded.
        Given that I come from a family of covert narcs, and that I had serious trauma and set-backs all my life for that reason alone, and that I made the decision to live with an aging parent and a traumatized sibling post divorce to share resources to make them go a long way, so to speak, I doubt that I will ever “recover from those set-becks” in the way that would be generally intended.

        Despite everything, my hope is that I might meet a considerate person, to reverse, as it were, the experience of my life. To give up on that hope would be a sin, I’d dare say. Because I would have no faith in the good. And that really would worry me.

        • Trying to move Forward………I think you did what was the best option given the poor hand you were dealt. And a considerate person would understand that.

          I have found that no one can reverse the trauma of my life. A certain amount of damage is permanent. But a happy partner can go a long way to improve our life.

          I am selective with what I share with my partner. He comes from a normal family and I can’t expect him to understand what a crappy family is like. We do talk about my issues, but I don’t want to belabour them too much. I can’t change the past.

          • Thank you Mitz,
            This is very helpful.
            I’ve read about people who come from trauma and who have a partner from a normal family and that things cannot be really understood.
            I am so glad for you that you have a happy partner.
            And you give me hope.

    • Rescue/Rescuer is inherently an unequal power dynamic. If a person with financial challenges is (unconsciously perhaps) hoping for someone to rescue them, they’re likely to run into someone who is controlling or who wants the rescued one to be “grateful.” Rescuers are often codependent and avoiding their own problems by “saving” others. As someone who has done it, rescuing never works out. Getting married or cohabiting because you have financial challenges is a recipe for unhappiness.

      That’s not to say everyone needs to have equal financial resources. A version of this is letting a BF/GF move in because having the income would be good or (on the other side) someone needs a place to live and your dating anyway…

      Other people are not a substitute for figuring out your own adult responsibilities. That doesn’t mean “don’t think creatively.” You can rent out a room or figure out a side hustle or you can indeed live with the parents or a sibling or a BFF while you get on your feet or because you’re needed as a caretaker. That’s not the same thing as being a deadbeat looking for someone to mooch from. Someone who has scarified to care for a sick parent or child is a hero. Money is not the only measure.

      I date someone who earns 1/2 what I do. I also have a higher mortgage so it evens out some. He gave up a long-term job to care for a parent with dementia. Being with him has been a blessing because he is very, very good at handling money and I’ve learned a lot from him. We don’t live together because both of us have our own home and like the independence. We are very good about sharing costs for things we do together. We are equals even though our resources are not identical in dollar terms. I would help him if he needed it and vice versa but both of us live within our means.

      • Yikes. …*you’re dating anyway…


        Clearly I have been on the computer too long today.

      • Was thinking that “Getting married or cohabiting because you have financial challenges is a recipe for unhappiness” makes the assumption that one that has financial challenges tries to solve that problem by marrying or cohabiting.

        It does not take into account the possibility that one
        a) may have financial challenges
        b) may want to get married/cohabit not to resolve the financial challenges, but because he/she sincerely would like to share life with a partner.

        It’s a little bit of a conundrum, but isn’t there the risk to miss out on love owing to too much caution, or overprotection, or cynicism?
        And I am not responding to you specifically, LovedAjackass. I am saying in general.

      • Furthermore, it might well be a historical aberration that individuals can live on their own.
        Not that long ago one would go from the FOO home to the home with the partner, because nothing other than that was financially feasible.

        I don’t know about the world you live in, but around me I see hardly any people who can afford to live on their own.

        And that is also the reason a lot of people stay together in relationships that are not ideal.

        Divorce is a luxury, in a way.
        And if you are discarded, well, you were not given the choice.

        • You’re right about the current economic situation making it very difficult to live alone. I’m going to be working into my 70s for that very reason. And Lordy, the kids who graduate from college and have to live at home with their parents.

          I might not have made my point in the best way. “Rescuing” is a term I’ve heard a lot in therapy referring to people whose relationship dynamics involves one person taking a superior position in a relationship to “fix” the other one or to be the knight in shining armor (or whatever). That’s not love between equals. I think it’s quite possible for two people to fall in love and to reap major financial benefits from an economic partnership. And I don’t think those people have to go in with identical bank accounts. But I don’t see those relationships as involving “rescue,” although I can see why the relief of financial stability might feel that way. I think there are some people who seek partners when their primary purpose is financial gain; that can be damaging to the more well-off person, who thinks they are loved when the relationship is transactional or to the person with fewer resources who is seen as “needing rescue.” Everything depends on the capacity of the people involved for love and reciprocity.

          • LovedAjackass,

            Thanks for your input regarding the living situations in your world.

            I always appreciate your comments. They have the distinct quality of clarity and succintness. Not to talk about the fact that you seem very knowledgeable.

            Yes, I see that this “rescue” term has a certain connotation.
            What I meant myself is the possibility of a relationship were the two partners have different resources but still the relationship is on equal footing. I think you express it beautifully with “everything depends on the capacity of the people involved for love and reciprocity.”

  • This should be taught to everyone in high school. They are the basics of human decency and it’s ridiculous to find out only after so much pain and frustration!

    • Yes. I really wish all high-schoolers were forced to take a course in human relationships and basic psychology along with civics or whatever. It’s true that there’s a lot more information out there about personal boundaries now than there was when I was that age, but I think teens could use more context and guided practice. I’ve tried to have those conversations with my teen, of course, but teens will listen only so much to their parents. It’s much more powerful (and they’ll probably retain more) if they learn alongside their peers.

      This hypothetical high school course could also include Diversity 101. I think we ask too much of our teens to launch into adulthood without understanding more of the identities and longstanding social biases that frame so many of our personal and professional interactions, not to mention what we see in the news.

      • Yes, if everyone had mature parents and would be able to give this kind of education, we would all be fine.

        If I think back, people outside of my direct family gave me some really good advice as they “saw” me, but when I was young I was still so loyal to my (not so mature) parents. It would have been fantastic if I could have realized that deep down people pretty much function the same way and we all deserve to be treated correctly. It could have opened me up from the island that was the family I grew up in and ranking myself always on the lowest in self esteem. Oh well, at least I learned the hard way 😉

        And LezChump, yes agree, diversity should be part of the curriculum too! Seriously, a lobby is needed for this ^^

  • Guilty as charged

    As a middle-aged guy chump with a house and income I was warned by friends that I would be immediately targeted by every single-mom out there.

    I thought I took my time but still ended up falling for poor choices.

    GF#1 – I almost did things right – waited a couple of years and got my own shit together. Got the divorce behind me and my ex as completely out of my mind as could be expected. Built a good bachelor life where I didn’t really “need” anyone. She love-bombed me pretty persistently and then ended up having a housing crisis (legit) after a few months in. She moved in here for a couple of months before she had the courage to end it. We were very much square peg and round hole. I’m grateful to her for that. I tried to make it work but it was indeed doomed from the beginning.

    GF#2 – was lurking in the wings and 2 weeks after getting dumped by #1 was asking me out. I held off for a few more weeks – I had a vacation planned – then went out with her. Story repeats. Love-bombed. It’s a great feeling to feel like someone is really in to you after a long time (26 years in my case) of being made felt “less than” by a partner. Even though I thought I was being cautious, I ended up being bullied (really no other way to describe it) into getting engaged and then her and her kids and critters moving in within 6 months. They were here for 4 months and I ended it – she was a hoarder who refused to look for work and who enjoyed spending all the money in the bank account while I cooked, and cleaned for her and her kids. Not to mention that me and my needs were minimized. When I was trying to work with her to sort out my issues I described feeling “compressed” and that the house had become “dark” – literally in fact. She would close all the curtains and hated the sunlight. Perhaps a vampire? She on the other hand thought everything was fine except for the fact that she felt that I never took her needs into account fully enough. We actually went to counseling where the counselor was shocked that we rarely had sex (it was frequent at the beginning but then the excuses started) and that while I said that I was only 30% committed and she was 90% that she couldn’t think of anything she could do different and rejected all the suggestions from the counselor. Shortly after that was when I made the decision to ask her to leave. There really was nothing to work with.

    Anyhoo – almost disentangled from that. Getting a hoarder to take their stuff is difficult. Before she moved it in here, she had her hoard stored with at least 2 ex partners as well as friends and relatives.

    It’s left me damaged and scarred. I’m doing fine – but really wonder if I’ll ever be able to let someone get that close to me again. Part of what bothers me is that it’s not just me that gets hurt. GF#1 had some grandkids who loved coming out to Nona’s big house from their tiny apartment. #2 has shed her kids (long story) who had looked to this place as a source of stability in what had been a chaotic life. Her dog – who would constantly pee on the rug – rug now disposed of – loved having a back-yard. The barnyard smell that permeated this once and now again tidy house is fading.


    • Oh BT, I am so sorry. I’ve been following your story, and yeah, your picker is pretty broken.

      I can see the echoes of Mme Yoga Pants in both relationships. It’s like that idea of reincarnation where you have to keep having the same life over again until you figure out where it’s going wrong.

      Medicating with people is a famous Chump trap when we get back into the dating game. Being needed is like crack cocaine to us.

      All the dopamine just floods the brain, and all the red flags look like lovely bunting on the verandah of the new romance.

      If it’s any consolation, I do read Chumps here saying sometimes that they’ve moved on to someone new in what seems like an alarmingly short time. I always worry.

      Be single for a while again. You won’t die of it. And maybe find a good therapist who can help you rebuild, this time on better foundations.

      • “All the dopamine just floods the brain, and all the red flags look like lovely bunting on the verandah of the new romance.”

        What a great visual reminder! Thank you!

        • I agree!!! Such a welcome image as well as a good reminder! Love it!

          [Note: I’m a sucker for good writing, which is one reason I keep coming back to this site. First, we have our wordsmith in chief, CL, and then we have my fellow chumps, who never cease to impress and entertain me. Let’s hope there’s no correlation between having a way with words and partners having their way with us.]

    • Awww, Bow Tie,

      I’m so sorry. I’d take some time off women if I were you. And then when you’re ready, only date women that you pursue, not the ones that chase you.

      I was married for 25 years to a guy who treated me badly. It’s been 10 years since the divorce was final. Sometimes I think I’m ready to date. And other days I think I’d rather be single for the rest of my life.

      • I don’t think it’s the pursuit terms that are the problem, it’s breaking the ‘Do Not Rescue’ rule that’s a problem.

        Personally, I’d also say an older person wanting to move in soon is a huge red flag. Young people, sure – they’re straight out of sharing housing with their parents, probably already sharing with roommates, so why not share housing with their S/O instead? Heck, you can share a single room and save on rent. For older people, though? You already have your own life and way of doing things, and if you’re jumping into living with someone, it usually means that your “way of doing things” is just to live off other people.

    • My ex was also a love bomber. She also implied that I had “issues with intimacy” because I wasn’t comfortable with her saying “I love you” after 6 weeks.
      One thing I learned that has served me well is to be aware that for me, sex can create feelings of attachment regardless of the appropriateness of the partner. This results in me having difficulty extracting myself from the wrong relationship because it feels like cutting off my own arm.

      So with current wife I reminded myself that regardless of how I felt, I needed to go slow and keep my eyes open. I reminded myself that a lot of the initial rush of being with someone new is based on what I wanted to see, not reality. Luckily my wife was of the same mind; she had rushed into her last relationship with an inappropriate (but not abusive) partner and so we only saw each other one night a week for a few months.

      • Good for you, Marianne! I know very well how early-stage relationships can be with two women… I think it’s possible I permitted Tom much some lovebombing with my STBX, though we met so long ago (it will be 27 years next month) that I don’t even really remember anymore. We were also so very young! I’m so glad you have found someone healthier.

        And to Bow Tie: I thought of your story when reading today’s column. I’m so very sorry that you felt bullied by GF #2. I can totally see how that might happen, esp. when kids are in the equation. It sounds like you’ve learned some hard-won lessons, and I appreciate your sharing your cautionary tale with the rest of us. All best to you!

    • Not sure why disordered individuals with chaotic, unstable lives bring a dog into the picture but they do and the dog suffers. Oh and for some reason they never, ever housebreak the dog. It is a great indicator of a disordered personality. A person can go through tough times but when they intentionally add to the chaos? Huge red flag.

    • XAss is a hoarder. I think that was a big part of why he refused to move from the small remote town we lived in that was not meeting our son’s needs socially and educationally (kid’s a smarty pants who heading to a full ride at just about any college he wants to go to).

      I really feel for the kid as one day he’s going to have to deal with at least 5 properties full of hoard. Once I moved out I started to breathe again and feel the light again. One of the best things I got back after I left was being able to live again in a comfortable, clean, and emotionally clear space.

    • I’m a far way of from a relationship as only been living alone in my new house for just under two months but my friend is also in same situation and he has been single for two years now. We are both 37 and he started playing with tinder for some hookups and meeting girls via work etc. 99% of the women who message him are single mothers (no offence to single mothers , I was raised by one and so was he) but out of the dozens and dozens he has spoken to, nearly every last one has asked what’s his job, does he have his own house and what type of car does he drive. I’ve read the messages and it’s clear they are just looking a man with material assets. When I start dating, my picker hopefully is going into full CIA mode and I won’t be ignoring any red flags that landed me into a mess with my ex wife cheater.

      • >>I’ve read the messages and it’s clear they are just looking a man with material assets.

        I’ve got to ask you about that the word “just”. Asking such questions doesn’t necessarily mean gold digger. Those women might be screening for irresponsible men-children who have great plans which don’t translate into adulting. Such men will spin some success story which pops like a bubble when you see that their real car looks like it’s fall apart. Pinning such men down on facts which can be checked is a great way to screen for lovefraud and other red flags. Hard luck single mothers are a favorite target for male predators and love fraud too.

        I’m glad you have a good friend you can compare notes with.

      • I ask to make sure they are not a freeloader like my ex was.
        If they dont have their life semi together i dont want to know .

    • Bow Tie: I was with a hoarder for 2 years. He was also cheap to the extreme and essentially married to his grown daughter. It was doomed , but I had a lot of hopium back then. He wanted to buy a house for us but wanted me to pay half and wanted a monstrosity to put his hoard ( and his daughter) in, and couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel like paying half of a house that I wouldn’t be able to use fully for us. When I suggested my place as it is much smaller and new inside, and only asked him to pay rent( at my lawyer’s recommendation to protect my sole significant asset), he refused saying he hadn’t paid rent since university ( red flag), He then suggested he buy into my house( giant red flag) stating his share would go to his daughter. That was a giant hell no. I stepped away, he was not prepared to be a partner, just wanted a partner( and a nurse and a purse), he was worth about 2 mil by the way so none of it was Ok since he was not being reciprocal. That was an important lesson for me. I have had much luck since but nobody has been invited to move in at all. I won’t be doing that again until I find someone who is fully reciprocal and I don’t see any red flags( it may never happen but I would rather be alone than with a toxic partner again). Sometimes these lessons are hard-won.

      • I’m with you, Newlady15. I love men. I want sex, because I haven’t had it in literally years (pandemic + Nitwit was a sexual withholder). But I have discovered how much more peaceful it is to live on my own and how easy it is to save money when I am not supporting 140-150 pounds of dead weight. I neither have nor want children, so why would I want to allow a man into my living space or bank account ever again?

        • Nor do I want a guy who has significantly more money than I do. Any man who is rich enough to give you everything you want is also powerful enough to take it all away with interest if and when things go south. As others have said beware of overly generous “rescuers”.

    • BT,

      Heal first. You have a big empty spot because your marriage was comprised of your X emotionally abusing you. Just as you never go into a grocery store hungry, you don’t date when you aren’t fairly complete in yourself. When you don’t “need” someone else to help you feel “less than,” you’re ready to date. I was over 60 but spent 2 years getting myself straightened out. Some targeted therapy will make the process move along.

      Note that you can be OK by yourself but once you get into a relationship, you find yourself attracted to lovebombing, neediness, and pressure to accelerate. So once you straighten out, date. Resist any attempt to be “exclusive.” Figure out the KIND of woman you want. For example, it’s not enough for me to find someone who isn’t a drunk. What kind of person is this? Once you meet new people and pay attention to character, you many be very surprised that your old “type” is no longer attractive. One of the things I like about the man I date now is that he is very accountable for himself–his money, his time, his pets, his adult kiddo, his work. I wouldn’t have picked him out 10 years ago.

      Never let anyone move into your house until you see she has her life together and that on basic issues of housekeeping, finances and boundaries will be compatible. Been there, done that, won’t do it again. Getting a freeloader out of your house (whether “partner” or relative) isn’t easy or painless.

  • Fixing my picker made me go back to basics. The best thing I have done (learned?) is something that comes prior to any relationship, and it has come in steps.

    The first thing I have done is to examine my own values, and the second is to convince myself, to accept, that it is okay for me to have those values–that I am allowed to have my own values. I have spent a good part of my life surrounded by people who believe what they value and are committed to is what I need also to value and commit to, and if I’m not, then I’m faulty or bad. In most cases, their values and commitments are laudable, but they aren’t mine, or what I want to organize my life around.

    The third thing I have done is to set boundaries to support my values and allow me to live my life around and by them. And again, I have had to convince myself that is is okay for me to have and set boundaries, that I am as entitled to my life as others are to theirs. I still battle with the idea that to do so is to be selfish, but have reached the point that I can understand that is my chumpiness talking (although it’s not a bad thing to have a little humility, after all).

    I’ve had to learn to say no, to know what I can control and what I can’t, and to be comfortable with the blowback that follows from some people when I say no or otherwise set a boundary.

    I am in no way ready to think about another relationship, and I don’t know if I will even decide that’s what I want. Right now, I’m fully engaged in setting myself and my life to rights.

    • I love this: “I’ve had to learn to say no, to know what I can control and what I can’t, and to be comfortable with the blowback that follows from some people when I say no or otherwise set a boundary.”

      I work toward this every day and celebrate small movements in the right direction.

  • The perspective that I would offer is perhaps a little tangential, but I’d be grateful for other chumps’ views.

    Following 10+ years of increasingly being treated like complete sh*t by Ex-Mrs LFTT (think slow-boiling frog), it was very difficult to see that the kindness, compassion and support provided by a female work colleague while I dealt with the post-D Day sh*tshow was just that …. the kindness, compassion and support that normal human beings show towards a friend who is suffering.

    It’s not so much my picker that needed fixing, as my ability to deal with someone being other than utterly horrible towards me and not read completely the wrong thing into it. I was very lucky to have that friend’s support, but I am sure that the feelings that I developed (but thankfully never acted upon) embarrassed her a lot.


    • “It’s not so much my picker that needed fixing, as my ability to deal with someone being other than utterly horrible towards me and not read completely the wrong thing into it.”

      That’s your picker. Or rather, it’s part of it. The wounds are many, and they go deep.

      If you fall in love easily with anyone who’s nice to you, that’s telling you something about yourself.

      This is useful stuff to explore in therapy or journalling.

    • A friends wife fixed me a nice meal and served it to me very thoughtfully. I broke down crying because I hadn’t experienced that for a few years. It was all out of kindness. I had not received kindness for a while. I would have been really vulnerable to an unhealthy relationship at that time, but had a good support network to keep me focused on healing.

      • Bruno,

        I recognised something similar in myself them then; I couldn’t stop myself developing feelings for my friend, but I could stop myself acting on them. I don’t think my picker was entirely broken, but it certainly needed some calibration.

        The events I described above were nearly 6 years ago; the fact that I have remained single since D Day is because I know that I need to be careful. That and that bringing up 3 kids (and getting promoted at work just after the divorce was finalised) as a single father has kept me rather busy.


      • I totally understand this reaction to kindness. I had not had a massage in 18 months, until this month, after I had both shots of the vaccine (one year because of Covid, the six months before that because I was out of town caring for my then 93-year-old mother); at the end of the massage, when the therapist was sitting at my head and massaging my neck, head, and face, tears starting pouring out of my eyes. I wasn’t sobbing, it was just a release of tears. I realized it was a pent up release; I had not had a nurturing touch for 18 long months. (I live by myself, and because of the necessity of traveling to see my mother, I don’t have a pet.) It was unnerving to realized what I’d been carrying.

        • Yup, my last massage was March 2020. I remember cancelling the steam room before the message because of a new flu-like illness that was rapidly spreading.

      • I got excited and thought it was so sweet when a coffee date guy stirred my coffee for me… shows how low my needs were and how lacking my ex had made me for any small acts of kindness. He couldn’t do the large acts never mind the small!
        That was a revelation! My knees went weak because someone stirred my coffee?!? I despair in myself sometimes..haha…but seriously it made me see that small things can count.

    • I know exactly what you are talking about. I too have been vulnerable to people just throwing me scraps of decency.

    • I hear ya. In the wake of Dday, any gesture of kindness made me burst into tears. It made me realize I had been living without kindness for so long that I was starved for it. Slow boiling frog is exactly right. They condition you to accept their emotional brutality over time by gradually upping the abuse, but throwing you some crumbs from time to time to give you false hope. You don’t even realize it’s happening. This is a technique used in actual torture to make the victim emotionally dependent on the torturer. Stockholm Syndrome/trauma bond is the result. Since it’s effective on torture victims, it stands to reason it would be even more so with somebody who’s already emotionally invested. I don’t think FWs know they are applying an actual torture technique, they just know it allows them to get away with being assholes.

      • I remember telling Nitwit that by depriving me of sleep he was literally torturing me and putting my life at risk if I continued commuting while sleep-deprived. I did in fact have a minor car accident while driving to work one morning after he pitched a 5 star fit, even by his standards. He stopped for awhile, possibly because no breadwinning chump = no income for him, then started up again with the sleep deprivation. The fact that I stayed with him for at least another year after that in spite of my knowledge of the Geneva Convention is proof of my chumpiness.

        • Hey, at least you only stayed a year after that…the sleep deprivation seems to be a common thing they do. But I bought all the crazy gaslighting (funhousing? there was a whole set, and paid actors) and could be bullied back into believing our time together was Saving His Life. Maybe it was even true, because he did kick the bucket 6 months after I finally went no contact. ????

    • Yes, LookingForwardstToTuesday,

      True vulnerability in my FOO and then in my marriage was not possible. Because, I suppose, it was looked upon with contempt.
      It is only after all came down that I could start to truly feel it, and with it compassion for myself.
      I started thawing, as it were.

      I suppose that before that I somehow “thought” that I did not deserve kindness.

  • Recently, while talking with a gay friend who is no longer interested in casual dating and only wants to spend time with people also looking for life partners, I was struck by how direct he was in articulating the qualities he wanted in a partner. His confidence made me realize how differently I have been socialized. He wouldn’t dream of dating anyone who didn’t share his level of education, but I’ve been taught to think of myself as snobby if I dismiss potential partners based on education level. He wants a partner who shares his interests in one or more types of performing arts, I’ve been taught that demanding a partner enjoy a play or classical concert is elitist and that I should do that on my own if a guy doesn’t care for theater. It was an eye-opening conversation. As a gay man, he has learned to dismiss cultural expectations that I have internalized (no doubt, his personal insights have been hard won and are the result of resisting lots of discrimination and hate). He would never date a man who insisted that every NFL game was a priority, but I have done so because I’ve been taught not to put my own priorities so high. I’ve been taught that if a guy is hard-working or responsible, he should be a candidate. In short, I’ve been taught to set a very low bar–I should be willing to date anyone who isn’t a jackass.

    I had given up on dating because I found I enjoyed spending time with friends who shared my interests more rewarding than dating men who didn’t (even when they were “nice” guys).

    The conversation has given me new inspiration to date. I’m not certain I’ll find someone. But I look forward to having fewer bad experiences because I am working on eliminating people who aren’t what I want without guilt or feeling the need to give them more time or a second chance, etc.

    My friend also puts a ton of time into dating. He’ll drive hours to meet someone if weeks of texting and zooming have led them both to believe they are well suited. But on the second date, he expects the other person to make the long drive. He and his dates discuss big topics sometimes before they even meet–are they both interested in marriage, would either of them relocate, how slowly do they want to move in regard to sex, will they both be willing to be exclusive nearly immediately while they decide whether their relationship has potential? The lack of game playing is also so appealing to me.

    Maybe this dynamic is harder to establish with heterosexual dating, but maybe not. I don’t get the sense that my friend finds it easy either. Yet, he is unapologetic about his wants and needs, and I find that inspiring.

    • Something I’ve noticed as a woman who dates men is how much society has tried to manage down my standards. It started when I was a teenager. I’ve been constantly told to give creeps and rude jerks with nothing going for them a chance. Or that I must be a gold-digger to expect a man to have a job.

      Meanwhile my exes and guy friends quickly dumped women when they weren’t feeling it for any reason (or no reason).

      I’ve since learned to be ruthless with my standards too. It’s made my life much easier. It weeds out the time wasters and potential abusers.

      One of my standards is that I don’t chase anyone anymore. Ever. For any reason. I don’t chase, cajole, or start explaining ANYTHING to an adult. I give people space to move the way they wish.

      If a person moves toward me and invests in a relationship, cool. If not, sayonara.

      If somebody doesn’t want to be in your life, let ’em go. Assholes who don’t like you and have no goodwill toward you will happily steal from you if you let them stay.

      • I don’t ‘chase’ either and boy was that a hard lesson to learn, and to practice! When talking to my girlfriend’s about dating I’m often told, “Why don’t you send him a message? on a new guy that may have ‘liked’ me. Or someone that I had been chatting with who hasn’t responded or reached out in a while. And I reply, “Every time I have ever chased a man and caught him, I’ve regretted it.”

        I am right now talking with a man who I find very attractive and who has potential for dating. We had 5 days of frequent daily text messages. One video chat that went very well. A very nice text message exchange last weekend. I haven’t heard from him since. And I’m NOT going to message him or try to contact him in any way. Its kinda sad that he hasn’t contacted me, but……I feel very solid with my choice to NOT reach out to him. And proud of myself for making this solid boundary and keeping to it.

        • Good job!

          If a man doesn’t move it from texting to a date within a few days, I know he’s not serious and I next him.

    • I like that approach, but the chances of finding somebody who likes the exact same things you do are slim. For me, compatible values are what matters. If he’s honest, kind, giving, socially and politically progressive, loyal, and prioritizes health, I don’t mind that he’s not into dance, film noir, hiking and classic architecture. We can find some common ground in a few areas and put up with the other things which merely bore us but we don’t actually hate. For example, I put up with the jerk’s TV sports, but I shouldn’t have. I do hate them and it pissed me off that he hogged the TV for such tripe. I would never date another guy who was a big sports fan, but if he has some interests that I find dull, that’s no biggie. I think that’s inevitable, but you should be able to share a few things. Values, OTOH, you must share or the relationship will suck. My dilemma is that the jerk pretended to share my values and I don’t know how to spot a good faker. He was expert at faking it because he lies to himself, thus had convinced himself he did have those values. He “resolved” the cognitive dissonance from his secret life versus his alleged values by getting drunk.
      How do we figure out who they really are if they don’t even know themselves and just adopt our values? I’m stuck on that one.

      • I struggled with that question for a long time too.

        My standard now is I simply DON’T date people who clearly don’t know themselves and don’t have their life together. Nobody’s perfect, but I expect the basics: a career, good relationships, emotional intelligence, a good understanding of one’s values and goals.

        Values are revealed through behavior over time.

      • “ My dilemma is that the jerk pretended to share my values and I don’t know how to spot a good faker. He was expert at faking it because he lies to himself, thus had convinced himself he did have those values. ”

        THIS. I had the covert narc, that mimicked positive behavior. Total fraud and difficult to detect. I vetted and vetted and still got conned. This is the man I’ll worried about encountering again because they are so adept at hiding.

        Biggest (only) red flag was he didn’t have close friends he would hang out with.

        How to discover (and keep away) from these men in the future?

        • Not having friends is a huge red flag, tbh. I dealt with a guy like that and it cost me big time later.

          Something I’ve found helpful is I give people less to work with (so they can’t mirror me) and I listen very carefully to their stories.

          I’ve been conned by really good bullshit artists who try really hard to hide who they are upfront. In hindsight, every single one showed a red flag early, sometimes the day we met, and I either didn’t recognize it at the time or swept it under the table.

          • Yeah, mirroring is a tip off for me that I’m dealing with someone on the NPD spectrum (narc). A healthy person won’t creep me out by mimicking me because they have their own strong sense of self and don’t need to, honestly.

            Which leads me to what I’ve found is the real key: relying on my gut instinct. Sometimes humans copy each other a bit just because we like and admire each other. It’s a matter of degree. If my gut tells me something feels off, I don’t question it. I don’t need a reason, or even to understand it completely. I’m out. Doesn’t matter if they know themselves or not. Not your problem. At first I had to re-discover this in myself (FOO nearly destroyed it). But it’s fun now. Never let me down yet. ????

              • ????????

                Yep. It’s awesome, isn’t it? Even if someone has to work in the beginning to re-discover it like I did, I’d say it’s completely worth doing. ????

            • Nita,

              Gut instinct.
              It’s true that if your FOO nearly destroyed it, it needs be re-discovered in yourself.

              • Twenty years ago, I probably would’ve said it was something I’d never be able to successfully figure out.

                We humans are so beautifully resilient.

          • Yes, my amazing, too good to be true fuckwit, did not have 1 real friend. He also preferred women as ‘friends’. I didn’t think anything of it because he wasn’t a guy’s guy and he wasn’t to my knowledge socializing outside of work with women.
            The covert types are hard…..mine had so many good qualities. Cheating and discarding really made us all see what a complete fraud he was.

        • Exactly. Mine was also covert, but did have friends and the only red flag I can think of was that his family was weird. But so is mine, so who was I to judge. Everyone was shocked by what the jerk did, as it seemed totally out of character. He successfully faked it for decades, and I’m pretty sure he was not fully aware that he was faking. I doubt I could trust again knowing there are people this adept at mirroring values. I’d rather be alone than risk it.

          • I think FOO issues will be a huge red flag for me, if I ever date again. They were probably the clearest indication that my STBX had no stable sense of self, not that I was able to recognize that when I was 21.

            It’s not the FOO issues per se – people from dysfunctional families can obviously be good partner material, as many chumps can attest! The real red flag, to me, is if someone from a fucked-up family can’t describe with emotional intelligence the work they have done to resolve those FOO issues, and if they still defer to the FOO on major issues. If I ever wonder how the hell my potential partner survived their childhood, we would need to have that conversation in great detail – and I would need to hear about and SEE the healthy boundaries that potential partner has enforced over time.

            • Whst an excellent point. Yes, that’s definitely a conversation that needs to be had early on. I wish I’d done so.
              I didn’t find out until I was engaged that the ex was dominated by his mother. She went ballistic with jealousy once she knew she was not getting her son back and would demand something ridiculous or do something crazy and abusive and he wouldn’t enforce boundaries. I had to put her on a leash myself as he was too much of a wimp. I should have canceled the wedding on that basis alone, but at the time I had a potentially deadly illness and was not well enough to support myself. My doctor had told me I could blow my heart to kingdom come just by being moderately active, so I probably wasn’t thinking clearly due to fear. In hindsight, I could have gone on public assistance and my life would likely have turned out better than going through this bullshit.
              Shoulda woulda coulda.

              • Hugs to you, ((OHFFS)). Am glad you’re away from him (& her) now. We have all lived and learned!

            • LezChump,
              I too married into an enmeshed family. And come from enmeshed families. All things I discovered only after having been discarded and having done research.
              Now, I too would look into whether, as you say “someone from a fucked-up family can describe with emotional intelligence the work they have done to resolve those FOO issues.”

          • The FOO is tough. My family is very problematic- lots of obvious big and sad problems. My siblings and I are not cheaters. I thought FW’s family was fantastic. They were all so utterly charming (like him), and so into me (like him). Then when he discarded me, so did they. His mom quickly befriended the OW.
            I see now they were very enmeshed. He had an isolated childhood and thought of his upbringing and parents as flawless and above and beyond. They blew constant smoke up his ass. They blew smoke up my ass too. They liked to be invited over and out and were always saying what you wanted to hear.
            The two people I know who received endless compliments from their moms (FW and a former female friend) both became cheaters.

        • Fearful&loathing,
          I had the covert narc as well (and come from a family of covert narcs). And I have come to think that there is no protection from that. Just luck.
          Because, as you say:
          “the jerk pretended to share my values and I don’t know how to spot a good faker. He was expert at faking it because he lies to himself, thus had convinced himself he did have those values. ”

          • “I don’t know how to spot a good faker.”

            I knew nothing about narcs and personality disordered and generally amoral immoral people.

            Now I know and I need to put that knowledge to good use because it cost a lot to get that knowledge.

            • You are right, Langele.
              The knowledge was hard earned. And it is to be put to good use.

              Yet I still think that some one would not be able to identify.
              Maybe it’s me. My thinking is that you cannot control everything.

        • The really skilled ones *will* have friends they spend time with, who are really good people. They couldn’t spin others into their con, otherwise. I think the trick though is to stay open to evidence, and (very quietly, you don’t want to tip them off) stay open to the possibility that everything someone else tells you could be a lie, from their favorite color to what they had for breakfast. But disordered personality types will have tells, and now I can spot certain types pretty quickly. Watch what they do, not what they say, and look at as long a timeline as you can manage. Probably not a bad idea to hire a PI at some point if you really want to vet someone. And if there is a lack of information available, consider the possibility that they’re paying to suppress it. Google searches on my ex returned very different results after he went to prison and I stopped payment on all his extraneous digital expenses.

      • I don’t think all our interests need to be the same, and I’m willing to spend some time on things I find only vaguely interesting because the other person is good company no matter what we may be doing. But I’ll expect the same from him. I didn’t demand reciprocity last time around. I agree also that values are foundational, but as I’ve gotten older I may simply just value my diminishing time more. I don’t want to spend too much of my time being in a relationship (which necessarily involves lots of compromise and patience) if we don’t share some important interests.

    • If you are looking for a friend, or a life partner, there is no crime in being clear about what characteristics attract you. I don’t think you are settling if you can compromise to a degree — but the other person needs to do so, too, or it won’t work.

      I am retired, so I don’t look for a life partner. I do seek new friends, and I have found some I have a great deal in common with. Others may only share an interest or two. If I ever meet someone who might be more of a true companion, it will take lots of time and discussion before any transition occurs. I cannot see a true companion for me who does not have the same ideas about the qualities of friendship and values in life. I am heterosexual, so I would expect him to be just as choosy as I am for it to ever work. I do not expect to meet this person, but I do not exclude the possibility of it ever happening.

    • I agree with everything except the education part. There are many reasons why someone was not able to go and/or afford college but that does not mean that they are ‘uneducated’. I have seen MANY times when someone with a college degree(s) was not very smart financially or even had common sense. Education levels should not be a deal breaker in my book. But, I realize that is my choice and he can have his.

  • My biggest lesson: I can’t change other people.

    Date and befriend someone based on who they are now, NOT who they could be down the road. Potential isn’t real. You can’t pay bills with potential, and you certainly can’t build any kind of relationship on it. Could you imagine going to work for a boss whose business is a shitshow but: “They’re full of big ideas and dreams! They’re gonna be huge one day!”

    HELL NO.

    • This is good advice for those chumps who are now dating and have discovered something in that relationship that is really difficult. We often hear advice to communicate, to talk things out, and that’s a much better strategy than being passive-aggressive or sarcastic or hinting about issues. But the fact is (for example) a man who likes to socialize alone (without his GF) is not partner material. That’s something you might not notice early on in dating, when you only spend an evening together or maybe a full day on a weekend. But once things get more serious, you discover that someone never gets home until 8 pm because of happy hour or there’s a bunch of Xs out there he or she likes to have dinner with every week. If that’s not how you want to live, it’s time to end the relationship and find someone who wants what you want. And–that’s not controlling or jealous or expecting too much. It’s what you want for your life.

      • Your observations are spot on. I think the advice to “communicate” is, in general, overrated and overused.

        Nobody’s a mind reader, but communication is treated as a panacea for all relationship ills. Sometimes you’re just NOT compatible and it’s better to admit that ASAP and not try to shoehorn something that wasn’t mean to be in the first place.

        Women in particular get saddled with advice to “just communicate more.” Communication only works if your partner wants to hear you AND the problem isn’t a misalignment on values. You can’t communicate someone out of abuse, cheating, addiction, or profound lifestyle differences. It’s not our job to raise another adult or teach them how to behave.

        • >>I think the advice to “communicate” is, in general, overrated and overused.

          Plus it’s dangerous. Abusers take what you communicate to fake and manipulate.

          • YES. I stayed in an abusive relationship for 10 years because my ex would argue with me any time I tried to leave, and I thought I needed consensus to break up. I thought he was confused and didn’t understand.

            10 years! A decade! I only finally left by ghosting him and going no contact.

            It took me therapy to realize it wasn’t a miscommunication problem – I was being manipulated. If I stayed and kept trying to communicate, I’d still be in that hostage situation trying to negotiate my release to this day.

  • Yeah, I have never done this. I’ve never dated someone for a few months and then moved on. It’s like once there’s intimacy, it’s going to be a YEARS long thing. I should have moved on with all those previous relationships, I just have no idea how to dump someone once we’ve been sexual. Obviously, I need to learn.

    • Personally, this is why I now wait months to even start sleeping with a new beau. Easily 3 to 6 months.

      Vetting people and establishing genuine emotional intimacy takes TIME. Unfortunately, hookup culture has really screwed up expectations when it comes to courtship.

      • I think you’re right. Oxytocin is a hell of a drug too. It causes temporary blindness. 😉

        Do you feel that you have to explain that to someone – the reasons for waiting? Are kisses and cuddles enough to show that the interest is there even if you’re not getting right to it?

        • I find I don’t need to get into the reasons beyond a general statement about wanting to get to know them better and I don’t jump into bed right away. People who get it, get it. People who have a problem with it weed themselves out, and that’s great. I want people who want a genuine relationship, who are choosy themselves, who respect my boundaries, and who have the patience and maturity to wait for what they want.

          This isn’t about being difficult. It’s about vetting, and vetting takes time. There’s no getting around that.

          A guy once dumped me because he didn’t get sex by the 3rd date and acted like I missed out on something. All I “missed” was a selfish manipulator who wouldn’t have stuck around after he got laid anyway.

          • Ooooohhh, Cam, if you ever run into this guy again, can you pass him along?

            He sounds like a real prize! Wanna make sure I don’t miss out on his fantastic greatness! ????????????

            • LOL I can’t imagine that guy is still available. The ladies must’ve beaten a path to his door ????????????

              • Our loss, Cam. ???? Guess we’ll just have to settle for someone who isn’t completely full of himself. You know, a guy who has empathy, respect for others, healthy boundaries…. Gonna be hard, but i think we can do it! ????

  • Ok, so my poor picker is not only broken, but it’s been in storage for 35+ years. I’ve dusted it off recently and taped it up with values and a few red-flag alerts, but it’s really in sad shape.

    So I say, “Call in reinforcements!” Going forward, I’ll solicit the opinions of trusted friends and family (the ones who’ve buttressed me through all this) and give them permission to smack me across the head if I’m headed in the wrong direction.

    Oh, and I will never re-marry. Also, I plan to keep my own place. Always. CONTROL!

    • Amen to all of the above! I could possibly see remarrying, but it would have to be under very specific circumstances that might not ever happen. And that would be totally fine! Giving up control/independence is unthinkable.

    • I feel the same way Spinach@35, I can’t imagine remarrying and really sharing my life. Heck I can’t even imaging sharing a hamper or a shelf in a closet and don’t know that I ever will care to. I will never give up my own place (freedom) – after so many years of no control or more succinctly being controlled-down to the color of my underwear no less. I don’t know if I will ever be ready to cede even an inch when it comes to my living situation and at this point I don’t care if I ever become ready -I realize I enjoy the solitude and peace that I have found since FW when blew up our life together.

      • Yeah.

        Chumperella, your underwear comment really hit me. I’m sorry. That sucks. I guess we all ceded control in one way or another.

        You mention hesitancy about sharing a life with someone else. I share that hesitation. Heck, I don’t even want to share a bathroom. The threshold is pole-vault-level high for that degree of intimacy. Hard to imagine.

        • I like your pole-vault-level description – brought a smile to my face. Anyway, I can say with certainty that I don’t know what I want and I am not sure what I need at this point if I were to pursue a relationship. When you committed your entire adult life to lie and found out you built your house on quick sand it is hard to figure this out. I tried dating when I was 8 months out from the divorce being final and it was both a mistake and a good learning experience. I got in too deep to fast, fell for the love bombing and then started spackling over his clear anger/control issues. On a positive note, I learned that trying to merge 2 families is hard when everyone is an adult. I thought that he and I being on the same level of success at our careers and level of education was enough but it became clear that having kids that don’t match in those areas was certainly a sore spot for him – I did not see that coming. We celebrated the Thanksgiving through Christmas holidays together and I realized that I enjoyed them better with just my kids and their partners – someone else in the mix just felt wrong and uncomfortable – I did not give myself enough time to think about that before inviting him and his sons. Anyway, I ended it when it became clear that he had a problem with my children’s successes.

          I have not dated in 2 years – thought I was ready and then of course Covid happened and right now I am glad I did not dive back in. In some ways it feels that anything beyond a casual relationship is just too much work at this point in my life – I’m 58. They idea of planning any of my spare time around another person outside of my immediate family seems exhausting. I hope that I eventually meet someone who is special enough to make me feel differently but I am in no rush and if it doesn’t happen I am at peace with that. I am quietly planning a 60th birthday trip to Italy for just me and I am actually very excited about the prospect of traveling alone – hoping we are in a post-pandemic world by then!

  • I am learning so much about how I need to fix my picker.
    I think just about everything CL listed I need to look out for if I ever have another intimate relationship.
    I got major love bombing in the beginning, I needed to be needed and he sure seemed to need me. And I also at the time was so desperate for someone to want me I ignored red flags, including his quitting jobs for no good reason and then remaining unemployed until I was getting on his case about going to work. This issue persisted through out our marriage.
    But it is only one red flag I should have paid more attention to.
    There are so many more.

  • All 3.5 of my cheaters “fell in love” with me, and I believed the cultural narrative in place at the time, that they were the heroes of the story and I was a terrible person for not loving them back and so I forced myself to love them and be in committed relationships with them. My love was manufactured, but genuine; my pain was real (but could have been avoid with a simple “that sounds like a you problem.”)

    So if you feel stupid in the past, take comfort in the knowledge that someone had an infinitely stupider picker method.

    • Also, the last person I dated was homeless when we started dating, and I couldn’t say no because it would be “shallow” and “cruel” to do so when he was so in love. (He was the .5 — was quite honest about how he wasn’t exclusive, but was supposed to tell me and let me use condoms when he had a new sexual contact, and he didn’t. So not cheating, per se.)

      I think I’m bookmarking this post.

      • Oof. “Couldn’t say no.” I hope you know now that OF COURSE you can and should say no when someone doesn’t meet your requirements. And everybody needs requirements.

        re: “All 3.5 of my cheaters “fell in love” with me.” Sadly, I’ve noticed parasites only “fall in love” with new hosts to the extent the latter provides for them: money, sex, eager strokes, the veneer of normalcy, a couch to crash, whatever.

        • Cam, too much truth there!

          I think it’s more than that. I think cheaters see themselves as the heroes of the movie, and that they are entitled to be issued a great job and a manic pixie dream girl (or male/ nonbinary equivalent) to fix their issues, plus a pass to discard the last model, plus a Manhattan apartment, because it’s in their script. Aren’t they the hero? Well, aren’t they? Whereas in the real world, you don’t get to breeze through your problems with a peppy montage sequence. It takes work.

          I’m working on being the hero of my own life now.

    • >>So if you feel stupid in the past, take comfort in the knowledge that someone had an infinitely stupider picker method.

      Ha, ha, ha!! I think you’re in a run for your money for that title on this site. :D. But I’ll respect that you are a contender.

      I’m sad to say that I’m someone who also made myself love some demanding jerk because he knew how to press my buttons. I didn’t respect my own heart, and came up with ways why I didn’t have to listen to its truth. In my defense, my parents taught me that. It would have helped if I’d had any kind of relationship (family or friends) where I could have confessed my truth and had it respected. At least this site is a place to speak our truth and be heard & understood. Thanks for sharing!

      • >>I didn’t respect my own heart

        Oh, I feel that so hard.

        I respect your heart. I respect your kindness. I respect your truth. Thank YOU for your mightiness.

  • I just dumped a guy because he was pretending to want the same as me– a relationship but the red flags started waving( ie. hiding me from his family, only wanting to spend one night a week together and not asking me to do more with him) so I decided to have a conversation( not a confrontation, I just simply asked him where he was in this relationship because its been 6 months and we are not young–60 and 64, and that I have concerns). Well talk about deer in the headlights–BUSTED!! He didn’t try to continue gaslighting me, admitted he doesn’t love me ( in other words, its just sex to him). Actually had the nerve to say he enjoyed the time we do spend together then I got the “I’m sorry you feel that way” when i said I’m out of here. At least my record of hopium is getting better. I didn’t stick around hoping things would get better, I vamoosed out of there–even had his stuff in my car–just politely put it in his garage and calmly drove away.

    • 60something and still a manchild? Something tells me this guy’s gonna be telling sob stories when nobody’s visiting him in the nursing home because he wasted his life partying it up.

      Good for you nipping it in the bud like that. The nerve of that asshole.

      • He said he was “looking for the magic”. What is that–a disney princess? He’s 64!!!! Wow just wow. He also said he got into previous relationships too quickly–so exactly what are we in???!!! Yikes!!!! boy buh-bye.

        • He may be looking for magic the rest of his days, because magic is an illusion. Beware when he says he has found magic with you. That is also an illusion.

          If you feel this type of behavior is acceptable, then accept his terms. If it is not what you want, Hard Pass. He has a bucket with a hole in it instead of a heart, or character, or values. He will live in the moment all his days. In my experience if someone has an average of at least 1 or 2 relationships every 2 to 3 years, he is not looking for love. He is seeking comfort at someone else’s expense.

          • “He will live in the moment all his days. In my experience if someone has an average of at least 1 or 2 relationships every 2 to 3 years, he is not looking for love. He is seeking comfort at someone else’s expense.”

            Well put.

        • “Looking for magic” are the words of an immature adult who relies on attraction versus a chance to build anything meaningful or sustainable. You dodged a bullet.

          • When I googled a uni classmate, I saw this on his Fakebook page “Still looking for love with the right woman” . Written by an anesthesiologist in his 50s.????‍♀️

          • Cam and everyone else thank you!!! It is a sign of my healing that I do recognize I dodged a bullet! I won’t give up but adjusting my expectations in this crazy dating world. It’s going to take a lot for me to let someone all the way in.

            • It’s ok, let people earn their way in. If they can’t hack it, it’s not your job to make allowances. Keep your standards high. People who are worth you will happily meet them.

        • OMG don’t tell me he’s looking for same thrill we all experienced as teenagers or early 20’s? Wouldn’t we all like to encounter someone that gave us that thrill. Good luck to him, he’ll need it.

          • I don’t think I know the difference between legit attraction/chemistry that needs to be there and this thrill you speak of.

            Also reading all these posts about not having friends. How many friends is not a red flag? After my ex, I have recently broken up with my best friend 30 years and the closest friend that I had here in town of three years. I feel like all three relationships ending are because I’m improving my picker and boundaries. But it leaves me with no friends that I feel close to. I mean I guess I wasn’t really that close to these two women that I thought were my closest friends; things wouldn’t have gone down as they did if we communicated the way that I think is possible.

            I don’t know if any of you have been in the same situation. And I know covid makes it harder to self assess. But I can’t tell if I shedding bad relationships because I’m growing, or if I’m just an a****** that people with good pickers are avoiding.

            I left my FOO desperate for love. That weeping over kindness thing. That happened with the last guy. He would ask me how I’m doing or what I was feeling like genuinely wanted to know and I used to break down crying realizing I’ve never had that before.

            • Magnolia,
              It seems to me you are growing, or better, have grown, and suddenly you notice that certain people are no longer safe for you. You have moved spiritually into another place. And that being in another place creates boundaries.
              I too had to let go of a very old friend from middle school. Suddenly it was apparent that she made it seem like we shared values but we don’t. And I realized that she has no compassion. She has pity, which is a thing from a one-up position. And now I saw it. Why now? Something had changed fundamentally in me.
              I think one way to put it is that one is undergoing, or has undergone a transformative change of heart and mind.

            • I think there is the normal attraction that one feels for a person whom they want to get closer to, and of course a new relationship will provide a different excitement than a long term one.

              But, I honestly think there might be a different thrill to an illicit relationship, because of the sneaking around and the deceit of another person.

              I had the new relationship with my now husband after my long term marriage, and yes it was full of excitement and fun; just as my first one was But it was not illicit, so I think that is a different thing altogether and why these cheaters can’t drop the whores.

            • From my own experience, I’d bet that you are shedding these relationships because your are growing in a positive, healthy direction and realizing that they aren’t compatible with that. But! That leaves the room for new people to enter your life- obviously easier when we’re not in a global pandemic, so it might take a bit longer than it would have. You may go through a couple cycles of befriending and outgrowing, but in the end you’ll end up with people who truly value you and you value in return. Other good people are out there, so as long as you keep enforcing your boundaries and finding your center, you’ll be better able to find the gems and not the turds 🙂

    • >>admitted he doesn’t love me ( in other words, its just sex to him)

      I wish there was another way to know going in when someone is just looking for a fling, and never had interest in pairing up with anyone. Some men were never interested in more than an arrangement with anyone. This is fine, except when they say just the opposite going in.

  • I haven’t even tried to date, but I learned the hard way about “do not rescue anyone.” I had a friend who became sick with cirrhosis because of her drinking, and she needed a liver transplant. She desperately needed someone to live with while waiting on a new organ. I couldn’t sit by and watch her become homeless, so I offered her a spare bedroom to stay in. The first week, the police were called to my house because she was having a custody dispute with her ex over her daughter. (I found out later because I was at work). Her drunk friend parked in my neighbor’s driveway, which got me yelled at. Then, the city fined me because I didn’t register as a landlord–but I wasn’t collecting money from this woman. She ran up my electric bills with her space heater and knocked out electricity to three rooms of my house. I had to buy a noise machine to drown out the TV shows she blared throughout the night. The stress and lack of sleep were getting to me quickly. I felt awful doing it, but I had to evict her. After she left, I found out she wasn’t even on the transplant list, though apparently she was working toward that goal. Two years later, she finally got on the list. I wish her well but I didn’t enjoy giving up my privacy and running up expenses, when I too was struggling to pay the bills.

    Even if you decide not to date, remember–narcissists are everywhere. On top of it all, this woman was an excellent actress and she could turn on the charm at will. I was chumped yet again, and I hope I learned my lesson this time.

    • What a nightmare. You did such a good thing too. The loss isn’t just money, chumps think helping each other will result in more connection and solidarity, and its a horror movie to find a toxic parasite instead. But I don’t think that there is any other way than trial and error to find good people with that heart connection which makes life worthwhile. Thanks for sharing.

  • Here’s my current red-flag collection, gleaned from ol’ Best Regards’ behavior *before* we got married (and reader, I still married him):
    1. If they call *any* of their exes “crazy,” much less all of them. Even if we date someone with mental health issues, those are serious and healthy grown-ups speak of them, and the person dealing with them, respectfully. Anyone who dates multiple “crazy” people IMHO should heed the adage, “If you meet three assholes in a day, that probably means you’re the asshole.”
    2. Name-calling. Of any kind. Full stop. By the time we got married Best Regards had already called me “fucked up,” “snotty,” “nasty,” and a ream of other epithets I promptly repressed or excused because he was stressed out or his blood sugar was low or I had provoked him or he apologized and we should give everyone a second chance…. Nope. Verbal abuse is a one-chance-only dealbreaker for me going forward. Anything that comes out of someone’s mouth does so only b/c it’s been percolating in their heart and mind for years. Expecting a verbal abuser to stop abusing you is like being that frog that agrees to give the scorpion a ride across the river because the scorpion promises not to sting him….
    3. Lying. I’m not talking white lies like, “The lasagna was great, thanks so much.” I’m talking about, “Don’t worry, I’ve never gotten anyone pregnant….”
    4. Speaking disrespectfully to other women in their lives, like mothers, sisters, or ex-girlfriends: snapping at them, belittling or mocking them, ordering them around. Anyone who speaks that way to another woman will inevitably speak to me the same way.
    5. Grabbing things out of my hands or physically moving me around or out of the way. Honestly, I don’t even like being grabbed and pulled into someone’s lap anymore, even if it’s meant to be loving and playful. It’s just too triggering for me.

    • When my sons were teenagers, they would sometimes bring home girlfriends. I was polite, and tried to stay out of their love interests. However, if my son said something I considered inappropriate to me when the girl was there, I would turn to her and say — Watch the way a man treats his mother. It is indicative of how he views women. Ask yourself if you would find his behavior acceptable if you were his mother.

      My son’s HATED my commentary. I know all parents are not perfect, and some are worse than others (I had this experience), but you do not address someone who is providing you a home, food, clothing, and all other needs in this manner. You do not have to like your parent (or boss), but you do have to practice good manners and behavior in a civilized society.

      I consoled myself with the knowledge that my sons brains were not fully formed, and perhaps they had never considered how good they had it. They evaluated materialistically during their teens. In their mid-twenties, they changed their tune. They later thanked me for having higher expectations for them than they did for themselves. It is amazing what happens when a boy grows up into a thoughtful man.

    • >>Name-calling. Of any kind. Full stop.

      I had that one too. He kept accusing me of cheating on him. But I blew it off because that was ridiculous. It’s just a sore point with him, eventually he’ll wake up and see that I wasn’t that two-faced skank he once dated. I didn’t take it serious because it was ridiculous. I would have taken it seriously if he’d accused me of something real, and would have taken it as a sign of incompatibility. Instead, when he’s mean about something ridiculous, I had the overconfidence of innocence. Cheating wasn’t the only topic where I blew off his contempt because it was ridiculous. So many layers of mind fuck. They never “wake up” because it was all just a BS head game where they act out their heroic victim story.
      Your list sounds wise.

    • Great summary!
      1. This is classic, 101. Major red flag. I remember my fil jokingly calling my mail “crazy”… I felt like something was off. If I only had listened to my gut feeling.
      2. If Bitch, slut are in their vocab- I’m out of there!
      3. Lying is such a big one!! And lying by omission!
      4. Mocking, teasing, even in joking way
      5. I still brace myself to be slapped on the ass when he walks past. That magically stopped with an attorney getting involved. However he never respected my asking him to stop.
      You list helps me realize I’m not the problem. I sometimes still fall into that old trap of thinking it’s all my fault. This should be a handy reference for all.

    • This is why I fail to understand why the OW think that they won’t get the same treatment. Seriously, he is treating his WIFE, the MOTHER of HIS CHILD like shit. He is bad mouthing his WIFE/MOTHER of HIS CHILD to you; and you think he is going to be different once he becomes your fw.

      Oh I get it the OW is holding the one thing the wife can’t provide to him, illicit strange, sneaking around pussy. I guess they think theirs is magic, and that extra tingle will last forever.

      • In my father’s case, his current wife (#3) has been in the long haul for monetary reasons. I don’t know how many millions he inherited but I know he paid for her son’s mortgage (300 K that was satisfied in a month), her older daughter’s uni fees (another 300K) plus lots of other expenses, I’m sure. She’s angling for her son to inherit everything. She is his live in ego inflator.

        • I recently found her HS yearbook on line. Under her senior portrait is written “Hell hopes to marry a millionaire”. She looked hard for a few decades and roped a dope ????

        • I know they are generally after something aside from tru wuv. In my fws case, he drug her out of the trailer park, and she was not going to let that meal ticket go.

          Ironically, they ran themselves into bankruptcy with gambling, and it was still a better life than she was living before. He is one now, he left her back in a trailer park, and she owes about 80 thousand dollars on big ass RV, that she does not have the money to pay for.

  • Dated a dude on and off for 10 years. When I finally ended it, I started dating anyone who was interested. Finally after some not great situations I decided I’m going to not date for a solid year. I lived alone. Figured out what I liked, enjoyed. Worked on my self esteem a bit. Figured out Why I was attracted to not great guys, worked on that and some FOO issues. Had a fun time telling people “nope, not dating anyone! Just loving life. No, no thank you, I don’t want to meet your friend/brother/co-worker I’m good. That’s really kind of you to ask, but I’m not dating at this time” and watching them look at me like a bug in a petri dish because that didn’t make sense, you HAVE TO have SOMEone! You can’t really be happy alone! After 11 months started dating again, went out with guys who were almost opposite of the ‘bad boy’ dude I usually went for. Went out with some good guys who were just not quite the right guy for me. Then…FINALLY!…it happened. Met a guy who seemed to be leaps and bounds away from my past fellas! Yay! The nicest guy ever! Checked all the boxes! Fantastic! I’ve never felt more at home than when with this guy!

    And then 26 years later he cheats on me. Blindsided. I would’ve never guessed HE would do that, he was such a good guy.

    Soooo, I’m thinking maybe I just need to accept I’m not made for a relationship. I don’t trust myself to be able to tell if a dude is a solid guy or another shithead. And I understand age shouldn’t be a concern but I’m starting completely over in my 50’s. I’ve got a ton of things to handle and trust issues bigger than my middle aged angst. I’ve gently and kindly deflected possible partners and opportunities to meet guys, explaining that who I am right now is not who I really am and I’m not sure when she’ll make a reappearance. Yet another thing shithead has taken from me. My point is, for me, I did take time and fix my picker and did all I could to make sure I was with a quality guy yet I still got chumped. I can’t think of what I could’ve done different or better and that is the thought might keep me single for the rest of my days.

    **Just speaking for myself here. I’m in awe and truly happy when I hear someone has been able to open themselves up to love again. Bravest thing in the world to me.

    • TC, I’m right where you are and my story is almost exactly the same. I am an observant person and I’m smarter than the jerk who chumped me (which is not that hard to accomplish) and I still got bamboozled. So it could happen again. I’m not starting over again in my 50s either. As you say, it takes guts to learn to trust again. It also takes patience, which I have very little of anymore. I’m saving what I’ve got left for dogs. They might be unruly but they’re always loyal. Hey, at least we’ll spend our retirement years peacefully. No more drama.

      • Ditto for me, TC and OHFFS:

        This makes me so sad, because Chumps are the creme de la creme and FW’s are the scum de la scum. We are the ones who would treasure a good. loving, honorable relationship and be honorable, trustworthy and loving ourselves. It kills me that we are the wallflowers at the dance of love.

        • So true. ☹
          We paid a heavy price for doing nothing wrong. It pisses me off that the scum get away with doing that. We ought to be able to sue them for our pain, suffering and lifelong trust issues.

    • Well, maybe he wasn’t a “bad” guy when he was still young and unformed, but some kind of moral backbone was missing, or it degenerated over time. Maybe it will be easier with people who are older and more set in their ways- their character has had time to be tested, and it’s more clear who they are. Not that people can’t still change, for better or worse, but I think moral fiber is probably harder to develop later in life.

      As far as being open to love, it can come around later. My grandfather was always very, very good at the living up to moral principles thing, but pretty terrible at the being-soft-and-human thing. To be fair, he and my grandmother had both had pretty traumatic childhoods and did the best with their limitations, but there wasn’t a lot of warmth. But some years after she died, in his early 80’s, he started dating again. He was dating a couple women, one a year older and one 30 years younger, until the older woman gave him an ultimatum. So he chose her, and she ended up being the love of his life and really helping him grow emotionally. While he got to play the Knight (she had had a pretty abusive first marriage and one of her daughters was being physically and financially abusive), what helped him most was that she wouldn’t take any of his shit. They had a good and balanced partnership, and brought each other joy in the time they had together.

      I also have a couple of elderly friends who were chumped and have stayed single- and their lives have been pretty darn good. They have good people around them, really enjoy life, and have a lot of love, even if it isn’t the romantic kind.

  • I’m thinking that the old idea of no sex before marriage might be a good way to pick a good guy. Let the other ones run! I’ve tried it and you wouldn’t believe the guys who stayed. (There was a long procession of those who didn’t… but I never missed them. Their reason for being with me was obvious with their leaving.)

    And hey… without the sex quotient, there’s really no reason to settle for the Girlfriend title. I don’t want that anyway. Either single or married for me; no in-between.

    So… with that line of thought, I don’t have to pick right away. I can be friends with guys for quite a while, and get to know them without the physical aspect leading the way. They’ll be free to date other women; I’ll be free to date other men, and one day, one of them will take me off the market for good.

    There won’t be any sitting in his waiting room until he decides… finally… to marry me. He’ll marry me so that no one else will propose to me first, because he’ll see that my schedule is busy, and lots of men want my company. Hopefully by then I’ll know him well enough to assess his potential for cheating.

    But you know what? We’re all fallible. Even the best person cheats sometimes. And that best person, should he cheat on me, will have to pay the consequence of my leaving, as my heart just can’t take the cheating. Once is too many times for me.

    So… I know I’ll never be the perfect picker; none of us will be. Some of us will pick people in the future who will cheat on us. But hopefully we’ll be able to do what we need to do with whatever situations arise.

    • I disagree. The best people most decidedly do not cheat, not sometimes, not ever. We’re all fallible, but cheating is not “just a mistake” as cheaters like to say. It’s proof of a serious character deficit and it is abuse. The “anyone can make a mistake, so anyone can cheat” narrative has been spread by the RIC and various pro-cheater idiots writing in Huffpost and other trash media outlets so often that’s it’s become the dominant view.

      I also don’t think waiting for marriage to have sex is a good idea. Imagine being surprised on your wedding night by finding out your new spouse is boring in the sack or has kinks you find disgusting. You need to know if you’re sexually compatible. Waiting until you’re more sure of the person is a good strategy, though. The ones who are only interested in a booty call won’t stick around.

      • “Always take the car out for a test drive to see how it handles on the road. Even better to take it for a weekend road trip. Highway, winding mountain pass, etc. How does your back feel after five hours of driving ?”

      • I know what you mean. I thought about it and decided a long time ago that there are people who would cheat and people who wouldn’t cheat.

        I’m not so sure now. Where circumstances meet opportunity is a playing field where any of us can make a mistake. It’s what happens next that determines the way things will go.

        About no sex before marriage – I’m not advocating that for everyone, although it is a good way to improve the picker. It’s a good policy for me, and I’ve lived it enough to know that on the wedding night I’d have a pretty good idea about how things would go! Lots of sexy stuff can happen before that night…

        The no sex before marriage is about not having to pick too soon. If you treat all the men you’re dating with respect, and demand that they treat you with respect, they will think of you as an enchanting, other-worldly woman, and their own ideas of “sacred” and “intimate” will be challenged. Lots of interesting discussions ensue, and the guys know that you’re doing the same thing with other guys, so they tolerate your dating others at the same time. And they feel quite free to date others, but they usually don’t! (in my experience)

        Dating multiple people is a good idea. It helps you to know what you want in a guy. How can you know by the third date what your man is all about? By having sex with him, you’re cutting yourself off from all other guys, and… now you have only one guy to pick from! Most women just stick with their relationship, whether it’s great or not, to justify their original decision.

        My idea is that the best way to fix your picker is to take your time dating. Make sure you know who you’ve got. Don’t give your power away. Keep yourself front and center in their minds by being a woman who has standards. And stick to those standards. The response will be VERY MUCH TO YOUR LIKING. I guarantee it.

        Be free and agreeable and fun and mystical and mysterious and sure of yourself. Then compare, compare, compare, compare. That’s how you pick the right guy.

        (I’m saying this to myself, as it is my next game plan.)

        (I’ll let you know how it goes!)

        • Well, Goodbye Girl, you had it right the first time. There are people who would cheat and people who wouldn’t. Most of the people posting here wouldn’t under any circumstances, have had opportunities to and haven’t.
          I had plenty of opportunities. Some of the guys were pretty hot, but nah, not a chance. Too bad my husband didn’t feel the same way. He said he did feel that way and probably even believed it until opportunity knocked. His alleged virtue was tested and he failed, so there was no virtue after all.

          I wish you the best of luck in finding somebody who wouldn’t cheat, and please do let us know if you do. I’ve given up hoping for myself, so I have to date vicariously. 😉

      • “he best people most decidedly do not cheat, not sometimes, not ever.”

        Absolutely, I never cheated and he didn’t exactly treat me well for a long time. I loved him and took my vows seriously. It was not in my character to cheat. As for the Huff post/RIC gang who spread that bullshit, I was always told when one uses the phrase “everyone does it” it is actually a confession.

        • These cheaters never come to us and express their unhappiness in a constructive way and say let’s work on this. No! They just unilaterally decide to cheat. Their decision ruins things and it’s not about their happiness/unhappiness. They are twisted and get off on deceit.

          I would take “everyone does it” as a confession. Likely the lie they tell themselves.

    • Even the best person cheats sometimes.
      No. They don’t.
      Are you a cheater yourself ? You’re sounding a little full of yourself.

      • Oh, so sorry!!! I’m not sure of myself, but I do read a lot of blogs, and I have my own ideas about things. I’m not a cheater. That’s why I concluded once that either you are or you aren’t. I can’t imagine myself ever cheating. But I’m not so sure about the human race in general, you know? We are fallible because we’re human. That’s seems to be the way it is, in my opinion.

    • Good people don’t cheat. Period. Everyone human makes mistakes, but true betrayal is something that just not everyone does, even those of us who are incredibly fallible.

      I think you’re on to something with taking your time and getting to know someone though. I’m of the mindset that “you can always move forward, but it’s hard to go back”…so take the time to be friends, hand out, have a laugh. And, if you’re attracted to someone, there’s something to be said for delayed gratification on that front too.

      However, I can NEVER advocate marrying someone without first having had sex with them. To me, this is begging for disaster. I also don’t really believe in formal marriage at all. I think lifelong commitments are great and wonderful, but formal marriage is unnecessary to do that.

    • I too was raised not to have sex without marriage. I was a virgin when I met Nitwit and he began to withhold sex from me soon after the honeymoon. I never had an orgasm with him because he was a selfish lover. He deigned to have sex with me perhaps a dozen times over the course of our 3 year marriage. Now at 31 I truly wish I had been more adventurous in my 20s. I wish I had lived my 20s, not just drifted through them.

      Just because a man is willing to marry you does not make him a good man. Ask me how I know. You probably have different experiences and values than I do but I am terrified of getting emotionally attached to a man. I do not want a man in my living space or my bank account because in my experience they tend to mess up both. I do, however, still want sex, which is why I’m going for NSA sex once my parents and I are vaccinated.

      If you wait for marriage make sure you’re doing it because it’s what you want, not because society tells you you must be married to have any worth.

  • So many things can happen after marriage.

    The guy gets sick. The guy is involved in an accident. He becomes addicted to drugs. His sister becomes mentally ill. He dies. He cheats. He isn’t the person I thought he was.

    Marriage is a huge risk.

    But deciding not to marry might be a huge missing out.

    I don’t know… I just don’t want to miss out on the good times that might be had if I take the risk and things go well. Wow! Wouldn’t that be something!!! I’m gonna go for it.

    I don’t know when. I’m less than a week from D day. And it wasn’t even a cheat. It was a flirt. But there were other things… and he wasn’t the guy for me.

    I will slowly and surely get out there someday, and I will definitely take the risk… again… even though cheating is the hardest thing I’ve encountered in this life.

    • Welcome to the group nobody wants to join, Goodbye Girl – I’m sorry this has happened to you, and am glad you know your own worth.

      I just have to say that lots of cheaters want to emphasize the “marriage is hard” line, especially when it comes time to tell the kids we’re divorcing. I had to tell my STBX that I was not comfortable with giving our kids that excuse, because 1) I don’t want to make them commitment-phobic, and 2) there’s a big difference between all the random shit that can happen in life, and someone deliberately choosing to lie and cheat. Even if the abuse isn’t intentional, it’s quite clear to all cheaters that their behavior is unacceptable to their partners. (Otherwise, they wouldn’t sneak around and lie!)

      Ideally, a marriage will be a form of mutual support for both partners to get through the random shit in life you mention – a “soft place to land,” as I’ve heard it called. The instant one partner starts adding insult to injury, the marriage no longer serves that basic purpose of refuge and support.

      Example: I have never once felt rested for almost 20 years, since D-Day #1, as it happens. After D-Day #2 in 2018, my STBX wanted to pay lip service once again to caring about me and my fatigue, and I had to say, “That’s bullshit! You’ve made it much worse!” I hope to feel less tired one of these years, after the divorce is finalized and Covid is resolved and I have a real job again and etc…but the point is that living with a fuckwit is not just another difficult externality in life. Leaving a Cheater is something we can control, and even if it’s difficult, the positive benefits are usually very clear. It’s way preferable to staying in a dead marriage that’s dragging us down instead of buoying us.

      • Marriage is hard, when you’re married to someone who lies….

        I am laughing now at his claim that I am difficult. I imagine being married to me was difficult, because so much of his intentional conduct made it so.

    • You were smart enough to follow your instincts and get out before the flirting became full on cheating. You were also strong enough to say no when you realized he wasn’t the guy you wanted to spend the rest of your life with. I think I speak for many chumps on here when I say that I wish I had had that kind of insight before I married Nitwit.

  • WOW, this summary should be required reading for every high school student before they graduate ! !

    Excellent and essential advice by the wonderful CL


    The first time.


    Just a couple that jumped immediately into my head….

  • “I read somewhere that only happy and successful people show up at reunions. That is absolutely not true, in our case. Over the years, the reunion ambiance has naturally reflected our stage of life…In other words:life. In our middle years, reunion conversations often covered what I think of as the D topics:divorce, drugs, disease, disaster, death. And the realization that no college offers Preparation for Tragedy 201. Prerequisite: Be Born.”
    Here’s to resiliency fellow chumps ❤️ ☮️

  • The comments on here have really made me think. I turned down a recent proposal, and I’ve been trying to put my finger on why I am not ready (I actually didn’t say NO; just not now). The proposal came from a man who is kind, honest, hard working, friendly, polite, close to his family and kids, and has many other qualities you would look for in a life partner. He was also very understanding when I couldn’t accept the ring and seemed content that I hadn’t said no. He said he had a feeling I might not be ready but didn’t ever want me to feel he wasn’t committed or that he didn’t want to be married to me. DD was 13 years ago, and I’ve been divorced for 12. I didn’t date for many years because my youngest was an infant when I asked her dad to leave (found out about OW, asked him to leave, and was divorced within the year). My parents by that time had 13 marriages between them so I knew what NOT to do, but I digress. I’ve dated R now for almost 6 years and moved fairly slowly. We don’t live together but spend significant time together. I’ve always enjoyed my space and was honest from the beginning. I also have two teenage daughters that I share with their dad so really value my alone time with them. He has two children as well but his daughter is an adult, and his splits time between both parents.

    I’m not sure if I have unresolved items from being married the first time or if there are still issues from FOO (dad was a cheater and mom was cheated on more than once) or if I am afraid to commit fully or if I don’t want to give up my indpendence (marriage usually means living together) (ha). My head spins when I think about it too much so I decide to just leave things as they are….. I do know that if isn’t R, it would be nobody. He is such a good person, and I do love him.

  • OMG. I followed all of CL’s advice and still ended up married to a “sex addict” which terrifies me. I don’t think I would survive another one. What about a second date polygraph and brain scan to rule out narcissism? Men of CN: how do I suggest that without sounding controlling and crazy myself?

    Kidding/Not Kidding

  • All of this has certainly highlighted my issues that need to be fixed before I can ever consider dating again. Right now it seems foreign. Also, makes me wonder how cheaters do it?!
    I apparently pick narcs because that is what I grew up with, there is a familiarity. I have really distanced myself from family over the years to heal not realizing I had married it too. Now I am forging ahead without either. I think for peace and healing it is the only way. But it is scary.

  • As I think about this topic and how I finally decided to marry my stbx, it strikes me that both of us seemed to be needy in different ways at the time. I needed someone who seemed to really want me to prove to family and myself,, that a man would want me. I think he needed someone who would not make any demands on him or have any expectations which at first I did not. Then he stood me up several times and then he was quitting jobs for no reason. He wanted to go to school but had no way to finance it. So I was so in love with his attention to me I let all these things go. And yet I wrote in my journal how these things concerned me. I moved in with him after writing in my journal how much I was afraid to live with him.

    Red flags ignored. Got married anyway. The one good thing is our now 25 year old daughter and to be honest there were some good times.
    So I don’t want to say it was 30 years wasted. I do believe I should have left years ago, but I can’t go back and.fix it.
    If I ever contemplate another romantic relationship I need to be on the lookout so I don’t repeat the same mistakes.

  • Look for healthy expression of all emotions and beware of people who never express anger.

    Conflict avoidant = danger

    (I don’t like conflict either but I speak up)

    When you speak up, do they act like they heard you? I was IGNORED. But fooled by his presence on the couch in a therapist’s office.

    People who don’t express anger can be covert passive aggressive narcissists….the Nice Guy/Gal.

    He never expressed anger, yelled, denied it when asked. I took him at his word that he was easygoing and nice. I don’t read minds.

    People who expect you to read their mind are DANGEROUS.


    He had big big knives he was sticking my back unbeknownst to me until
    DDay. 27 years worth of big big knives.

    Nice people are up front, straight shooters
    They tell you what’s going on with them.

    • Same. Although he did manage to rage like a maniac during our final conversations. I swear to God, I wish he had just hit me. At least I know that’s abuse, and I know what to do about it. What my FW did was much more treacherous, painful, and crazy making.

  • Two things I’ve done to fix my picker: First, I have made myself unavailable. I am still too wounded and cagey to be in an intimate relationship. I need some rest and recuperation, and a bit more growth, before I start canoodling with a sexual attraction. Second, I’m listening to my gut when it comes to everything. I no longer filter my gut feelings through my brain so they can be delegitimized. When it feels wrong – a job, a person, an activity – I just say no and stick to it.

  • Great advice. A point of emphasis on waiting “a good long time” until someone really gets to know you. Six months is not a good long time.

  • What makes everything so confusing is that traits that are positive things in a psychologically normal person are negative things in a narcissist. Wanting to improve yourself and your life is generally a good thing, yet Nitwit’s saving grace was that he was at least a lazy, unambitious narcissist. It fills me with immense relief that with all his mind control and manipulation techniques my XH’s highest ambition was to play video games all day while someone else adulted for him. He was too lazy even to get the most money out of me from the divorce. Now look at what has been the deepest desires of narcissists ambitious enough to seize political power. Genocide. Mass rape. Making their populace worship them as gods. Attempting to overturn the legitimate results of a presidential election. On a lesser scale, look at the stories of chumps who were married to cheater doctors and lawyers who used the respectability of their professions to cloak their abuse.

    God help anyone in contact with a competent, ambitious, hard working narcissist.

    • Agree. x was one of those – a competent, hardworking professional but also a two-faced narcissist and the home one was sometimes horrible.

  • The pity play is my go to red flag. It comes out the fastest.

    The problem with red flags is that they only really exist in a series. One red flag on its own could still mean the dude is fine (we all have our flaws and baggage), but once you hit more than one, the job gets a bit easier. Undeniable.

    Once I see that first red flag, I’m on high alert to locate others. This is where the “no” test comes in handy. I inadvertently used the no test the other week with a just met through tinder dude, just didn’t fancy doing what he suggested after we’d only met once (getting high together), so I said no.

    He then gave me silent treatment for about 10 days! ???????? I was grateful I’d said no, and thought lucky escape. Then he came crawling back 10 days later (after previously texting and chatting with him every day for a week). I just ignored him. I then got accused of ghosting him in another text (blaneshifting) when he had ghosted me ????????

    So My red flag alert system is working and I’m so bloody proud of myself for it.

    Next step is learning to walk away after one red flag. Experience now is that one red flag is enough.

    I’ve also been told the no test sounds manipulative. By women can you believe! But when I used it, I genuinely needed to say no, then his true colours were shown. I don’t think protecting yourself from a manipulative fuckwit is manipulative at all. It’s called survival.

    • Nena B,

      This is very good.
      I happen to have tried the no thing with a longtime girl friend from school whom, with all that I have learnt post discard, I no longer perceived as a safe person.
      I placed a no boundary. And sure enough it was not respected. My no was not heard.
      I took the chance to let go of the relationship.

  • 1) Look out for the three E’s. The three E’s are Entitlement, lacking Empathy, and Exploitative.
    2) Make sure that their behaviour coincides with their words.

    Beware of men with puppies/kittens, it can be part of the love-bomb routine.

  • I was single for a long time after divorcing my serial cheating ex. I had really bad luck dating. My picker was definitely broken. I stayed single for a long time.

    Then, I started dating a man that truly has his stuff together. He is a great provider, great friend and partner. The only negative is that after multiple years of dating and now living together, he is still heart broken over his ex (he too was a chump).

    I knew going into this relationship that he was completely still in love with her and absolutely broken by the loss of his marriage. I rationalized it, remembering that it took me a long time to get over my ex. I just knew in my heart that it would be worth it.

    I know he loves me, but dammit, I sure feel like I do the pick me dance. (Me vs the memory of her.) I trust him, but there is that voice inside my head that is just counting down for that shoe to drop.

    So, add on the picks to avoid, people who are still hung up on their ex.

  • Late here. I have been pre-occupied with leaks in the basement but I had to take a break to add a silly comment because, a few postings ago got me on side-track reflecting back on a book I read years about written by Jane Goodall, ‘A Reason for Hope’

    Just wanted to add that what she wrote about one alpha chimp, Frodo, fits in with just about everything CL writes about and I feel totally compelled to mention that one thing she wrote about him fits in with the the with the very first thing CL mentions in her list above in regards to reciprocity.

    Frodo demanded to be groomed by others in the group but NEVER reciprocated….

    In conclusion: I have a friend who regularly tells me that we are living in a monkey world. She too has been betrayed and the more I learn about fw I have to say I find myself agreeing with her.

  • Don’t forget the guy who claims his wife went “bat shit crazy one day.” You’re only hearing one side. Ask him what she was diagnosed with, what treatment she received. Bet he can’t tell you that.

    Best way to break up? Wish I’d known about this one long ago: “This just isn’t working out for me anymore. We’ve had some good times but it’s time to go our separate ways.” Make it nonnegotiable.

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