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Chumped by Two Chumps

Dear Chump Lady,

I guess you can say I’m a chump-variant in that I had a runaway cheater. Married over 24 years to someone I thought was my best friend of over 26 years, D-day came the day after Christmas 2009. He moved out within the next month and was gone from my life forever. This was all pre-Chump Lady. I discovered Chump Lady just 1 month after my divorce was finalized. The blog has helped me immensely.

A few years after the divorce, I met a fellow chump who was married 16 years before his own D-day. He has 4 grown children and is a successful attorney.

A few years ago, his daughter who lives 2 hours away and is a single mom asked for his help with childcare. Initially he would go there a few days during the week, but eventually he was gone from Sunday evening until Friday morning. He often came back during the week for client meetings. I was happy he was a developing better relationship with her because he had experienced the alienation of his children after his own divorce. I had my job, house/garden work/hobbies and friends to keep me busy while he was gone.

This past September, he moved to a new apartment. On moving day, in walks a woman I’d never met and introduces herself as his girlfriend of 5 years – I’d known him for 7 years!

I looked at him and said, “you know my husband cheated on me and your wife cheated on you.” The other girlfriend chimed in saying, “and my first husband cheated on me.”

I looked at him and said “what’s the matter with you?” and walked out the door. Outside the other girlfriend and I discovered that she had been told he had to watch the grandchildren on weekends therefore, she saw him Sunday evening through Friday morning. HE NEVER LEFT TOWN. This deceit went on for years and among other things it’s disgusting that he used his grandchild as an excuse for his elaborate lie.

About a 1.5 years into our relationship we broke up for a few months and that is when he started to date her. That’s fine with me but don’t look me up and continue to date me when you’ve started another relationship. She’s a widow and they are both 72; I’m 56. According to her he was a sex addict but he wasn’t like that with me.

Now there were other times when we broke up for a few months & the other girlfriend at times also had some break up time with him. As far as we were both concerned, that is when he could have made a complete break with either one of us but didn’t.

I would even help him pack his overnight bag and put it into his trunk. He would go to his office every day and back to her house for dinner and spend the night. I would spend weekends at his house as he wasn’t thrilled with my cats. When he looked me up during the week (me thinking he was back in town for a meeting) it was because she was either away or had evening plans that didn’t include him – cards, choir practice, dinner with her grandkids, visiting out of town relatives, etc. Also, she never once in 5 years went to his place because he told her it was messy. No, it was because there were the usual signs that he had a girlfriend. Who dates someone that long & never sees their place?

When the shutdown started a year ago he stopped going out of town because his daughter thought he would be safer at his own place. Everyday for the next 2 ½ months I went to his house to make supper & spend time together. At the end of May he resumed his out of town travel. Comparing notes again with the other girlfriend, he told her he spent all that time at his daughter’s house. Remember HE NEVER LEFT TOWN.

Ok, so he is a horrible person and I was chumped. But I have a PhD in Chump Lady Studies and knew what to do and what not to do. I gave the other girlfriend my copy of “Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life” and for the next several weeks we spoke and texted daily about being chumped.

On many occasions she pleaded for me to let her know if he ever contacted me. On my birthday she stopped by with a plant. As she was leaving she said, she really stopped by because since it was a Saturday, she was sure she’d find him at my house! He did contact me three times about returning some items, but all three times I was BIFF and told him to leave them on my porch when I wasn’t home. I also let the other girlfriend know he had called me.

Well, after as few weeks, she started to ghost me. At first I figured our relationship had run its course, I mean how much more was there to talk about and many times the conversations left me feeling drained, because I thought I had a real relationship after a devastating divorce.

She contacted me to say that he had come over and that they had been talking. I felt totally used by her and told her so as it appeared that she was “babysitting” me with calls/texts and get togethers with her and her girlfriends because if I was spending time with her, I wasn’t with him. I immediately blocked the two of them.

As you and  all of your followers know, it feels awful to be chumped and I have to admit it did set me back with my divorce healing. But thanks to your site and my therapist I’m handling it the best I can. My therapist actually suggested I tell you my story as I often bring up the site during my sessions. It sucks that we are still dealing with the pandemic as it keeps me from bumping into others and spreading the word about how awful he is.

Chumpy me thought other chumps felt the same way about cheating. It makes we wonder if he was the cheater in his marriage. I also thought my Chump Lady education would help a fellow Chump but she wasn’t ready to hear the truth.

Signed,

Hurt1

Dear Hurt1,

I’m very sorry that happened to you. Sociopaths walk among us. Along with their entourage of desperate pick-me dancers.

My guess is that your ex-boyfriend wasn’t a chump, he was a cheater. This kind of finesse at a total double life is not a skillset you pick up late in life. It’s the sort of abomination you perfect over a lifetime.

In “The Sociopath Next Door,” psychologist Martha Stout says one tell of a sociopath is that they lead with self-pity. What we’d call here a sad sausage tale of woe. He wasn’t the bad actor. He was acted upon. A victim.

Chumpdom is a powerful card to play with a mark who is, in fact, a chump. Oh look! My experience mirrors your experience. I suffer as you have suffered. 

It gives you a shortcut to judge his character. Sociopaths love such disguises. The embezzling Eagle Scout. The sinister minister.

My serial-cheater ex told me he’d been chumped twice. Of course, at that point, I was completely naive, so I took him at his word. Poor man. I’d like to think my experience now as an actual chump would suss him out, but maybe not. (He spoke a lot about not being “bitter.” And was very fuzzy on his timelines. Post-D-day, I questioned his story. Turns out he considered himself “betrayed” because his ex-wives left his cheating ass and later married other men, which incensed him. Real charmer.)

As for the Other Woman faux friend there. Ugh. What a desperate piece of work she is. What you took as solidarity, she saw as surveillance. So she could police your comings and goings. But now she’s won! Her remaining years on this planet will be GPSing his droopy balls. Oh where is my sex addict tonight? Depositions or dating sites? Well, so long as he’s home for dinner. 

Thank God you’re not her. Hurt1, you navigated this nightmare brilliantly. The minute you found out, you cut him out. And the minute you discovered her frenemy schtick, you cut her out too. WELL DONE. A+++ on the boundaries.

Please don’t fault yourself for being the good sort of person who reaches out to another in crisis. You assumed she was on the same page. Not everyone learns from this crap. You grew after your divorce. You learned your self-worth and how to enforce boundaries. When faced with another D-Day, you field marshaled yourself OUT.

Frenemy had a D-Day, and faced with a crisis, she didn’t lead with character. She led with weakness. With OW competitiveness. With deceit. It won’t end well for her.

Now then, about chump identity. Is she really a sister chump? What happened to her (and to you) was wrong. She was a victim of his manipulations and double life. She was, in fact, chumped. As we say here a lot, you don’t control what happens, just how you choose to react. And that says a lot about who you are. Frenemy shares your experience, but not your character, or your growth.

I hope that everyone who is chumped becomes more compassionate as a result. Especially towards their fellow chumps. I’ve written that after a D-day, “You never be smug again, and that makes you less of an asshole than 99 percent of the general populace.”

Sadly, some people choose Team Asshole. Some people would rather be a satellite to the narcissist than their own person. Some people don’t grow from the experience.

On the whole, however, I think most chumps are good people, if only because fuckwits choose top-shelf kibble. The person who’ll hold up more, who brings their best into a relationship, who will do all the adulting. Fuckwits believe they deserve the best. Chumps not so much. My work here is usually convincing people that they deserve better than a fuckwit.

Frenemy must feel she can’t do better than a fuckwit. Or a fuckwit is better than nobody. And her character is such that she’ll deceive you to win a fuckwit.

The person I feel sorriest for here is his daughter. She never did get that pandemic childcare.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Wait…the lawyer and OW are 72? How in the world is he able to satisfy two (that we know of)women? And why is he still working? You would think being an attorney he could afford to retire.

    Proof that age does not mean mature.

    • If he really is a lawyer.
      If he really has a daughter.
      If a daughter really has a child/ needs childcare.

      OP should find herself a guy around her age and never date anybody who’s regularly away for days.

    • The same way my malfunctioning ex satisfied his young schmoopie – Viagra…….
      As for retirement, if he is still working, I am sure he blames the ex-wife for that; I can just hear him with this tale of woe “the evil b*tch bled me dry in the divorce.”

      • Viagra and other ED medications don’t work for everyone, and sometimes they only work for awhile, or complications develop. I think that sometimes cheaters use sex to bond with a potential chump, but I believe that most chumps and OW are looking for things other than sex. Everyone has a different wish list.

        I also believe that most heterosexual women who are monogamous by nature usually don’t have much of a basis to judge what makes up good sex or bad sex. They may or may not care for sex all that much. They are concerned with the relationship as a whole, and how many of their dreams can become reality. Dreams may be simple, or may be materialistic. The list varies with the woman. (I cannot speak for what men actually want.)

        Geezers who thing rattling a viagra bottle is all they need to attract a new partner are deluding themselves. If that is what they consider to be foreplay, I can guess that the sex will not be good.

        Just my humble opinion about counting too much on medication, and not enough on what builds a satisfying relationship.

        • Just sharing the experience that I had. It was real and I have the insurance statements and pics I wish I could unsee to back it up. Sex was definitely a major driving force for my EX and his OW (her husband unfortunately knew a lot more that me and shared it with me openly.) For Narcs/sociopaths sex IS a large part of the game and a major feature of their disordered world view and how they often manipulate and control their victims. I really hope you are wrong on your assumption that most women do not know the difference between good and bad sex as they experience it. That is a sad and rather Victorian state to be in. As to not be misinterpreted sex is not the only thing but it is a very important thing in an adult relationship and sexual compatibility should not be ignored when choosing a partner.

          • One can’t base a healthy relationship entirely on sex or have one without any at all.

            • The operative is healthy – there is no healthy relationship with a Narc/sociopath. I also can’t see a truly healthy relationship coming from an affair since the foundation will always be lies and deceit.

          • ” For Narcs/sociopaths sex IS a large part of the game and a major feature of their disordered world view and how they often manipulate and control their victims.”

            I agree.

          • Consider that I am retired, and that I had the uncomfortable experience of one of my grandmothers ask me what an orgasm was. I came of age during the sexual revolution and the birth control pill. I heard lots of talk about free love, which never seemed to actually be free, and about many positions, and many false expectations from both sides about what constituted “good” sex.

            My core group of friends from college openly talk about sex when we are together. Over the years, and divorces, and child rearing, and life experiences, I have heard a change in their attitude about sex. When we were young, and it was part of the “dating” experience, we learned a lot. There is a line from an old song that says “more than our names were changed.” I also have heard work friends talk, and in hair/nail salons, other customers talk. I also read. I went through two very different cheaters. I do believe Narc’s and Sociopaths have a distorted view about sex and many other things. But I feel for most of the women I have known (limited group, no scientific survey) sex is not all about fun and games, or even enjoyment. A good sexual relationship can certainly strengthen a relationship. I have experienced both “good”, and unfortunately “bad” sex. I don’ feel Victorian in my view, or prudish. I feel more sadness about the many stories I have been privy to.

            My bottom line, personally, is I am at heart a monogamous person. I want a partner I can talk to, who is honest, and considerate. As we age, sexual problems happen, and we have to communicate and be honest with each other. My problem is that although I am willing and able to be open and honest, and even to clearly state my goals in a relationship, I have not met a man who is up to the task. They seem to want a lot less talk, and a lot more action, and the action is centered around what pleases them. If this is my only option, I would just as soon do something else.

            I have 2 friends whose husbands have health issues. One of the husbands is patient and considerate, and cannot tolerate ED medications. They have a loving and considerate relationship and companionship. The other husband is demanding and inconsiderate, and selfish. My friend told me she wished she never had to have sex, again. She used to enjoy it a lot when she was younger, and not married to him. He continues to get worse with age.

            These are not Victorian or prudish women, and are not inexperienced. They both were married before, and have had some variety. But sex is not what it once was for them. The man’s attitude, and willingness to be considerate has everything to do with the relationship.

            I realize that other generations may have very different points of view. I only express what I do on this site based on my own un-scientific experience. I just feel that Viagra and other ED drugs don’t solve all the problems or expectations surrounding a sexual relationship. I also think that a significant age difference has a significant impact on the long term relationship. I also believe some women pretend to like sex, or football, or golf, or some activity the man likes in order to keep the peace in the relationship. My guess would be that men do the same thing.

            One of the interesting things about Chump Nation is the wide variety of experiences and opinions. I learn new things on this site all the time. Much of what I learn is heartbreaking, but some of what I learn proves that humor is a great medicine for a broken spirit. I come for the kinship, and stay for the snark!

            • Hi Portia,

              I am fairly young (early 30) and was raised in a catholic family. My parents only knew maybe 1, or 2 persons sexually before they got married. They are very conservative. I had met my ex at 18 and haven’t had a lot of experiences otherwise. So I can relate that in my case, although I was longing for more sexuality, I didn’t know a lot. I have recently started to take care of myself pleasure-wise, and am hopeful that I will have a better experience in my hopefully next relationship.
              It’s sad that especially women were raised in a way to be ashamed of pleasure.
              Wishing us all many orgasms and hopefully shared ones (never happened to me yet). Sorry if I’m oversharing. (No shame lol).

            • Portia,

              Thanks for that…its interesting to get a wider view from people whose friends shared with them (to widen the sample of experience larger than n=1). I agree with virtually all of what you said.

              My cheater was (oddly enough) a skilled and generous lover but me being a good breadwinner/wife appliance left me too tired (when the kids were little) to keep him happy. If he had been a more engaged and involved dad and husband I would have had more to give but I was pushing boulders uphill everyday as his wife, and it was tiring.

              I came to make an interesting observation that from what I surmise, he seemed to like nulliparous OWs – ones that had never given birth. Once I had children, my body was never the same and as a disordered person, I think he felt the world owed him a certain form of vagina buffet.

              When I was widowed, I was cute enough (at the time, age has struck since) to have become a cougar, but I decided I didnt want that. I wanted a relationship. My new husband is a good lover in that he cares what I want. Our aging bodies dont always do what we want them to do but overall its nice and nice (not perfect) relationship with nice (not sure what perfect sex would even be) sex leaves me pleasantly contented.

              I think the problem with the disordered is that they dont know when to stop seeking, its never enough in quality or quantity and seek they do…like the icky lawyer the OP dated. Trouble is when they seek and cheat, they inject a toxin into their primary relationship that kills it even as they tell themselves it wont.

              I think in the last few years of his life, my Cheater didnt cheat any more but was left with so many lies and (big ugly) secrets (that could blow up at any time) that he could never live an authentic life with me and made any attempts to so do an ugly lie. In the last year of his life, I once looked at him and thought “he looks like a person with a terrible secret that eats him alive”. I had a guess of what I thought it could be but I was wrong.

              Now, I dont ever think back on sex with him, it feels contaminated having learned that what I thought was a monogamous marriage was a facade. I simultaneously care less about his penis/vagina action and feel more betrayed by his cruelty.

              Im really glad that my grandma never asked me what an orgasm was.

              • “Now, I dont ever think back on sex with him, it feels contaminated having learned that what I thought was a monogamous marriage was a facade. I simultaneously care less about his penis/vagina action and feel more betrayed by his cruelty.”

                Yep, I don’t even think of the pre marriage making out and romance with him. Ruined. So I think of my now H and our time. If I want to think of my teen years, I think of the cute young sailor who was smitten with me. Innocent kisses and hugs, but so romantic.

    • GoneGirl,
      Why is a 72 year old attorney still working ? To pay for everything-exes, adult children, grandchildren, etc. Here’s “It’s a Small World” story for Chump Nation.
      When my mother died many years ago, I was still a hopeful chump and in contact with my cheater father. His third wife worked as a paralegal for an estates and trusts attorney. A top one, who passed the bar exam in NY, NJ and Florida. He’s now 80. My brother and I used J.C. to settle our mother’s estate. Not the small town alcoholic lawyer who neglected something when Mom rewrote her will after my parents’ divorce.
      I ran into JC and his much younger second wife one night when my father, wife 3.0 and I went to the movies in the suburban NJ town close to my childhood home and JC’s house. Second wife was his tennis instructor, according to my father’s third wife. Can we say “cliché” ? 🤣
      Anywho I got to thinking and typing. What happened to JC’s kids (two sons) from his first marriage ? Just like my brother and me, both children moved across the country, far away from their cheating parent. One of the sons lives five blocks away from me in a million dollar duplex purchased by JC. This son is an unemployed musician. And the other son, an attorney, lives across the bay with his wife and kids.
      JC and his second wife sold their beautiful NJ home with a tennis court and now live in Florida. He is “of counsel” with a Florida firm. And I forgot-his second wife has a couple of kids from her first marriage.
      Guess who pays for this hot mess ?😉

      • J.C.’s first wife, who never remarried has two homes. Guessing the divorce settlement paid for these. 💰

      • My ex husband, an attorney will be paying me until he is 70 years old. His AP, sends me a nice check every month

    • Probably drugs, my ex has been dealing with erectile dysfunction since he was 30, I wasn’t satisfied but he was taking viagra pretty much daily to cheat on me. He’ll probably have a heart attack eventually.

      And the man probably can’t afford to retire because of all the money spent on pursuing and screwing other woman and buying drugs to be able to do so. That’s the boat my ex is in too. He should have had a good amount in his 401K when we divorced, it was nearly empty. He’ll never be able to retire.

      • Mine did the same – told me the pills made him sick so I had to figure out how to “make him happy” with out them but he sure used them for his may liaisons….

    • It’s the erectile dysfunction drugs. I read that in retirement communities, where women outnumber men, the old guys get the blue pill and go door to door. And you know what else? The group in the USA with the most rapid rise in HIV infection is the over 50s. Again, the ED drugs. The poor women know they won’t get pregnant and they don’t consider that the evil bastards might be giving them a deadly disease.

      • Google Philippe Padieu, the man that knowingly infected his harem (none of them knew of the others) with HIV.
        Some of the women appealed to his neighbor to jot down the license plates of the different women so the board of health/infectious diseases could notify his victims. Oprah did a show about this monster and I think Dateline as well.💩

      • Say hello to herpes in nursing homes. I know of a woman that has vulvar cancer thanks to her cheater.

  • I’m sort of amazed at how freakin complicated the old duffer made everything for everybody. For seven years!! I would not be surprised if there was a third or fourth party involved in his schedule. Good job getting out of this mess. Yes, that other lady is a chump but sadly, she probably thinks he’s better than nothing.

  • This letter hurt my heart

    I too had a complete run away he left on D Day (which incidentally is exactly 2 years tomorrow)

    This just scares me to death to get involved with anyone else again. I’m not strong enough to face it again

    I’ve read lots of chump stories on various sites / articles on line etc and a lot seem to end back up with a cheater even after so much work on ourselves .

    Also a lot of chumps further relationships fail while the cheater is either
    A)still with the AP or
    B) with someone new as soon as it ends with AP.
    I’ve no idea why this is a thing but in my readings it seems to be the case a lot of times.

    I’m so sorry you are going through this Hurt1 but you are amazingly mighty for your boundaries and I’m sure you will meet a nice man around your age rather than a geriatric cheater . Big hugs

    • Being chumped does color future relationships. I have been exclusively dating a nice man for nearly two years; we are together 3 to 4 nights a week. He has been a tremendous help to me. We tell each other “I love you”. And yet I can never fully relax in this relationship. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.

      • DiscardedWife,

        Ugh. I’m sorry you feel that the other shoe will drop.

        I’m in the same boat and was just discussing this issue with my therapist. I have trouble imagining that I’ll ever be able to fully trust any romantic partner. It’s as if there aren’t enough assurances and “I love yous” in the world to fill the vulnerable place within me that is afraid of betrayal and deceit. This paranoia is our exes’ gift that keeps on giving.

        Good luck to you!

        • What is saddest for me is seeing how a cheater can impact an older child.
          My son was in his 20’s when I learned about the very long affair with a family friend.
          My son is now with a great woman but is petrified of divorce and reluctant to marry because of that fear.

          Cheating is certainly the gift that keeps giving even when you think you’re done with them.

          I feel like it’s a life sentence

          • I just started reading Ana Nogales’ book “Parents Who Cheat”. A gift to offer your son perhaps

    • As for the cheaters being in a relationship or a serious of relationships after blowing up their marriage, it has to do with their quest for image management. In the end what they did needs to be justified – “look at how great my shiny new life is.” My cheater got dumped by AP and then rushed into a marriage with the next woman he went out with – these people are all about self preservation and they use their manipulative powers to do ensure they are taken care of. My FW lost his family(me and the kids all NC), his job, his home, half of his retirement savings and he is paying spousal support. About 8 months after our divorce was finaland about 4 after AP’s was, they broke up and she went back to her husband. Then a few months later FW lost his job. He had to find a new “mark” to save face and marry her quickly. He found a literal nurse with a purse and that is exactly what he did; she has a house and helped him get a job where she works. She restored his air of respectability. ( FW still hasn’t told the kids he is married and it has been at least a year – he contacts them once a year by letter). I actually feel sorry for her unless she cheated on her exes. – my ex is cruel and beyond the cheating and verbal abuse he is a financial abuser as well. Hope she got a prenup.

      • This is literally same story . My ex lost his job last March ( embezzlement) and had been just casually dating as he was making big money , but spending it just as fast . Within 5 months of him losing his job , he moved in with a woman who has an excellent income . They were married the beginning of December. I can’t even articulate how bad I feel for her …
        She has no clue he’s a porn addict , pathological liar and is most likely have live web cam sex while she’s working ….

        Oh and he’s still not employed!

      • This is literally same story . My ex lost his job last March ( embezzlement) and had been just casually dating as he was making big money , but spending it just as fast . Within 5 months of him losing his job , he moved in with a woman who has an excellent income . They were married the beginning of December. I can’t even articulate how bad I feel for her …
        She has no clue he’s a porn addict , pathological liar and is most likely have live web cam sex while she’s working ….

        Oh and he’s still not employed!

    • Kar-Meh

      POWER

      This is a theme CL writes about a lot here. I am only beginning to ‘get it’ in bits and pieces because, while I know what the x did, a part of me is baffled by my behavior over the 30+ years together wherein I did the pick-me-dance non stop without knowing that is what I was doing.

      I was listening to a lecture yesterday about conscious development on our planet over the years of human development….like psychological development or physical development. The speaker spoke in terms of power – who has it and how we react to it.

      Essential what I took away from the talk was that we are all geared to gravitate towards a power source – hard wired into us. In our primitive minds, we see power as our safety and in early human development those in power were deemed good – knew right from wrong and were God appointed to rule. Whatever they said was IT. No negotiations. We see this in countries ruled by kings and queens….

      Anyway, more to the point is that we, as ‘subjects’ to whom we see as powerful, will feel we are undeserving, less than etc so we let them rule us. Pick-me dancing at a group level.

      I guess I am writing this out here because what I heard substantiates what CL is doing here for us which is attempting to raise our consciousness level so we are no longer vulnerable to being drawn into the cheating vortex….about raising OUR consciousness level so we see what we were doing and how to spot that in ourselves….can’t change the cheaters is what she screams at us and it does have to be repeated because, in my opinion, this is a hard wired trait with lots of historical back-up.

      She also gives us tools to use because she knows where we will falter due to her own experience.

      I come here almost daily so I can learn more about this cycle – so I can forgive myself and hopefully begin to trust people again.

      Proceeding with caution makes perfect sense. We are dealing with centuries of conditioning here based on hard wiring – as you have stated above about many ending up back with the cheater….they do that because they feel like they deserve ‘less-than’. I have seen it happen and I feel the urge at times too but hearing that yesterday was like cold water being thrown in my face. A wake up call.

      (Speaker also talked about witnessing women who are regularly beaten by their husbands in a village in Africa where he visited years ago. When asked, “Why do you put up with it?” The response he got was, “I deserve it. He knows best.” There was no resistance whatsoever all based on that level of consciousness.)

      Thanks to CL and CN I am learning that I do deserve better.

      So I am single and will be until I really, really, really do know in my bones that I do deserve better. Until them, I am enough. 🙂

        • SPbS

          PERFECTLY and succinctly stated. Thank you.

          Now comes the question…why do so many of us need more words and more convincing to really get this simple message 🙂 🙂 🙂

          • I liken it to re-etching my relationship template. Those deep grooves that have to be acid washed and polished over.

          • In my case I was groomed from birth for the abuse by my parents, who were groomed from birth by their parents and so on. I have be trying my best not to pass this on to my children, lots of deep conversations that fortunately they are open to. Right now being on my own is the best thing that could have happened to me – I want to learn to treat myself as gently as I desire to be treated then maybe I will consider a new relationship. At my age that may never materialize but the peace in solitude I have now is better than anything I have had in my 58 years prior.

      • Fascinating stuff…Kings and Queens were both feared and revered. The peasants felt they kept them safe from foreign invaders as well as common criminals and at the same time if they dared go up against the ruling class it usually meant horrid prison conditions or death to them and their families. So severe ramifications. We can see why humans would allow themselves to be ruled. What really fascinates me is people today being fearful of say a neighborhood soccer mom that leads the group of moms and they all stay in line, kiss her ass, because instinct tells them she will make their lives miserable (backstab, ostracize) otherwise.

        • KB22,
          Yes exactly, same reptilian brain unconscious stuff at play.

          “Against our better judgment”….as my mother would often say back-in-the-day.

      • Very well put, which is why taking our power back as chumps is so important. Now that it’s tax time my XH keeps asking me about how to file his taxes, since I always took care of that. I have not given him any response except “See the tax return document from your employer that I forwarded to you”. I suspect this is a subtle form of hoovering but it helps emphasize how helpless he truly is without me.

        I also recall the time when he forgot to take my car key out his pants pocket before throwing it in the wash, ruining the electronic component. His response? “My mom always looks through my pockets before washing my clothes.” My response? “I’m not your mother.” That was the day I knew I’d married a man-child. From that point on my sexual attraction to him waned because I knew and he knew that he had no real power over me except what I foolishly allowed him to have.

        • oh. my. god.!! My mom always looked through my pants pocket before throwing it in the wash…..you were married to a 9 year old. I can also hear ‘my mom always cleaned my room for me’, ‘my mom cut the edges off my pb&J”

    • Cheaters end up in relationship after relationship over and over after each one ends, or overlaps, because they’re good at lying and manipulation and they have NO IDEA how to exist on their own. They HAVE to have a relationship All. The. Time.

      A few years back I was reading a blog, don’t remember what blog it was, but someone asked the same question. How are cheaters/abusers/generally horrible people in relationships so quickly?? The cheater will never stop to think about their behavior and truly re-evaluate their choices and feelings, and don’t take time to heal from one relationship ending, they bandaid it all over with a new one as quickly as possible.

      The chump will take time. They will live with their pain, they will not want to inflict in on someone else. They will wait before starting anything new.

      In a nutshell, the hurt person takes time to heal. The person who did the hurting will try to run from it.

    • Today’s letter gives us clues about how to be more successful if we want to try for a relationship after healing.

      1. CL points out that the mirroring that sociopaths, narcissists and other such people do is one way we can get fooled. She writes that when the con artist presents as a chump, it gives you a shortcut to judge his character. That is, you assume he is like you–a former victim, someone terrible hurt by cheating who would never do that for another. And it’s not just chump status that creates this mirror. It’s “good parent,” “pillar of the community,” “deeply religious church goer,” “fellow conservative/liberal/lover of the British monarchy.” It’s “My parent died of cancer too.”
      2. A related ploy is to hook you on shared history. You came from the same town, went to HS together, went to college together. It’s “our kids are the same age” and “we share a neighborhood.”
      None of these IMAGES tell you about someone’s character.

      Hurt1 assumes this dirtbag is telling the truth that he’s a successful attorney with 4 kids. She knows he “experienced alienation” with his kids–and no doubt blamed the XW for that. It never occurred to her to question why his kids would be alienated.

      In any new relationship (work, dating, friendship), go slow. Observe, Pay attention to things that don’t add up. For example, why would a successful attorney need to babysit his grandchildren through the week? Wouldn’t he have work to do? Look, I feel for the BS too, with Jackass, but never again. You have to learn how to smell a story that stinks. This one stinks. It doesn’t add up that an alienated daughter would want her dad over 70 to care for a small child. Wouldn’t it be easier to subsidize her childcare? No doubt con artist would have an answer to that, but because he’s selling doesn’t mean you have to buy. But in real life, this stuff rarely happens.

      When you meet a new person, don’t go into it with the idea that this person might be a dating partner or “the one.” Until you know this person well, he’s someone you are learning about. So you don’t necessarily believe his stories about himself until you have a long baseline of truth telling. In this case, why didn’t Hurt1 meet the daughter? She’s only 2 hours away. Why wouldn’t the guy invite here to dinner or something or a family thing? At some point, if a person hasn’t invited you into his or her life to meet relatives, friends, co-workers, softball teammates, that’s a huge red flag.

      Not being invited to the other person’s home? That’s a sign to break up.

      And that’s my last point. You can’t go into relationship without knowing your dealbreakers. Feeling left out for an extended period because X is never around? Break up. You don’t meet kids, siblings, friends? Break up. The people you do meet are shallow and rude? Break up. The stories don’t add up or you have to suspend disbelief about major things? Break up. Life is too short not to feel comfortable and secure in your dating relationship.

      Dating is about sorting people out. If you can’t break up with people, you aren’t ready to date. The chances that you will attract a predator are greatly reduced if you FIX YOUR PICKER and learn how healthy people operate. The biggest thing is to trust yourself to protect yourself and trust that you are strong and resilient. You don’t need a partner so you can let go of Mr. or Ms. Wrong.

      I used to not trust men at all and what I attracted was men who for various reasons could not be trusted or (in the best case scenario) just didn’t have good boundaries. I don’t worry about that at all because I wouldn’t be their cup of tea.

      • Thank you CL & CN for your replies. Getting my story out to those who know & will care has been months in the making. It feels great to get an A+++ on something in life.

        To answer some questions, yes he is an attorney. I’ve been to his office many times & even attended a few holiday functions. It seemed plausible that he was able to “work” from his “daughter’s” home using his computer & internet. I did get annoyed that he seemed to be running back & forth a lot during the week. I would never do that to my own father. I usually kept it in as who was I to interfer with his kids. Once when he mentioned that it helps her financially when he’s there I asked him why he didn’t just write her a check. I also asked why his exwife didn’t help out or for that matter his grandchild’s father.

        In hindsight I believe we didn’t do things with his kids (3 of 4 live out of area) because I might mention how great it was that he was helping out. Both my father & ex traveled for work so even though I didn’t like to be alone it was what it was. The 1st 18 months of dating he didn’t “travel.”

        And the biggest sign that I am a chump: I felt that if I ended the relationship HE’D be alone. I’ve only ever told my therapist that. There were other issues about the relationship worth breaking up over but…

          • Well done on getting an STI check and talking openly with your therapist. Two great actions of self-care 💖

        • Hurt1,

          Me too – “I felt like if I ended the relationship HE’D be alone.”!!!!!

          I actually felt sorry for HIM knowing that any woman he would ever be with again would be a fw because who else would want to be with a serial cheater?!?!?!

          I now know many women would take him on thinking they are special due to his ‘You are special’ charms….. and that they will believe, ‘it will never happen to me.’

          I am here fixing my overactive ‘fix-it’ impulses because I don’t wanna do that any more.

          Welcome here. Hope you know you are not alone in any of this and that it isn’t your fault!!!

        • Hurt1, I’m so sorry you’ve had this terrible experience.

          Some things I’ve learned the hard way. Take from it or discard it as you like.

          I vet people for a long time now. Think years. I need to see how they act consistently over time. That tells me their character (or lack thereof).

          “Trust but verify” is crap. I’m not saying walk around in a constant state of suspicion, but you need to see receipts especially early in the game. Examples:

          Ok, he needs to spend time at his daughter’s. Did you ever speak with her? Is she a real person? Did you have a relationship with her?

          Ok, he got alienated from all 4 kids in his divorce. It happens to chumps – but cheaters also use that as an excuse to evade detection. How did he get back in touch with his alienated daughter? What was HER side of the story?

          You say you didn’t want to leave him because you felt pity. Pity is a HUGE red flag to me that I’m dealing with a manipulator.

          “Breaks” don’t exist in relationships after high school, only breakups. It’s a four-alarm fire to me when adults “take a break.” Friends who have fought me on this always waste another year in a bad situation and later admit I was right when their partner cheats again or ghosts them. Breaks mean the relationship is irreparably broken: either you’re incompatible for each other, or somebody’s immature, or somebody’s lying, or somebody wants to have their cake and eat it too. Just let it DOA already and leave. Save yourself the time.

          You went to him for 2.5 months to cook him dinner and spend time together. What was HE contributing to the relationship? How was he making time for YOU? Sounds like he checked out early. People invest in what’s important to them.

          Real talk: you were dating for ~10 years. Were there any plans to move in together or marry? Did he evade those conversations? Did he tell you one thing and then keep kicking the can down the road?

          In my earlier days of chumpdom, I would take things at face value. I wanted to be nice and generous. Now, I wouldn’t believe the intentions of a boyfriend who “moved away to see his daughter” and essentially dropped our relationship like a pancake on the floor. Trust actions, not words. Your ex is an asshole, but I hear his terribleness showing up way earlier in the story than the moment his girlfriend walked into the apartment. Sounds like he was taking advantage of you for a long time.

          A partner who is not CONSISTENTLY present and investing in the relationship, who you need to caretake, who gives you stories that don’t hold up under scrutiny = you’re being manipulated.

          Again, not your fault. But red flags to be aware of in the future.

          • Cam…thx for your comments-all true. I do need to fix my picker should there ever be future relationships.
            I was clearly the giver & rarely the receiver. It was the people pleaser, perfectionist nature of my character. I’m sure deep down there was a sense of wanting to belong, be important after a marriage abandonment. I aced the cheating boundary but clearly failed in the rest. A lot of his push back on moving forward, doing things with his family (I met 3 of 4 kids early on but there was never any other get togethers) was blamed on his painful divorce. I get that & never wanted to pry. Other girlfriend said she heard he was the one who cheated & in hindsight a lot if his version now seems suspect. I see my therapist in 2 weeks & we’ll have a whole lot more to discuss.

            • Good luck at the therapist’s!

              Also, “a lot of his pushback on moving forward”, how do you mean? Was he resisting moving ahead in the relationship with you?

        • P.S.

          Be careful who you admit your chumpdom to. Predators LOVE to meet traumatized people. They think we’re easy marks.

          This may run counter to other opinions here, but my personal boundary is I don’t mention my traumas to new people. Not for a long time, if ever.

          Honestly, I’d be weirded out by a date who told me early that they were chumped. At best, I’d assume they need to talk to a therapist. At worst, I’d assume they’re a predator with a sob story.

          • As another CN citizen wrote these kinds of reveals are for therapists and maybe in a 12 step meeting. It shows nonexistent interpersonal boundaries.

            My father’s second wife was brutally discarded when she fell terminally ill with pancreatic cancer. A teenager, I refused to attend their wedding. And I walked away when my father introduced her after church one Sunday. I don’t know if she was one of the other women. My father moved out twice, seeing my mother as plan B when first ow Gladys McDogface dumped him. She played my father off another man for a marriage proposal.

            I know my father accused my mother of parental alienation from something said years later by another community member. One would think his second wife would have asked to meet me one on one; I would. My brother made nice though and spent time with them and her two sons. Who knows what happened in her first marriage. I’m guessing he was a cheater.

    • There are good people out there. I’m now remarried to a wonderful guy, father of two, who is more a dad to my kids than their actual dad. I’m so glad I decided to trust him and give a new relationship a try.

      I think the best advice I got when I decided to start dating again was – you’re not ready to date until you’re ok with a relationship ending. You feel ready to say goodbye if it’s not the right thing for you. You feel ok with yourself if the other person ends it.

      Hang in there – I’m sending hugs.

    • My friend dumped her third cheater (15 years together) around the same time I dumped mine. She has a lot of work to do on why she picks these Fuckwits. . She also stayed with Fuckwit no. 3 for 9 years after the first bout of cheating (that she knew about). She finally said enough after the 2nd d-day but I did wonder what kept her there after her first two marriages fell apart due to cheating.

  • I think that some people who are cheaters are very saavy to use phrases to disarm. “Yeah, I’ve been cheated on” is a big one.

    The x in my case told me that too. And his x was psycho. And all of those assault charges were BOGUS. And the dui.

    Yah.

    • My favorite dating story was the guy who told me during the first (and last) date that he had to file a restraining order against his ex ! His spewing of t.m.i. was just what I needed to hear.

    • Totally agree.

      “I’ve been cheated on” is a great one to manipulate. It garners sympathy. Having been cheated on, the chump knows the heartache attached and can empathize. It *suggests* to the chump that they wouldn’t cheat on you either. It bonds the chump by the shared experience. I’d imagine that alot of chumps had repeat cheating experiences.

      Definitely set a precedent when XH used that line on me, early on. Totally made me believe his ‘good guy’ image he was so adamant to present. Way easier for him to manipulate if I believe his hype. And, shockingly, ALL of his exes were crazy and cheaters.

      I’ll never be that young or naive again.

    • I just wrote a similar comment higher up in the thread.

      I don’t discuss my traumas with people, let alone on dates with strangers. IF I’m gonna mention it, it’s gonna be after trust is built over years. I would be alarmed if a date told me he was chumped and assume he either had bad boundaries or was a predator looking for his next mark.

      I don’t trust sob stories. They belong in your therapist’s office or in private discussion with your best friends. Not strangers you’re out to dinner with.

  • “Sociopaths lead with self pity”. Yes CL!! And cheaters are sociopaths, their bait is victimhood so an unsuspecting woman tries to “show them what real happiness is”. It’s a pick up line. If I had a dime for every married man that tried that line with me I’d be rich.

    • I maybe worry about that to an extent as a man that if and when I do meet a girlfriend in the future, how do I raise the topic of how my marriage ended as a chump if she asks about it? I would not want to come across as self pity. Would be such a difficult conversation I believe.

      • Chumpy, I meant pick up line while married!!!! And as far as dates, avoid the subject at the beginning, after all you are more than what she did to you. Show yourself as YOURSELF and not as what she did to you.

        Once people know you for you, then feel free. As a woman, I’m always suspicious of poor sausage stories, I don’t buy them.

        • So, I’ve been on a few socially distant dates lately. And, if the guy is divorced, I will ask very early on, “So, do you mind telling me how your marriage ended?”

          I want to know.

          I ask before he asks me for fear that he might make up a chump story if he hears I was chumped.

          • Yes indeed. Also if a man trashed his ex wife, I’m totally out. As you say, a simple explanation with no curse words or seedy details is best. There is no harm in knowing more later, but for a first few dates, ugh no.

          • Yep, I definitely wanted to know. I met my now H at work after I moved to a new facility. He came by my area and we talked a few times. My boss was a good friend of his (female) she grew up in the same area as him. I asked her point blank if he cheated on his wife. She assured me he didn’t. I also knew his level, and his background before I ever dated him.

            I was not going to knowingly date a cheating loser. I deserved better.

            We also dated a long time before we became engaged, then we were engaged for two more years before marrying.

            This was before social media.

      • I like CL’s “I didn’t like her boyfriend.” I think it captures the situation quickly and without any victim-ish words.

        Leave the details and story to a time when you know the person much, much better. I think we chumps have a bit of a problem with truth telling in that we think we must explain the whole truth any time we are asked. Like the joke about the child asking where babies come from and the parent dreading this long, difficult conversation when the child is quite happy with a very simple, one sentence answer depending on their age. There’s a cute joke about that and I wish I could remember it right now.

        I’m seeing now that it is quite okay to leave some mystery. We can share about ourselves in layers – like an onion peeling. I’m learning that’s how real relationships work.

        • Small child asks his mom where he is from.
          Mom gives a very detailed anatomical explanation.
          Child replies “ Bobby next door is from Toronto. Where am I from?”

      • I’m always afraid of being it u first in case I’m with a man that cheated on his partner and I just don’t know yet. If he finds out I’m a chump before he comes clean about being a cheater he’ll use me. I’ll be trapped.

      • Just say, “my wife had an affair.” What you don’t want to do is get deep into the details until you know the other person. If you end up together, you’ll cover all the important stuff in a natural way. The man I date and I don’t ever talk about past relationships, but that’s easier when we don’t intend to marry.

        The urge to tell the whole story is the thing to resist.

        • It is so individual. I told my now H the whole story. Of course we were together several years before we married. But, I figured he needed to know my baggage and I needed to know his.

          We have been together almost 26 years now, so far so good. He is a totally different personality than my ex. Especially the character part of his personality.

          Honestly we didn’t intend to marry either, but that changed.

      • CnL,
        You have to disclose before you have sex with her. Did you get tested for venereal diseases ? Unfortunately there isn’t one for hpv in men.

    • If I had a dime every time a married men try to initiate an affair with me via a sob story, I’d be retired.

      I thought this was just a bad movie trope until I became an adult and went out into the door. I was stunned to see how common this tactic actually is. And apparently it works!

  • Being chumped does color future relationships. I have been exclusively dating a nice man for nearly two years; we are together 3 to 4 nights a week. He has been a tremendous help to me. We tell each other “I love you”. And yet I can never fully relax in this relationship. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    • Same here, approaching one year. He was also chumped hard by his ex wife, who is basically like my ex with female parts. We have handled the fallout from the dissolution of our marriages somewhat differently, but have talked about ultimately wanting the same things from a partner. So much love, and yet…it’s so hard to relax. I keep telling myself to be true to me and feel the feelings I feel without reservation. If someone else proves to be an asshole, it’s on them. As far as investing myself, to think that this would ever be a situation where I would need to untangle lives again would be heartbreaking. We do both have young children, so (I would hope) this is an earnest attempt to have what we both wanted from our marriages before we realized we were married to lying cheaters who would never put us ahead of their selfish desires. So much to lose for both of us if not. It’s hard to not be on guard at least somewhere in the back of my mind.

      • I am repulsed by people. I just do not like people very much since this occurred. It’s crazy but I either think there’s a chance the person was involved or knew about what was going on. Even strangers. My spouse put on such a great performance for so many years I don’t trust anyone.

        • I understand completely. I moved two states away because I felt everyone was suspect. When you are married to someone 40+ years and after DDay realize he had been playing you the entire time you tend to not trust anyone for awhile. That is why I immediately went to therapy in my new state to get past that feeling. I wanted to trust again and not let the creep define the rest of my life. Being totally away from him allowed me to heal quicker knowing I would not accidentally run into him or see one of his affair partners. So many of you are amazing being able to raise your children and deal with the fucktards on a weekly basis. You are much more mighty!!

  • From a detective on a show on the ID Channel

    “You can only know another person as much as they will let you.”

    The most important person I need to trust is me. I need to be rock solid on my own. I need to be willing to walk away from people, places, and things if I discover they are harmful to me.

    The world loves Oprah. I do not. I was her featured guest for an episode which aired in April of 1992. Because of how I was treated, I do not trust her, I do not like her, and I don’t swallow everything I see on TV whole. I wrote author John Bradshaw about my very negative abusive experience with her. I have a letter from him condemning her conduct and agreeing with me that she owes me an amends. I am not holding my breath. I did the show because I trusted her. I no longer trust her.
    Goodbye, Oprah. And as for the people who love her? They’re entitled to their opinions.

    Fixing my picker will never make me omniscient and all-powerful over being hurt again. But it will enable me to avoid danger altogether, or get away if it’s suddenly revealed. Like swimming at the beach and getting out of the water if I spot a shark. (I didn’t know there were sharks in the water before).

    • Am sorry to hear you had that experience with Oprah, VH – but sadly, not surprised. To me, it’s a pretty clear sign of disorder for someone to turn oneself into a single-named brand. Can any of us imagine creating a magazine on which we alone are routinely featured on the cover? (I hope not!) That’s not feminist self-actualization, that’s Narcissism with a capital N. I was also dismayed by her about-face when it came to Michael Jackson. While I was glad that she foregrounded the stories of the boys who survived his abuse, she never (in her interview after Leaving Neverland aired, not afterward) ever apologized for having been complicit in “humanizing” MJ, shielding him from his rightful critics back in the day and helping him dominate the narrative.

      Clearly, a lot of women find helpful wisdom in Oprah’s oeuvre. (My STBX and her narcissistic mother both subscribed to O magazine.) But to me, most of it seems potted, and very superficial: platitudes rather than insights. Sadly, in American culture, platitudes sell.

      All best to you, VH.

    • I’m with you Velvet Hammer. She always struck me as a megalomaniac. After all, she puts her mug on the front cover of her magazine every single month. Her softball questions lobbed at the sociopath Lance Armstrong ? Journalistic fail with a capital f. Her crashing of people’s weddings ? Let’s make the couples’ special days all about Her !
      I had to laugh when she was indignant that the Hermés flagship in Paris refused her entry to shop due to a special event early closing. And her interview of MeAgain Markle, the narcissist was entertaining.

    • Tracy’s blog and the shared experience of us chumps is the equivalent of drones deployed above the coastline to spot any sharks in the water.

    • I am so sorry that happened to you! A friend of mine was also the featured guest in a different year, she was told it was to be about her new book with it’s much-needed message of compassion and empowerment for many women in desperate situations. But her book was mostly ignored. Instead they attacked her personally and tried to harm her professional prospects. It was disappointing and shocking.

  • Amazing. MrWonderful also had been dumped by an ex-fiancee in the year before we met. They had been together 4 or 5 years. He went on deployment and returned to find she had boxed her things and was moving out with no explanation. That never sat right with me and I remember asking if she really had no explanation. After needling him a few times, he said that his roommate had bumped into her a year later and she had taken up with a well-off stock broker so he chalked her up as a gold digger and suggested she must have been cheating on him when he was gone. In hindsight, I’m sure it was the other way around she found out and left.

    Still amazes me how alike the FWs all are.

    • When I attended fellowship after a coed CoDA meeting, one of the men expressed bewilderment that a person would pack up and leave a spouse with no notice. I said “Somebody cheated. Either they did, and were told to leave. Or, they found out and left right away.”

  • I think there are some pretty basic background checks you can do on a potential romantic partner, as well as a credit check. IF I ever get involved again, those will happen before a first date.

    What is scary are the number of people on dating sites who lie, lie, LIE. I found my X’s profile on one, where he described himself as “a PhD in Biology working for a Federal Healthcare interest”, neither of which were remotely true. He also used a bogus name. I wasn’t on the site, but digging in his computer for evidence, FWIW. All done now.

    What I wonder is…at what point does somebody like that come clean with their REAL name and their REAL job/income?

    • But you need their full, real name, address and social security number. Donna Anderson, of Lovefraud, posted about showing each other your drivers licenses’ before getting too involved with somebody.

    • All good points. And I can only speak for my experience but I ignored a lot of red flags. I won’t be as passive and easily manipulated in the future, if I ever recover to that point. I think many of us have been abused to the point we no longer trust ourselves and our inner voice has been shut down. That’s some of the inner work I hope to do.

  • Ugh. Just sick. Sociopath describes it.

    I’ve had some asks that were full of red flags to me, but nothing remotely close. I have plenty of friends and happiness in my life and am not looking at all.

    I have a friend who was cheated on who married a man who was cheated on. On the surface he was a thoroughly decent man, and they dated for a handful of months and got married. Well, he’s faithful to her, but he’s a control freak. He doesn’t trust her to be faithful, so he’s constantly doubting her. Is that better than being married to a cheater? Slightly…

    No, thank you.

    • Dated just a handful of months before marrying? No way in hell. A minimum of two years of in person dating (none of that on line or long distance nonsense) before making life’s most important financial decision.

      • Yes, I was very concerned when she got engaged so quickly and then eloped. Sure we know more what we want in our 50’s, but…still.

        My wonderful divorce attorney also said two years of local dating, and prenup-prenup-prenup if I wanted to remarry. He said if the guy refuses, ditch him. LOL

    • I did not know what a Sociopath was until my Psychiatrist called my ex one. Needless to say, I had no clue that I was MARRIED to one for thirty five years. No one needs this education.

  • This situation is proof that they never change. Wherever cheaters go they take themselves with them. For the new chumps that worry that the cheater will be “better” with AP, this is proof they do not get a character transplant when they abandon us for newer model(s).

    72?! Two or more chumps?! What a hot mess.

    These types walk among us … wolves in sheep’s clothing and although I have a wealth of knowledge from CL and kick ass boundaries, if I get conned again I’m not going to blame myself.

    • They “do not get a character transplant.” I can’t hear this enough!

      I just learned yesterday that my former MIL is delighted when my ex (her son) and the OW visit her. All seems well! Turns out, I not only was easily replaced by my ex but by his mom as well. I was a giving, chumpy part of that effed-up family for 35 years!

      Oh well. I guess the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree. She’s a narc, he’s a narc, everywhere a narc, narc. And, hey, kibbles are kibbles. The new OW seems to be a good supplier.

      [Boundaries: Btw, I thought I’d told everyone that I don’t want to hear a THING about my ex. But, a well-meaning relatively called me last night and threw me into a tailspin with that tidbit about my ex appearing to be happy. I’ve since asked this relative to refrain from giving me any information about my ex in the future. I just can’t take it.]

      • I was part of Asshat’s family for 35 years. It’s hard being shunned isn’t it? They’ve embraced HoWorker/Wife.

        I used to take the kids to his family reunions as he volunteered to work. These so-called Christians make me ill. And it allows the charade of respectability. My kids must be so confused. Their father is such a hypocrite.

      • I’ve had glimpses of the being erased by outlaws. My FW insisted I go to his parents house one day a few months ago, I complied. It seemed like no one even remembered all the time I spent there, and all the caring for the children. It was as if the kids just got to these ages without the help of a mother.

  • I’m with Persephone on the “ifs” here. What’s true, other than he’s a liar and a cheat? Is he really a practicing attorney, or did he just tote a briefcase now and then?
    There’s a red flag in retrospect, although it’s easy to overlook in our mobile society: “…the alienation of his children after his own divorce.” He supposedly was married 16 years, had four kids, and is now 72. At divorce, the oldest might have been 16 and the youngest 12, or they could have been much younger. Whether or not the kids initially sided with their mom, these kids are now in their 40s and 50s. He’s had decades to reconcile with them, yet it appears he did not in the 7 years Hrut1 has known him. There must be a reason all four of these adults (if they exist) remained estranged. Did he disappear from 5/7ths of their lives, too? Chances are any alienation was due to his own behavior.

  • On the real, my whole hurt after reading this. Wow, that was complicated. I would have run away and not spoke to anyone involved ever again.

  • All of us ask questions like these. How do you really know someone? My family lived in a small enough town where we knew his wife (and family) when she was young. Great kid, bubbly personality, good student. When would any of us seen the person who abandoned her entire family? Permanently. My brother was blindsided. His kids were damaged for years. CL is right. Their training started young.

  • My stbx was a cheater with several women that claimed that his crazy ex wife cheated on him, that he was a chump. I think he did this so he could get some pity, and to explain why he was so jealous. He’s a narcissist and is always a victim (aka craves pity), and the problem with him always being a victim is someone has to be the “bad guy” in his stories.

  • When you experience a traumatic event, like a car crash, surviving a natural disaster, finding out you are a chump, the first thing you have to do is triage. You stop the bleeding, you assess the damage, you make a plan to survive. This is not the time to worry about why your mate cheated, or what is wrong with him. This is not the time to wonder what you did wrong, or what you could have done better. You have to concentrate on how to mitigate the damage, instead of what you may have a natural desire to do, fix the relationship. Most chumps are not physically or mentally prepared to do this step, because we were never prepared to think this way. This is where fixing your picker comes in.

    The first step of fixing your picker is to be able to honestly accept the facts of what happened. You may never know all of the facts. You just have to deal with the fact that the world you thought you had was not the world you actually lived in. This is huge, conceptually, and may take a great deal of time to process. If you, (and your children), are alive and have food, shelter, and are in a safe place, you are ahead of the game. You carry your resources within. Every problem can be addressed in order of priority. You may not be satisfied with the resolution, but you learn to move on

    What many women of my generation did, unfortunately, was only go so far while moving forward. We did not do the hard work of self evaluation, because we felt we had done “nothing wrong.” We did not have the intent to do wrong, we did not plan it, but the reality is we accepted too much at face value, we were too trusting, we accepted roles we were socially programed to accept, we believed we should be part of a couple and that we would be cared for in exchange for our comforting skill set. We were deluded by our belief in a system that did not work.

    The fact is I was chumped a second time, and that hurt my pride even more, because I thought I had learned the hard lessons I needed to learn. In reality, I had just started the coursework, and wasn’t even half way through my learning program. I eventually had to question my entire value system, and dreams, and goals, and eliminate those values, dreams, and goals that did not originate with my true beliefs. I had to become more wary, and less trusting. I had to become more protectively cynical. I had to give every friendship or relationship time to develop a comfort zone, a trust zone. I was left with a much smaller family and social circle, but one that was far more powerful than the one I left behind.

    The fact is there is no easy fix. Everything worth having requires time, attention, and dedication. If you meet someone who is not up to these tasks, wish them well, but leave them behind. They cannot move forward with you. You may not find a life partner, like a spouse, but you will find people who live parts of your life with you, and those parts become your whole.

    This may not be what you think you want. I have walked through the fire, and I believe I am much better off now, than I was then. Part of it is maturing, part of it is acceptance. I still have a strong belief system, but it is very different now than it was when I was 20. This may not be the path forward for you, but it should give you some important things to consider and evaluate. When I contribute here, this is how I pay it forward. I hope it helps.

    • Portia, I’ve been reading your comment over and over because what you say is what I really need to get into my head.
      I seriously need to do that hard work of self evaluation after being dumped following 30 years of marriage. And as I am evaluating I am realizing how so many of the romantic relationships I’ve had with men have been completely dysfunctional. I wanted someone who needed me. What a set up that was.
      One of my goals is to not fall back into a relationship (although I still feel a need to prove that a man will want me) and to learn to love myself enough that I am ok being single.
      These are really big challenges for me right now. Identifying the red flags early on would sure help!

      My heart really goes out to hurt1.

      • I was married 20 years the first time. Separated after two for the second one, and finally divorced after a lot of haggling and false promises. You cannot give up because of sunk costs, or believe you are too old to change. Change is frightening, but necessary to survive.

        If you had escaped from a fire, would you turn around and stick your hand in the fire again? No, you learned a hard lesson, you were burned. Use that experience to read, and maybe find a good therapist to work on you. I ended up going all the way back to my childhood, and FOO to start to understand myself and the source of my attitudes. For me, the revelations were worth the scary pain. For me, the gains I made were worth the sorrow I had for all the wasted and misguided time. Becoming content with who you are is an ongoing journey. The only person you have to prove anything to is yourself. I have every confidence that you will find your way. Joining Chump Nation is a great start!

        • This is so accurate. It’s part of why this is so traumatic, because we look and round and realize all these people knew I was on fire and not one did anything to help. It literally shakes is at the core. The realization that our whole lives are a sham.
          I am thankful for one wise person I told when I was in that foggy state of realizing I was a chump. I was told “you can’t trust him and without trust there’s nothing.” Those words from someone’s opinion I respected carried me through that wobbly stage. Those are the type of people you want in your circle.

    • Portia, you are amazing. So full of wisdom and courage. Yours is the path for me. I don’t imagine I’ll ever be ready for another partner. I’m way too wounded to let another man rub salt in it. But I do imagine living a happy life on my own.

    • Portia, this whole paragraph really struck me:

      “The fact is there is no easy fix. Everything worth having requires time, attention, and dedication. If you meet someone who is not up to these tasks, wish them well, but leave them behind. They cannot move forward with you. You may not find a life partner, like a spouse, but you will find people who live parts of your life with you, and those parts become your whole.”

      I am indeed finding that everything worth having requires time, attention, and dedication. And I am giving myself permission to let go of the people who are not up to these tasks. This creates space for new people who will be up to these tasks. This is not always easy for me; I am used to/conditioned to settling for crumbs. That is something I am working on with myself, to know my worth and expect more from the people who want to be in my life. It is okay to have my needs and wants met too, and not simply exist to meet other people’s needs and wants.

      • You were raised to put other’s needs in front of your own, to “be nice, be sweet.” This is not how you find happiness and fulfillment. You can be kind, and you can say no. Having boundaries is healthy. As you become independent, you see how rewarding it can be. That is why you expect others to learn to be independent, too. You encourage them, maybe even help sometimes, but your goal is to see them become independent. True friends love each other, and are supportive, but they do not take on the responsibility of being the sole source of support. There is a big difference between encouragement and crippling co-dependency.

  • The timelines are fuzzy!!! THIS is one tried and true way to spot a LIAR. The time lines don’t add up… If I see this again, I will ask for the sequence of events in reverse. They just can’t do it. Why? Because they are LYING.
    Fuck! I did question the ex about his fuzzy timeline and asked for a sequence in reverse. This was about his past relationships. He couldn’t do it and got frustrated and upset and, yes, he cried.
    If course I dust want him to be upset!
    Still, I see now that his crying and tears always FELT FAKE, now I know, he monkey branched me, too.
    I’m grateful for that asshole. Now I know I don’t need assholes in my life. Now I know I can trust my feelings that someone is a faker and a liar.

  • Reminds me of my friend’s father. After her mother divorced him, he married his second wife and then cheated on her by marrying another woman! (Bigamy anyone?) The charade went on for quite awhile all built around his job/traveling crap. But kudos to the third wife who bailed the minute she found out. But when the second wife found out about the bigamy, she took him back anyway. I suspect their marriage was pretty awful. How could it not be?

  • I am so sorry bad people continue to find you. You are a giver. You are a good person. Your letter is terrifying to me. It is terrifying that there are con artists so dick that they have the energy for double lives. Normal people wouldn’t have the time or energy for complicated, time-consuming deceit.

  • I’ve been thinking a lot about the fear of being chumped again.

    I went in to the original marriage whole-heartily and as best as twenty-odd year old guy could. Here I am in the CN.

    I’m in a new and powerful relationship. So many things line up perfectly. But she’s got a story that isn’t as painful as mine. She’s closer to her X than I am to mine which is weird to me.

    My experience makes me act and think with a fear. But I dont want fear to win. I want love to win. So I’m going in as open as I can. I’m focusing on being the guy I want to be and the guy I’d want my partner to love.

    If this new gal cheats on me, it’ll hurt – no doubt. but Im finding no clear evidence and I dont want to police. I have boundaries and I need to hold them up. Its all I can do.

  • Dear Hurt1,
    I’m so sorry this happened to you. You have every right to feel angry and to set those hard boundaries with your ex and OW. (I agree with you, too, that she should be defined as an OW, since you had more reason overall to believe that your ex had allowed you access to his “real life.”) Like CL, I’m very sorry for your ex’s daughter as well!

    I can totally understand why “bumping into others and spreading the word about how awful he is” might feel cathartic in the moment. That wouldn’t be Meh, though. That would be giving your ex more of your mental real estate. And it sounds like an additional ex-related thing that you’re resenting about the Covid shutdowns. As I say, I get it. I’ve been trying to focus on the positive things I can do for myself/my younger kid during the shutdown, and the positive, non-fuckwit centered things we can do after I have robust immunity next month. I love that CL reminds us that Leaving a Cheater is as much a mental process as a physical one, and it’s hard to Gain a Life until we get to Meh. Best wishes to you in gaining your freedom, mentally and physically.

  • Hurt1, I am so sorry you had to go through this. It is heartbreaking.

    I am also so impressed that you left once you found out about the OW, and that you left the “friendship” with the OW once you understood what was happening there. Good for you for knowing your worth! No one needs liars or manipulators in their life.

    I appreciate you sharing your story.

    • My strength truly came from almost 9 years of daily CL reads. As I mentioned in my letter, cheater exhusband was a runner so I wasn’t chumped in the classic sense but his exit reasons/behaviors became clear the more I learned about cheaters, their words, their actions & their ilk.

      It hasn’t been easy to get where I am today. Early on I was hospitalized twice with breakdowns. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to die rather I didn’t think I knew how to live. I didn’t have a strong support system as my parents are long gone & brother lives 15 time zones away. Best-est friends are out of town as I moved to this area years ago when ex took a job here.

      But I was fortunate in that I found good therapists & even took meds for a while. Of anything I was downright angry with ex boyfriend & other girlfriend. The added drama of the other girlfriend using me was almost more painful than finding out about his double life. I wasn’t connected with a marriage, property or family so off-with-their-heads I made a clean break.

      Knowledge is power & I am forever grateful for CL & CN but am so so sorry that our membership to this club even came about.

      • People suck. Sorry you experienced this twice. Thank you normalizing your struggles. The mental load of it all feels like so much to carry some days too much.
        I had the OW’s x husband set me up on the phone with them. That once occurrence has scarred me. I can’t imagine how it would feel to have the OW do that and over an extended period of time. All of her effort and look at her prize.

  • Hurt1,

    I’m w/CL on this, except I would like to point out one thing that confuses me: in all that time the asshole was cheating on you, supposedly gone to help his daughter babysit his grandkids, did you never talk to her, or hear his grandkids? From Sunday evening until Friday morning is a long time for even a boyfriend/girlfriend to be gone every week, even to help out a kid. I’m not advocating policing the relationship on a regular basis, but an occasional check-in during a situation like this would seem appropriate, when he was gone for such huge chunks of time. Just my two cents. I don’t know that it would have alerted you to his bullshit, but I think it’s healthy for us chumps not to just accept our future partners’ explanations without occasionally testing the waters.

    My fuckwit claimed to be working extra on the weekends because of the extra work her boss had given her. We’re talking a Saturday here and there, and then, at the end, a three day business trip she suddenly had to go on w/her boss and a fellow coworker. Looking back, I wish I’d checked in on at least one of those Saturdays or asked to talk to her fellow coworker supposedly going on that trip. It might have tripped her up and made me aware of her treachery earlier in the game. I had no idea she was fucking her boss, because I never thought to gently test her assertions. If the rest of you think I’m talking about policing the relationship, feel free to tell me. I think there’s a line between gently testing the waters every so often versus full on checking up on their every move.

    Oh, and my FW XW tried to say in the marriage counseling I got her to go to that the affair was w/her “coworker.” Twice I corrected her in front of the marriage counselor by saying “he was your boss, not a coworker.” And on D-day, I pointed out what a fucking cliche that was (all puns intended). She said they didn’t feel that way. I didn’t have an immediate answer to that. A friend at work pointed out to me that it doesn’t matter what they think, it’s how it’s perceived by others.

    Finally, to touch on the fact that there are so many assholes like this out there. The FW XW seemed to subscribe to the idea that there are alpha males and females out there. If Adam Ruins Everything is correct, this is a fallacy, claiming that the original researcher who reported this in wolves made a mistake in making this assumption in his/her research, and has recanted it.

    My feeling is there are assholes and good people in this world, and shades of grey between. Your FW ex is an asshole. My FW XW and her AP boss are assholes. We’re good people, who can be assholes, but try not to be. The difference is we try not to be. That’s character. Hold your head up high, and be proud of that. But I recommend not being a sucker by never questioning a future partner, especially when they are are excusing themselves out of your life so much. I say all this knowing I’m roughly four years out from D-day, and have not had a relationship w/another woman since. But I hope to someday. So feel free to tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about. I simply know I will never be so accepting of a future partner’s explanations. I’ll want to occasionally verify. That’s me. Lots of love to you, and all of CN. Keep being mighty everybody.

  • It always makes me uneasy when I hear chumps saying they are with another chump and therefore it gives them a sense of reassurance. I understand that because it’s logical to think that if somebody has been really hurt they wouldn’t do the same thing to somebody else. But my H had been challenged, and he knew I had had a devastating first marriage …. and Mr. wonderful nevertheless betrayed me. I was SHOCKED.
    A friend said maybe the fact that he had been discarded many years ago normalized it for him. Who knows?
    I feel so much for you writer. It’s also so discouraging.
    My second husband didn’t check any of the wrong boxes that 1st H had in spades. But turns out he was a chump and capable of being a seemingly wonderful, loving and giving person and also betraying me and then discarding his step -kids and I.
    I am a positive person by nature. But sometimes it’s just enough to make you think that may be taking another chance isn’t worth it.

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